My much anticipated 100 Must-Read YA Releases Of 2020 In The US post will be going LIVE here a week today.
If you want to read it a week early, subscribe to my Patreon at any level and you'll be able to read it from November 22nd. Is it worth paying for? I thought I'd share a preview, showing what I've written about 4 books, to help you decide.
A couple of disclaimers - firstly, the idea here is to go for books which people can pick up and read with no prior knowledge of previous books. That means I've gone for standalones and series starters, rather than continuations. I had to use my judgment on a couple of books which are companion novels to earlier ones rather than direct sequels; I've noted where this is the case.
Secondly, not everything here is something I've read myself. However, everything which I haven't read has been recommended highly by multiple people whose opinion I trust.
This Train Is Being Held by Ismee Williams (Amulet Books) - Romance between two teens - a Cuban ballet dancer and Dominican baseball player - who fall for each other at a time when both have their own problems. Dancer Isabella's life is falling apart as her mother and brother struggle with mental health issues and her father loses his job, while Alex's father is pushing him into a baseball career he's unsure he wants for himself, and being hard on his younger brother, and a friend is being dragged into a gang.
This is utterly gorgeous, with a great central romance seeing the pair get together after a few subway meet-cutes, and support each other through difficult times. Perhaps even more so than the incredible chemistry, though, it's Williams's superb handling of tougher issues like the bipolar disorder that Isabella's mother and brother have, and the racism which Alex - darker-skinned than Isabella - suffers from to a much greater degree than she does which make this one of the very best contemporaries of the year.
Grown by Tiffany D Jackson (Katherine Tegen Books) - With her family struggling for money, being discovered by R & B star Korey Fields seems like a dream come true for Enchanted Jones. Not only can the 17-year-old help support her parents, but she can find fame - and possibly even love, because the older man seems to see her as more than just a protégée. Except, when we first meet Chanty, before we see what led up to this moment, she's finding Korey's dead body. How did it come to this?
Tiffany D Jackson is phenomenal at writing books with layered MCs, twists and turns in the plot, and gripping action, and this is no exception. Fields is a repulsive villain but it's easy to see just why Korey falls for the charm which he can turn on so quickly, and how hard it is for her to extricate herself from the situation when things inevitably go downhill. The 'did she or didn't she kill him' plotline had me guessing right until the end, and, as ever, Jackson delivers a satisfying conclusion. A masterful thriller which has a lot to say about exploitation, grooming and rape culture.
The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen (Wattpad Books) - In 1955 Alabama, biracial teen Ethan Harper has to spend the summer with his white aunt and uncle. While most of the town, unused to seeing Black people, eyes him with suspicion, town oddball Juniper Jones - already unpopular amongst the locals - becomes a firm friend and the pair adventure together.
While I've cried numerous times reading books over the last few years, this was one of the most heartbreaking that I can remember. The strong friendship between free spirit Juniper and the much calmer Ethan was wonderful to read about. Daven McQueen moves between the highs of their joyous adventures and the lows of the problems they face with expertise which would be impressive in an experienced author and is even more so in a debut. Massively recommended to fans of incredibly emotional reads.
Crownchasers by Rebecca Coffindaffer (HarperTeen) - Alyssa Farshot would much rather continue to have adventures exploring different planets than follow in her uncle's footsteps as emperor. But since his dying wish is for representatives of each of the empire's prime families to compete in a crownchase to find the hidden royal seal and win the throne, she feels obligated to take part. When the chase turns deadly, it becomes clear it's not just the fate of the empire at stake.
I don't have this yet and I really need it! The most common thing I'm seeing in reviews is people talking about how incredibly fun this book is, along with praise for great representation of various sexual identities (the lead is pan, and there are numerous other queer characters). Both the lead and her himbo love interest are getting a ton of love and the relationship between them sounds like it's fabulous. Despite the generally light-hearted tone, I'm also seeing lots of people saying great things about the way it explores topics like colonialism and responsibility.
If you'd like to read my thoughts on another 96 must-read YA releases, plus 100 MG releases, and a bunch of UK books not released in the US yet - then subscribe at any tier to get early access over the next week! (Or, if you're happy to wait, they'll be right here a week later.)
Upcoming Patreon Schedule
Sun November 22nd - 100 Must-Read YA Releases of 2020 in the US - Patrons get Early Access! (Won't be available publicly until Sun November 29th.)
Wed November 25th - 100 Must-Read MG Releases of 2020 in the US - Patrons get Early Access! (Won't be available publicly until Wed Dec 2nd.)
Fri November 27th - 50 Must-Read YA and 50 Must-Read MG Releases of 2020 in the UK - Patrons get Early Access! (Won't be available publicly until Fri December 4th.) Please note - there will be overlap between this and the previous two lists, as some of my favourites have been published both sides of the Atlantic, but it will also contain UKYA and UKMG books which haven't made it to the US yet.