Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on The Seattle Public Library Shelf Talk Blog and is reprinted here by permission.
Each year, the staff around the Seattle Public Library system are asked to share their favorite books published that year. Here are this year’s top titles for teens.
In “The Charmed List” by Julie Abe, Ellie and Jack, two teens with magical abilities, are forced to go on a road trip as punishment for a prank gone wrong. Along the way, Ellie realizes that Jack has been helping her cross off items on her senior-year bucket list — including falling in love.
Akwaeke Emezi’s “Bitter” follows a student who attends an art school and makes challenging art while revolution roils the city around her. When anti-protest violence harms one of her friends, she makes her most provocative art as revenge.
Jenny Ferguson’s “The Summer of Bitter and Sweet” is a complex novel that follows Lou, whose secure summer job at her family’s ice cream parlor is threatened by her father’s letters from prison and his desire to return to her life, her boyfriend’s volatility, and the possibility that the ice cream parlor may not make enough money to stay in business.
An atmospheric historical fantasy with a touch of romance, “Belladonna” by Adalyn Grace tells the story of orphaned Signa, who believes she cannot die. When she is sent to live with distant relatives, one’s sudden illness leads her to befriend Death itself to reveal the mystery.
“In the Key of Us” by Mariama Lockington is about Andi and Zora, two musically gifted girls dealing with family trauma. When they find themselves thrown together as the only two Black kids at summer music camp, they resist the obvious connection at first, but learn they have much more in common than they believed.
“Lakelore” by Anna-Marie McLemore follows two nonbinary teens, Bastian and Lore. After an incident seven years before which caused them to stop speaking with each other, Lore and Bastian are reunited near the lake that has magically helped them deal with anxieties and traumas.
Axie Oh’s “The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea,” a retelling of an old Korean folktale, tells the story of Mina, who sacrifices herself to save her sibling from the Sea God. Her journey underwater leads her to the Spirit Realm and the possibility of saving her village.
“From Dust, a Flame” by Rebecca Podos follows Hannah, who discovers she has snake eyes on the day after her seventeenth birthday. Her mother promises to help, then disappears just as Hannah and her brother learn their grandmother has died, and that she may have had the power to help Hannah heal. Can their new friend Ari help her become whole?
Tommie Smith’s autobiographical graphic novel “Victory. Stand! Raising My Fist for Justice” tells how he grew up in poverty and faced racism from many people around him, but grew into a great athlete, most famous for the iconic moment in the 1968 Olympics when he raised his fist on the awards podium.
“Youngbloods” returns to Scott Westerfeld’s “Uglies” series to unite Frey, who is ready to speak her truth and free herself from her family of deceivers, and Tally, who started a revolution she now wants no part of. When they meet, they realize they need to rein in the forces of destruction together.
In “Nothing Burns as Bright as You” by Ashley Woodfolk, two unnamed queer Black girls recount their brief, intense relationship that begins and ends in fire.
Explore more staff picks from The Seattle Public Library: