Welcome back to my Most Anticipated YA Books of 2021 blog post series. Back in December I covered the first half of the year (January – June 2021). This time I’ll be covering July – December 2021. As with my first post, I had a terribly difficult time narrowing this list down to just 10 books. It seems like every week there are more and more amazing YA books published. So, please use this list as a starting point to begin your TBR lists for the second half of 2021. And, continue to keep your eye out for more great reads!
The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (July 2021) – I heard Ryan Douglass talk about this book a few months back and I immediately knew I’d be reading it as soon as it came out. This book has all the makings of a quality horror novel — prep school, outcast teen, MC who can see and speak to the dead. But this book sounds like it is going to be so much more than that. When Jake encounters Sawyer, a teen who shot and killed six other teens and before killing himself, events take a more sinister turn.
You & Me at the End of the World by Brianna Bourne (July 2021) – The publisher’s description for this book begins with “This is no ordinary apocalypse…” One morning, Hannah and Leo wake up to a world full of silence. Their entire city is empty except for themselves. Faced with this new reality, they are finally able to shed their high school personas. The two work together to search for answers amidst the crushing isolation. But danger lurks in the shadows and Hannah and Leo must figure out what’s going on before they disappear, too.
Take Me With You When You Go by David Levithan & Jennifer Niven (August 2021) – Two superstar authors join forces in this contemporary YA novel. Ezra and Bea are siblings who suffer abuse from their parents. But one day Bea decides to take off to a new city without any sort of plan. Suddently Ezra is left with only an email address to communicate with Bea. The publisher writes, “Together and apart, broken by abuse but connected by love, this brother and sister must learn to trust themselves before they can find a way back to each other.” Sounds both heartbreaking and amazing all at the same time!
The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad (August 2021) – This one was recommended to me by a friend who was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of the book. They loved it and I think you all will too! In this feminist fantasy, the Wild Ones are the girls who have been hurt, abandoned, and betrayed all their lives. Paheli was the first. Sold by her mother to a man in exchange for a favor, Paheli manages to escape and in the process runs into a boy with stars in his eyes; he tosses her a box of stars and disappears. These stars give her access to the Between, a place of magic and mystery. It is here that Paheli begins to collect girls like herself and together they travel the world, saving others from the fates they suffered — until the boy with stars in his eyes is the one who needs saving.
All These Bodies by Kendare Blake (September 2021) – You all know I had to include at least one thriller in this list, right?! It’s 1958 in the Midwest and there’s a murderer on the loose, leaving bodies completely drained of blood in their wake. Authorities think they’ve finally caught a break in the case when 15-year-old Marie Catherine Hale is found at the scene of the latest murder. She’s covered in blood but not a drop of it is hers. Now the only one Marie will confess to is Michael, aspring journalist and…the sheriff’s son. But the truth is not as straightforward as it may seem — and no one is safe until this mystery is solved.
Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed: 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora edited by Saraciea Fennell (September 2021) – Edited by The Bronx Is Reading founder Saraciea Fennell and featuring an all-star cast of Latinx contributors, this anthology is not to be missed. Some of my favorite authors are included such as Elizabeth Acevedo, Meg Medina, Lilliam Rivera, Ibi Zobo and Mark Oshiro. Taking on the myths and stereotpyes surrounding this rich community, no topic is left untouched. This book is meant to inspire hope and spark conversation.
Black Birds in the Sky: The Story and Legacy of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre by Brandy Colbert (October 2021) – Brandy Colbert is one of my all-time favorite authors, so you know when she publishes a new book it’s going to the top of my TBR list. This is her first nonfiction book and it centers around such an important part of our country’s history — the Tulsa Race Riots. But what exactly happened? And why are the events unknown to so many of us today? These are the questions that award-winning author Brandy Colbert seeks to answer, tying it to events as early as Reconstruction and as recent as the Black Lives Matter movement.
You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao (November 2021) – What if in the midst of grieving the death of the person you love most, you are able to hear is voice one last time? That’s what Julie discovers when she calls her deceased boyfriend’s cellphone. Expecting only to hear his voicemail greeting, Sam picks up instead and Julie is given a second chance to say goodbye. Although Thao is a Vietnamese-American author, I can’t help but wonder if he was inspired by the Wind Phone in Japan. If you haven’t heard of this before, you should read about it! It’s truly fascinating and I think this story will be as well.
The Reckless Kind by Carly Heath (November 2021) – This book has been dubbed a genre-defying queer historical YA debut, which in and of itself is enough to land a spot on this list! Set in Norway in 1904, a trio of outcasts flee their traditional village existence for a secluded cabin outside of town. But in order to maintain their idyllic reality, they need money and the only way to do this is to win the village’s annual horse race. I love a good band of misfits story, and this unique time and setting makes this a must-read for me.
If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales & Cale Dietrich (December 2021) – What happens when two members of the hottest boy band fall in love — with each other?? They are forced to choose between coming out to fans and living their truth, or caving under the pressure of management. This is a queer romance with all the odds stacked against it. But love always wins, right?!
Well, that’s all, folks. What did you think? Do any of these top your list for the second half of 2021? Happy reading!