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    So Many Fantastic Books Are Releasing In April, And Here Are Our Top Picks

    Spring is finally here, so be sure to get your hands on these excellent titles!

    literary fiction

    Woman, Eating

    by Claire Kohda

    This majestic literary debut is an introspective portrait of a vampire artist reconciling all the different conflicts within herself. Lydia is a biracial vampire who is living away from her vampire mother for the first time ever. But as it turns out, life on her own, which includes things like trying to get fresh pig's blood in London without questions or stares, is more complicated than she expected. She's also spending lots of time around those who should be her prey. The gallery she is interning at, to varying degrees of success, holds many, as does the studio space she shares with other artists. Plus, there's Ben, another artist with a goofy grin who she could be falling for. But before she can discover her place in the world, she needs to eat. Rachel Strolle

    Young Mungo

    by Douglas Stuart

    Stuart’s debut novel, 2020’s Shuggie Bain, was an immersive, deeply compelling story about a working-class Scottish family and the matriarch Agnes’s debilitating alcohol addiction. In his second novel, Stuart explores similar themes. Mungo Hamilton is 15, the youngest of three children; older brother Hamish is a local gangster who terrorizes Catholic adolescents, while sister Jodie is sleeping with her older teacher and dreaming of a life away from their council estate. Their mother, Mo-Maw, meanwhile, has an alcohol addiction and is in and out of the house trying to date again after the death of her husband when Mungo was small. Mungo strikes up a friendship with a fellow loner named James, who happens to be Catholic. As their intimacy deepens, the ramifications of their love converge in painful, inevitably violent ways. —Tomi Obaro

    The Candy House

    by Jennifer Egan

    Picking up where her 2010 Pulitzer-winning collection A Visit From the Goon Squad left off, Egan once again hopscotches characters, countries, and years in this book about a technological invention called Own Your Unconscious that allows people to upload their memories to the cloud. The privacy implications of such an idea prompt a swift backlash. Using the inventiveness that made A Visit From the Goon Squad such a delight, Egan delivers another formally creative novel. Tomi Obaro

    If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English

    by Noor Naga

    Two young Egyptians — an American transplant with a shaved head and a photographer with a drug addiction — meet in Cairo in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution and quickly fall in love. But they are very different. The transplant is wealthy, hailing from New York, and “she was Egyptian enough to wax her arms but American enough to shave her head” while the photographer comes from a village called Shobrakheit and only owns one pair of socks. Yet they are drawn to each other, and in short chapters told in alternating first person, we learn more about them, their family histories, their desires, and their attraction to each other even as class differences threatens to tear them apart. Tomi Obaro

    A Tiny Upward Shove

    by Melissa Chadburn

    Marina is a half-Filipino, half-Black 18-year-old with a drug addiction, and when readers first meet her, she is dying from strangulation by a Canadian serial killer. But as she dies, she becomes an aswang, a mythical shape-shifter according to Filipino tradition, who is thirsty for revenge. Throughout the course of this original, heartbreaking debut, Chadburn traces the presence of aswang in Marina’s bloodline and the circumstances that brought Marina, a once-happy and bubbly child who lived with her lola and mother, Mutya, into a traumatized teenager forced into the foster care system. Tomi Obaro

    The Patron Saint of Second Chances

    by Christine Simon

    Travel to Prometto, Italy in this whimsical, quirky, and heartfelt novel that follows an older gentleman named Signor Speranza — a repairman forced to cough up 70,000 euros to fix the town’s pipes, otherwise the water will shut off and the townspeople will be forced out. In order to boost tourism revenue, he creates a rumor: a movie star will be filming in this very town. But as he becomes deeply tangled in his own lies, he realizes that he may have just created more problems to solve. —Farrah Penn

    The Sign for Home

    by Blair Fell

    Alternating between the perspectives of a 23-year-old Deaf-Blind man named Arlo, who's attempting to take the reins of his life for the first time, and Cyril, his new interpreter who's determined to facilitate just that, this is a novel that'll easily live in your brain for months after The End. It is very much centered on Arlo, who's been raised as a Jehovah's Witness by his fervently religious uncle and interpreter, which has colored everything he's experienced at this point...and that isn't much. But there is one standout to Arlo's childhood, and that's his romance with a girl he met at a boarding school for the Deaf. When a tragic incident took her away forever, Arlo resigned himself to a mediocre life. But as Cyril (who's gay, single, drinking, and has his own heartbreaking past to reckon with) helps him navigate a new, life-changing class at college, he finds that the combination of reflecting on the past and looking toward the future could help him turn everything around, especially when he learns there may still be a chance for his lost love. Arlo's compelling and unique voice and story would be drive enough, but the explorations of ASL, communication styles, and developing assistive technology (Fell is a longtime ASL interpreter) truly make this a must-read. —Dahlia Adler

    Nonfiction and poetry

    Easy Beauty

    by Chloé Cooper Jones

    In this moving, incisive memoir, Jones, a professor and writer born with sacral agenesis, a rare condition that affects her mobility and leaves her in chronic pain, charts the process of coming into her own and taking up space after a lifetime of reminders — some shockingly overt, others implicit — that her disabled body makes her marginal. Leaving her young son and husband at home in New York, she travels to Italy and Cambodia, ostensibly for dissertation research, but really as a way to sate her wanderlust and desire for something novel. She shifts between ruminations on ancient notions of beauty, from Socrates to Plato, and her own background, having grown up as the only child of an idealistic white father and more practical Filipino American mother amid all of these assumptions about what her life should look like because she is disabled. Her doctors assume she can never get pregnant, and fellow philosophical doctoral students argue over whether she should exist at all. Jones resists sentimentality and is as unsparing on herself as she is on other people, yet she writes with such graciousness, too. A wonderful debut. —Tomi Obaro

    Constructing a Nervous System: A Memoir

    by Margo Jefferson

    This book, by a former longtime New York Times cultural critic, is a thoughtful melange of criticism and memoir. In her previous book, 2015’s Negroland, Jefferson wrote about growing up as part of the Black bourgeoisie on the South Side of Chicago, interspersing personal memories with biographies of famous Black elites. Constructing a Nervous System feels more experimental in form; she addresses beauty, aging, and colorism using subjects like Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, and Josephine Baker as conduits. Her roving intelligence and refusal of pat conclusions make this a nuanced, thought-provoking read. Tomi Obaro

    The Red Zone: A Love Story

    by Chloe Caldwell

    Painful cramps and mood swings have always been integral components of Caldwell’s periods. But in her 30s, the symptoms appear to worsen. When the mood swings begin to threaten her burgeoning romantic relationship, Caldwell gets a medical diagnosis that confirms she has premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Armed with this information, she talks to different people about their own painful periods while also charting her experiences with love and the pressures on women in their 30s to “settle down”. Tomi Obaro

    Start Without Me (I'll Be There In a Minute)

    by Gary Janetti

    Reading Gary Janetti’s second book was exactly what I needed to lift me out of my winter blues. It’s like sitting by your funniest friend at a cocktail party, listening to their hilarious asides about everything they’re observing. I found myself laughing out loud several times as I breezed through this delightful collection of comic essays. If you don’t already know Janetti from Instagram, give yourself the treat of his hilarious writing. —David Vogel

    Maria, Maria: & Other Stories

    by Marytza K. Rubio

    These 10 lush and delightfully subversive short stories probe women’s love and women’s justice through the lens of witchcraft or, as the professor in the opening story “Brujería for Beginners” calls it, “spiritual vigilantism.” Rubio sets the titular novella in a sprawling, future California rainforest, where a young Maria traces the supernatural lineage of generations of Marias before her with the help of her aunt Maria after the death of her mother, also named Maria. Several of Rubio’s stories also explore animal perspectives and the environment, from a resurrected saber-toothed tiger to an art show created by animals. Clever and incisive, these stories simultaneously beg for laughter and for sentences to be underlined. —Margaret Kingsbury

    It Was Vulgar and It Was Beautiful: How AIDS Activists Used Art to Fight a Pandemic

    by Jack Lowery

    Art collective Gran Fury formed out of the activist group ACT UP in the late 1980s. Jack Lowery's compelling exploration of the collective and their work is more timely now than ever, when activism is a necessary and vital part of our lives. This book is a fascinating look at queer people who changed the fight against HIV/AIDS through their art with iconic imagery like the "Kissing Doesn't Kill" poster. Educational and entertaining, this look at queer history has a lot to tell us about what's going on today. —David Vogel

    Burning Butch

    by R/B Mertz

    I loved this memoir about the intersection between gender identity, sexuality, and faith. R/B Mertz was raised in an extremely conservative Catholic household, but began to question that faith when they began to realize they were queer. With writing that's engaging, heartfelt and hilarious, this is a book for anyone who's ever felt torn between the way they were raised and becoming the person they truly want to be. —David Vogel

    mystery and thrillers

    Portrait of a Thief

    by Grace D. Li

    This clever debut is an absolutely thrilling ride from start to finish. Will is a senior at Harvard, comfortably living the life that has been curated for him. But everything changes with an offer from a mysterious Chinese benefactor. Will and his crew will need to steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures that were looted from Beijing centuries before in exchange for $50 million. Irene Chen is a public policy major at Duke, a con artist skilled at talking her way out of sticky situations. Daniel Liang is a steady-handed thief and premed student. Alex Huang dropped out of MIT but is now a Silicon Valley software engineer, serving as the hacker of their group. And Lily Wu, an engineering major, races cars in her free time and is prepared to speed away as a getaway driver. Each of the five Chinese American students has a complicated relationship with China and their Chinese American identities, but not one of them turns down the offer. —Rachel Strolle

    historical fiction

    Four Treasures of the Sky

    by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

    Daiyu was born in a fishing village in China, named for a tragic heroine. After the capture of her parents at age 12, and at the insistence of her grandmother, Daiyu heads out disguised as a boy named Feng and gets a job working for a calligrapher. But she is soon kidnapped and smuggled across the ocean to America. Her journey there begins in San Francisco, in a brothel she strives to escape from. Then, her story takes her to Idaho, and a shop tucked into the mountains. As the Chinese Exclusion Act falls over the country and anti-Chinese sentiment spreads, Daiyu will need to reconcile her past and present in order to have a chance at a future. Compelling, tragic, and poetic, this debut is an absolute must-read for literary fiction lovers. Rachel Strolle

    Take My Hand

    by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

    In 2016, on the verge of retirement, Civil Townsend explains to her daughter the past she won't forget. In 1973 Montgomery, Alabama, Civil is determined to make a difference in her community. Fresh out of nursing school, she gets a job at the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, and her plan is to help women make decisions about their bodies and lives. But within her first week, she discovers that some of her new patients are just children — 11 and 13. Those handling their family's welfare benefits believe the girls should be on birth control — despite the fact they've never kissed a boy — because their family is poor and Black. Not long after a terrible occurrence, she becomes a whistleblower about the forced sterilization patients were put through. An unforgettable novel about horrendous wrongs and the choice to fight back against them. —Rachel Strolle

    Atomic Anna

    by Rachel Barenbaum

    A book that rips through time as easily as it does your heart, Atomic Anna follows three generations of women as they grapple with the ethics of changing the past. In 1986 Chernobyl, nuclear scientist Anna Berkova is asleep when the meltdown begins, but her life is saved when she's thrown through time to 1992 Armenia where she discovers her estranged daughter on the brink of death. This flings Anna on a journey further in time, on a mission to save the granddaughter she's never met. Full of breath-holding tension and fraught family dynamics, this sci-fi/historical genre bender is a must-read. —Kirby Beaton

    Gold Mountain

    by Betty G. Yee

    When 15 year old Tam Ling Fan's twin brother dies of influenza and her father is falsely imprisoned for treason, her family expects her to fulfill her duties as a woman: enter an advantageous marriage that will help save her Baba. But Ling Fan instead flees to California, disguised as her brother, to work on the new railroad. Navigating xenophobia, mental and physical strain, and gender identity, Ling Fan hopes to earn enough to save her father her way. A story of grit and determination, this is a fascinating read about a girl who sets her own path. —Kirby Beaton


    The Romantic Agenda

    by Claire Kann

    Claire Kann's first foray into adult fiction is a marvelous delight of a book with a joyous asexual main character that immediately makes you want to reread. And not to bring geometry into a romance book rec or anything, but I must say I am a sucker for the entertaining shape that is the love rectangle. For you see, Joy is in love with her best friend, Malcolm. But he's just announced that he's met the love of his life, a woman named Summer. And Summer's ex, Fox, is part of a plan to pretend he and Joy are falling for each other to make Malcolm jealous. Over the course of a weekend getaway, Joy plans to show Malcolm exactly what he is missing. But it might just be Fox who's the romantic partner of her dreams. Rachel Strolle

