What It’s About: Contrary to popular belief, best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker are not codependent. Carpooling to and from theater rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient. Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment. Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.
But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script. Matt Olsson is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.
Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship.
Kate In Waiting is a lovely book that at its core is about friendship. It’s not about musical theater, folks, even though that is featured in the book. Kate and Anderson. Anderson and Kate. Their friendship – how they understand and care for each other is one of the best things about this book. It’s also heartbreaking when their friendship is tested by a crush on the same person and the messiness that comes with respecting your best friend’s feelings, wanting something for yourself, and the jealousy that results from spending time with the aforementioned crush.
Another strong point of this book is Kate. She has to confront her own feelings and assumptions throughout this book and work through them to get to the place she wants to be. The amounts of times she has been wrong about the people around her? Several. Does she learn from them? Yes. That’s growth – active growth.
I want to talk about Kate and Anderson’s friendship, which I really loved. They have this flow together and this understanding that’s on another level. They have their own code for meeting up in an abandoned bathroom at their school – amazing and hilarious. Their friendship, however, is tested by a crush on the same person and their pursuit of that person. That’s a real thing. A lot of friendships don’t survive something like that. How Anderson talks and explains himself with Kate is so wonderful – their bond is that deep that he would trust her enough to share those thoughts and feelings. I want to see more of that. Falling in love and gaining a significant other is great and all but give me a well-written friendship with characters that feel authentic anytime.
I also really loved Kate’s relationship with her brother. Their interactions and moments were some of my favorites because they are such opposites and yet, they’re very much connected. It’s just interesting to see an older brother who is quiet, thoughtful, and present and wants to be part of Kate’s life.
Finally, I enjoyed the character that Kate falls for. I just wanted to yell about this for a moment because I have a lot of feelings about those two. I wish we’d had more time with them both interacting and getting to fall for each other though. It was just really sweet and ridiculously cute.
If you’re looking for a book that is funny, about friendship, full of feelings but also has time to be romantic, then this book might just be for you right now.
Contrary to popular belief, best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker are not codependent. Carpooling to and from theater rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient. Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment. Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.
But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script. Matt Olsson is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.
Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship.
I am 10 chapters into this book and this novel is packed full of hilarious banter, friendship, some loud inner thoughts, and complicated and messy feelings. This is definitely the book I needed right now because I definitely need a laugh and that oh so good – drama.
I picked up this book because I’ve read and really enjoyed Becky Albertalli’s other novels for her humor, character voices, and the stories. I think she excels at bringing to life these teen characters and having them deal with very relatable things and letting them work through it, even if they don’t do the right things right away. That’s important – the learning part.
I’m going to go back to reading. I’m really liking this novel.
Sports! I have never been on a team or dedicated myself much to organized sports beyond watching figure skating, rooting for the national teams during the Olympics, and playing badminton with friends at the park during the summer.
It is interesting to me though the camraderie and connection to be found between team members to achieve a goal, the love of the sport, the dedication to improving your skills, and what happens when we link our identities with a sport.
This On a Theme post is dedicated to those books and graphic novels featuring teens in sports. It sort of goes without saying that I wanted to really include books in this list where female characters are the ones playing the sport, because we are so often treated as less, even when playing the same sport and bringing the trophy home.
Title: Throw Like a Girl Written by: Sarah Henning
What It’s About: When softball star Liv Rodinsky throws one ill-advised punch during the most important game of the year, she loses her scholarship to her fancy private school, her boyfriend, and her teammates all in one fell swoop. With no other options, Liv is forced to transfer to the nearest public school, Northland, where she’ll have to convince its coach she deserves a spot on the softball team, all while facing both her ex and the teammates of the girl she punched… Every. Single. Day.
Enter Grey, the injured star quarterback with amazing hair and a foolproof plan: if Liv joins the football team as his temporary replacement, he’ll make sure she gets a spot on the softball team in the spring. But it will take more than just a flawless spiral for Liv to find acceptance in Northland’s halls, and behind that charismatic smile, Grey may not be so perfect after all.
With lovable characters and a charming quarterback love interest, Throw Like a Girl will have readers swooning from the very first page.
Title: The Game Can’t Love You Back Written by: Karole Cozzo
What It’s About: Eve is used to being the odd woman out. As the only girl on her school’s baseball team, she knows exactly how to put sweaty, macho baseball players in their place, and she’s learned to focus on one thing and one thing only-being the best pitcher she can be.
But when a freak accident forces her school to be absorbed by the neighboring town, Eve has to contend with a new group of guys who aren’t used to having a woman on their team. And the new team’s star pitcher, Jamie, has no interest in being ousted from his throne. He can’t afford to give up his starting slot to a new pitcher-especially to a girl.
As the competition between Jamie and Eve starts to heat up, so does their attraction to each other. Can they keep their heads in the game, or will they end up getting played?
Title: Cold Day in the Sun Written by: Sara Biren
What It’s About: Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes.
Title:Catching Jordan(Hundred Oaks Series) Written by: Miranda Kenneally
What It’s About: Athletic superstar Jordan Woods is the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. Her teammates, including her best friend Sam, all see her as their leader and one of the guys, and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.
Buteverything she’s ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he”s also amazingly cute. Meanwhile, Sam is her rock – he supports Jordan’s dreams even when her traditional dad doesn’t – but suddenly things feel different between them. For the first time, Jordan’s feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart’s on the line?
Title:Stealing Parker (Hundred Oaks Series) Written by: Miranda Kenneally
What It’s About: Parker Shelton pretty much has the perfect life. She’s on her way to becoming valedictorian at Hundred Oaks High, she’s made the all-star softball team, and she has plenty of friends. Then her mother”s scandal rocks their small town and suddenly no one will talk to her.
Now Parker wants a new life.
So she quits softball. Drops twenty pounds. And she figures why kiss one guy when she can kiss three. Or four. Why limit herself to high school boys when the majorly cute new baseball coach seems especially flirty?
But how far is too far before she loses herself completely?
Title:Defending Taylor (Hundred Oaks Series) Written by: Miranda Kenneally
What It’s About: There are no mistakes in love.
Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision-one lie to cover for her boyfriend-and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she”s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.
Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?
Title:Home and Away Written by: Candice Montgomery
What It’s About: Friday Night Lights meets Dear Martin in this thought-provoking coming-of-age story about family, identity, and forgiveness. Tasia Quirk is young, Black, and fabulous. She’s a senior, she’s got great friends, and a supportive and wealthy family. She even plays football as the only girl on her private high school’s team. But when she catches her mamma trying to stuff a mysterious box in the closet, her identity is suddenly called into question. Now Tasia’s determined to unravel the lies that have overtaken her life. Along the way, she discovers what family and forgiveness really mean, and that her answers don’t come without a fee. An artsy bisexual boy from the Valley could help her find them-but only if she stops fighting who she is, beyond the color of her skin.
Title:The Passing Playbook Written by: Isaac Fitzsimons
What It’s About: Fifteen-year-old Spencer Harris is a proud nerd, an awesome big brother, and a David Beckham in training. He’s also transgender. After transitioning at his old school leads to a year of isolation and bullying, Spencer gets a fresh start at Oakley, the most liberal private school in Ohio.
At Oakley, Spencer seems to have it all: more accepting classmates, a decent shot at a starting position on the boys’ soccer team, great new friends, and maybe even something more than friendship with one of his teammates. The problem is, no one at Oakley knows Spencer is trans—he’s passing.
But when a discriminatory law forces Spencer’s coach to bench him, Spencer has to make a choice: cheer his team on from the sidelines or publicly fight for his right to play, even though it would mean coming out to everyone—including the guy he”s falling for.
Title: Cracking the Bell Written by: Geoff Herbach
What It’s About: Friday Night Lights meets Concussion in this powerful and important novel by Geoff Herbach, author of the Stupid Fast series, exploring the dangerous concussion crisis in football through the eyes of a high school team captain.
Isaiah loves football. In fact, football saved Isaiah’s life, giving him structure and discipline after his sister’s death tore his family apart. But when Isaiah gets knocked out cold on the field, he learns there’s a lot more to lose than football.
While recovering from a concussion, Isaiah wonders what his life would look like without the game. All his friends are on the team, and Isaiah knows they can’t win without him. The scholarship offer from Cornell is only on the table if he keeps playing.
And without football, what would keep his family together? What would prevent him from sliding back into the habits that nearly destroyed him?
Isaiah must decide how much he’s willing to sacrifice for the sport that gave him everything, even if playing football threatens to take away his future.
Title: Until Friday Night (The Field Party #1) Written by: Abbi Glines
What It’s About: To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.
Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.
As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.
