What's Up in YA

YA New Release A Palooza!: August 21, 2023

Hey YA Readers!

Let’s hit the books hard this week. Cheers to those of you beginning a new school year, either as educators, parents, or students — it’s a weird time in the world of education, and despite what you hear, there are more people supporting and cheering on your success than not.

Before we dive in…Delighting velocireaders since 2017, Book Riot’s New Release Index will keep you in the know about all the latest books. New books for days. Subscribe today — you won’t be able to read them all, but it’s fun to try! 

Bookish Goods

book fund sticker

Book Fund Sticker by TortieandCo

I am pretty sure I’ve shared items from this shop before because the stickers are a load of fun. I love this “book fund” sticker — looks like there’s plenty there for a new paperback or a few sale ebooks! $4, different sizes and customizations available.

New Releases

Here are two of this week’s new releases and once again, I note that there are a lot of really great books out this week — not usual for August in the publishing world to be one with so much.

One of my favorite reads this year is out this week, though you won’t find it below. Laura Zimmerman’s Just Do This One Thing For Me is one I’ll be talking about on All The Books next week, 8/29, so tune in for more on that one.

actually super book cover

Actually Super by Adi Alsaid

Isabel is in her junior year of high school and at a crossroads. She’s lost faith in humanity and in her sense of purpose in the world. In her quest to find this meaning, she’s drawn into an online forum that touts people called supers — these are people who do good things around the world for the purpose of spreading good. They’re mini-heroes, in a sense.

The day she turns 18, Isabel decides she’s going to travel the world and find someone, anyone, who fits this profile. She needs to in order to restore her humanity.

This is a novel about travel, about finding faith in other people, and about the power of looking inward to be who you need for yourself.

forty words for love book cover

Forty Words for Love by Aisha Saeed

If you’re looking for a book with a little magic that is grounded in realism, look no further. A tragic death changed Moonlight Bay from a place of colorful waters and magic to a place that’s done more than dulled around the edges. It’s become grayer, sure, but it’s become colder, too. People have stopped visiting and townspeople are struggling.

Yasmine was born in Moonlight Bay and her parents can’t make ends meet anymore. Rafay is an immigrant, and while Moonlight Bay used to be friendly toward people like him, it no longer is.

Yasmine and Rafay have been friends since he moved in 10 years ago and the two of them continue to have grown closer. But because the forest elders have said people from Willow Bay can’t be with those from the outside, the two have never acted on their feelings. What happens if they do, especially as the community grows more and more hostile?

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Rad YA Nonfiction This Week

I mentioned it was a great week for new releases, so I’m going to highlight two more for your TBR. Both of these are nonfiction, so you can get a nice mix of book types in this week’s roundup.

accountable book cover

Accountable: The True Story of a Racist Social Media Account and the Teenagers Whose Lives It Changed by Dashka Slater

I am kind of bummed this is getting a mid/late August release because it’s so good and should be in a more prime spot in the publisher catalog. Alas, if you like true crime and you liked The 57 Bus, you’ll want to snap this up ASAP.

What does justice mean and how do we decide who has served it and when it has done what it is meant to do? Albany High School has a reputation for being a great place for kids to attend school. But in 2017, a boy at the school created a private Instagram account filled with racist memes he created. When word gets out about the account, he and the followers find themselves being punished by the school — but how does one determine what the appropriate punishment is for the creator vs. those who followed and did not interact vs. those who followed and interacted? And where and how did the creator decide this was an okay thing to do? 

This book asks more questions than it answers, but this is purposeful. We get to know ALL of the players here, including the Black girls who found themselves at the center of many of these racist memes. Can any punishment be enough to make them feel safe or as if justice has been served? As victims, how do they determine what is a “normal” amount of anger or grief or fear and when it seems like it might be too much? Can simply seeing one of those associated with the account trigger a trauma response? 

A timely and thought-provoking read that begs you to keep looking closer and closer before making any decisions.

writing in color book cover

Writing in Color: Fourteen Writers on Lessons We’ve Learned edited by Nafiza Azad and Melody Simpson

Now for a totally different type of YA nonfiction hitting shelves this week. Azad and Simpson have put together a stellar lineup of authors all sharing their experiences being writers.

For budding writers or those who are deep into the craft, this guide is a peeling back of the curtain and it is especially potent as every creator here is a creator of color. Their experiences are as unique as they are as individuals while also pointing toward how the industry itself can be difficult for people of the global majority. What does it really mean to be a writer? What does the writing process look like? How do I get started and what do I do once I have a work I am happy with? These are just some of the questions at the core of the anthology.

The contributors include Julie C. Dao, Chloe Gong, Joan He, Kosoko Jackson, Adiba Jaigirdar, Darcie Little Badger, Yamile Saied Mendez, Axie Oh, Laura Pohl, Cindy Pon, Karuna Riazi, Gail D. Villanueva, Julian Winters, and Kat Zhang.

As always, thanks for hanging out. We will see you on Thursday with your new paperback releases and YA book news.

Until then, happy reading!

– Kelly Jensen