2023 Young Adult Books to Have on Your Radar
Here’s what YA I’m really looking forward to reading in 2023. These books all fall in the first half of the year, so look for another list in the coming months that will look at books coming out in fall and winter 2023!
All descriptions from the publishers.
The Roof Over Our Heads by Nicole Kronzer (ISBN-13: 9781419754562 Publisher: Amulet Books Publication date: 01/03/2023, Ages 12-18)
A charming YA novel about a family who puts on an immersive, interactive play to save their historical home
Finn lives in a family of theater lovers. His older brothers are both actors, and one of his moms is an actor and the other one is a director. They even live in an enormous historic mansion owned by the Beauregard, Minnesota’s largest regional theater. Finn is desperate to be an actor, too, despite the fact that he can never seem to remember his lines. When a new artistic director threatens to sell the Jorgensen house and kick his family out of the only home he’s ever known, his family puts on a show—an immersive 1890s experience unlike anything else out there. But will it be too much for his mom Lula, who is recovering from cancer? Will Finn connect with his crush and deal with his long-time rival, Jade? Will saving the house save Finn’s acting career? Funny, warm, and full of Victorian hijinks, this is a novel for anyone looking for a place to belong.
Friday I’m in Love by Camryn Garrett (ISBN-13: 9780593435106 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 01/10/2023, Ages 12-17)
It’s too late for a Sweet Sixteen, but what if Mahalia had a coming-out party? A love letter to romantic comedies, sweet sixteen blowouts, Black joy, and queer pride.
“A perfect ode to romantic comedies, wrapped in a dazzling rainbow dress.” —Rachael Lippincott, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Five Feet Apart and She Gets the Girl
Mahalia Harris wants.
She wants a big Sweet Sixteen like her best friend, Naomi.
She wants the super-cute new girl Siobhan to like her back.
She wants a break from worrying—about money, snide remarks from white classmates, pitying looks from church ladies . . . all of it.
Then inspiration strikes: It’s too late for a Sweet Sixteen, but what if she had a coming-out party? A singing, dancing, rainbow-cake-eating celebration of queerness on her own terms.
The idea lights a fire beneath her, and soon Mahalia is scrimping and saving, taking on extra hours at her afterschool job, trying on dresses, and awkwardly flirting with Siobhan, all in preparation for the coming out of her dreams. But it’s not long before she’s buried in a mountain of bills, unfinished schoolwork, and enough drama to make her English lit teacher blush. With all the responsibility on her shoulders, will Mahalia’s party be over before it’s even begun?
A novel about finding yourself, falling in love, and celebrating what makes you you.
“Mahalia’s story lives, breathes and glows. I’m in love with it every day of the week!” —Becky Albertalli, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda
We Are All So Good at Smiling by Amber McBride (ISBN-13: 9781250780386 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 01/10/2023, Ages 14-17)
They Both Die at the End meets The Bell Jar in this haunting, beautiful young adult novel-in-verse about clinical depression and healing from trauma, from National Book Award Finalist Amber McBride.
Whimsy is back in the hospital for treatment of clinical depression. When she meets a boy named Faerry, she recognizes they both have magic in the marrow of their bones. And when Faerry and his family move to the same street, the two start to realize that their lifelines may have twined and untwined many times before.
They are both terrified of the forest at the end of Marsh Creek Lane.
The Forest whispers to Whimsy. The Forest might hold the answers to the part of Faerry he feels is missing. They discover the Forest holds monsters, fairy tales, and pain that they have both been running from for 11 years.
The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be: A Speculative Memoir of Transracial Adoption by Shannon Gibney (ISBN-13: 9780593111994 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/10/2023, Ages 14-17)
Part memoir, part speculative fiction, The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be explores the often surreal experience of growing up as a mixed-Black transracial adoptee.
Dream Country author Shannon Gibney returns with The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be, a book woven from her true story of growing up as a mixed-Black transracial adoptee and fictional story of Erin Powers, the name Shannon was given at birth, a child raised by a white, closeted lesbian.
At its core, the novel is a tale of two girls on two different timelines occasionally bridged by a mysterious portal and their shared search for a complete picture of their origins. Gibney surrounds that story with reproductions of her own adoption documents, letters, family photographs, interviews, medical records, and brief essays on the surreal absurdities of the adoptee experience.
The end result is a remarkable portrait of an American experience rarely depicted in any form.
This Is Not a Personal Statement by Tracy Badua (ISBN-13: 9780063217751 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 01/17/2023, Ages 13-17)
Admission meets American Panda in this propulsive, poignant YA contemporary novel about a teen who, after getting rejected from her dream college, forges her own acceptance and commits to living a lie. Perfect for fans of Mary H.K. Choi!
At sixteen, Perla is the youngest graduating senior of the hypercompetitive Monte Verde High. Praised—and not-so-quietly bashed—as “Perfect Perlie Perez,” Perla knows all the late nights, social isolation, and crushing stress will be worth it when she gets into the college of her (and her parents’) dreams: Delmont University.