West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…
Title: First & Then Written by: Emma Mills
What It’s About: Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them – first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life
Title: Every Reason We Shouldn’t Written by: Sara Fujimura
What It’s About: Sixteen-year-old figure skater Olivia Kennedy’s Olympic dreams have ended. She’s bitter, but enjoying life as a regular teenager instead of trying to live up to expectations of being the daughter of Olympians Michael Kennedy and Midori Nakashima…until Jonah Choi starts training at her family’s struggling rink.
Jonah’s driven, talented, going for the Olympics in speed skating, completely annoying. and totally gorgeous. Between teasing Jonah, helping her best friend try out for roller derby, figuring out life as a normal teen and keeping the family business running, Olivia’s got her hands full. But will rivalry bring her closer to Jonah, or drive them apart?
Title: Furia Written by: Yamile Saied Mendez
What It’s About: In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.
At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.
On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.
But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.
Filled with authentic details and the textures of day-to-day life in Argentina, heart-soaring romance, and breathless action on the pitch, Furia is the story of a girl’s journey to make her life her own.
Title:Break the Fall Written by: Jennifer Iacopelli
What It’s About: Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics.
A year ago, she could barely do a push up as she recovered from a spine surgery, one that could have paralyzed her. And now? She’s made the United States gymnastics team with her best friend, Emma, just like they both dreamed about since they were kids. She’s on top of the world.
The pressure for perfection is higher than ever when horrifying news rips the team apart. Audrey is desperate to advocate for her teammate who has been hurt by the one person they trusted most–but not all the gymnasts are as supportive.
With the team on the verge of collapse, the one bright spot in training is Leo, her new coach’s ridiculously cute son. And while Audrey probably (okay, definitely) shouldn’t date him until after the games, would it really be the end of the world?
Balancing the tenuous relationship between her teammates with unparalleled expectations, Audrey doesn’t need any more distractions. No matter what it takes, she’s not going to let anyone bring them down. But with painful revelations, incredible odds, and the very real possibility of falling at every turn, will Audrey’s determination be enough?
Title: Tumbling Written by: Caela Carter
What It’s About:
Work harder than anyone. Be the most talented. Sacrifice everything.
And if you’re lucky, maybe you will go to the Olympics.
Grace lives and breathes gymnastics—but no matter how hard she pushes herself, she can never be perfect enough.
Leigh, Grace’s best friend, has it all: a gymnastics career, a normal high-school life… and a secret that could ruin everything.
Camille wants to please her mom, wants to please her boyfriend, and most of all, wants to walk away.
Wilhelmina was denied her Olympic dream four years ago, and she won’t let anything stop her again. No matter what.
Monica is terrified. Nobody believes in her—and why should they?
By the end of the two days of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, some of these girls will be stars. Some will be going home with nothing. And all will have their lives changed forever.
Title: The Knockout Written by: Sajni Patel (aka. S.A. Patel)
What It’s About: If seventeen-year-old Kareena Thakkar is going to alienate herself from the entire Indian community, she might as well do it gloriously. She’s landed the chance of a lifetime, an invitation to the US Muay Thai Open, which could lead to a spot on the first-ever Olympic team. If only her sport weren’t seen as something too rough for girls, something she’s afraid to share with anyone outside of her family. Despite pleasing her parents, excelling at school, and making plans to get her family out of debt, Kareena’s never felt quite Indian enough, and her training is only making it worse. Which is inconvenient, since she’s starting to fall for Amit Patel, who just might be the world’s most perfect Indian. Admitting her feelings for Amit will cost Kareena more than just her pride—she’ll have to face his parents’ disapproval, battle her own insecurities, and remain focused for the big fight. Kareena’s bid for the Olympics could very well make history—if she has the courage to go for it.
Title:She Drives Me Crazy Written by: Kelly Quindlen
What It’s About: After an embarrassing loss to her ex-girlfriend in their first basketball game of the season, seventeen-year-old Scottie Zajac gets into a fender bender with the worst possible person: her nemesis, Irene Abraham, head cheerleader for the Fighting Reindeer.
Irene is as mean as she is beautiful, so Scottie makes a point to keep her distance. When the accident sends Irene”s car to the shop for weeks” worth of repairs and the girls are forced to carpool, their rocky start only gets bumpier.
But when an opportunity arises for Scottie to get back at her toxic ex-and climb her school’s social ladder-she bribes Irene into an elaborate fake- dating scheme that threatens to reveal some very real feelings.
Title: Breath Like Water Written by: Anna Jarzab
What It’s About: A swimmer whose early talent made her a world champion, Susannah was poised for greatness in a sport that demands so much of its young. But an inexplicable slowdown has put her dream in jeopardy, and Susannah is fighting to keep her career afloat when two important people enter her life: a new coach with a revolutionary training strategy, and a charming fellow swimmer named Harry Matthews.
As Susannah begins her long and painful climb back to the top, her friendship with Harry blossoms into passionate and supportive love. But Harry is facing challenges of his own, and even as their bond draws them closer together, other forces work to tear them apart. As she struggles to balance her needs with those of the people who matter most to her, Susannah will learn the cost—and the beauty—of trying to achieve something extraordinary.
Title:Ramona Blue Written by: Julie Murphy
What It’s About: Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.
Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi.
But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.
The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool.
But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke.
Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.
Title: How to Breathe Underwater Written by: Vicky Skinner
What It’s About: Kate has spent her whole life working to be the best swimmer in order to earn her father’s love, until he betrayed her and her family. Now, she’s forced to start over and figure out what swimming really means to her, in this contemporary young adult debut from Vicky Skinner.
Kate’s father has been pressuring her to be perfect for her whole life, pushing her to be the best swimmer she can be. But when Kate finds her dad cheating on her mom, Kate’s perfect world comes crashing down, and Kate is forced to leave home and the swim team she”s been a part of her whole life.
Now in a new home and new school, faced with the prospect of starting over, Kate isn’t so sure that swimming is what she wants anymore. But when she decides to quit, her whole world seems to fall apart. But when Kate gets to know Michael, the cute boy that lives across the hall, she starts to think that starting over might not be so bad. There’s only one problem: Michael has a girlfriend.
As the pressures of love, family, and success press down on her, can Kate keep her head above water?
Title:We Are the Wildcats Written by: Siobhan Vivian
What It’s About: Tomorrow, the Wildcat varsity field hockey squad will play the first game of their new season. But at tonight’s team sleepover, the girls are all about forging the bonds of trust, loyalty, and friendship necessary to win.
Everything hinges on the midnight initiation ceremony—a beloved tradition and the only facet of being a Wildcat that the girls control. Until now.
Coach—a handsome former college player revered and feared in equal measure—changes the plan and spins his team on a new adventure. One where they take a rival team’s mascot for a joyride, crash a party in their pajamas, break into the high school for the perfect picture.
But as the girls slip out of their comfort zone, so do some long-held secrets. And just how far they’re willing to go for their team takes them all—especially Coach—by surprise.
A testament to the strength and resilience of modern teenage girls, We Are the Wildcats will have readers cheering.
Title: See No Color Written by: Shannon Gibney
What It’s About: Being a transracial adoptee doesn’t bother sixteen-year-old Alex Kirtridge-at least, not in a way she can explain to her white family. It doesn’t matter that she’s biracial when she’s the star of the baseball team. But when Alex is off the field, she”s teased for “acting” too white and judged for looking black. And while she loves her parents, her hot-headed brother, and her free-speaking sister, they don’t seem to understand what it means that Reggie, a fellow ball player, is the first black guy who’s wanted to get to know her.
Things only get more complicated when she finds hidden letters from her birth father. Alex can’t stop asking questions. Does she really fit in with her family? What would it be like to go to a black hairdresser? Should she contact her birth father, despite the fact that it might devastate her parents? Meanwhile, her body is changing, and Alex isn’t sure she can keep up with her teammates. If she’s going to find answers, Alex must come to terms with her adoption, her race, and the dreams she thought would always guide her.
Title: Game Written by: Walter Dean Myers
What It’s About: Drew Lawson knows basketball is taking him places. It has to, because his grades certainly aren”t. But lately his plan has run squarely into a pick. Coach has handed the ball to another player—Tomas, a new guy from Europe—and Drew won”t let anyone disrespect his game. Just as his team makes the playoffs, Drew must come up with something big to save his fading college prospects. It”s all up to Drew to find out just how deep his game really is.
Title: All the Things We Never Knew Written by: Liara Tamani
What It’s About: A glance was all it took. That kind of connection, the immediate and raw understanding of another person, just doesn’t come along very often. And as rising stars on their Texas high schools’ respective basketball teams, destined for bright futures in college and beyond, it seems like a match made in heaven. But Carli and Rex have secrets. As do their families.
