The best young adult books of October

Seira Wilson on October 14, 2020
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The best young adult books of October

Many of the books originally slated to release this past spring and summer were pushed into the fall, so while October is usually strong for hot new releases in young adult, this month is positively groaning with good books.

Our Best Young Adult Books of the Month list includes exciting new fantasy from favorite authors and newcomers; the second book in a series perfect for fans of Stephenie Meyer; and powerful contemporary stories, both fictional and memoir.  Below are six of the ten picks from October's list and a little bit about why we chose them.


Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

Nic Stone is once again in best-seller territory with her sequel to Dear Martin Dear Justyce is told in alternating narratives by Vernell LaQuan Banks and Justyce McAllister—the protagonist from Dear Martin. Quan recounts his life leading up to his incarceration, and his struggles inside, where he writes letters to Justyce—the only person Quan feels really understands what he's going through, and who has his back even now. And Justyce does understand: what it's like to have an unsafe home life, and the anger and unfairness that comes with racial injustice, and he gives Quan the support and encouragement to value himself even in the face of those things. A must-read for Dear Martin fans and anyone looking for an unflinching portrait of the juvenile justice system in America.


The Mirror: Broken Wish by Julie C. Dao

The Sleeping Beauty story gets a new, dark twist in this magical thriller of a fractured fairy tale. A young couple looking for a fresh start moves in next door to a reclusive woman who the townspeople think is a witch. A covert friendship is formed and promises are made, then broken. And broken promises have dire consequences. Dao has created a world that fantasy and fairy tale readers will easily—and happily—fall into, with her fresh take on a classic. This is the first of a four-book series, to be written by four different writers, that will follow this couple, their progeny, and their curse.


Apple (Skin to the Core) by Eric Gansworth

Longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, Apple (Skin to the Core) is a memoir in verse from Native writer Eric Gansworth. Gansworth shares stories of his family and others, of government schools and poverty, of fearing the loss of heritage and culture while also feeling like a contributor to that very problem. For those not prone to poetry, don't let the author's use of verse scare you off—once I started reading I couldn't stop. Gansworth is a beautiful writer and opened my eyes to a world I have only glimpsed, mostly in fiction. A powerful and special read that stays with you.


Shine by Jessica Jung

Jung was the lead singer of the legendary K-pop group Girls' Generation, and she's used her experiences to craft a fun and lively novel about a highly competitive world where stars are made and dreams are broken. Rachel Kim is a 17-year-old Korean American girl who gets a shot at K-pop fame when she is accepted at the agency in Seoul known for creating influential groups. But Rachel's been a trainee for six years now and the clock is ticking. There is cattiness and gossip, double standards and long hours, but Rachel is a funny, delightful character with grit and heart.  A fast-paced rom-com powered by big dreams and music, perfect for fans of Jenny Han.


Daughters of Jubilation by Kara Lee Corthron

Set in the Jim Crow South, Daughters of Jubilation tells the story of Evalene Deschamps, and the magical power shared by generations of women in her family, and in other Black families, since the days of slavery. Evalene has the ability to make things move, the magic fed by intense emotions of fear, love, or anger.  It is called Jubilation, and as Evalene seeks to understand and harness her skill, she must contend with the ever-present dangers of the racist culture in which she lives. Corthron's novel explores the thrill of first love, the strength of family, and the harsh realities of oppression in an engrossing historical fantasy perfect for readers of Dread Nation.


All This Time by Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott

The authors of Five Feet Apart have crafted another thorny love story (aren't they all, really?) that gives even the most heartbroken hope. Kyle and Kimberly have been a couple throughout high school, and Kyle sees their future looking much like the past: always together. But Kimberly ends their relationship and a tragic accident follows, one Kyle survives and Kimberly does not.  Kyle is left broken and confused, thinking he will never love anyone else. Kyle avoids everyone in his life, but when he meets a young women mourning the loss of her twin sister, he finds a kindred spirit. Just when you think you know where it's going, the authors give this tale one more twist. For anyone who believes in love, fate, and second chances.


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