2022 YA Books To Have On Your Radar, Part One
Have you looked at what’s coming up in 2022? So many excellent books!
This list is heavy on the contemporary fiction. It’s what I like best. I’m not saying there are no good fantasy or sci-fi or whatever books—this is just my personal list of anticipated reads. I scrolled through various lists for a looong time and eventually decided I had to stop adding things to my list and seeking out more information. I’m sure I missed plenty of things that I, personally, would be very excited about. Thank goodness the internet and publishers will make sure I don’t overlook great books as release dates get closer! I will have to do another list in a few months, as this list is filled with books from only the first half of the year.
Hop in the comments or catch me on Twitter @CiteSomething and tell me what you are excited to read in 2022!
All descriptions from the publishers or Goodreads summaries.
In Every Generation by Kendare Blake (ISBN-13: 9781368075022 Publisher: Disney Press Publication date: 01/04/2022, Ages 12-18)
The first in an all-new series by New York Times best-selling author Kendare Blake continues the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer featuring the next generation of Scoobies and Slayers who must defeat a powerful new evil.
A new Slayer for a new generation…
Frankie Rosenberg is passionate about the environment, a sophomore at New Sunnydale High School, and the daughter of the most powerful witch in Sunnydale history. Her mom, Willow, is slowly teaching her magic on the condition that she use it to better the world. But Frankie’s happily quiet life is upended when new girl Hailey shows up with news that the annual Slayer convention has been the target of an attack, and all the Slayers—including Buffy, Faith, and Hailey’s older sister Vi—might be dead. That means it’s time for this generation’s Slayer to be born.
But being the first ever Slayer-Witch means learning how to wield a stake while trying to control her budding powers. With the help of Hailey, a werewolf named Jake, and a hot but nerdy sage demon, Frankie must become the Slayer, prevent the Hellmouth from opening again, and find out what happened to her Aunt Buffy, before she’s next.
Get ready for a whole new story within the world of Buffy!
Salaam, with Love by Sara Sharaf Beg (ISBN-13: 9780593482629 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 01/04/2022, Ages 12-17)
This heartfelt and humorous YA contemporary follows Dua, who spends the month of Ramadan making unexpected discoveries about family, faith, and first love.
Being crammed into a house in Queens with her cousins is not how Dua envisions her trip to New York City. But here she is, spending the holy month of Ramadan with extended family she hasn’t seen in years.
Dua struggles to find her place in the conservative household and to connect with her aloof, engaged-to-be-married cousin, Mahnoor. And as if fasting the whole day wasn’t tiring enough, she must battle her hormones whenever she sees Hassan, the cute drummer in a Muslim band who has a habit of showing up at her most awkward moments.
After just a month, Dua is surprised to find that she’s learning a lot more than she bargained for about her faith, relationships, her place in the world—and cute drummers. . . .
Underlined is a line of totally addictive romance, thriller, and horror paperback original titles coming to you fast and furious each month. Enjoy everything you want to read the way you want to read it.
Vinyl Moon by Mahogany L. Browne (ISBN-13: 9780593176436 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 01/11/2022, Ages 14-17)
A teen girl hiding the scars of a past relationship finds home and healing in the words of strong Black writers. A beautiful sophomore novel from a critically acclaimed author and poet that explores how words have the power to shape and uplift our world even in the midst of pain.
When Darius told Angel he loved her, she believed him. But five weeks after the incident, Angel finds herself in Brooklyn, far from her family, from him, and from the California life she has known.
Angel feels out of sync with her new neighborhood. At school, she can’t shake the feeling everyone knows what happened—and that it was her fault. The only place that makes sense is Ms. G’s class. There, Angel’s classmates share their own stories of pain, joy, and fortitude. And as Angel becomes immersed in her revolutionary literature course, the words from novels like The Bluest Eye and Pushspeak to her and begin to heal the wounds of her past.
This stunning novel weaves together prose, poems, and vignettes to tell the story of Angel, a young woman whose past was shaped by domestic violence but whose love of language and music and the gift of community grant her the chance to find herself again.
The Greatest Thing by Sarah Winifred Searle (ISBN-13: 9781250297235 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 01/25/2022, Ages 14-18)
This tender YA comic is perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Drama and Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham’s Real Friends who are ready to graduate to their first teen graphic novel.