Liara Tamani, the author of the acclaimed Calling My Name, follows two teenagers as they discover how first love, heartbreak, betrayal, and family can shape you—for better or for worse.
Title: After the Shot Drops Written by: Randy Ribay
What It’s About: Bunny and Nasir have been best friends forever, but when Bunny accepts an athletic scholarship across town, Nasir feels betrayed. While Bunny tries to fit in with his new, privileged peers, Nasir spends more time with his cousin, Wallace, who is being evicted. Nasir can’t help but wonder why the neighborhood is falling over itself to help Bunny when Wallace is in trouble.
When Wallace makes a bet against Bunny, Nasir is faced with an impossible decision—maybe a dangerous one.
Title:Here to Stay Written by: Sara Farizan
What It’s About:
Bijan Majidi is:
Shy around girls Really into comics Decent at basketball Bijan Majidi is not: A terrorist
What happens when a kid who’s flown under the radar for most of high school gets pulled off the bench to make the winning basket in a varsity playoff game?
If his name is Bijan Majidi, life is suddenly high fives in the hallways and invitations to exclusive parties—along with an anonymous photo sent by a school cyberbully that makes Bijan look like a terrorist.
The administration says they’ll find and punish the culprit. Bijan wants to pretend it never happened. He’s not ashamed of his Middle Eastern heritage; he just doesn’t want to be a poster child for Islamophobia. Lots of classmates rally around Bijan. Others make it clear they don’t want him or anybody who looks like him at their school. But it’s not always easy to tell your enemies from your friends.
Title: Winger (Winger #1) Written by: Andrew Smith
What It’s About: A teen at boarding school grapples with life, love, and rugby in a heartbreakingly funny novel.
Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.
With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.
Filled with hand-drawn infographics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.
Title:Blacktop: Justin (Blacktop #1) Written by: LJ Alonge Illustrations by: Raul Allen
What It’s About: Justin has a list of goals stashed under his mattress. Number 1 is “figure out life plans.” Number 5 is “earn Zen Master rating in WoW.” Nowhere on that list is “play the crew from Ghosttown,” but that”s the type of trouble that always seems to finds him.
The debut title from LJ Alonge’s new basketball series pulses with action on and off the court. With wit, humor, and honesty, Justin unfolds over one hot summer.
Title: Dont’ Hate the Player Written by: Alexis Nedd
What It’s About: Emilia Romero is living a double life. By day, she’s a field hockey star with a flawless report card. But by night, she’s kicking virtual ass as the only female member of a highly competitive eSports team. Emilia has mastered the art of keeping her two worlds thriving, which hinges on them staying completely separate. That’s in part to keep her real-life persona, but also for her own safety, since girl gamers are often threatened and harassed.
When a major eSports tournament comes to her city, Emilia is determined to prove herself to her team and the male-dominated gaming community. But her perfectly balanced life is thrown for a loop when a member of a rival team recognizes her . . .
Jake Hooper has had a crush on Emilia since he was ten years old. When his underdog eSports team makes it into the tournament, he’s floored to discover she”s been leading a double life. The fates bring Jake and Emilia together as they work to keep her secret, even as the pressures of the tournament and their non-gaming world threaten to pull everything apart.
Note: This novel is set to be released on June 1, 2021.
Title:Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey Written & illustrated by: Ngozi Ukazu
What It’s About: Eric Bittle may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It is nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking (anything that hinders the player with possession of the puck, ranging from a stick check all the way to a physical sweep). And then, there is Jack-his very attractive but moody captain.
A collection of the first half, freshmen and sophomore year, of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.
Title: Fence Vol. 1 Written by: C.S. Pacat Illustrated by: Johanna the Mad
What It’s About: Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place alongside fencing legends like the dad he never knew, but things get more complicated when he’s up against his golden-boy half-brother, as well as sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama.
Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama…
Through clashes, rivalries, and romance between teammates, Nicholas and the boys of Kings Row will discover there’s much more to fencing than just foils and lunges.
Title:The Avant-Guards, Vol. 1 Written by: Carly Usdin Illustrated by: Noah Hayes
What It’s About: When Charlie transfers to the Georgia O’Keeffe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics, she struggles to find her feet, but winds up exactly where she belongs…in the school’s (terrible) basketball team.
As a transfer student to the Georgia O’Keeffe College for Arts and Subtle Dramatics, former sports star Charlie is struggling to find her classes, her dorm, and her place amongst a student body full of artists who seem to know exactly where they’re going. When the school’s barely-a-basketball-team unexpectedly attempts to recruit her, Charlie’s adamant that she’s left that life behind…until she’s won over by the charming team captain, Liv, and the ragtag crew she’s managed to assemble. And while Charlie may have left cut-throat competition in the dust, sinking these hoops may be exactly what she needs to see the person she truly wants to be.
Title:A Map to the Sun Written & illustrated by: Sloane Leong
What It’s About: One summer day, Ren meets Luna at a beachside basketball court and a friendship is born. But when Luna moves to back to Oahu, Ren’s messages to her friend go unanswered.
Years go by. Then Luna returns, hoping to rekindle their friendship. Ren is hesitant. She’s dealing with a lot, including family troubles, dropping grades, and the newly formed women”s basketball team at their high school.
With Ren’s new friends and Luna all on the basketball team, the lines between their lives on and off the court begin to blur. During their first season, this diverse and endearing group of teens are challenged in ways that make them reevaluate just who and how they trust.
Sloane Leong’s evocative storytelling about the lives of these young women is an ode to the dynamic nature of friendship.
Title: Haikyu!! Vol. 1 Written & illustrated by: Haruichi Furudate
What It’s About: Shoyo Hinata is out to prove that in volleyball you don”t need to be tall to fly!
Ever since he saw the legendary player known as “the Little Giant” compete at the national volleyball finals, Shoyo Hinata has been aiming to be the best volleyball player ever! Who says you need to be tall to play volleyball when you can jump higher than anyone else?
After losing his first and last volleyball match against Tobio Kageyama, “the King of the Court,” Shoyo Hinata swears to become his rival after graduating middle school. But what happens when the guy he wants to defeat ends up being his teammate?!
Title: Sayonara, Football Vol. 1 Written & illustrated by: Naoshi Arakawa
What It’s About: Midori and Sumire are soccer stars at rival middle schools, destined to collide–one’s a striker, the other”s a goalie. But the two girls end up in the same high school, with a lazy coach and a bizarre teammate, Nozomi, who brags that she’s a soccer prodigy but can’t seem to stop kicking the ball into her own goal. To become champions, Midori and Sumire will have to get over their rivalry and work some magic on the field — not to mention the challenges of growing up.
What It’s About: Seirin High’s greatest basketball superstar was the one no one literally saw coming—the invisible Kuroko!
Tetsuya Kuroko doesn’t stand out much. In fact, he’s so plain that people hardly ever notice when he’s around. Though he’s just as unremarkable on the basketball court, that’s where his plainness gives him an unexpected edge—one that lets him execute awesome moves without others noticing!
When incoming first-year student Taiga Kagami joins the Seirin High basketball team, he meets Tetsuya Kuroko, a mysterious boy who’s plain beyond words. But Kagami’s in for the shock of his life when he learns that the practically invisible Kuroko was once a member of “the Miracle Generation”— the undefeated legendary team—and he wants Kagami’s help taking down each of his old teammates!
Title: The Prince of Tennis, Vol. 1 Written & illustrated by: Takeshi Konomi
What It’s About: A tennis prodigy leads his handsome tennis club to victory at the national tournament.
Four-time consecutive U.S. Junior tournament champ Ryoma Echizen comes to Seishun Academy to further his reign as The Prince of Tennis. His skill is matched only by his attitude–irking some but impressing all as he leads his team to the Nationals and beyond!
There is a rumor going around that a twelve-year-old boy is going to enter the sixteen-year-old and under tennis group. How can someone so young ever hope to compete with kids much older and more experienced than him? This is no ordinary kid: he is none other than Ryoma Echizen, the Prince of Tennis! Ryoma’s father was destined for greatness until he injured himself during a match, ending his career forever. His talent was passed on to his son, who is determined to be the best tennis player in the world. Can the prince gain the respect of his fellow teammates despite his small size and young age? Find out in this intense sports manga!
Title: Chihayafuru, Vol. 1 Written and illustrated: Yuki Suetsugu
What It’s About: Chihaya is a girl in the sixth grade, still not old enough to even know the meaning of the word zeal. But one day, she meets Arata, a transfer student from rural Fukui prefecture. Though docile and quiet, he has an unexpected skill: his ability to play competitive karuta, a traditional Japanese card game. Chihaya is struck by his obsession with the game, along with his ability to pick out the right card and swipe it away before any of his opponents. However, Arata is transfixed by her as well, all because of her unbelievable natural talent for the game. Don’t miss the first volume in this story of adolescent lives and emotions playing out in the most dramatic of ways.