Then Perla doesn’t get in, and her meticulously planned future shatters. In a panic, she forges her own acceptance letter, and next thing she knows, she’s heading to Delmont for real, acceptance or not. Soon, Perla is breaking into dorm rooms, crashing classes, and dodging questions from new friends about her lack of a student ID. Her plan? Gather on-the-ground intel to beef up her application and reapply spring semester before she’s caught.
But as her guilty conscience grows and campus security looms large, Perla starts to wonder if her plan will really succeed—and if this dream she’s worked for her entire life is something she even wants.
From rising star Tracy Badua comes a gripping, incisive tale of acceptance, self-discovery, and the infinite possibilities that await when we embrace our imperfections.
As You Walk On By by Julian Winters (ISBN-13: 9780593206508 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/17/2023, Ages 12-17)
The Breakfast Club meets Can’t Hardly Wait with an unforgettable ensemble cast in another swoony YA contemporary from award-winning author Julian Winters!
Seventeen-year-old Theo Wright has it all figured out. His plan (well, more like his dad’s plan) is a foolproof strategy that involves exceling at his magnet school, getting scouted by college recruiters, and going to Duke on athletic scholarship. But for now, all Theo wants is a perfect prom night. After his best friend Jay dares Theo to prompose to his crush at Chloe Campbell’s party, Theo’s ready to throw caution to the wind and take his chances.
But when the promposal goes epically wrong, Theo seeks refuge in an empty bedroom while the party rages on downstairs. Having an existential crisis about who he really is with and without his so-called best friend wasn’t on tonight’s agenda. Though, as the night goes on, Theo finds he’s not as alone as he thinks when, one by one, new classmates join him to avoid who they’re supposed be outside the bedroom door. Among them, a familiar acquaintance, a quiet outsider, an old friend, and a new flame . . .
One Girl In All The World (Buffy: The Next Generation, Book 2): In Every Generation Book 2 by Kendare Blake (ISBN-13: 9781368075077 Publisher: Disney Press Publication date: 01/31/2023 Series: Buffy: The Next Generation Series, Ages 12-18)
“A worthy successor to the Slayer stories.” —Booklist (starred review for In Every Generation)
#1 New York Times best-selling author Kendare Blake returns to New Sunnydale in this sequel to In Every Generation, set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Frankie Rosenberg is the world’s first slayer-witch, but she doesn’t have that slay-life balance figured out just yet. She’s still reeling from the deadly explosion at the annual slayer retreat—and new evidence that some slayers may have survived. And while she’s defeated her first Big Bad, Frankie soon realizes it was just a warm up act—and bigger, badder forces of evil are only just getting started. The Hellmouth has been reawakened, inter-dimensional portals are opening, and an oracle warns of a new foe on its way: the Darkness.
Could this be what attacked the slayers? And is it coming for Frankie?
Promise Boys by Nick Brooks (ISBN-13: 9781250866974 Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) Publication date: 01/31/2023, Ages 14-18)
The Hate U Give meets One of Us Is Lying in Nick Brooks’s Promise Boys, a trailblazing, blockbuster YA mystery about three teen boys of color who must investigate their principal’s murder to clear their own names—for fans of Jason Reynolds, Angie Thomas, and Karen McManus.
“A brilliant pulls-no-punches mystery with bruised hearts at its core.” —Adam Silvera, #1 New York Times bestselling author of They Both Die at the End
“Thrilling, captivating, and blade-sharp. Promise Boys will stay with you long after the last page.” —Karen M. McManus, #1 New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying
The Urban Promise Prep School vows to turn boys into men. As students, J.B., Ramón, and Trey are forced to follow the prestigious “program’s” strict rules. Extreme discipline, they’ve been told, is what it takes to be college bound, to avoid the fates of many men in their neighborhoods. This, the Principal Moore Method, supposedly saves lives.
But when Moore ends up murdered and the cops come sniffing around, the trio emerges as the case’s prime suspects. With all three maintaining their innocence, they must band together to track down the real killer before they are arrested. But is the true culprit hiding among them?
Always the Almost by Edward Underhill (ISBN-13: 9781250835208 Publisher: St. Martin’s Publishing Group Publication date: 02/14/2023, Ages 12-18)
A trans pianist makes a New Year’s resolution on a frozen Wisconsin night to win regionals and win back his ex, but a new boy complicates things in Edward Underhill’s heartfelt debut YA rom-dram, Always the Almost.
Sixteen-year-old trans boy Miles Jacobson has two New Year’s resolutions: 1) win back his ex-boyfriend (and star of the football team) Shane McIntyre, and 2) finally beat his slimy arch-nemesis at the Midwest’s biggest classical piano competition. But that’s not going to be so easy. For one thing, Shane broke up with Miles two weeks after Miles came out as trans, and now Shane’s stubbornly ignoring him, even when they literally bump into each other. Plus, Miles’ new, slightly terrifying piano teacher keeps telling him that he’s playing like he “doesn’t know who he is”—whatever that means.
