Last month I had a giant stack of young adult books to read for March and unlike in other months, it seemed like each new one I picked up ended up going into the "love it" pile. Tough choices had to be made to keep the list to ten titles, which is a good problem to have in my world. At the end of the day, the best YA books of March include two stand-out graphic novels, one of which you'll see below, along with debut fiction from promising new voices, some exciting new fantasy, and thought-provoking nonfiction.
Below are few of the titles that made our top ten list of the best young adult books of March. You can see the full list here.
Anna K: A Love Story by Jenny Lee
I love this book. Anna K: A Love Story is Jenny Lee’s retelling of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina with a modern twist. Anna K. is a beautiful, wealthy, Korean-American teenager. She seems like the perfect high society darling but the designer duds and high-rise living come with steep expectations. Anna's younger brother, Steven K., is feckless and lovable; his major girlfriend screw-up leads to Anna's chance meeting with the boy who will ultimately turn her world upside down. For the most part these are not demure teens. They party like stars who end up on TMZ and nothing is off limits to them. Even Anna K, who until now eschewed the party life in order to maintain a sterling reputation, decides to let her hair down as the book progresses. There are a couple of different love stories playing out simultaneously, each with its own flavor of heartbreak and romantic entanglement. Jenny Lee doesn't skimp on tragedy either and, not going to lie, I shed a tear or two when I got to these parts in the book, so invested had I become in her characters. One of my favorite reads this year.
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
Gene Luen Yang's nonfiction graphic novel, Dragon Hoops, is an autobiographical account of Yang questioning his creativity pool after his last book had been out a while, and then finding an unlikely (for him) subject catch his attention: basketball. Specifically, the men's varsity basketball team at Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, California, where Yang teaches. Yang's school had been buzzing about the upcoming California State Championship, something that has eluded the team time and again, and Yang's curiosity leads him to seek out the coach and talk to him for pretty much the first time ever. What follows is Yang taking the reader along with him as he talks to players and coaches, past and present, and learns what turns out to be an incredibly interesting and entertaining journey into the history of the game, racism, and assimilation. Yang is a master storyteller, and even those who don't read many graphic novels or books about sports will find themselves entrenched in Dragon Hoops.
Brown Girl Ghosted by Mintie Das
Brown Girl Ghosted is such a fun read. Violet Choudhury is one of the few brown girls in her small Midwestern town and she puts up with a lot of stupidity and racism in her quest to just get along and get through high school. Violet is the equivalent of the Kati character in Mean Girls, but Das does her own thing with the trope, giving the clique's queen bee a family home that is also a funeral parlor, and other delightful touches. A surprise murder adds more undead humor to a story already touched by Violet's supernatural aunties/mentors who put her through recurring fight club-like tests, whether she wants to participate or not. Violet is an engaging teenage protagonist who can't seem to catch a break but steps up to the plate again and again. Brown Girl Ghosted isn't all fun and fighting games though; issues of consent, girl-shaming, and racism also come into play, and Das does a wonderful job of balancing the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this hybrid of a contemporary teenage experience, the supernatural, and a murder mystery, from start to finish--highly recommended.
Rad American History A-Z: Movements and Moments That Demonstrate the Power of the People by Kate Schatzand Miriam Klein Stahl
This author duo wrote Rad American Women A-Z a few years ago, and their latest has the same cool style and format, but looks at events that have shaped America over the centuries. Each letter is represented by a primary moment, along with sidebar entries for a couple of others: times in our history when people changed the status quo across all aspects of daily life. N is for No Nukes! and talks about a variety of individuals and groups who have worked for decades to address nuclear weapon proliferation, use, and aftermath. N is also for National Parks, New Negro, Nineteenth Amendment, and NOW (National Organization for Women). From environmentalism and politics to pop art and #blacklivesmatter--this is history we want to know, that we should know, and Rad American History A-Z presents it in a way that is inspirational and engaging. I got a lot out of this book and am passing it along to my teenager.
You might also like:
- Best young adult books of the month
- Other posts on kids & young adult books and authors
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