It’s a new year and with it comes some new books I want to add to my reading list along with an update on the books I can finally check off. *deep breath* I feel exhausted already.
Title:Blue Giant Omnibus Vols. 1-2 Written and drawn by: Shinichi Ishizuka
What It’s About: Dai lived a normal high school life in Sendai: a city of hot summer days and rainy nights. Between basketball, part time jobs, and an uncertain future, something was missing. And that thing was music. With his days in senior year running out, Dai swears a heartfelt vow: “I”m gonna be the best jazz player in the world.”
But what do you need to be the best? Talent? Effort? A lucky break? Or maybe just a deep, pure love for music, and too much stubbornness to know when to quit.
Title:Satoko and Nada Vol. 4 Written and drawn by: Yupechika
What It’s About: It’s almost time for Satoko to head back to Japan! After everything she’s learned and all the beautiful friends she’s made, it’s hard to leave her new home-away-from-home. But with Nada at her side, her last days in the States are sure to be some of her best yet!
Note: It’s the 4th and final volume of Satoko and Nada and it’s very bittersweet. I really enjoyed this series and I wish it wasn’t ending so soon, because I could read a lot more about them living together and being a great pair of friends. I hope to read this one soon-ish as the library has not acquired it yet.
Title: Maison Ikkoku Collector’s Edition, Vol. 1 Written and drawn by: Rumiko Takahashi
What It’s About: Yusaku Godai didn’t get accepted into college on the first try, so he’s studying to retake the entrance exams. But living in a dilapidated building full of eccentric and noisy tenants is making it hard for him to achieve his goals. Now that a beautiful woman has moved in to become the new resident manager, Godai is driven to distraction!
Title: Barely Functional Adult: It’ll All Make Sense Eventually Written and drawn by: Meichi Ng
What It’s About: Wielding her trademark balance of artful humor, levity, and heartbreaking introspection, Meichi Ng’s indisputably relatable collection of short stories holds a mirror to our past, present, and future selves. Featuring a swaddled Barely Functional Adult as its protagonist who says all the things we think but dare not say, this book is equal parts humorous and heartbreaking as it spans a spectrum of topics from imposter syndrome, therapy, friendships, first loves, letting go of exes, to just trying to find your purpose in the world. Prepare to excitedly shove this book in your friend’s face with little decorum as you shout, “THIS IS SO US!”
In this beautiful, four-color collection compiled completely of never-before-seen content, Meichi perfectly captures the best and worst of us in every short story, allowing us to weep with pleasure at our own fallibility. Hilarious, relatable, and heart-wrenchingly honest, Barely Functional Adult will have you laughing and crying in the same breath, while taking solace in the fact that we’re anything but alone in this world.
Title:Fangirl Written by: RainBox Rowell
What It’s About: In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life-and she”s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can”t stop worrying about her dad, who”s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Title:Finding My Voice Written by: Marie Myung-Ok Lee
What It’s About: Seventeen-year-old Ellen Sung just wants to be like everyone else at her all-white school. But hers is the only Korean American family in town, and her classmates in Arkin, Minnesota, will never let her forget that she’s different. At the start of senior year, Ellen finds herself falling for Tomper Sandel, a football player who is popular and blond and undeniably cute . . . and to her surprise, he falls for her, too. Now Ellen has a chance at life she never imagined, one that defies the expectations of both her core friend group and her strict parents. But even as she stands up to racism at school and disapproval at home, all while pursuing a romance with Tomper, Ellen discovers that her greatest challenge is one she never expected: finding the courage to speak up and raise her voice.
Note: This short novel was originally published back in the 1990s. Now it has been reprinted with a fresh and modern cover and a foreward by Kat Cho (who is wonderful in her own right and the author of Wicked Fox. Please support her!).
When this novel was first published, I was too young to be aware of it so I am glad it has returned for new generations. I am excited to get the chance to read this story, especially because of its subject matter.
Title: Kings Rising (Book 3) Written by: C.S. Pacat
What It’s About: His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.
On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor’s forces are massing. In the north, the Regent’s armies are mobilising for war. Damen’s only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.
Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen’s identity—can it stand against the Regents final, deadly play for the throne?
Note: I read the first two novels in this series so quickly and spent an entire summer very obsessed with Laurent and Damen. I’m ready to dive back in and finish this series though. I want to knowwhat happens. The politics, danger, intrigue, and chemistry…I really should finish this series soon.
Title: The Magical Language of Others Written by: E.J. Koh
What It’s About:The Magical Language of Others is a powerful and aching love story in letters, from mother to daughter. After living in America for over a decade, Eun Ji Koh’s parents return to South Korea for work, leaving fifteen-year-old Eun Ji and her brother behind in California. Overnight, Eun Ji finds herself abandoned and adrift in a world made strange by her mother’s absence. Her mother writes letters in Korean over the years seeking forgiveness and love—letters Eun Ji cannot fully understand until she finds them years later hidden in a box.
As Eun Ji translates the letters, she looks to history—her grandmother Jun’s years as a lovesick wife in Daejeon, the loss and destruction her grandmother Kumiko witnessed during the Jeju Island Massacre—and to poetry, as well as her own lived experience to answer questions inside all of us. Where do the stories of our mothers and grandmothers end and ours begin? How do we find words—in Korean, Japanese, English, or any language—to articulate the profound ways that distance can shape love?
Title:Pure Invention: How Japan’s Pop Culture Conquered the World Written by: Matt Alt
What It’s About: The Walkman. Karaoke. Pikachu. Pac-Man. Akira. Emoji. We’ve all fallen in love with one or another of Japan’s pop-culture creations, from the techy to the wild to the super-kawaii. But as Japanese media veteran Matt Alt proves in this brilliant investigation of Tokyo’s pop-fantasy complex, we don’t know the half of it. Japan’s toys, gadgets, and imaginary worlds didn’t merely entertain. They profoundly transformed the way we live.
In the 1970s and ’80s, Japan seemed to exist in some near future, gliding on the superior technology of Sony and Toyota while the West struggled to catch up. Then a catastrophic 1990 stock-market crash ushered in the “lost decades” of deep recession and social dysfunction. The end of the boom times should have plunged Japan into irrelevance, but that’s precisely when its cultural clout soared—when, once again, Japan got to the future a little ahead of the rest of us.
Hello Kitty, the Nintendo Entertainment System, and multimedia empires like Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z were more than marketing hits. Artfully packaged, dangerously cute, and dizzyingly fun, these products made Japan the forge of the world’s fantasies, and gave us new tools for coping with trying times. They also transformed us as we consumed them—connecting as well as isolating us in new ways, opening vistas of imagination and pathways to revolution. Through the stories of an indelible group of artists, geniuses, and oddballs, Pure Invention reveals how Japanese ingenuity remade global culture and may have created modern life as we know it. It’s Japan’s world; we’re just gaming, texting, singing, and dreaming in it.
Note: Pop-culture from Japan has been such a big part of my life. I just want to read more history and learn the context around those things I have so enjoyed and continue to enjoy as well.
Now I really wish there would be an easily book about the history of female mangaka/ or female manga creators or just a book where they are the center of focus. I would really love to read more about that.
I remember starting this year thinking that there wasn’t much manga to look forward to. I had a few titles on my list but I really wanted more.
I am so happy to report that waiting a bit longer, especially for those surprise publisher announcements, has given me those new titles to beef up this post and get excited about more upcoming manga. This is going to be fun!
Title: I Cannot Reach You Vol. 1(Kimi ni wa Todokanai Vol. 1) Written and drawn by: Mika
What It’s About: No matter how much time we spend together, I’ll never become special to you.
Childhood best friends. Two halves of a whole. The cool, smart one who’s good at almost everything, and his average, dorky friend who struggles to do anything right—Yamato and Kakeru. Always by the other’s side, but not together in the way they truly want to be. No matter how hard they try, their hearts cannot reach each other…
Note: This title is set to be released on March 9, 2021. I’m happy to see the official cover art is finally here.
Title:Blue Giant Omnibus 3-4 Written and drawn by: Shinichi Ishizuka
What It’s About: Miyamoto Dai, a student with a taste for basketball, changes his life the first time he sees a live jazz performance. The incredible music strikes a chord deep inside him, and he immediately decides to dedicate himself to the saxophone. He has no skills, no formal training, and no idea what he”s up against, but his obsession drives him to play that instrument day after day. Will passion be enough to become the player of his dreams? This award-winning manga from Shinichi Ishizuka, compiled into five omnibus volumes for its English debut, is a pitch-perfect drama about the power of music.
Note:This title is set to be released on April 20, 2021. If you haven’t checked out the first volume, definitely try and check it out.
Title: I Think Our Son Is Gay Vol. 1 Written and drawn by: Okura
What It’s About: Despite belonging to a family of four, the Aoyama residence is typically home to three due to father Akiyoshi’s job. While he’s away at work, mom Tomoko and her two beloved sons Hiroki and Yuri go about their everyday lives–going to school, making dinner, doing homework, etc. But now that Hiroki’s in his first year of high school, his thoughts are turning ever so slightly to sex and romance…and his mom can’t help but notice his slips of the tongue when he’s talking about who he likes. Supportive Tomoko has an inkling Hiroki might be gay, but she’s going to let him figure it out for himself. Unfortunately, Hiroki has little talent for keeping his “secret,” so he might die of embarrassment before all is said and done!
Note:This title is set to be released on May 11, 2021. I’m very used to reading manga about teen characters from their perspective so this book is especially interesting as it is from a parent’s perspective. I’m looking forward to this release.
Title: Ride Your Wave Written by: Masaaki Yuasa & Reiko Yoshida Drawn by: Machi Kiachi
What It’s About: New college student Hinako moves to a small seaside town to surf and enjoy herself, and finds herself falling in love with firefighter Minato after he saves her from a fire. Their young romance comes to an abrupt end when Minato drowns…but in her grief, Hinako discovers that singing a song they used to perform as a duet summons Minato in the nearest body of water–be it a puddle, glass, or bathtub. Will Hinako be able to reach Minato again?
Note: This title is set to be released on May 11, 2021. I have actually seen the movie this manga is related to and it is…pretty magical. I’m excited to see what the manga offers.
Title: Mao Vol. 1 Written and drawn by: Rumiko Takahashi
What It’s About: A girl is transported to the past and encounters a Japan teaming with ghosts and demons. She finds an ally in a travelling exorcist named Mao. Together they’ll fight the supernatural creatures they meet and unravel the mystery that connects them.
Note:The cover art is not final! I will try and update it as soon as I see the official one come through. On February 19, 2021, Viz Media announced they were releasing this title sometime in Fall 2021. This series is also still ongoing in Japan as well so there isn’t a final volume count as of yet.
Title:My Love Mix-Up! Vol. 1 (Also known as Kieta Hatsukoi) Written by: Wataru Hinekura Drawn by: Aruko
What it’s About: Mistaken identity leads to a blossoming romance between two boys.
Aoki has a crush on Hashimoto, the girl in the seat next to him in class. But he despairs when he borrows her eraser and sees she’s written the name of another boy—Ida—on it. To make matters more confusing, Ida sees Aoki holding that very eraser and thinks Aoki has a crush on him!
Note:The cover art is not final! Unfortunately, there isn’t much information on this series so I am not sure at this very moment how many volumes there will be. This is another title that Viz Media announced recently, which will be coming out sometime in October 2021. I’m real excited for this one as I have heard that the representation in this one is positive.
It’s 2021 and this is my first Future Reads post of the new year. For this one I wanted to show what manga books I was looking forward to this year.
Publishers are putting out such a range of titles now that I am always finding something new and interesting to pick up. Yes, I will always check out the new shojo/shoujo titles because I am definitely predictable, but the new LGBTQIA+ stories and reference manga that keep coming out are really capturing my interest more and more.
I hope you find a manga to get excited about on this list!
Title: Those Not-So-Sweet Boys, Vol. 1 Written and drawn by: Yoko Nogiri
What It’s About: Midori drops her wallet on her first day of high school, but her new classmate Ichijo swoops in to help. She wants to thank him, but he’s part of a tight-knit trio and none of them are ever in class! Rumor has it that they all got expelled for acting up, and studious Midori’s actually at risk of expulsion, too… In order to help support her family, she has a part-time job, which is against the school rules. When the chairman of the school board catches her leaving work, he says he’ll let it go—but only if she’s up to the task of bringing the three boys back to school. Well, why not? It’ll be a piece of cake…right?
Midori is a high-schooler with a part-time job at a café-bar. Unfortunately, her job’s against the rules at her school, and when the chairman of the school board finds out, he makes her a deal: Convince three boys who’ve stopped coming to school to return, and her transgression will be overlooked. Now, she needs to find a way into the lives of these not-so-sweet boys… one of whom just happens to be her crush!
Note: Currently, it is slated for release on February 2, 2021.
Title: A Sign of Affection Vol. 1 Written and drawn by: Suu Morishita
What It’s About: Yuki is a typical college student–it’s just that she can’t hear. A chance encounter on a train leads to a serious crush…but will he give her a chance? A sweet and relatable manga romance from the creator of Shortcake Cake!
Even with a hearing aid, the voices of others are an indistinct blur for Yuki. But she never lets that get in the way of a life full of friends, social media, and cute fashion. One day, she’s browsing her phone on train, when a tourist asks her for directions. Yuki nearly panics…until the handsome Itsuomi steps in to help. It turns out her new crush is a friend of a friend, and Yuki’s world starts to widen. But even though Itsuomi-kun can speak three languages, sign language isn”t one of them. How will Yuki communicate her budding feelings?
Note: Currently, it is slated for release on February 23, 2021.
Title: Even Though We’re Adults Vol. 1 Written and drawn by: Takako Shimura
What It’s About: From the critically acclaimed creator of Wandering Son and Sweet Blue Flowers, a heart-tugging manga about two busy women who think they’ve figured out the whole adulting thing…until they fall in love with each other.
Ayano, an elementary school teacher in her thirties, stops by a bar one day and meets another woman named Akari. Sparks fly as the two chat, and before the night is over, Ayano even goes in for a kiss. Akari is intrigued but confused…especially when she discovers that Ayano has a husband! Both Ayano and Akari are about to find out that love doesn’t get any easier, even as you grow older.
Note: Currently, it is slated for release on February 9, 2021.
Title: Tokyo Fashion: A Comic Book Written and illustrated by: Nodoka
What It’s About: An illustrated guide to Japanese style!
Building a wardrobe is expensive and time-consuming…but it doesn’t have to be! Looking good is easier than ever, and all it takes is a little bit of care. Buying a few basic items in colors you can mix and match in a variety of ways will take you far. This comic book guide to fashion will show you how to introduce a Japanese flourish into your wardrobe with easy tutorials, suggestions for wardrobe essentials, and styling tips on pulling it all together!
Note: Currently, it is slated for release on March 9, 2021.
Title: My Summer of You Vol. 1 (Kimi wa natsu no naka #1) Written and drawn by: Nagisa Furuya
What It’s About: Chiharu Saeki and Wataru Toda are two high school students who share a common hobby: They love to watch movies. After they meet, they become fast friends, until one day, when Chiharu confesses his love for Wataru. Wataru says that Chiharu”s confession doesn”t bother him, and the boys continue throughout their summer, going to pilgrimages to see film spots from their favorite movies. But the more time he spends with Chiharu, Wataru realizes that he may not only be as unaffected by Chiharu”s confession as he claimed to be, but those feelings may also be mutual…
Note: Final cover added! Currently, it is slated for release on May 11, 2021.
Title: Boys Run the Riot Vol. 1 Written and illsutrated by: Keito Gaku
What It’s About: High schooler Ryuu knows he’s transgender. But he doesn’t have anyone to confide in about the confusion he feels. He can’t tell his best friend, who he’s secretly got a crush on, and he can’t tell his mom, who’s constantly asking why Ryuu is always “dressing like a boy.” He certainly can’t tell Jin, the new transfer student who looks like just another bully. The only time Ryuu feels at ease is when he”s wearing his favorite clothes. Then, and only then, the world melts away, and he can be his true self. One day, while out shopping, Ryuu sees an unexpected sight: Jin. The kid who looked so tough in class is shopping for the same clothes that Ryuu loves. And Jin offers Ryuu a proposal: to start their own brand and create apparel to help everyone feel comfortable in their skin. At last, Ryuu has someone he can open up to–and the journey ahead might finally give him a way to express himself to everyone else.
Note: Currently, it is slated for release on May 25, 2021.
Title:Seaside Stranger: Umibe no Etranger Written and drawn by: Kanna Kii
What It’s About: Shun has been living in Okinawa with his grandmother ever since a disastrous coming out to his parents. One day he meets Mio, a high school student who recently lost his parents and who now spends his days sitting by the sea. The two of them are just starting to bond when Mio reveals that he’s heading for the mainland. Three years later, an adult Mio returns to Okinawa…and he’s come to find Shun and reveal what’s in his heart.
Note: The cover is not final for this title. Currently, it is slated for release on July 21, 2021.
