Summer’s Hottest YA Fiction: 2021 Edition

Summer often brings many of us back to the pleasure of reading, and after the upheaval of the past year, even more of us are turning to the joys and refuge of a good book. Below we’ve listed some of the popular YA books and big name authors to which readers are turning and which seem destined to be this summer’s favorites. Here is reading without assignments, essays, or tests. Just good ole reading for fun. Click on any book cover below to find a copy in our Minerva catalog.
(You’ll also find many of these titles as ebooks in our digital Cloud Library!)

Celebrate Pride Month 2021 with YA Lit

We’re celebrating Pride Month with our annual review of new and memorable LGBTQ+ characters starring in the pages of YA over the past year. Representation of LGBTQ+ characters, as well as “own voice” LGBTQ+ authors, in the publishing world continues to grow. Check out some of this year’s most beloved characters in the fiction and graphic novels of our YA collection below. Simply click on a cover image to view that book in our Minerva catalog.

Free Audiobook Downloads from Sync: 2021 Season

The month of May marks the beginning of the annual summer Sync season, during which AudioFile magazine provides free YA audiobook downloads to listeners. Each week, Sync offers two thematically-paired audiobooks which can be downloaded into the Sora app anytime within that 7 day window and then retained indefinitely. New titles go live every Thursday at midnight.

Register on the Sync website to get started or check out their FAQs. We can’t say enough good things about AudioFile (a Portland-based business!) and this generous program. AND they are featuring a staff favorite this week: They Went Left by Monica Hesse. Need we say more?

April 29 – May 5
COME ON IN by Adi Alsaid (Recorded Books)
ILLEGAL by Francisco X. Stork (Scholastic Audio)

May 6 – May 12
TRELL by Dick Lehr (Candlewick on Brilliance Audio)
THEY WENT LEFT by Monica Hesse (Hachette Audio)

May 13 – May 19
MONKEY by Wu Ch’êng-ên, Arthur Waley (Naxos AudioBooks)
DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE by Joan He (Dreamscape Media)

May 20 – May 26
WHAT MAKES US by Rafi Mittlefehldt (Brilliance Audio)
ALIVE by Scott Sigler (GraphicAudio)

May 27 – June 2
THE MAGIC BARREL by Bernard Malamud (L.A. Theatre Works)
OF BEETLES AND ANGELS by Mawi Asgedom (Hachette Audio)

June 3 – June 9
SALTY, BITTER, SWEET by Mayra Cuevas (Blink)
ROOK by Sharon Cameron (Scholastic Audio)

June 10 – June 16
EXTINCTION by Hannie Rayson (L.A. Theatre Works)
CRESCENDO by Allen Cheney (Thomas Nelson)

June 17 – June 23
THIS IS WHAT I KNOW ABOUT ART by Kimberly Drew (Listening Library)
POEMSIA by Lang Leav (Listening Library)

June 24 – June 30
SASHA MASHA by Agnes Borinsky (Tantor Audio)
STAY GOLD by Tobly McSmith (HarperAudio)

July 1 – July 7
DUST by Kara Swanson (Oasis Audio)
THE RAVEN’S TALE by Cat Winters (Recorded Books)

July 8 – July 14
THE HENNA WARS by Adiba Jaigirdar (Listening Library)
SAINTS AND MISFITS by S.K. Ali (Listening Library)

July 15 – July 21
THE RUINOUS SWEEP by Tim Wynne-Jones (Candlewick on Brilliance Audio)
THE BODY SNATCHER AND OTHER STORIES by Robert Louis Stevenson (Naxos AudioBooks)

July 22 – July 28
SPELLSINGER 1 by Alan Dean Foster (GraphicAudio)
NOT YOUR SIDEKICK by C.B. Lee (Tantor AudioBooks)

July 29 – August 4
STORM AND FURY by Jennifer L. Armentrout (HarperAudio)
KEEP THIS TO YOURSELF by Tom Ryan (Dreamscape Media)

Book News: Teens’ Top Ten Nominees 2021

Looking for more reading suggestions? Choose your next book from the newly unveiled nominees of another great YA readers’ choice award: the Teens’ Top Ten Award featuring 25 nominees selected by teen book groups around the country. Read the nominees throughout the summer, and then vote anytime between August 15 and October 15. Be a part of selecting this year’s top ten!

2021 Teens’ Top Ten Nominees

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson (Memoir)

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace (Fantasy)

Atomic Women by Roseanne Montillo (Biography)

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (Dystopian Science Fiction)

The Betrothed by Kiera Cass (Fantasy/Romance)

The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person by Frederick Joseph (Memoir)

The Bone Thief by Breeana Shields (Fantasy)

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (Paranormal Fiction)

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare (Historical Fantasy)

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (Realistic Fiction/Novel-in-Verse)

Dangerous Secrets by Mari Mancusi (Fantasy/Romance)

The Dark Matter of Mona Starr by Laura Gulledge (Realistic Fiction/Graphic Novel)

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang (Sports Fiction/Graphic Novel)

Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards (Suspense)

Flamer by Mike Curato (Realistic Fiction/Graphic Novel)

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Mystery)

Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer (Romance)

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab (Historical Fantasy)

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn (Fantasy)

The Lost Book of the White by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu (Urban Fantasy)

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokudo-Hall (Fantasy)

One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus (Mystery)

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller (Fantasy/Romance)

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord (Romantic Comedy)

We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding (Realistic Fiction)

North Star YA Award Update: ’20-21 Winners & ’21-22 Nominees!

