All You Have to Do by Autumn AllenStarring: Gibran, a Black senior at a mostly white Massachusetts prep school in 1995, and Kevin, a Columbia University student in 1968. As they challenge racial injustice at their schools, they face negative and unfair consequences. Meanwhile, their parents plead with them not to make waves.
How it’s told: in chapters alternating between the time periods, creating intense emotion and mounting tension.
Read it for: a moving, vivid connection to the justice movements of the past.
Tilly in Technicolor by Mazey EddingsMeet: Tilly, who has ADHD and is burnt out after pushing through high school. She’s spending the summer helping her overachieving sister promote her business in Europe.
Enter: Oliver, a fellow intern who is autistic. After an embarrassing first encounter, he and Tilly discover they have a lot in common, and sparks fly.
Why you might like it: This sweet love story paints an authentic portrait of neurodivergent people finding an emotional connection while deepening their understanding of themselves.
True True by Don P. HooperThe new kid: Gil Powell transferred to a posh prep school in Manhattan with a top-notch robotics program for his senior year. It’s a world away from his predominantly Caribbean Brooklyn neighborhood.
What happens: A racist classmate goads Gil into a fight, but only Gil gets suspended. He decides to wage a covert war on the school, taking inspiration from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.
Who it’s for: anyone wondering where to direct their energy in an unjust world.
Forty Words for Love by Aisha SaeedWhat it is: a fantasy novel using magical realism to chronicle the star-crossed romance blossoming between best friends Yas and Raf, whose community is struggling after a tragic death causes far-reaching and disastrous consequences.
The setting: Moonlight Bay, where the ocean’s pink and lavender waters have turned gray, and where tensions are high between locals and climate refugees like Raf. Can Yas and Raf restore their town’s magic?
Try these next: Ibi Zoboi’s American Street or Anna-Marie McLemore’s Blanca & Rosa.
Your Lonely Nights Are Over by Adam SassThe crimes: Members of an Arizona high school’s Queer Club are murdered in the style of Mr. Sandman, a serial killer from the 1970s and the subject of a popular streaming docuseries.
The suspects: Dearie and Cole, besties accused of “destroying the queer community” with their unconventional friendship. Now they must clear their names while staying alive and staying friends.
Author alert: Fans of author Adam Sass’ debut Surrender Your Sons will enjoy this thriller described as “Scream meets Clueless.”
I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast is Me by Jamison SheaPrima ballerinas: Queer, Black dancer Laure is plagued by bullies in the Parisian ballet. When star dancer Joséphine invites her into a dark underworld, Laure accepts, hungry for the respect and power she deserves.
Dance with the devil: Laure makes a bargain with a mysterious being, triggering an uncontrollable transformation. Will she continue breaking herself for her art, or cave to her monstrous urges?
Is it for you? This gory supernatural fantasy is ideal for fans of body horror.
Impossible Escape: A True Story of Survival and Heroism in Nazi Germany by Steve SheinkinWhat it is: the gripping nonfiction account of friends Rudolf Vrba and Gerta Sidonová, Slovakian Jewish teens who saved lives and resisted the Nazis during World War II.
What happens: Vrba and a friend manage a harrowing escape from Auschwitz, and their report on the atrocities there prompts international intervention. Meanwhile, Sidonová flees to Hungary and joins the resistance.
Author alert: Author Steve Sheinkin’s engrossing nonfiction like Bomb, Most Dangerous, and The Port Chicago 50 consistently brings history alive.
The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph WhiteIn an alternate Victorian England: Violet-eyed people can communicate with spirits, but women are prohibited from this work. Instead, they are sent to Braxton’s Finishing School and Sanitorium to “treat” their “illness.”
Enter: Silas, an autistic trans boy forced to attend Braxton’s. There, he discovers gruesome secrets and fights ferociously to expose them.
Is it for you? This visceral but invigorating book does not shy away from depictions of the hateful treatment of people who don’t conform to society’s standards.
The Infinity Particle by Wendy XuLife on Mars: Engineer Clementine Chang arrives on Mars for a job with her idol Dr. Lin at a robotics lab.
What happens: Clementine is immediately smitten by Kye, Dr. Lin’s humanoid robotic assistant. Kye’s into Clementine, too, but Dr. Lin isn’t interested in granting freedom to her increasingly independent creation.
Why you might like it: This thoughtful graphic novel pairs a sweet romance with an optimistic examination of the current questions around artificial intelligence.
Contact your librarian for more great books for age 14 and up!