I wanted to bring the year to a close on the blog with a post where I pick the top books from my list of books read this year.
I feel like this year was full of books and while I did meet my Goodreads goal (yay!), I think I could have read a great deal more. *sigh* Apologies to my library book piles as they are large and sad. I’m trying very hard not to look at them right now.
Anyway, let’s dig into those books that I really loved this year. They are in no particular order!
Title: Blue Flag Vol. 1 (Ao no Flag Vol. 1) Written and illustrated by: Kaito
What It’s About: For some reason, Taichi Ichinose just can’t stand Futaba Kuze. But at the start of his third year in high school, he finds himself in the same homeroom as her, along with his childhood friend Toma Mita, a star athlete. But one day, Futaba opens up to Taichi and admits she has a crush on Toma. She then asks for his help in confessing to him! There’s just one problem—Toma seems to already have a secret crush on someone else.
Blue Flag Vol. 1 has everything I like in a manga: distinct characters, lots of feeling, misunderstandings, and the pain of words left unsaid. The art is also so good. I just love how each character is designed and how their expressions come through in each panel.
The first volume gripped me. All these characters are on a journey with either figuring out who they are or working up the courage to go for what they want. I love high school manga stories like this and the storytelling in this one is so well done. We get such good characters like Taichi, Futaba, and Toma and the reveal in the last few pages of the first volume had be yelling (in a good way).
I have the second volume set aside to read already!
Title: The Silence of Bones Written by: June Hur
What It’s About:
I have a mouth, but I mustn’t speak; Ears, but I mustn”t hear; Eyes, but I mustn”t see.
1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.
As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder.
But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.
I have already reviewed The Silence of Bones on the blog (right here!) but I cannot sing the praises of this book enough. It is historical YA fiction at its best with unforgetable characters, fantastic writing, research that shines through, and a mystery that is hard to walk away from.
Title:Demon Slayer Vol. 1 (Kimetsu no Yaiba, Vol. 1) Written and illustrated by: Koyoharu Gotouge
What It’s About: Tanjiro sets out on the path of the Demon Slayer to save his sister and avenge his family!
In Taisho-era Japan, kindhearted Tanjiro Kamado makes a living selling charcoal. But his peaceful life is shattered when a demon slaughters his entire family. His little sister Nezuko is the only survivor, but she has been transformed into a demon herself! Tanjiro sets out on a dangerous journey to find a way to return his sister to normal and destroy the demon who ruined his life.
Learning to destroy demons won’t be easy, and Tanjiro barely knows where to start. The surprise appearance of another boy named Giyu, who seems to know what’s going on, might provide some answers—but only if Tanjiro can stop Giyu from killing his sister first!
This series really surprised me! I didn’t expect it to hook me as much as it did. I picked it up mainly because one of the things I loved about the Inuyasha series was its demon slayers and was interested when a whole new manga series built around demon slayers popped up.
The first volume was pretty good but the second volume is where things really just explode. I find myself loving the characters we meet and laughing at the jokes. Tanjiro is just such a sweetheart and I love his courage and ability to move everyone around him. The demons are all so interesting and I love the creepiness of each time we meet a new one. They’re all so unique.
I’m on volume 8 right now and have volumes 9 and 10 on my shelf to dig into soon.
Title: Love from A to Z Written by: S.K. Ali
What It’s About: A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.
An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.
But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.
When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.
Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.
Then her path crosses with Adam’s.
Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.
Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.
Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.
Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…
Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.
Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.
I reviewed this novel back in June (right here!) and still haven’t been able to forget it. If you want a book that will make you cry because you’re angry and make your heart race with a love story so intense, this is the novel for you. Zayneb. Adam. My heart.
I cannot wait for S.K. Ali’s next novel, Misfit In Love, as she revisits characters from her first novel.
Title:The Sun is Also a Star Written by: Nicola Yoon
What It’s About: Two teens–Daniel, the son of Korean shopkeepers, and Natasha, whose family is here illegally from Jamaica–cross paths in New York City on an eventful day in their lives–Daniel is on his way to an interview with a Yale alum, Natasha is meeting with a lawyer to try and prevent her family’s deportation to Jamaica–and fall in love.
It would be easy to write this book off as just an intense romantic story that takes place over one day in New York City. But guess what, this novel is packed full of so many complicated topics like racism, immigration, deportation, and family expectations. None of it is simple or easy but it’s all relevant.
This book is also about how we are all connected and move in and out of each other’s lives in the smallest and sometimes, biggest of ways. There is something in this book for everyone and reading it will leave its mark on you. You’ll think about it after you’ve shut it and put it back on your shelf. You can check out my earlier review for this book right here.
I’m finishing this year with another post that is looking to 2021 with some more YA books that I am very excited for. Some favorite authors of mine are coming out with new books and I am incredibly excited to read them.
What’s one book for 2021 that you cannot wait to read? I would love to hear from you so leave me a comment so that I can check it out too.
Title: Angel of Greenwood Written by: Randi Pink
What It’s About: Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Wilson is, on the surface, a town troublemaker, but is hiding that he is an avid reader and secret poet, never leaving home without his journal. A passionate follower of W.E.B. Du Bois, he believes that black people should rise up to claim their place as equals.
Sixteen-year-old Angel Hill is a loner, mostly disregarded by her peers as a goody-goody. Her father is dying, and her family’s financial situation is in turmoil. Also, as a loyal follower of Booker T. Washington, she believes, through education and tolerance, that black people should rise slowly and without forced conflict.
Though they’ve attended the same schools, Isaiah never noticed Angel as anything but a dorky, Bible toting church girl. Then their English teacher offers them a job on her mobile library, a three-wheel, two-seater bike. Angel can’t turn down the money and Isaiah is soon eager to be in such close quarters with Angel every afternoon.
But life changes on May 31, 1921 when a vicious white mob storms the community of Greenwood, leaving the town destroyed and thousands of residents displaced. Only then, Isaiah, Angel, and their peers realize who their real enemies are.
Note: Angel of Greenwood is set to be released January 12, 2021.
Title: Down Comes the Night Written by: Alison Saft
What It’s About: Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she”s been dismissed from the Queen”s Guard and separated from her best friend-the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.
The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren”s patient isn”t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.
With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.
Note:Down Comes the Nightis set to be released March 2, 2021.
Title:The Mary Shelley Club Written by: Goldy Moldavsky
What It’s About: When it comes to horror movies, the rules are clear:
x Avoid abandoned buildings, warehouses, and cabins at all times. x Stay together: don’t split up, not even just to “check something out.” x If there”s a murderer on the loose, do not make out with anyone.
If only surviving in real life were this easy…
New girl Rachel Chavez turns to horror movies for comfort, preferring stabby serial killers and homicidal dolls to the bored rich kids of Manhattan Prep…and to certain memories she”d preferred to keep buried.
Then Rachel is recruited by the Mary Shelley Club, a mysterious society of students who orchestrate Fear Tests, elaborate pranks inspired by urban legends and movie tropes. At first, Rachel embraces the power that comes with reckless pranking. But as the Fear Tests escalate, the competition turns deadly, and it’s clear Rachel is playing a game she can”t afford to lose.
Note:The Mary Shelley Club is set to be released on April 13, 2021.
Title:Luck of the Titanic Written by: Stacey Lee
What It’s About: Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise though, she’s turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese aren”t allowed into America.
But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother Jamie, who has spent two long years at sea, is there, as is an influential circus owner, whom Val hopes to audition for. Thankfully, there”s not much a trained acrobat like Val can”t overcome when she puts her mind to it.
As a stowaway, Val should keep her head down and stay out of sight. But the clock is ticking and she has just seven days as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic to find Jamie, perform for the circus owner, and convince him to help get them both into America.
Then one night the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Val’s dreams of a new life are crushed under the weight of the only thing that matters: survival.
Note: Luck of the Titanic is set to be released on May 4, 2021.
Title:Misfit in Love(Saints and Misfits #2) Written by: S.K. Ali
What It’s About: Janna Yusuf is so excited for the weekend: her brother Muhammad’s getting married, and she’s reuniting with her mom, whom she’s missed the whole summer.
And Nuah’s arriving for the weekend too.
Sweet, constant Nuah.
The last time she saw him, Janna wasn’t ready to reciprocate his feelings for her. But things are different now. She’s finished high school, ready for college…and ready for Nuah.
It’s time for Janna’s (carefully planned) summer of love to begin—starting right at the wedding.
But it wouldn’t be a wedding if everything went according to plan. Muhammad’s party choices aren’t in line with his fiancée’s taste at all, Janna’s dad is acting strange, and her mom is spending more time with an old friend (and maybe love interest?) than Janna.
And Nuah’s treating her differently.
