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Slam poetry, traveling carnivals, 17th-century Roman art. These are just a few of the diverse topics covered by this spring’s best new YA books. Here are 12 to have on your radar.
Alice has never understood her grandmother Althea, the reclusive author of dark fairy-tales. But now, Althea is dead, her mother has been kidnapped and it’s up to the 17-year-old to find her—while trying to avoid the same fate. Buy the book
After her first kiss on the top of a Ferris wheel, Emma becomes trapped by a traveling carnival’s magical spell. Now she has to travel with the carnival until she can lure someone into taking her place, encountering her first love along the way. Buy the book
At an exclusive school for gifted teenagers, a new student sets out to solve a decades-old kidnapping that has haunted the campus. Soon, the culprit seems to have returned, setting up a classic (and rewarding) murder mystery. Buy the book
On their 16th birthday, Camellia and her five sisters (known as “Belles”) are sent to restore beauty to Orléans, where everything is gray and ugly. But once they arrive, they realize that everything isn’t as it seems—including their own existence. Buy the book
Set in present-day Saudi Arabia, Bhathena’s debut novel tells the story of Zarin, a misunderstood free spirit whose bad reputation comes into question when she’s killed in a car accident. Buy the book
Penny is content with her small Florida town and the high school sweetheart she expects to marry. Then she goes to a summer theater program and starts to question if life could be better outside of her bubble. Buy the book
Though set in 17th-century Rome, this haunting retelling of the life of artist and feminist icon Artemisia Gentileschi is timely, tackling patriarchal oppression and sexual assault. Oh, and get this: It’s written in verse. Buy the book
In this captivating, West African-inspired debut, 17-year-old Zélie journeys to a mythical land to try to bring back magic to her country, Orïsha. Put it on your to-read list immediately. Buy the book
Xiomara is 15 years old and feels simultaneously unheard and unable to hide. In her Harlem neighborhood, she resorts to fighting to stand her ground. Then she discovers slam poetry, and it transforms her relationship to the world. Buy the book
When Leigh’s mother commits suicide, she’s visited by a bird she’s convinced holds her mother’s spirit. The bird directs her to her estranged grandparents in Taiwan, where she confronts her family’s demons. Buy the book
An uncompromising look at police violence through the eyes of twin high school seniors, Coles’s debut is timely and hard to read, but necessary. Even more impressive: He’s only 21 years old. Buy the book
In her debut novel, PureWow’s food & wellness director tackles the unconventional bond between a high school student and a violin prodigy. Did we mention the whole thing is structured like a sonata? Buy the book
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