39 YA Books By AAPI Authors That Release This Year
Pick up these reads by Asian Americans and Pacific Islander authors ASAP!
by Malinda Lo
Lo's latest is set in San Francisco's Chinatown during the 1950s. Lily Hu is a 17-year-old Chinese American who is questioning her sexuality. She finds acceptance through another teen named Kath at the Telegraph Club, a lesbian nightclub. As their romance grows, so does the Red Scare paranoia that surrounds them. Lo brilliantly captures the intense feelings of inner turmoil, belonging, and identity.
by Jennifer Yen
Liza Yang agrees to help her mother with her bakery's annual junior competition, but there's one catch: Her mother has handpicked eligible Asian American guys as contestants without her knowing in order to set her up. And to Liza's surprise, she finds herself attracted to the impenetrable (and sexy) James Wong. How is she supposed to deal with conflicting feelings over her mother's approval — and James? Yen's debut is an absolute delight and a perfect comfort read.
by Mary H.K. Choi
Choi's latest beautifully explores the complicated relationship between two very different sisters. Jayne Baek is attending fashion school in New York City and struggling with an eating disorder, and she can't seem to move on from her deadbeat boyfriend. Her sister, June, seemingly has it all: She's rich, and she has a job in finance and a giant apartment. But when June is diagnosed with uterine cancer, Jayne moves in, and these estranged sisters begin to get to know each other better.
by Sabina Khan
Zara Hossain is a 17-year-old Pakistani immigrant living in Corpus Christi, Texas, who is waiting on her family's green card approval. Facing Islamophobia at school, Zara knows she should lie low. But when football player Tyler Benson takes things too far and gets suspended, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara's house with racist graffiti as an act of retaliation, putting Zara's future at risk. Khan takes an emotional, layered look at being an immigrant in America in this tender story.
by Akemi Dawn Bowman
This Westworld meets Warcross story is for all sci-fi lovers. 18-year-old Nami Miyamoto's life is cut short, sending her into an afterlife called "Infinity." Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife, imprisoning humans into servitude. Now, Nami must work with a team of rebels to overthrow this AI in order to survive. Action and adventure lovers are sure to be delighted by this one!
by Joan He
Don't miss out on this compelling sci-fi novel. Cee awoke on an abandoned island three years ago with no memories except for the fact that she has a sister — and she needs to find her. Meanwhile, Kasey resides in the Metropolis, Earth's last unpolluted place designed to help planetary protection. But is science really helping humanity if it's failed those who mattered most?
by Sarah Suk
Pitched as Frankly in Love meets Shark Tank, Valerie Kwon and Wes Jung run competing Korean beauty businesses at their high school for different reasons. Valerie is saving up for her dream trip while Wes plans to finance his music school tuition that he knows his parents won't front. But as they try to out-sell each other, they soon discover that there might be a hint of a spark.
by Adiba Jaigirdar
We love YA with fake dating tropes! When Humaira Hani Khan comes out as bisexual, her friends don't believe her because she's only dated guys. So she lies and says she's in a relationship with the school's overachiever, Ishita Ishu Dey. Ishita agrees to go along with Humaira's lie if Humaira can help her become more popular, and despite their agreement...the two begin falling for each other.
by Emiko Jean
Izumi Tanaka doesn't exactly fit in. As a Japanese American in a Northern California (and mostly white) town, it isn't easy. But then she learns her father is the Crown Prince of Japan, which makes Izumi a princess. She decides to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of, but that's when she learns things aren't always happily ever after when you're a princess. This lighthearted story will capture the hearts of The Princess Diaries and Crazy Rich Asians fans.
by Tahereh Mafi
We're thrilled to be getting another contemporary novel from bestselling author Tahereh Mafi. Set in 2003 on the brink of the war on Iraq, Shadi is grieving her own troubles and concerns. Her brother has died, her father is dying, and her mother isn't handling either well. To make matters worse, Shadi is suffering a broken heart. She attempts to keep all of this inside — until she can't anymore.
by Zoe Hana Mikuta
This unique sci-fi fantasy is a must-read! Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker — a rebel who specializes in taking down giant mechanized weapons known as Windups run by cruel Godolian overlords. When one mission fails, she finds herself imprisoned where she meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her enemy — until she learns she's infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia.
by Elizabeth Lim
This fantasy inspired by East Asian folklore is stunningly executed. Shiori'anma is the only princess of Kiata, and she holds an important secret: magic runs through her veins. When her magic is exposed during her betrothal ceremony, her stepmother banishes Shiori and turns her brothers into cranes, forbidding her to speak of it. Otherwise, her brothers will die. Now Shiori must find her brothers and uncover a dark conspiracy to seize the throne before it's too late.