It’s the first day of sophomore year, and now that Winifred’s two best (and only) friends have transferred to a private school, she must navigate high school on her own.
But she isn’t alone for long. In art class, she meets two offbeat students, Oscar and April. The three bond through clandestine sleepovers, thrift store shopping, and zine publishing. Winifred is finally breaking out of her shell, but there’s one secret she can’t bear to admit to April and Oscar, or even to herself—and this lie is threatening to destroy her newfound friendships.
With breathtaking art and honest storytelling, rising star Sarah Winifred Searle delivers a heartfelt story about love, friendship, and self-acceptance.
Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman by Kristen R. Lee (ISBN-13: 9780593309155 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 02/01/2022, Ages 14-17)
A striking debut novel about racism on elite college campuses. Fans of Dear White People will embrace this activist-centered contemporary novel about a college freshman grappling with the challenges of attending an elite university with a disturbing racist history, which may not be as distant as it seems.
Savannah Howard sacrificed her high school social life to make sure she got into a top college. Her sights were set on an HBCU, but when she is accepted to the ivy-covered walls of Wooddale University on a full ride, how can she say no?
Wooddale is far from the perfectly manicured community it sells on its brochures, though. Savannah has barely unpacked before she comes face to face with microagressions stemming from racism and elitism. Then Clive Wilmington’s statue is vandalized with blackface. The prime suspect? Lucas Cunningham, Wooddale’s most popular student and son of a local prominent family. Soon Savannah is unearthing secrets of Wooddale’s racist history. But what’s the price for standing up for what is right? And will telling the truth about Wooddale’s past cost Savannah her own future?
A stunning, challenging, and timely debut about racism and privilege on college campuses.
Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions by Navdeep Singh Dhillon (ISBN-13: 9780593109977 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 02/08/2022, Ages 12-17)
For fans of Sandhya Menon and Adam Silvera, a prom-night romantic-comedy romp about a Sikh teen’s search for love and identity
Sunny G’s brother left him one thing when he died: His notebook, which Sunny is determined to fill up with a series of rash decisions. Decision number one was a big one: He stopped wearing his turban, cut off his hair, and shaved his beard. He doesn’t look like a Sikh anymore. He doesn’t look like himself anymore. Even his cosplay doesn’t look right without his beard.
Sunny debuts his new look at prom, which he’s stuck going to alone. He’s skipping the big fandom party—the one where he’d normally be in full cosplay, up on stage playing bass with his band and his best friend, Ngozi—in favor of the Very Important Prom Experience. An experience that’s starting to look like a bust.
Enter Mindii Vang, a girl with a penchant for making rash decisions of her own, starting with stealing Sunny’s notebook. When Sunny chases after her, prom turns into an all-night adventure—a night full of rash, wonderful, romantic, stupid, life-changing decisions.
This Might Get Awkward by Kara McDowell (ISBN-13: 9781338746235 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 03/01/2022, Ages 12+)
Sophie Kinsella meets Sarah Dessen in the most hilarious, romantic book of the summer about a girl with social anxiety and the boy who refuses to let her hide herself away.
Seventeen-year-old Gemma’s favorite kind of beach is an empty one. Social interactions are too much for her to handle. She always says the wrong thing—if she manages to say anything at all. She can’t even bring herself to speak to her longtime crush, Beau Booker, without losing sleep over her own awkwardness.
During a solo outing to her favorite beach, Gemma realizes—to her horror—that the popular kids from school have shown up to throw a party. Before she can sneak away (and possibly puke behind her car) Gemma is pulled into the action and ends up talking to Beau, who asks her to pretend that they’re “close.” Gemma is too flustered and flattered to refuse, and mostly, she’s wondering why Beau is talking to her at all . . . right up until the moment when he falls off the boat, hits his head, and ends up in a coma.
After rescuing Beau from the water, Gemma is mistaken for Beau’s girlfriend by his friends and family, including his mysterious older brother, Griff, who has returned to town after a year away. Gemma tries to correct the record, but her social anxiety (and a nosy reporter) gets in the way at every turn. Before she knows it, she’s in too deep to backtrack. And when Beau’s warm, boisterous family pulls Gemma into their orbit, she realizes how much she wants to keep them in her life.
