Summer is a-comin’ in, which means it’s the perfect time to look back at the first half of 2020 and all the incredible YA books it brought us. We’ve listed BookPage readers’ top 15 favorites so far below.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning Stamped from the Beginning
Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi$18.98 $17.46
“More than merely a young reader’s adaptation of Kendi’s landmark work, Stamped does a remarkable job of tying together disparate threads while briskly moving through its historical narrative,” writes BookPage reviewer Autumn Allen.
Tiffany Jewell and Aurelia Durand$14.99 $13.79
BookPage reviewer Autumn Allen highlighted author Tiffany Jewell’s intentionally inclusive language and illustrator Aurélia Durand’s colorful images that depict diverse groups of young people among the many strengths of This Book Is Anti-Racist, a handbook that will provide “a safe and inviting way for teen readers to reflect on the world’s issues and their place in solving them.”
Monica Hesse$17.99 $16.55
Monica Hesse narrowed in on the often overlooked period of uncertainty and instability that followed WWII’s conclusion in They Went Left. The result, BookPage reviewer Kevin Delecki wrote, was a “heartbreaking yet hopeful story of what it takes to survive after trauma” that blended romance, mystery and, of course, history.
Suzanne Collins$27.99 $25.19
Suzanne Collins’ announcement that she had written a prequel to her blockbuster Hunger Games trilogy set the YA landscape ablaze.
Marie Lu$18.99 $17.47
Marie Lu’s first foray into historical fantasy explores the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s sister, Nannerl. BookPage reviewer Jessica Wakeman praised Lu’s “light touch” in illustrating “how the gifts of talented, ambitious young women like Nannerl were overlooked and unappreciated.”
Aisha Saeed and Becky Albertalli$19.99 $18.39
Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed made us swoon and ignited our sense of activism in their first collaboration, Yes No Maybe So, the story of two teens who fall for each other while canvassing for a state senate race. BookPage contributor Linda M. Castellito singled out the book’s “compassionate exploration of what’s worth fighting for.”
Deborah Wiles$17.99 $16.55
In her starred review, BookPage writer Alice Cary hailed Kent State as “a powerful work of art that serves as both as a historical record of a national tragedy and a call to action for every American.”
Jenny Lee$18.98 $17.46
“Wonderfully observed,” “immersive,” “effortless,” “glittering” and “addictive” are just a few of the adjectives BookPage writer Annie Metcalf used to describe the foibles of Anna, Vronsky and their friends.
Lamar Giles$17.98 $16.54
Lamar Giles embarked on his first non-mystery narrative in Not So Pure and Simple, a thoughtful exploration of gender politics and toxic masculinity. BookPage reviewer Jill Ratzan raved about the way “Giles successfully integrates social justice themes into [the] story while maintaining a genuinely engaging and often hilarious tone” in her starred review.
Anna-Marie McLemore$17.99 $16.55
In her starred review, BookPage writer Alice Cary called McLemore’s latest a “provocative, insightful collision of fairy tale and history” and “a powerful demonstration of McLemore’s immense talent.”
Amanda Sellet$17.99 $16.55
It’s hard to imagine a book more perfect for bibliophiles than Amanda Sellet’s debut novel, By the Book, the story of a teen girl named Mary who diagnoses the romantic woes of her friends through lessons gleaned from works of classic literature.
Kelly Yang$18.98 $17.46
BookPage writer Jessica Wakeman heaped praise on Front Desk author Kelly Yang’s first YA novel in her starred review. The book, she wrote, “goes much deeper than a predictable story of rich girl versus poor girl,” “incorporates issues of sexual assault and abuse, discrimination, parental infidelity and emotional neglect into an elaborate and twisting narrative” and “has an impressive buoyancy despite these weighty subjects.”
Maggie Tokuda-Hall$18.99 $17.47
Maggie Tokuda-Hall made a splash in YA with The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea, a swashbuckling tale of romance and adventure on the high seas of fantasy. BookPage reviewer Annie Metcalf called her effort “strikingly original and accomplished,” highlighting the way “queer and gender nonconforming characters are everywhere, and their normalization within the world of the book is remarkable and praiseworthy.”
Sharon Cameron$18.99 $17.47
Based on the true story of Holocaust heroine Stefania Podgórska, a 16-year-old girl who hid 13 Jewish people in the attic of her tiny apartment while two German nurses and their SS boyfriends moved in downstairs, BookPage writer Cary called The Light in Hidden Places “a tense and gripping novel, full of urgency, in which death seems to wait around every corner.”
Marisa Kanter$18.99 $17.47
Marisa Kanter’s novel about a book reviewer who bakes and photographs cupcakes to accompany her online book reviews is “a charming, witty story about authenticity in the social media age, told with a wink and a string of heart-eyes emojis,” raved BookPage reviewer Kimberly Giarratano.