13. A Pho Love Story
by Loan Le
This sweet and delightful story is perfect for fans of contemporary romance. Bao Nguyen works at his parents’ pho restaurant. Linh Mai works full time at her parents' pho restaurant. So it's no surprise that the Mais and the Nguyens have been in competition for years, although Linh and Bao suspect that the reasoning is layered. But when Linh and Bao begin to connect on a deeper level, they're not sure if their feelings for each other can survive the wrath of their feuding families.
by June Hur
This intriguing YA historical mystery (1426, Joseon) follows Hwani, whose detective father vanishes after investigating the disappearance of 13 young women. When she returns home to try to figure out what happened, she begins uncovering the dark secrets of her small village, realizing that the answer could be buried in her repressed memories. Once you find yourself immersed in Hur's bewitching story, you'll find it's hard to put down.
by Axie Oh
Jenny is a cello prodigy who has plans to get into a prestigious music conservatory. It's at her uncle's Los Angeles karaoke bar that she meets a guy named Jaewoo and, together, they spontaneously have a one-night adventure. But when family brings Jenny to South Korea, she discovers Jaewoo is a student at the same elite arts academy where she's enrolled. Not only that, he's also a member of a widely popular K-pop band — and he's forbidden from dating. This book was pure joy to read.
by Sheba Karim
Karim is back with another masterful novel. After losing her aunt, recent graduate Noreen hopes to take a gap year to New Delhi, hoping India can relieve her grief. It's there at Noreen meets Kabir, who introduces her to the magic of India, and Noreen slowly discovers that she might be on her way to finding herself once again. This is a powerful story of identity, culture, grief, and love.
by Nisha Sharma
This swoony YA is pitched as To All the Boys I Loved Before meets World of Dance. Radha wants to become one of the greatest Kathak dancers in the world, but a family betrayal costs her the biggest competition of her life. In an attempt to leave her past behind, she leaves Chicago to attend the Princeton Academy of the Arts in New Jersey, where she meets Jai, captain of the Bollywood Beats dance team. That's when Jai realizes Radha might be what he needs to pull off a show-stopping senior year.
by Sasha Nanua, Sarena Nanua
This immersive, breathtaking YA fantasy will sweep you off your feet with its lush world and memorable characters. When Princess Rani meets Ria, a street urchin, they discover they are are unmistakably identical. They decide to switch places, all the while uncovering dark danger that encompasses both of their worlds. In order to save their home, both girls must work together before everything falls apart.
19. Anna K Away
by Jenny Lee
This is the sequel to Anna K, Lee's modern-day retelling of Anna Karenina. After being thrust into the aftermath of a sex tape leak and a tragic death, Anna is taken to South Korea by her father to connect with his family. There, Anna hopes to figure out who she truly is. Then, of course, there's the return of Lolly and Steven, Dustin and Kimmie, and new problems arising in their relationships. Told throughout the course of a summer, Lee guides us through a period of healing and growth for these characters.
by Tashie Bhuiyan
If you can't get enough rom-coms this year, don't miss Bhuiyan's debut. Karina Ahmed is Bangladeshi American teenager who's agreed to fake-date (we love fake-dating!) her school's resident bad boy Ace Clyde. Her parents have left for Bangladesh for four weeks, which is how long Karina has agreed to this deal. With sarcastic, witty humor and a heartfelt exploration of familial relationships, Bhuiyan masterfully sucks you into Karina's world.
by Mariko Turk
After Alina shatters her leg, her dreams of a professional ballet career diminish. Instead, she's enrolled in a normal high school where she reluctantly joins the school musical after her friend Margot encourages her. In order to move on, Alina struggles to fight past racism within the dance industry and what it means to love something that's not perfect. And then there's Jude — a fellow classmate who, though aggravating, might be someone Alina is falling for. The Other Side of Perfect is a moving story. Turk's voice shines.
22. Perfectly Parvin
by Olivia Abtahi
14-year-old Parvin Mohammadi transforms into a rom-com dream girl after she's dumped by her boyfriend. But Parvin has her sights on heartthrob Matty Fumero; and if she can get Matty to ask her to homecoming, it'll prove to her ex that she's GF material after all. Being a rom-com girl isn't as easy as it looks, especially when Parvin and her family feel the ramifications of the Muslim ban. Abtahi writes a touching contemporary that's hilariously heartfelt about one girl's journey to self-discovery.
23. Misfit in Love
by S.K. Ali
Contemporary lovers will certainly be enticed by the sequel to Saints and Misfits, which follows Janna Yusuf, a teenager whose heart is torn in two directions over the course of one summer when the dreamy Haytham and brooding Layth upend her entire life. Not only that, but her brother Muhammad's getting married, her dad is acting strange, and her mom is acting distant. And Nuah is back. Yeah, the Nuah whose feelings she wasn't ready to reciprocate. But has that changed?
by Sandhya Menon
Fairy tale lovers: Don't miss this contemporary spin on fairy set in an elite boarding school. Caterina LaValle is determined to be the queen of St. Rosetta’s Academy. When she discovers her ex is taking a supermodel to an upcoming gala, she decides to work some magic on the dorky Rahul Chopra. With the help of hair gel that has the power to alter the wearer into whatever his heart desires, Rahul becomes a charming, confident person. But will he give up Caterina to keep this new persona?
by Stacey Lee
Set in 1912 aboard the Titanic, Luck of the Titanic follows Valora and Jamie Luck, twin British-Chinese acrobats. Val has snuck onboard the Titanic to reunite with her twin brother Jamie, only to find him with a group of fellow Chinese laborers in third class. Val wants a new life with the Ringling Brothers Circus, and she wants Jamie by her side — but Jamie may have different dreams. When the ship encounters a fatal blow, the siblings find themselves in race for survival.
by Sarah Kuhn
This heartfelt modern fairy tale is set in the LA neighborhood Little Tokyo. Rika, an orphan with two bossy cousins, sets out to search for her long-lost mother after locking eyes with Grace Kimura, America's reigning rom-com sweetheart, during the Nikkei Week Festival — with the help of a cute actor, of course. But will Rika finally get her happily ever after? Kuhn pens beautiful story about family, culture, and community.
by Katie Zhao
This YA thriller is Crazy Rich Asians meets One of Us is Lying set in an elite prep school. Top-ranked junior Jamie is found dead, leaving Nancy Luo — his former BFF — dumbfounded. But Nancy and her friends become prime suspects when someone anonymously begins incriminating them via the school's social media app. Now, Nancy must figure out what happened to Jamie before the messages began costing her more than she can afford.
by Misa Sugiura
Set in San Francisco, Nozomi Nagai meets Willow — gorgeous, sweet, and someone with a plan to make her ex jealous. But she needs Nozomi's help. In turn, Nozomi finds herself in the midst of a fauxmance with Willow. Surely nothing can go wrong...right? A light, easy romance for those craving a sweet and happy ride.
by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Gilbert's latest YA contemporary novel features a girl named Beth who has a tight circle of friends — Grace Nakamura, Brandon Lin, Sunny Chen, and Jason Tsou — and she doesn't want that to change. But when Beth uncovers violence in Jason's home life, she and her friends act out of protectiveness and loyalty. When We Were Infinite is a difficult read at times with its heavy subjects, but Gilbert's gorgeous prose shines through it all.
by Olivia Chadha
In this sci-fi set in a futuristic South Asia, two divided groups exist: those that live in climate-controlled biodomes and the poor that live on the outside, a society of poverty-stricken cyborgs. Ashiva is a Red Hand revolutionary, but when she meets a brilliant hacker who comes from the privileged biodomes, the two uncover a horrifying government conspiracy. Now, they must set aside their differences and work together in a shared fight.