For the first time, Gemma has everything she’s ever wanted: friends, big family dinners, and Griff—a boy who she can be herself around. But how can she embrace her new dream life when everything is built on a lie?
Great or Nothing by Joy McCullough, Caroline Tung Richmond, Tess Sharpe, Jessica Spotswood (ISBN-13: 9780593372593 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 03/08/2022, Ages 12-17)
A reimagining of Little Women set in 1942, when the United States is suddenly embroiled in the second World War, this story, told from each March sister’s point of view, is one of grief, love, and self-discovery.
In the fall of 1942, the United States is still reeling from the attack on Pearl Harbor. While the US starts sending troops to the front, the March family of Concord, Massachusetts grieves their own enormous loss: the death of their daughter, Beth.
Under the strain of their grief, Beth’s remaining sisters fracture, each going their own way with Jo nursing her wounds and building planes in Connecticut, Meg holding down the home front with Marmee, and Amy living a secret life as a Red Cross volunteer in London–the same city where one Mr. Theodore Laurence is stationed as an army pilot.
Each March sister’s point of view is written by a separate author, three in prose and Beth’s in verse, still holding the family together from beyond the grave. Woven together, these threads tell a story of finding one’s way in a world undergoing catastrophic change.
My Sister’s Big Fat Indian Wedding by Sajni Patel (ISBN-13: 9781419754531 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 04/19/2022, Ages 13-18)
A fresh, witty rom-com romp set against the backdrop of a high-profile music competition and a riotous Indian wedding
Zurika Damani is a naturally gifted violinist with a particular love for hip hop beats. But when you’re part of a big Indian family, everyone has expectations, and those certainly don’t include hip hop violin. After being rejected by Juilliard, Zuri’s last hope is a contest judged by a panel of top tier college scouts. The only problem? This coveted competition happens to take place during Zuri’s sister’s extravagant wedding week. And Zuri has already been warned, repeatedly, that she is not to miss a single moment.
In the midst of the chaos, Zuri’s mom is in matchmaking mode with the groom’s South African cousin Naveen—who just happens to be a cocky vocalist set on stealing Zuri’s spotlight at the scouting competition. Luckily Zuri has a crew of loud and loyal female cousins cheering her on. Now, all she has to do is to wow the judges for a top spot, evade getting caught by her parents, resist Naveen’s charms, and, oh yeah . . . not mess up her sister’s big fat Indian wedding. What could possibly go wrong?
See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon (ISBN-13: 9781665901925 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers Publication date: 05/03/2022, Ages 14-18)
From the author of Today Tonight Tomorrow comes a magical romance in the vein of The Opposite of Always and Palm Springs about a teen girl forced to relive her disastrous first day of college—only to discover that her archnemesis is stuck in the time loop with her.
Barrett Bloom is hoping college will be a fresh start after her messy high school experience. But when school starts on September 21st, everything goes wrong. She can’t switch out of her Physics 101 class even after being humiliated by the awkward guy sitting next to her, and she botches her interview for the college paper. At a frat party that night, she accidentally tips over a tiki torch and sets the place on fire. She panics and flees, and when she realizes her roommate locked her out of their dorm, she falls asleep on a couch in the common room.
The next morning, Barrett’s perplexed to find herself back in her dorm room bed, no longer smelling of ashes and crushed dreams. It’s September 21st. Again. And after a confrontation with Miles, the guy from her physics class, she learns she’s not alone—he’s been trapped for months.
When her attempts to fix her timeline fail, she agrees to work with Miles to figure out what’s going on. They start skipping their classes in favor of the library and research trips that take them into the unexplored underbelly of the university and across state lines. As Barrett starts to fall for Miles, the two of them must find a way to grow and change alongside the shifting fabric of the universe. But the one question they can’t answer is what they’ll mean to each other if they finally make it to tomorrow.
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston (ISBN-13: 9781250244451 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 05/03/2022, Ages 13-18)
From the New York Times bestselling author of One Last Stop and Red, White & Royal Blue comes a debut YA romantic comedy about chasing down what you want, only to find what you need…
Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and a puritanical administration at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny.
But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.
