With so many stellar titles being released in the next few months, readers might not know where to begin. Here is a brief sampling of books that are not to be missed.
Thrillers are perennially popular, and fans of the genre are sure to enjoy Aces Wild: A Heist by Amanda DeWitt (Peachtree Teen, Sept. 6) and The Getaway by Lamar Giles (Scholastic, Sept. 20). DeWitt’s Las Vegas casino heist pits a group of teens—friends from an online asexual community—against a corrupt hotel magnate. In Giles’ latest, a powerful rural Virginia family runs a resort for the wealthy, exerting undue control over employees as natural disasters loom.
Both If Not Us by Mark Smith (Text, Oct. 11) and Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, adapted by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt (Zest Books, Nov. 1), offer critical visions of hope amid a discouraging barrage of environmental news. A teen surfer speaks out against the impact of fossil fuels on his Australian hometown, and a Potawatomi botanist outlines a sustainable path for integrating Western science with Indigenous approaches to the natural world.
If you enjoy an immersive love story, look for The Silent Stars Go By by Sally Nicholls (Walker US/Candlewick, Sept. 20) and Love From Mecca to Medina by S.K. Ali (Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, Oct. 18). A boy called off to war, an unplanned pregnancy, and a global pandemic: Two young people in love are swept up in overwhelming events in Nicholls’ novel. Ali reunites readers with Adam and Zayneb from 2019’s Love From A to Z as the couple’s relationship is tested by distance and external forces, and they must find their ways back to one another.
No U.S. student has been left untouched by the looming threat of gun violence. For many families, the unthinkable happens and lives are forever changed. Two memorable, heartbreaking graphic novels explore different scenarios:If Anything Happens I Love You by Will McCormack and Michael Govier, illustrated by Youngran Nho (Andrews McMeel Publishing, Sept. 6), follows parents who lose their daughter, and Numb to This: Memoir of a Mass Shooting, written and illustrated by Kindra Neely (Little, Brown, Oct. 11), reveals the lasting mental health impact on a survivor.
Youth and protest are inextricably intertwined. This fall, readers can dive into powerful books that show events that echo today: Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice by Tommie Smith and Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile (Norton Young Readers, Sept. 27), and Torch by Lyn Miller-Lachmann (Carolrhoda, Nov. 1). Smith achieved fame for his courageous public stand for racial justice, along with fellow medalist John Carlos, at the 1968 Olympics. Miller-Lachmann’s novel, set in 1969 Czechoslovakia, introduces readers to a time of unrest as forces of liberalization clashed with those of authoritarianism.
The incomparable value of art to elevate and extend well-crafted text is on full display in two works that adapt folktales for teens: You Can’t Kill Snow White, written and illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna, and translated by Karin Snelson and Emilie Robert Wong (Unruly, Oct. 25), and Shuna’s Journey, written and illustrated by Hayao Miyazaki, and translated by Alex Dudok de Wit (First Second, Nov. 1). Alemagna’s large-format picture book, which our review calls “visceral and surreal,” challenges readers to consider the story of Snow White from the point of view of the wicked stepmother. Miyazaki, beloved founder of Studio Ghibli, presents a Tibetan folktale in which fans of his anime will recognize his sweeping imagination.
Laura Simeon is a young readers’ editor.