31. The Wild Ones
by Nafiza Azad
In this magical, atmospheric novel that's set in both reality and "the Between," we follow Paheli, betrayed by her mother and sold to a man in exchange for a favor. Then Paheli is gifted a box of stars by a mysterious boy, who disappears, giving Paheli access to a world where she can collect girls like herself, using magic to help the hopeless. But when the girls discover the boy is in danger, nothing becomes safe. This unique, moving story is one that will stay with you long after you finish.
32. American Betiya
by Anuradha D. Rajurker
Rani Kelkar is an Indian American teen who begins seeing a boy named Oliver in secret, knowing her mother wouldn't approve. But while being with Oliver is exciting, it's also more complex than Rani expects. So when Rani finds herself in India over the summer, she begins to unpack microaggressions and cultural appropriation, as well as learn what healthy boundaries might look like, uncovering a journey to her own self-discovery. Rajurkar pens a moving story that takes a meaningful, layered look at culture, love, and expectation.
33. Jade Fire Gold
by June C.L. Tan
Inspired by Chinese mythology, this gripping, action-packed fantasy novel is Girls of Paper and Fire meets The Tiger at Midnight. Altan is a lost heir, and Ahn, a peasant, is someone without an understanding of her past. With an empire on the brink of war, Altan meets Ahn on his path to reclaim the throne, while Ahn begins to forge a path to understand her magical abilities. Once you begin, you're in for a fascinating ride.
by Dustin Thao
17-year-old Julie has her future mapped out, including moving out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam. But when Sam unexpectedly dies, Julie is gutted. She tries to move on by forgetting him, deciding to call his phone one last time to listen to his voicemail. And Sam answers. Despite this being a temporary connection, Julie gets her second chance at goodbye. But as Sam's family continue to grieve, Julie's torn between telling them the truth or keeping it to herself.
by Suzanne Park
If you like your contemporary with a dose of shenanigans, don't miss Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous. When Sunny Song accidentally goes viral, she's shipped off to a digital detox farm camp in Iowa for a month. But if she wants to grow her platform (and she does) she'll have to find her way back to WI-FI. The longer she stays, the more IRL connections Sunny begins to make, including unexpected friendships. Plus, there's a pretty cute farm boy who might have captured her attention.
36. Broken Web
by Lori M. Lee
This is the immersive sequel to Lee's fantasy novel, Forest of Souls. Lurking in the Dead Wood is The Soulless, who has awoken from imprisonment and is gathering strength. Sirscha is believed to be a soulguide, a hero, but deep down, she knows a soulrender like the Soulless. No one must find out. In a quest to cut off The Soulless from his power, Sirscha finds herself caught between a war brewing in the east and the Soulless waiting in the west.
by Intisar Khanani
This is the final installment in the Thorn duology. If you love excited, fast-paced fantasy novels, don't miss out on Khanani's latest. This story follows a girl named Rae. With children disappearing from across Menaiya, Rae goes to the royal court with the intention of seeking answers. It's there Rae finds an ally in the foreign princess, who makes her an attendant. With the princesses's support, Rae uncovers answers within the city's streets, where she runs into a thief who has his own secrets.
38. Ravage the Dark
by Tara Sim
Amaya Chandra has survived seven years imprisoned on a debtor's ship. After she escapes, she has a new motive: find the man who betrayed her and her friends. Cayo has lost a lot, and with no way to afford treatment for his sister's deadly illness, he joins forces with Amaya to solve the mystery of the counterfeit currency. But Cayo hasn't forgiven Amaya in her prior deception, which proves difficult as their feelings for each other become complex. But in order to stop the corruption, they must learn to trust each other.
by Tanaz Bhathena
This is the final installment to Bhathena's Wrath of Ambar duology. Gul and Cavas face trouble: a tyrannical government set on killing them. Their roles in the king's death haven't gone unnoticed by the queen, who believes they might have the magic to end her for good. When Cavas is taken prisoner by the government, leaving Gul to train an army alone, they both must find a way back to each other to fight for what they believe in.