Congratulations to the inaugural year winners of the North Star YA Award, Maine’s newest readers’ choice award. From a field of 21 nominees, the 1st place honor went to the poignant yet funny novel Sorry for Your Loss by Jessie Ann Foley. 2nd place went to the graphic novel Bloom by Kevin Panetta, and 3rd to On the Come Up by Angie Thomas.

Next year’s list has been announced for readers who are eager to get started. Remember, if you read any 3 of the nominees, you’ll be eligible to vote next spring!

North Star YA Award 2021-2022 Nominees:

The New David Espinoza by Fred Acevedo (Realistic Fic)

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli (Realistic Fic)

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Mystery)

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (Realistic Fic)

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee (Historical Fic)

Three Things I Know Are True by Betty Culley (Novel-in-Verse/Realistic Fic)

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn (Fantasy)

Lobizona by Romina Garber (Fantasy)

Almost American Girl by Robin Ha (Nonfic/Graphic Novel)

They Went Left by Monica Hesse (Historical Fic)

Call Me American: The Extraordinary True Story of a Young Somali Immigrant by Abdi Nor Iftin (Memoir)

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (Fantasy)

Beast: Face-to-Face with the Florida Bigfoot by Watt Key (Adventure/Survival Fic)

What I Carry by Jennifer Longo (Realistic Fic)

I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee (Realistic Fic)

Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis (Realistic/Survival Fic)

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey (Romance)

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen (Fairy Tale/Graphic Novel)

Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel by Jason Reynolds and Danice Novgorodoff (Realistic Fic/Graphic Novel)

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (Fantasy)

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam (Novel-in-verse/Realistic Fic)

Awaiting Spring

As we all eagerly await the return of the birds, bugs, soils, plants, and animals that herald spring, enjoy some of these books about our friends in the natural world. They are out there! Hang in there!

Celebrate Black History Month with YA Lit

In honor of Black History Month, we want to highlight some of the YA books from our shelves that explore Black History in narrative nonfiction and historical fiction form. Click on any of the book covers below to discover more about a title or to request a copy.

And don’t miss the postings on the Community Teach-In and Read-In website organized by Patten Free Library and RSU 1, where you’ll find fascinating stories about many figures and moments in Black History, shared daily in digest form throughout the month of February!

Book News: ALA’s Youth Media Awards 2021

The American Library Association has announced its annual awards for the best in youth literature. This year’s Printz Award (historically YA’s premiere literary award) was given to Everything Sad Is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri, a book with blurry age recommendations (varying from grade 4 to grade 12!) but which has been a darling of critics everywhere.

For easy browsing, we’ve listed the Printz winners below and recapped several other notable YA winners. Click on any title to find a copy in Minerva. For a complete listing of ALA’s extensive award categories, visit the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards site.

Michael L. Printz Award (for excellence in Young Adult literature)
Everything Sad Is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri
Honor Books:
Apple: Skin to the Core: A Memoir in Words and Pictures by Eric Gansworth
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh
We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

Alex Awards (for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences)

Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature
Young Adult Winner:
This Light Between Us: A Novel of WWII by Andrew Fukuda

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award (recognizing an African American author of outstanding books for children and young adults)
Legendborn by Tracy Deonne

Pura Belpre Award (honoring a Latinx author whose books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience)
Young Adult Winner:
Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez

Schneider Family Book Award (for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience)
Young Adult Winner:
This Is My Brain in Love by I.W. Gregorio

Stonewall Book Award (for books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience)
Honor Books:
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram

Sydney Taylor Book Award (for authentic portrayal of the Jewish experience)
Young Adult Winner:
Dancing at the Pity Party: A Dead Mom Graphic Memoir by Tyler Federicos

Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults

William C. Morris Debut Award (for an impressive first-time author writing for teens)
If These Wings Could Fly by Kyrie McCauley

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction
The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh by Candace Fleming

Book-to-Movie News: Winter Round-Up

Over the past few years, we’ve seen the movie studios increasingly turn to YA novels for inspiration. 2021 looks to continue that trend with many notable YA adaptations hitting the screens, including: Monster by Walter Dean Myers, Panic by Lauren Oliver, Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith, Butter by Erin Jade Lange, and The Selection by Kiera Cass. Concrete release dates are a rare find in COVID times, so this list is a little shorter than usual, but below are two titles that we should reach us soon. Keep your fingers crossed that the rest aren’t far behind!

To All the Boys 3: Always and Forever
Based on the final book in the trilogy: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
February 12 on Netflix

Chaos Walking
Based on the first in the Chaos Walking trilogy: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
March 5 in theaters

Book News: The Best YA of 2020

It’s been a year of uncertainty and change and disruption, but some things remain constant: authors keep writing books, and publishers keep printing them, albeit slower and fewer! The annual release of the “Best of 2020” lists by publishers and vendors is particularly welcome this year, as it was so easy to miss the announcement of new books amidst all the other news and confusion. You’ll find our round-up of the lists below.

As usual, there are several books that are honored with appearances on multiple lists, chief among them: the deftly plotted fantasy Raybearer by debut author Jordan Ifueko, the historical novel depicting teenage life in the Japanese internment camps We Are Not Free by Traci Chee, the stark depiction of the juvenile justice system in the novel-in-verse Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam, and the fast-paced puzzle mystery The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynne Barnes. Lots of great ideas here to keep you busy reading all winter long!


AudioFile (Audiobooks)



GoodReads Choice Award (Fiction)

GoodReads Choice Award (Fantasy and Science Fiction)

GoodReads Choice Award (Graphic Novels & Comics–All Ages)


National Public Radio

New York Times

Publishers Weekly

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