What's Up in YA

✋7 Upcoming YA Nonfiction Titles To TBR ASAP

Hey YA Readers: It’s nonfiction November, so let’s celebrate!

“What’s Up In YA?” is sponsored by Epic Reads.

From New York Times bestselling author Claire Legrand comes a frightening YA thriller perfect for fans of Victoria Schwab and Stranger Things. Who are the Sawkill Girls? Marion: The newbie. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find. Zoey: The pariah. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Val: The queen bee. A heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies. Their stories come together on Sawkill Rock, where kids whisper the legend of a monster at parties around campfires. Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight . . . until now.

I’ve said it over and over again: nonfiction for young readers doesn’t get the love it deserves. It’s true yet again that this year’s Goodreads Choice Awards fails to include a category dedicated to the outstanding nonfiction written for young people. It’s unfortunate that the wide range of true stories isn’t as celebrated and honored as those that are fictional. I’m a little more convinced each year it’s because nonfiction for young readers doesn’t have the same appeal for adults as fiction does; that’s not belittling adults reading fiction or nonfiction being not appealing to adult readers. I don’t believe either of those things. Rather, it’s less an obvious market overlap.

So in spite of the lack of nonfiction love, how about we offer up a little bit in November? Fellow Book Rioter Kim Ukura cohosts an annual event called Nonfiction November, and it felt fitting to put together a couple of newsletters this month dedicated to the wonderful world of YA nonfiction.

First up: a look at some of the 2019 offerings in the world of YA nonfiction to get excited about. This is but a glimpse, and note, too, that it’s pretty white. It’s not representative of YA nonfiction as a whole, but rather, representative of what I’ve found in a quick search (do note, though, it’s inclusive of sexuality, gender identity, and ability!). If you know of any upcoming 2019 YA nonfiction titles by authors of color, hit reply and I’ll include them in a future round-up.

Descriptions are from Goodreads because I haven’t read any of these yet, though three are sitting on my pile…

Brave Face by Shaun David Hutchinson (August 20)

“I wasn’t depressed because I was gay. I was depressed and gay.”

Shaun David Hutchinson was nineteen. Confused. Struggling to find the vocabulary to understand and accept who he was and how he fit into a community in which he couldn’t see himself. The voice of depression told him that he would never be loved or wanted, while powerful and hurtful messages from society told him that being gay meant love and happiness weren’t for him.

A million moments large and small over the years all came together to convince Shaun that he couldn’t keep going, that he had no future. And so he followed through on trying to make that a reality.

Thankfully Shaun survived, and over time, came to embrace how grateful he is and how to find self-acceptance. In this courageous and deeply honest memoir, Shaun takes readers through the journey of what brought him to the edge, and what has helped him truly believe that it does get better.

The Electric War: Edison, Tesla, and The Race To Light The World by Mike Winchell (January 22)

In the mid-to-late-nineteenth century, a burgeoning science called electricity promised to shine new light on a rousing nation. Inventive and ambitious minds were hard at work. Soon that spark was fanned and given life, and a fiery war was under way to be the first to light—and run—the world with electricity. Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor of direct current (DC), engaged in a brutal battle with Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse, the inventors of alternating current (AC). There would be no ties in this bout—only a winner and a loser. The prize: a nationwide monopoly in electric current. Brimming with action, suspense, and rich historical and biographical information about these inventors, here is the rousing account of one of the world’s defining scientific competitions.

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson is known for the unflinching way she writes about, and advocates for, survivors of sexual assault. Now, inspired by her fans and enraged by how little in our culture has changed since her groundbreaking novel Speak was first published twenty years ago, she has written a poetry memoir that is as vulnerable as it is rallying, as timely as it is timeless. In free verse, Anderson shares reflections, rants, and calls to action woven between deeply personal stories from her life that she’s never written about before. Searing and soul-searching, this important memoir is a denouncement of our society’s failures and a love letter to all the people with the courage to say #metoo and #timesup, whether aloud, online, or only in their own hearts. Shout speaks truth to power in a loud, clear voice– and once you hear it, it is impossible to ignore.

Strangers Assume My Girlfriend Is My Nurse by Shane Burcaw (April 30)

With his signature acerbic wit and hilarious voice, twenty-something author, blogger, and entrepreneur Shane Burcaw is back with an essay collection about living a full life in a body that many people perceive as a tragedy. From anecdotes about first introductions where people patted him on the head instead of shaking his hand, to stories of passersby mistaking his able-bodied girlfriend for a nurse, Shane tackles awkward situations and assumptions with humor and grace.

On the surface, these essays are about day-to-day life as a wheelchair user with a degenerative disease, but they are actually about family, love, and coming of age.

Trans Mission: My Quest To A Beard by Alex Bertie (May 19)

I guess we should start at the beginning. I was born on November 2nd, 1995. The doctors in the hospital took one look at my genitals and slapped an F on my birth certificate. ‘F’ for female, not fail–though that would actually have been kind of appropriate given present circumstances.
When I was fifteen, I realized I was a transgender man. That makes it sound like I had some kind of lightbulb moment. In reality, coming to grips with my identity has taken a long time.
Over the last six years, I’ve come out to my family and friends, changed my name, battled the healthcare system, started taking male hormones and have had surgery on my chest. My quest to a beard is almost complete. This is my story.
Accessible and emotional, Trans Mission fills a gap in nonfiction about and for transgender teens.


A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II by Elizabeth Wein (January 22)

In the early years of World War II, Josef Stalin issued an order that made the Soviet Union the first country in the world to allow female pilots to fly in combat. Led by Marina Raskova, these three regiments, including the 588th Night Bomber Regiment—nicknamed the “night witches”—faced intense pressure and obstacles both in the sky and on the ground. Some of these young women perished in flames. Many of them were in their teens when they went to war.

This is the story of Raskova’s three regiments, women who enlisted and were deployed on the front lines of battle as navigators, pilots, and mechanics. It is the story of a thousand young women who wanted to take flight to defend their country, and the woman who brought them together in the sky.

Packed with black-and-white photographs, fascinating sidebars, and thoroughly researched details, A Thousand Sisters is the inspiring true story of a group of women who set out to change the world, and the sisterhood they formed even amid the destruction of war.

Yes She Can: 10 Stories of Hope and Change from Young Female Staffers of the Obama White House compiled by Molly Dillon (April 23)

Meet ten amazing young women who were so inspired by Barack Obama’s inclusive feminist politics that they decided to join his White House. Although they were technically the lowest ranked members—and all in their early to mid-twenties at the time—their high levels of responsibility will surprise you.

There’s Kalisha Dessources, policy advisor to the White House Council on Women and Girls, who recounts the day she brought a group of African American girls (and world-renowned choreographer Debbie Allen) to the White House for Black History Month to dance for Michelle Obama; Molly Dillon, who describes organizing and hosting an event for foster care reform with Vice President Biden, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, and a hundred foster kids; Jenna Brayton, one of the members of the first White House digital team, who talks about an Obama initiative to bring together students of all backgrounds and ages from across the country to showcase their vision for the future through cinema; and more.

Full of never-before-told stories, here is an intimate look at Obama’s presidency, as seen through the eyes of the smart, successful young women who (literally) helped rule the world—and they did it right out of college, too.


Hope you found some great reads to look forward to. See you again later this week!

— Kelly Jensen, @veronikellymars on Twitter and Instagram