Then Miles meets the new boy in town, Eric Mendez, a proudly queer cartoonist from Seattle who asks his pronouns, cares about art as much as he does—and makes his stomach flutter. Not what he needs to be focusing on right now. But after Eric and Miles pretend to date so they can score an invite to a couples-only Valentine’s party, the ruse turns real with a kiss, which is also definitely not in the plan. If only Miles could figure out why Eric likes him so much. After all, it’s not like he’s cool or confident or comfortable in his own skin. He’s not even good enough at piano to get his fellow competitors to respect him, especially now, as Miles. Nothing’s ever been as easy for him as for other people—other boys. He’s only ever been almost enough.
So why, when he’s with Eric, does it feel like the only person he’s ever really not been enough for…is himself?
She Is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran (ISBN-13: 9781547610815 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 02/28/2023, Ages 13-17)
This house eats and is eaten . . .
“A riveting debut from a remarkable new voice! Trang Thanh Tran weaves an impressive gothic mystery in which Jade’s father is determined to restore a decrepit home to its former glory and Jade is the only person who feels the soul-crushing devastation of colonialism lingering within its walls.” —Angeline Boulley, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Firekeeper’s Daughter
A House with a terrifying appetite haunts a broken family in this atmospheric horror, perfect for fans of Mexican Gothic.
When Jade Nguyen arrives in Vietnam for a visit with her estranged father, she has one goal: survive five weeks pretending to be a happy family in the French colonial house Ba is restoring. She’s always lied to fit in, so if she’s straight enough, Vietnamese enough, American enough, she can get out with the college money he promised.
But the house has other plans. Night after night, Jade wakes up paralyzed. The walls exude a thrumming sound while bugs leave their legs and feelers in places they don’t belong. She finds curious traces of her ancestors in the gardens they once tended. And at night Jade can’t ignore the ghost of the beautiful bride who leaves cryptic warnings: Don’t eat.
Neither Ba nor her sweet sister Lily believe that there is anything strange happening. With help from a delinquent girl, Jade will prove this house—the home they have always wanted—will not rest until it destroys them. Maybe, this time, she can keep her family together. As she roots out the house’s rot, she must also face the truth of who she is and who she must become to save them all.
Study Break: 11 College Tales from Orientation to Graduation by Aashna Avachat (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9781250848055 Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Publication date: 03/07/2023, Ages 14-18)
Study Break, a collection of interconnected contemporary Young Adult short stories written by Gen Z authors, explores different parts of “the college experience,” from questioning your major to questioning your identity.
College…the best time, the worst time, and something in between.
What do you do when orientation isn’t going according to your (sister’s) detailed plans? Where do you go when you’re searching for community in faith? How do you figure out what it means that you’re suddenly attracted to your RA? What happens when your partner for your last film project is also your crush and graduation is quickly approaching?
Told over the course of one academic year, this collection of stories set on the same fictional campus features students from different cultures, genders, and interests learning more about who they are and who they want to be. From new careers to community to (almost) missed connections — and more — these interconnected tales explore the ways university life can be stressful and confusing and exciting and fulfilling.
Gen Z contributors include Jake Maia Arlow, Arushi Avachat, Boon Carmen, Ananya Devarajan, Camryn Garrett, Christina Li, Racquel Marie, Oyin, Laila Sabreen, Michael Waters, and Joelle Wellington.
Enter the Body by Joy McCullough (ISBN-13: 9780593406755 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 03/14/2023, Ages 14-17)
In the room beneath a stage’s trapdoor, Shakespeare’s dead teenage girls—Juliet, Ophelia, Cordelia, and others—compare their experiences and retell the stories of their lives in their own terms.
Enter the Body gives voice to a cast of the young women who die in Shakespeare’s plays. Focusing on the stories of Juliet, Ophelia, and Cordelia, bestselling author of Blood Water Paint Joy McCullough brilliantly weaves retellings of Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, and King Lear into a larger story about how young women can support each other and reclaim their stories in the aftermath of trauma.
House Party by justin a. reynolds (Editor) (ISBN-13: 9780593488157 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 06/27/2023, Ages 12+)
Ten bestselling, critically acclaimed authors deliver a fresh novel of interconnected stories that follows a group of young adults over the course of a few wild, transformative hours at an epic house party!
The biggest event of the year is happening, and you’re invited! Join us for Florence Hills High School seniors’ last hurrah before graduation.
THE LOCATION: A megamansion in one of Chicago’s wealthiest suburban enclaves
THE HOST: DeAndre Dixon, aka FHHS’s golden boy
THE GUESTS: The populars, the jocks, the artists, and heck, even that one kid
THE HOPE: All the drama ensues. Kisses are swapped between old friends, new friends, and could’ve-sworn-they-were-enemies kind of friends. Relationships get tested. Animals roam free. Secrets are spilled. Add dope music that’s thumping, and there’s a good chance the whole neighborhood will be disrupted.
Featuring: Angeline Boulley • Jerry Craft • Natasha Díaz • Lamar Giles • Ryan La Sala • Christina Hammonds Reed • justin a. reynolds • Randy Ribay • Yamile Saied Méndez • Jasmine Warga
House Party offers a delightful snapshot of diverse classmates getting ready to say goodbye to high school and hello to life’s next chapter—but not before they make their final night together one they’ll never forget!
Filed under: new books
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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