15 YA Novels To Watch Out For This Spring

The birds will chirp, the flowers will blossom, and these are the YA books you should be reading in the park.

1. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

When you mix YA with magical realism, the results are often, well, magical. Thus, I’m intrigued by this debut in which a girl born with bird wings struggles to understand herself and the complexities of love.

2. The Haven by Carol Lynch Williams

I’m feeling the dystopian novel fatigue in a big way. (By “fatigue” I mean complete and utter burnout.) But because Williams’ The Chosen One was so captivating, I’m willing to put my apocalypse hang-ups on a shelf for her story about a group of teens who discover that their place of protection is actually a prison and the lives they’ve been leading are lies.

3. Great by Sara Benincasa

Comedian, author, and internet hero Sara Benincasa takes on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, The Great Gatsby, and gives it a modern-day makeover.

4. The Chance You Won’t Return by Annie Cardi

Cardi’s debut has a pause-provoking premise: Teenager Alex Winchester’s delusional mom thinks she’s Amelia Earhart — and she’s preparing for her final flight. The storyline and the fact that the Cardi’s written for some impressive literary magazines make this title a must.

5. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Dellaira is an Iowa Writer’s Workshop graduate. Her main character, Laurel, is a grieving lost soul who finds solace in writing letters to Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and other dead artists and dreamers.

6. The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer

So this story about a group of kids who want to take on a reality TV show that’s filming at their boarding school features a “heroic gerbil” and the work of Ezra Pound. I don’t think I need to say anything else.

7. What We Hide by Marthe Jocelyn

In this novel set during the Vietnam War, a brother and sister go to England, he to escape the draft and she to attend a boarding school where secrets and lies are prevalent. Tell me more.

8. She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

Sedgwick’s chilling White Crow kept me up old-school style: reading under the covers long after bedtime. I’m anticipating that the 2014 Printz Award-winner’s newest story about a blind teen girl and her odd younger brother who journey to New York City to find their missing father will be just as captivating.

9. Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

The first title in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy was a gorgeously written introduction to the ages-old war between monsters and angels and the star-crossed romance of chimaera Karou and seraphim Akiva. The second book was a page-turning continuation. So it’s completely reasonable that I’m looking forward to the final series installation more than a tween looks forward to summer break.

10. Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Whaley’s first novel, Where Things Come Back, won the William C. Morris YA Debut and Michael L. Printz Awards in 2012. (Oh, and he was recognized by the National Book Foundation as a 2011 “5 under 35” honoree.) Expectations are pretty high for the Louisiana native’s sophomore novel, which features a 16-year-old boy whose head is chopped off, frozen, and, five years later, attached to a different body.

11. The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder

I’m a sucker for road trip books and friendship stories. Wunder’s novel about two teens girls who escape New Jersey and their predictable futures for adventure and other such fantastic things will go to the top of the spring-read pile.

12. Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff

Folks are comparing this story about an unlikely romance between two misfit Minnesota teens to Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. You had me at Rainbow.

13. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

In this literary suspense story, Cadence Sinclair Eastman, 17, struggles to remember what happened on her family’s private island the summer she was 15, the summer that she fell in love for the first time, the summer that changed her life forever. Trouble is that the members of the mighty Sinclair family guard their secrets as well as they do their money. Goose bump-inducing.

14. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

If Matson’s new novel is even half as moving as her heart-wrenching Second Chance Summer, it will still be worth calling in sick to finish. Like her previous YA titles, Since You’ve Been Gone explores friendship, self-discovery, and taking risks.

15. We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

A story by the author of The Things a Brother Knows about two sisters, a secret, and life-changing consequence? Sign me up.

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Chelsey Philpot teaches writing at Boston University. She has written for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Slate, and numerous other publications. Her first YA novel, Even in Paradise, will be published September 2014. Follow her on Twitter.

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