    Part of Your World

    by Abby Jimenez

    After driving her car into a ditch, Alexis Montgomery finds herself momentarily stranded in Wakan, a small tourist town off for the season. She's rescued by a charming carpenter who also happens to be an innkeeper, the mayor...and 10 years her junior. After one passionate night together, Alexis is determined to end things. If their age difference and her busy schedule as a prestigious ER doctor didn't complicate things enough, Alexis is also recovering from the trauma of a previous relationship. But something about Daniel and the town of Wakan is just too alluring to resist. Will they be able to make it work, or will their differences get in the way of something magical? —Shyla Watson

    Funny You Should Ask

    by Elissa Sussman

    Ten years ago, Chani Horowitz was a twentysomething writer eager to prove her talents outside of the occasional puff piece. When she gets an opportunity to profile her celebrity crush and James Bond movie star, Gabe Parker, an interview turns into a whirlwind weekend that sets Hollywood tongues wagging. Now, Chani is a successful writer with several distinguished works (and one divorce) under her belt. Still, her profile of Gabe is her claim to fame, and when she's asked to reunite with him for a second interview, she says yes. After all, what better way to find out if their magical weekend meant as much to him as it did to her...even all these years later? —Shyla Watson

    To Marry and to Meddle

    by Martha Waters

    After six seasons as a debutante — thanks to her father's substantial debt — the only suitor interested in marrying Lady Emily Turner is the seedy owner of one of the popular gambling houses. Lord Julian Belfry is no stranger to scandal himself, known as an actor and owner of a theatre, which is looked down upon by the Ton. When the two meet at a party, Emily and Julian decide to enter into a marriage of convenience that will help give his theatre an air of credibility and prestige, and help her cut ties with her father's unsavory circle of acquaintances. However, once they realize that they have different plans for their marriage...and possible real feelings for each other...their convenient arrangement gets infinitely more complicated. —Shyla Watson

    The Wedding Crasher

    by Mia Sosa

    When Solange Perreira is roped into helping her wedding planner cousin with a client's ceremony, she never imagines she would stop the wedding. But after stumbling upon a situation that proves the couple was not meant to be, that's exactly what she does. After Dean Chapman's marriage of convenience blows up in smoke, his promotion dependent on him having a significant other looks like it will follow suit. So when he's put on the spot, he claims he's in a relationship with the woman who crashed his wedding. When the two fake their way right into a real relationship, neither of them knows what to do next. Shyla Watson

    Science fiction and fantasy

    Sea of Tranquility

    by Emily St. John Mandel

    Mandel’s most recent novel is a thought-provoking look at time, pandemics, and the nature of reality and combines settings, themes, and characters from her previous books, particularly Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel. In 1912, Edwin — the youngest son of a wealthy British family — is exiled to the Canadian wilderness after a moment of outspokenness. There, he witnesses a peculiar event at a tree involving a violin and an airship terminal. More than a century later, a girl named Vincent takes a video of the same event at the same tree, a video that winds up in one of her brother’s performance pieces. Gaspery-Jacques Roberts lives on a moon colony and works as a time detective in the far future. He’s investigating the time anomaly Vincent and Edwin witnessed. In his investigation, he also meets Olive Llewellyn, a writer touring Earth after her novel about a pandemic becomes a hit. Mandel’s latest is an intriguing, complex, and emotional read that also explores her trademark theme of finding hope in dark times. —Margaret Kingsbury


    by Nicola Griffith

    The writing in this beautiful queer Arthurian retelling reminds me of Patricia McKillip and Ursula K. Le Guin, where every sentence sings. When Peretur was a child, she had no name. She grew up with her mother in a hidden cave, never interacting with other people, though she learned the ways of nature and the forest. As she grew older, she ventured farther from the cave and discovered a small village, watching the village folk unseen. One day, a group of knights passes through, and when bandits attack them, Peretur aids them, remaining unnoticed. She feels called to the knights and their King Artos, so she says goodbye to her mother — who names her and cryptically warns her of the dangers ahead from their past — and sets out to become one of King Artos’s companions. This immersive and inclusive retelling is breathtaking. —Margaret Kingsbury

