The fall publishing season always brings an exciting array of reading options, and 2020 is no exception. Below are some not-to-be-missed titles—in addition to the 30 YA releases highlighted in our special Fall Preview issue and the 8 nonfiction and globally diverse books in our two themed YA lists.
Those looking to explore different realities can’t go wrong with these books that are set in our world—but with elements of magic, science fiction, or dystopia:
Daughters of Jubilation by Kara Lee Corthron (Simon and Schuster, Oct. 13) introduces a world in which Black women and girls have survived through the magical powers of Jubilation. Living in the Jim Crow South, Evvie must learn to wield her newfound gifts when danger surfaces.
Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera (Bloomsbury, Sept. 1,) gives the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice a fresh makeover infused with Taíno cultural elements, Afro-Latinx characters, and the perennial appeal of a summertime romance—with high-stakes tension.
Sanctuary by Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher (Putnam, Sept. 1) takes readers into the surveillance society of an increasingly oppressive and xenophobic United States. Colombian immigrant Vali and her family are attempting to reach California before it secedes and the border closes.
Time Travel for Love and Profit by Sarah Lariviere (Knopf, Oct. 13) tells the story of Greek American Nephele, a math geek who is ridiculed by her classmates. Hoping to start ninth grade over—and get it right this time—she invents a time travel app.
The Valley and the Flood by Rebecca Mahoney (Razorbill/Penguin, Oct. 27) follows a White teen with PTSD who is stranded in an odd desert town where people believe her arrival prophesies impending doom…and where the line between the real and the surreal is not always clear.
Biographies and memoirs also make a very strong showing; the following are especially worthy of notice:
Beauty Mark: A Verse Novel of Marilyn Monroe by Carole Boston Weatherford (Candlewick, Sept. 8) shows how the life of a long-ago icon can feel fresh and relevant as the forces she grappled with remain all too familiar in these days of social media scrutiny. Monroe’s story is related here with compassion and respect.
God Loves Hair: 10th Anniversary Edition by Vivek Shraya, illustrated by Juliana Neufeld (Arsenal Pulp Press, Sept. 15), enhanced with a fresh cover and foreword by Cherie Dimaline, gives readers a glimpse into the multitalented trans artist’s childhood as she reflects on incidents that shaped her sense of self across multiple dimensions.
Kiyo Sato: From a WWII Japanese Internment Camp to a Life of Service by Connie Goldsmith with Kiyo Sato (Twenty-First Century/Lerner, Sept. 1) extends familiar stories about this time in history to show how one woman went on to pursue a life of activism, service to others, and educating young people about the dangers of human rights violations.
Strongman: The Rise of Five Dictators and the Fall of Democracy by Kenneth C. Davis (Henry Holt, Oct. 6) shows how much modern democracies can learn from the lives and terrible impacts of Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Saddam Hussein. Their stories are cautionary tales we cannot afford to ignore.
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Story of Black Lives Matter and the Power To Change the World by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele (Wednesday Books, Sept. 22) is a remarkable collaboration in which journalist bandele helps Black Lives Matter co-founder Khan-Cullors tell her life story, actively inviting readers to learn, reflect, and act.
Laura Simeon is a young readers' editor.