On a furious hunt for answers, Chloe discovers she’s not the only one Shara kissed. There’s also Smith, Shara’s longtime quarterback sweetheart, and Rory, Shara’s bad boy neighbor with a crush. The three have nothing in common except Shara and the annoyingly cryptic notes she left behind, but together they must untangle Shara’s trail of clues and find her. It’ll be worth it, if Chloe can drag Shara back before graduation to beat her fair-and-square.
Thrown into an unlikely alliance, chasing a ghost through parties, break-ins, puzzles, and secrets revealed on monogrammed stationery, Chloe starts to suspect there might be more to this small town than she thought. And maybe—probably not, but maybe—more to Shara, too.
Fierce, funny, and frank, Casey McQuiston’s I Kissed Shara Wheeler is about breaking the rules, getting messy, and finding love in unexpected places.
Destination Unknown by Bill Konigsberg (ISBN-13: 9781338618051 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 05/17/2022, Ages 12-18)
From Stonewall Award winner Bill Konigsberg, a remarkable, funny, sexy, heartbreaking story of two teen boys finding each other in New York City at the height of the AIDS epidemic.
The first thing I noticed about C.J. Gorman was his plexiglass bra.
So begins Destination Unknown — it’s 1987 in New York City, and Micah is at a dance club, trying to pretend he’s more out and outgoing than he really is. C.J. isn’t just out — he’s complete out there, and Micah can’t help but be both attracted to and afraid of someone who travels so loudly and proudly through the night.
A connection occurs. Is it friendship? Romance? Is C.J. the one with all the answers… or does Micah bring more to the relationship that it first seems? As their lives become more and more entangled in the AIDS epidemic that’s laying waste to their community, and the AIDS activism that will ultimately bring a strong voice to their demands, whatever Micah and C.J. have between them will be tested, strained, pushed, and pulled — but it will also be a lifeline in a time of death, a bond that will determine the course of their futures.
In Destination Unknown, Bill Konigsberg returns to a time he knew well as a teenager to tell a story of identity, connection, community, and survival.
Hell Followed with Us by Andrew Joseph White (ISBN-13: 9781682633243 Publisher: Peachtree Teen Publication date: 06/07/2022, Ages 14+)
A furious debut novel from Andrew Joseph White about embracing the monster within and unleashing its power against your oppressors. Perfect for fans of Gideon the Ninth and Annihilation.
Sixteen-year-old trans boy Benji is on the run from the cult that raised him—the fundamentalist sect that unleashed Armageddon and decimated the world’s population. Desperately, he searches for a place where the cult can’t get their hands on him, or more importantly, on the bioweapon they infected him with.
But when cornered by monsters born from the destruction, Benji is rescued by a group of teens from the local Acheson LGBTQ+ Center, affectionately known as the ALC. The ALC’s leader, Nick, is gorgeous, autistic, and a deadly shot, and he knows Benji’s darkest secret: the cult’s bioweapon is mutating him into a monster deadly enough to wipe humanity from the earth once and for all.
Still, Nick offers Benji shelter among his ragtag group of queer teens, as long as Benji can control the monster and use its power to defend the ALC. Eager to belong, Benji accepts Nick’s terms…until he discovers the ALC’s mysterious leader has a hidden agenda, and more than a few secrets of his own.
We Weren’t Looking to Be Found by Stephanie Kuehn (ISBN-13: 9781368064101 Publisher: Disney Press Publication date: 06/21/2022, Ages 14-18)
Two young girls. Two disparate stories. One unlikely friendship….
Dani comes from the richest, most famous Black family in Texas and seems to have everything a girl could want. So why does she keep using and engaging in other self-destructive behavior?
Camila’s Colombian-American family doesn’t have much, but she knows exactly what she wants out of life and works her ass off to get it. So why does she keep failing, and why does she self-harm every time she does?
When Dani and Camila find themselves rooming together at Peach Tree Hills, a treatment facility in beautiful rural Georgia, they initially think they’ll never get along—and they’ll never get better. But then they find a mysterious music box filled with letters from a former resident of PTH, and together they set out to solve the mystery of who this girl was . . . and who she’s become. The investigation will bring them together, and what they find at the end might just bring them hope.
From award-winning author Stephanie Kuehn comes a breathtaking tale of friendship and healing. Both poignant and timely, We Weren’t Looking to Be Found is complex, hopeful, and heartbreaking all at once.
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About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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