    Fevered Star

    by Rebecca Roanhorse

    The second book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy picks up immediately after the events in the first book, Black Sun. After the annihilation of the Watchers, Tova’s power dynamics are in turmoil. Serapio recovers from a wound made by the false Sun Priest's mask among Tova’s Crow clan. The Crow clan, and the other matriarchal clans on Tova, are conflicted about whether his coming heralds prosperity or the ruin of them all. Xiala wants nothing more than to reunite with Serapio, but instead she finds herself on a voyage away from Tova, where she realizes she may be more helpful to him as a spy. Meanwhile, Naranpa has returned from the dead with new powers gifted by the Sun God, but she still struggles to connect with her brother. However, as the never-ending solar eclipse continues, a larger battle of epic proportions is making its way toward Tova. This second book is a brilliant follow-up to the first, mapping the rich terrains of each character’s inner world while moving the plot’s puzzle pieces in ever more intriguing ways. Margaret Kingsbury

    The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer

    by Janelle Monáe

    This collection of six thought-provoking science fiction short stories grapples with a future of surveillance, racism, and police states and expands on the world Monáe created in her album Dirty Computer. In the title story, memory librarian Seshet controls her city of New Dawn by remembering all and wiping the memories of those who cause trouble. When she goes on a date with a woman, she begins to question her role in the city as memories from her past slowly surface. In “Nevermind”, a group of women has fled New Dawn and created their own utopia called the Pynk Hotel. The group struggles to adhere to their utopian principles when attacked by New Dawn agents, questioning the loyalty of a trans member. Each story in this collection is a searing but ultimately hopeful glimpse into how marginalized groups can hope and create in a world set against them. Written with a group of collaborators, including award-winning authors and sociologists, this book is reminiscent of the anti-racist and community-building themes present in N.K. Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor’s work, as well as the utopian philosophy of Ursula K. Le Guin and the dystopian technological vision of Philip K. Dick. It’s a stunning collection of stories. Margaret Kingsbury

    Nettle & Bone

    by T. Kingfisher

    Sometimes a happily ever after is not what follows after marrying a prince. The youngest of three sisters, Princess Marra’s eldest sister dies soon after marrying the prince of a nation threatening war on their tiny but strategically important kingdom. The king and queen send Marra’s second sister to marry the prince next while they shuffle Marra off to be raised by nuns in a convent. When an older Marra visits her pregnant sister, she realizes her princely husband is a cruel abuser. Determined to rid her sister of an abusive husband, and to avenge her eldest sister’s death, Marra enlists the help of a witch with a demon chicken, a bone dog, a warrior stolen by the fey, and an eccentric fairy godmother. Kingfisher’s combination of comedy with feminist rage in a complex fairytale setting makes for a wholly entertaining read. Margaret Kingsbury


    by Vaishnavi Patel

    In the Hindu epic The Rāmāyana, Queen Kaikeyi is the villain, using her influence to banish the rightful heir to the throne so her son can take his place. Patel’s brilliant debut novel humanizes Kaikeyi. Much like Circe by Madeline Miller and The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Patel depicts a world where patriarchal and misogynist norms attempt to force women into rigid roles, which their protagonists refuse to be forced into. The novel opens with a child Kaikeyi reeling after her father, the king, banishes her mother from the kingdom without so much as a farewell. In despair, Kaikeyi turns to the gods, but when none of them answer her prayers, she ventures into the library to find lesser-known gods who might have time to listen to her. Instead, she uncovers an ancient scroll with a meditation spell. When she practices the meditation spell, she can see the thread that binds her to everyone she knows. Soon she discovers she can influence people by tugging at this thread and suggesting her desires. She carries this ability into adulthood, where she has the power to shape the destinies of all. —Margaret Kingsbury

    Young Adult

    This Rebel Heart

    by Katherine Locke

    Locke's path of lyrical and magical devastation continues through mid-20th century Europe with their newest YA novel, which follows a Hungarian Jewish girl named Csilla in the aftermath of the post-WWII Soviet takeover of her country and murder of her parents. Csilla and her aunt, the lone survivors from their family, have plans to escape, but Csilla can't leave the only home she's ever known without giving it one last chance to embrace her. Inspired by a successful protest in Poland, she and her new friends (which happen to include an angel of death named Azriel) use her position at the newspaper to make their voices heard, spurring on a movement that promises to create change in Hungary forever. But is it truly enough to give Csilla and her people a home? Or is she only delaying the inevitable? Diaspora readers in particular will undoubtedly relate to this gorgeously poetic and heartbreaking tale of living in a place that may not love you back. Dahlia Adler