Just when things couldn’t get more complicated, two newcomers—the dreamy Haytham and brooding Layth—have Janna more confused than ever about what her misfit heart really wants.
Janna’s summer of love is turning out to be super crowded and painfully unpredictable.
Note: Misfit in Love is set to be released on May 25, 2021.
Title: Sister of the Bollywood Bride Written by: Nandini Bajpai
What It’s About: Mini’s big sister, Vinnie, is getting married. Their mom passed away seven years ago and between Dad’s new start-up and Vinnie’s medical residency, there”s no one but Mini to plan the wedding. Dad raised her to know more about computers, calculus, and cars than desi weddings but from the moment Mini held the jewelry Mom left them, she wanted her sister to have the wedding Mom would’ve planned.
Now Mini has only two months to get it done and she’s not going to let anything distract her, not even the persistent, mysterious, and smoking-hot Vir Mirchandani. Flower garlands, decorations, music, even a white wedding horse — everything is in place.
That is, until a monster hurricane heads for Boston that could ruin everything. Will Mini come through as sister of the bride and save the day?
Note:Sister of the Bollywood Bride is set to be released on May 25, 2021.
Title:Ace of Spades Written by: Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
What It’s About:
When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school”s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.
Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.
As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?
Note: Ace of Spades is set to be released on June 1, 2021.
Title:Six Crimson Cranes(Six Crimson Cranes #1) Written by: Elizabeth Lim
What It’s About: Shiori’anma, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted. But it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.
A sorceress in her own right, Raikama banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes. She warns Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.
Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and uncovers a dark conspiracy to seize the throne. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in a paper bird, a mercurial dragon, and the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to forswear–no matter what the cost.
Note:Six Crimson Cranes is set to be released on July 6, 2021.
Title: A Lesson in Vengeance Written by: Victoria Lee
What It’s About: Witchcraft is woven into the Dalloway School’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. And most memorable of all is the Dalloway Five–five students who all died mysteriously one after another, who some say were witches.
Before her girlfriend’s tragic death, Felicity Morrow was drawn to the dark. But after a year away from Dalloway”s ivy-covered campus, she”s determined to leave all that behind her, focus on her senior thesis, and graduate. Only it”s hard when Dalloway”s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won”t let her forget.
It”s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she’s already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can”t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource. And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself.
Note:A Lesson in Vengeance is set to be released on August 3, 2021.
Title:The Devil Makes Three Written by: Tori Bovalino
What It’s About: When Tess and Eliot stumble upon an ancient book hidden in a secret tunnel beneath the school library, they accidentally release a devil from his book-bound prison, and he’ll stop at nothing to stay free. He”ll manipulate all the ink in the library books to do his bidding, he’ll murder in the stacks, and he’ll bleed into every inch of Tess’s life until his freedom is permanent. Forced to work together, Tess and Eliot have to find a way to re-trap the devil before he kills everyone they know and love, including, increasingly, each other. And compared to what the devil has in store for them, school stress suddenly doesn”t seem so bad after all.
Note: The Devil Makes Three is set to be released on August 10, 2021.
This Future Reads post will focus on some more travel YA books that are coming out in the new year. Get excited people! We will get back out there again and visit those people and places we long to connect with.
If you would like to check out other reading options, I have an earlier post HERE full of books that are already out and available to get your hands on. Also, don’t forget to check your public library’s catalogue!
Title:One Great Lie Written by: Deb Caletti
What It’s About: When Charlotte wins a scholarship to a writing workshop in Venice with the charismatic and brilliant Luca Bruni, it’s a dream come true. Writing is her passion, she loves Bruni’s books, and going to that romantic and magical sinking city gives her the chance to solve a long-time family mystery about a Venetian poet deep in their lineage, Isabella Di Angelo, who just might be the real author of a very famous poem.
Bruni’s villa on the eerie island of La Calamita is extravagant—lush beyond belief, and the other students are both inspiring and intimidating. Venice itself is beautiful, charming, and seductive, but so is Luca Bruni. As his behavior becomes increasingly unnerving, and as Charlotte begins to unearth the long-lost work of Isabella with the help of sweet, smart Italian Dante, other things begin to rise, too—secrets about the past, and secrets about the present.
Release Date:This title is set to be released on June 1, 2021.
Title:Tokyo Ever After Written by: Emiko Jean
What It’s About: Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in-it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi-or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”-and her mom against the world. But then Izumi discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity.and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.
In a whirlwind, Izumi travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.
Izumi soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself-back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she”s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairy tale, happily ever after?
Release Date: This title is set to be released on May 25, 2021.
Title: Hot British Boyfriend Written by: Kristy Boyce
What It’s About: After a horrifying public rejection by her crush, Ellie Nichols does what any girl would do: she flees the country. To be more precise, she joins her high school’s study abroad trip to England. While most of her classmates are there to take honors courses and pad their college applications, Ellie is on a quest to rebuild her reputation and self-confidence. And nothing is more of a confidence booster than getting a hot British boyfriend.
When Ellie meets Will, a gorgeous and charming Brit, she vows to avoid making the same mistakes she did with the last guy she liked. Which is why she strikes up a bargain with Dev, an overachieving classmate who she’s never clicked with, but who does seem to know a lot about the things Will is interested in: If he helps her win over her crush, then she’ll help him win over his.
But even as Ellie embarks on a whirlwind romance, she still needs to figure out if this is actually the answer to all her problems . . . and whether the perfect boyfriend is actually the perfect boy for her.
Release Date: This title is set to be released on February 9, 2021.
Title: As Far as You’ll Take Me Written by: Phil Stamper
What It’s About: Marty arrives in London with nothing but his oboe and some savings from his summer job, but he’s excited to start his new life–where he’s no longer the closeted, shy kid who slips under the radar and is free to explore his sexuality without his parents” disapproval.
From the outside, Marty’s life looks like a perfect fantasy: in the span of a few weeks, he’s made new friends, he’s getting closer with his first ever boyfriend, and he’s even traveling around Europe. But Marty knows he can’t keep up the facade. He hasn’t spoken to his parents since he arrived, he’s tearing through his meager savings, his homesickness and anxiety are getting worse and worse, and he hasn’t even come close to landing the job of his dreams. Will Marty be able to find a place that feels like home?
Release Date: This title is set to be released on February 9, 2021.
Title: Kiss and Croissants Written by: Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau
What It’s About: Sixteen-year-old Mia, an American girl at an elite summer ballet program, has six weeks to achieve her dreams: to snag an audition with one of the world”s best ballet companies. But there’s more to Paris than ballet–especially when a charming French boy, Louis, wants to be her tour guide–and the pair discover the city has a few mysteries up its sleeve.
Release Date: This book is set to be released on April 6, 2021.
Title: The Marvelous Mirza Girls Written by: Sheba Karim
What It’s About: To cure her post-senior year slump, made worse by the loss of her aunt Sonia, Noreen decides to follow her mom on a gap year trip to New Delhi, hoping India can lessen her grief and bring her voice back.
In the world’s most polluted city, Noreen soon meets kind, handsome Kabir, who introduces her to the wonders of this magical, complicated place. With the help of Kabir—plus Bollywood celebrities, fourteenth-century ruins, karaoke parties, and Sufi saints—Noreen discovers new meanings for home.
But when a family scandal erupts, Noreen and Kabir must face complex questions in their own relationship: What does it mean to truly stand by someone—and what are the boundaries of love?
Release Date: This book is set to be released on May 18th, 2021.
Title:American Betiya Written by: Anuradha D. Rajurkar
What It’s About: Rani Kelkar has never lied to her parents, until she meets Oliver. The same qualities that draw her in–his tattoos, his charisma, his passion for art–make him her mother’s worst nightmare.
They begin dating in secret, but when Oliver’s troubled home life unravels, he starts to ask more of Rani than she knows how to give, desperately trying to fit into her world, no matter how high the cost. When a twist of fate leads Rani from Evanston, Illinois to Pune, India for a summer, she has a reckoning with herself–and what”s really brewing beneath the surface of her first love.
Release Date: This book is set to be released on March 9, 2021.
What It’s About: Told from the perspective of their adoring nephew, Auntie Uncle: Drag Queen Hero is the story of a courageous drag queen who saves the day, and brings two communities together.
The young narrator thinks it’s awesome that his Uncle and his Auntie are the same person. Uncle Leo is an accountant, and is great at helping with math homework. Auntie Lotta is a fabulous performer, and loves to sing and dance with her nephew. One day Lotta’s family comes to watch her perform at the local Pride parade. Suddenly, a dog breaks free of its leash and nearly causes a float-crash, but Lotta springs into action just in time to save the dog and the parade. The mayor wants to give her a medal for courage and to throw a big party for her and all her friends, but Lotta worries that her friends who only know him as “Leo” won’t get along with her fellow drag performers who know her as “Lotta.” With the help of their nephew they put together a fierce look that is both Leo and Lotta, the perfect ensemble for an Auntie Uncle. A sweet, uplifting story about fearlessley letting your true self shine.