    Blaine for the Win

    by Robbie Couch

    I don’t know about you, but I’m craving cozy, joyful books right now, and Couch truly delivers this with his queer, heartwarming sophomore novel. After Joey dumps Blaine Bowers seemingly out of the blue, Blaine is devastated. He’s also devastated to learn that he isn’t “serious” enough for Joey, who plans to head to law school once he graduates. In order to prove himself — and potentially win Joey back — Blaine decides to run for student council president. With the help of his best friend and a cute, plant-loving boy named Danny, Blaine is in for one heck of a ride, all the while discovering who he is and who he wants to be. —Farrah Penn

    She Gets the Girl

    by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick

    If this is how it reads when a couple in love writes a couple in love, then bring on all the author couples writing romance. The pair's first co-writing venture is a sweet and hilarious college-set rom-com about an unlikely pair of girls who make a pact to help each other land their girls. Alex is hot, a player, and no stranger to seeking an escape, but she isn't trying to escape Natalie, even if she can't say those three little words back. Molly is shy, anxious, and has no idea how to make friends, especially since her mom is her BFF. But Alex is convinced that if she can hook Molly up with her crush, then Natalie will have to see that Alex is way more good-hearted than she's given credit for, and everybody wins. But when Alex and Molly end up closer than either of them have ever been with anyone before, they'll have to acknowledge that both of them have more to give, if only they can each admit who the right person is. Dahlia Adler

    Sense and Second-Degree Murder

    by Tirzah Price

    The Dashwood sisters are a bit unconventional for their time. Elinor aspires to become a chemist, Marianne plans to take over her father’s detective business one day, and young Margaret wants to be a writer. When their father dies and they discover poison in his teacup, the three team up to solve his murder. Elinor sets out to discover exactly what kind of poison had been slipped into his tea while Marianne interviews former clients for clues, and Margaret listens and writes down her ideas. Their top suspect is their brother John’s wife, Fanny. John inherited the house after their father died, and Fanny wasted no time kicking the Dashwood sisters and their mother out of the house and into a tiny rental in Cheapside. Clearly, she’d been longing for their father’s house. However, as the sisters investigate, more possible suspects arise, and both Elinor and Marianne find themselves falling in love with two of the suspects. Compelling, funny, and feminist, Price’s Jane Austen YA mystery retellings are just an absolute blast to read. I enjoyed this one just as much as the first book in the series, Pride and Premeditation. —Margaret Kingsbury

    Queen of the Tiles

    by Hanna Alkaf

    Hanna Alkaf's work is S-E-N-S-A-T-I-O-N-A-L, so make sure to grab this Scrabble-tinged mystery. After the death of her best friend, Trina, Najwa didn't participate in Scrabble competitions for a year. Now, Najwa makes her return at the very competition where Trina died, and with Trina gone, every competitor is ready to take her place as champion. But as posts begin to pop up on Trina's formerly inactive Instagram post, Najwa starts wondering if her death was really as straightforward as it seemed, or if someone just wanted her out of the way. —Rachel Strolle

    With and Without You

    by Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberley

    The latest young adult novel from Siegemund-Broka and Wibberley is a tender, thoughtful, and evocative second chance romance story that follows Siena and Patrick, who are about to enter their senior year of high school. The two have been dating since they were 15 years old, but Siena begins to wonder if too much of her identity is tied to being SienaandPatrick and not just Siena. She plans to break up with Patrick before senior year begins but is caught by surprise when Patrick reveals he’s moving to Austin. Thinking long distance will fizzle out what they had, Siena stays with Patrick — but then begins to discover that even though she’s found a new independence within herself to try new things, somehow the distance has reignited their excitement for each other. —Farrah Penn

    Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak

    by Charlie Jane Anders

    Tina is still struggling with the weight of expectations (namely, those expecting her to be a badass space hero) while studying at the Royal Space Academy with her friends. Rachael is the first artist to journey from Earth to the galaxy, but she is struggling to make art after an encounter with an alien artifact. And Elza wants the chance to become a princess, being the first human to venture into the Palace of Scented Tears to compete. —Rachel Strolle