Title: The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish Written by: Lil Miss Hot Mess Illustrated by: Olga De Dios
What It’s About: Playing off “The Wheels on the Bus,” this nursery rhyme book from a founder of Drag Queen Story Hour is a fun, freewheeling celebration of being your most fabulous self.
The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish encourages readers to boldly be exactly who they are. Written by a founding member of the nationally recognized Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH), this playful picture book offers a quirky twist on a classic nursery rhyme by illustrating all of the ways to “work it”. The story plays off “The Wheels on the Bus” as it follows a drag queen who performs her routine in front of an awestruck audience. A fun frenzy of fierceness, this book will appeal to readers of all ages.
Title: Be Amazing: A History Of Pride Written by: Desmond Napoles Illustrated by: Dylan Glynn
What It’s About: In Be Amazing, drag kid Desmond is Amazing walks you through the history of the LGBTQ community, all while encouraging you to embrace your own uniqueness and ignore the haters.
Desmond is amazing-and you are, too.
Throughout history, courageous people like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and RuPaul have paved the way for a safer, more inclusive society for LGBTQ individuals, and it”s thanks to them that people just like Desmond can be free to be who they really are.
Title:Martin McLean, Middle School Queen Written by: Alyssa Zaczek
What It’s About: Seventh-grader Martin McLean has always been surrounded by people who can express themselves. His mother is an artist, his colorful Tío Billy works in theater, and his best friends Carmen and Pickle are outgoing and don’t care what other people think. But Martin can only find the right words when he’s answering a problem at a Mathletes competition—until his tío introduces him to the world of drag. In a swirl of sequins and stilettos, Martin creates his fabulous drag queen alter ego, Lottie León.
As Lottie, he is braver than he’s ever been; but as Martin, he doesn’t have the guts to tell anyone outside of his family about her. Not Carmen and Pickle, not his Mathletes teammates, and definitely not Chris, an eighth-grader who gives Martin butterflies. When Martin discovers that his first-ever drag show is the same night as the most important Mathletes tournament, he realizes that he can only pull off both appearances by revealing his true self to his friends—and channeling his inner drag superstar.
Title:Middle School’s a Drag, You Better Werk Written by: Greg Howard
What It’s About: Twelve-year-old Mikey Pruitt–president, founder, and CEO of Anything, Inc.–has always been an entrepreneur at heart. Inspired by his grandfather Pap Pruitt, who successfully ran all sorts of businesses from a car wash to a roadside peanut stand, Mikey is still looking for his million-dollar idea. Unfortunately, most of his ideas so far have failed. A baby tornado ran off with his general store, and the kids in his neighborhood never did come back for their second croquet lesson. But Mikey is determined to keep at it.
It isn’t until kid drag queen Coco Caliente, Mistress of Madness and Mayhem (aka eighth-grader Julian Vasquez) walks into his office (aka his family’s storage/laundry room) looking for an agent that Mikey thinks he’s finally found his million-dollar idea, and the Anything Talent and Pizzazz Agency is born!
Soon, Mikey has a whole roster of kid clients looking to hit it big or at least win the middle school talent show’s hundred-dollar prize. As newly out Mikey prepares Julian for the gig of a lifetime, he realizes there’s no rulebook for being gay–and if Julian can be openly gay at school, maybe Mikey can, too, and tell his crush, dreamy Colton Sanford, how he feels.
Full of laughs, sass, and hijinks, this hilarious, heartfelt story shows that with a little effort and a lot of love, anything is possible.
Title:The Black Flamingo Written by: Dean Atta
What It’s About: Michael is a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London. All his life, he’s navigated what it means to be Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican—but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough.
As he gets older, Michael’s coming out is only the start of learning who he is and where he fits in. When he discovers the Drag Society, he finally finds where he belongs—and the Black Flamingo is born.
Told with raw honesty, insight, and lyricism, this debut explores the layers of identity that make us who we are—and allow us to shine.
Title:Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens Written by: Tanya Boteju
What It’s About: Perpetually awkward Nima Kumara-Clark is bored with her insular community of Bridgeton, in love with her straight girlfriend, and trying to move past her mother’s unexpected departure. After a bewildering encounter at a local festival, Nima finds herself suddenly immersed in the drag scene on the other side of town.
Macho drag kings, magical queens, new love interests, and surprising allies propel Nima both painfully and hilariously closer to a self she never knew she could be—one that can confidently express and accept love. But she’ll have to learn to accept lost love to get there.
Title: Drag Teen Written by: Jeffrey Self
Written by: When life’s a drag, you’ve gotta drag it up!
JT feels like his life’s hit a dead end. It looks like he’ll always be stuck in Florida. His parents are anti-supportive. And his boyfriend, Seth, seems to be moving toward a bright future a long way from home.
Scholarship money is nonexistent. After-school work will only get JT so far. There’s only one shot for him – to become the next Miss Drag Teen in New York City.
The problem with that? Well, the only other time JT tried drag (at a school talent show), he was booed off the stage. And it’s not exactly an easy drive from Florida to New York.
But JT isn’t going to give up. He, Seth, and their friend Heather are going to drag race up north so JT can capture the crown, no matter how many feisty foes he has to face. Because when your future is on the line, you have to be in it to win it, one fraught and fabulous step at a time.
Title:Boy Queen Written by: George Lester
What It’s About: Life’s a drag until you try. Robin Cooper’s life is falling apart. While his friends prepare to head off to University, Robin is looking at a pile of rejection letters from drama schools up and down the country, and facing a future without the people he loves the most. Everything seems like it’s ending, and Robin is scrabbling to find his feet. Unsure about what to do next and whether he has the talent to follow his dreams, he and his best friends go and drown their sorrows at a local drag show, where Robin realizes there might be a different, more sequinned path for him. With a mother who won’t stop talking, a boyfriend who won’t acknowledge him and a best friend who is dying to cover him in glitter make up, there’s only one thing for Robin to do: bring it to the runway.
Title: The Art of Drag Written by: Jake Hall Illustrated by: Sofie Birkin, HELEN LI, and Jasjyot Singh Hans
What It’s About: Before RuPaul’s Drag Race propelled the cultural phenomenon into the global spotlight, drag had been around for thousands of years. Immerse yourself in the rich history of drag in this lusciously illustrated guide.
The history of drag has been formed by many intersections: fashion, theatre, sexuality and politics–all coming together to create the show stopping entertainment millions witness today. In this extensive work, Jake Hall delves deep into the ancient beginnings of drag, to present day and beyond. Vibrant illustrations enhance the rich history from Kabuki theatre to Shakespearean, the revolutionary Stonewall riots to the still thriving New York ballroom scene. Nothing will go undocumented in this must-have documentation of all things drag.
Title: 50 Drag Queens Who Changed the World: A Celebration of the Most Influential Drag Artists of All Time Written by: Dan Jones
What It’s About:50 Drag Queens Who Changed the World is a tribute to the hugely influential pioneers who have shaped the fantastic world of drag, as well as the queens of today that we all know and love.
Learn about the wild and brilliant lives of Mama Ru and the best-loved Drag Race superstars, including Alaska, Bianca Del Rio and Courtney Act, as well as legends like Divine and Lady Bunny, and the new scene of radical contemporary drag artists, such as Amrou Al-Kadhi and Victoria Sin.
Drag queens have been sissying that walk for a lot longer than you think, and this book is a sparkling celebration of the high-heeled, hairsprayed, punk-rock art form that has influenced pop culture for as long as it has been around.
Title:Legendary Children: The First Decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life Written by: Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez
What It’s About: From the singular voices behind Tom and Lorenzo comes the ultimate guide to all-things RuPaul’s Drag Race and its influence on modern LGBTQ culture. Legendary Children centers itself around the idea that not only is RuPaul’s Drag Race the queerest show in the history of television, but that RuPaul and company devised a show that serves as an actual museum of queer cultural and social history, drawing on queer traditions and the work of legendary figures going back nearly a century. In doing so, Drag Race became not only a repository of queer history and culture, but also an examination and illustration of queer life in the modern age. It is a snapshot of how LGBTQ folks live, struggle, work, and reach out to one another–and how they always have–and every bit of it is tied directly to Drag Race. Each chapter is an examination of a specific aspect of the show–the Werk Room, the Library, the Pit Crew, the runway, the Untucked lounge, the Snatch Game–that ties to a specific aspect of queer cultural history and/or the work of certain legendary figures in queer cultural history.