    Sofi and the Bone Song

    by Adrienne Tooley

    Sofi is auditioning to take her father's place as a Musik, one of five musicians in the kingdom of Aell allowed to compose and perform original songs. Music is the only art in which there are strict anti-magic laws, so it is shocking when Lara, a girl who has never played the lute before, is able to sweep in and win the title over Sofi. The same day, her father dies, and Sofi becomes determined to prove Lara used magic in her performances, all the while trying not to fall for the girl who took the future she imagined for herself. —Rachel Strolle

    An Arrow to the Moon

    by Emily X.R. Pan

    Pan’s highly anticipated sophomore novel is a spectacular modern take on Chinese mythology meets Romeo and Juliet. Told in multiple POVs, the two star players of this novel are Hunter Yee and Luna Chang, whose families strongly dislike each other. But Luna and Hunter are drawn to each other in a mysterious, almost magical way. Even more mysterious and magical is a strange crack spreading throughout their town of Fairbridge, and both Luna and Hunter must navigate family secrets before everything falls apart. —Farrah Penn

    Nothing Burns as Bright as You

    by Ashley Woodfolk

    Mark my words, this is one of the best books of 2022. It begins with a fire. In the hours that follow, the history of the friendship of two girls and the precariousness of feelings and reciprocation between them unspool in stunning verse that will leave you breathless. —Rachel Strolle

    Children's Fiction

    Different Kinds of Fruit

    by Kyle Lukoff

    Lukoff continues to break ground in middle grade with this story of a girl named Annabelle who's thrilled to make friends with the new kid at school, only to be stunned by her dad's negative reaction to the fact that this new friend, Bailey, is nonbinary. When the truth comes out — that her dad's strong reaction is due to the fact that he himself is trans — it throws Annabelle for a loop to learn that she had no idea how her father grew up or what his life was like before she came into it. But the more time she spends with both him and Bailey, the more he opens up, and the more Annabelle opens up to herself and her own feelings. It's a complex, affirming, warmhearted read that shows you're never too old to grow and embrace yourself and your community. Dahlia Adler

    Grow Up, Tahlia Wilkins!

    by Karina Evans

    Twelve-year-old Tahlia Wilkins is determined to have the perfect summer, and what better way to kick things off than with an invite to a pool party thrown by the most popular girl in school? Everything is going according to plan until she gets her very first period. With her mom out of town and only her awkward dad around to help (no, thank you!), she and her best friend Lily take matters into their own hands. From a grocery store clerk announcing her need for tampons over the loudspeaker to dipping into a fountain for quarters to use the bathroom's period product dispenser, the day is full of awkward moments, adventurous hijinks, and growing up. Shyla Watson

    Not-So Uniform Life of Holly-Mei

    by Christina Matula

    This fun new middle grade read is an absolutely endearing series starter. Holly-Mei thought life in Hong Kong was going to be perfect. Despite the fact that school is on the beach, and their new apartment is beautiful, the move is a lot harder than she anticipated. There's always some expectation she's apparently not fulfilling. Her Ah-ma stayed behind in Toronto, leaving her without her biggest source of guidance. Plus, she's got a frenemy thing happening with the most popular girl in her grade. But with her determination, she might still turn 7th grade into an adventure! —Rachel Strolle


    by Claribel A. Ortega

    Seven Salazar cannot wait for her placement at the Black Moon Ceremony, the time when Witchlings in the magical town of Ravenskill hope to be placed into one of five covens. But when the time comes, and every coven has been filled, Seven is left as one of three Spares, which means fewer witches and less power, especially after their magic circle doesn't work and leaves them stuck as Witchlings instead of full-fledged witches. There's only one option Seven can see: get assigned an impossible task, which, when completed successfully with the other Spares, will let them seal their coven and gain their full powers. —Rachel Strolle

    In the Key of Us

    by Mariama J. Lockington

    Andi and Zora are the only two Black girls at Harmony music camp. Andi, who is new to camp, is struggling to reconnect with music. Her trumpet just doesn't play like it used to before her mother's death. Zora is returning to camp, though her heart lies in dance. Her parents are determined for her to become a flute prodigy. As the two girls begin to connect, they slowly start to learn that what they really need is each other. Lockington's newest shines light on two girls trying desperately to find their own beat, and beautifully knits their songs together. —Rachel Strolle