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Anna and the Swallow Man

Gavriel Savit (Knopf)

Set during WWII, Savit's debut novel leaves an indelible mark. In it, he follows a girl named Anna and an enigmatic stranger she calls the Swallow Man across the European countryside as they attempt to stay safe in a deeply threatening environment.

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Beast

Brie Spangler (Knopf)

Writing with humor and empathy, Spangler traces the twisty contemporary romance between two teens who feel betrayed by their bodies: Dylan, whose size and hairiness overshadow his smarts, and Jamie, a talented transgender photographer he meets in group therapy.

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Exit, Pursued by a Bear

E.K. Johnston (Dutton)

In an unflinchingly candid look at sexual assault and its aftermath, Johnston uses the scaffolding of Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale for the story of a 17-year-old cheerleader, Hermione, who is raped at cheer camp, can't remember the attack, and faces difficult decisions as she moves forward from the trauma.

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If I Was Your Girl

Meredith Russo (Flatiron)

Russo's debut novel sensitively follows a transgender teenager, Amanda, as she attempts to stay under the radar while finishing high school. It's a story that speaks movingly both to universal sensations of feeling like an outsider and to the specific struggles and triumphs of Amanda's journey.

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Kids of Appetite

David Arnold (Viking)

In a thoughtful and multilayered story of found family, Arnold introduces a motley band of outcasts (the eponymous Kids of Appetite) who embark on a quest to disperse the ashes of the father of one member while they are also being questioned in a murder.

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The Lie Tree

Frances Hardinge (Amulet)

Set in 19th-century Britain, Hardinge's eerie and elegantly written tale accompanies intelligent but stifled Faith Sunderly and her family to their new home on a remote island, where murder, scientific disgrace, the restrictions levied on women, and a mysterious tree combine with thrilling results.

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My Lady Jane

Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows (HarperTeen)

In a hilarious, gonzo reinvention of the story of Edward VI and Lady Jane Grey, a trio of YA authors transports readers to a version of 16th-century England populated by shape-shifting humans called E∂ians. It's historical fantasy at its most audacious as Hand, Ashton, and Meadows swap real-life tragedies for happily-ever-afters.

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My Sister Rosa

Justine Larbalestier (Soho Teen)

Almost unremittingly tense, Larbalestier's chilling study of morality, psychopathy, and the nature of evil is narrated by Australian teenager Che Taylor, whose move to New York City with his family only heightens his fears about what his 10-year-old sister, Rosa—who seems entirely devoid of empathy—is capable of.

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The Passion of Dolssa

Julie Berry (Viking)

Berry takes readers to 13th-century France in a lushly written story of heresy, friendship, and intrigue as she weaves together the stories of two strong-willed but threatened young women: Botille, a matchmaker, and Dolssa, a mystic who is being hunted by inquisitors.

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Salt to the Sea

Ruta Sepetys (Philomel)

Sepetys again demonstrates her skill at illuminating underrepresented chapters in human history, rotating among several compelling voices as she turns her attention to the WWII sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, which killed more than 9,000 people, mostly refugees.

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Scythe

Neal Shusterman (Simon & Schuster)

In the technologically advanced future of Shusterman's provocative novel, people are all but immortal, though citizens known as Scythes keep population growth in check. As Shusterman follows two young Scythes-in-training, he saturates their story with heady questions about what it means to exist in a world where there's essentially nothing left to learn or achieve.

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The Serpent King

Jeff Zentner (Crown)

Outsiders in their small Tennessee town, three high school seniors rely on each other in Zentner's heartrending and gorgeously written debut novel, a story that sees moments of grace and hope transcend stifling family histories, stymied dreams, and tragedy.

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Still Life with Tornado

A.S. King (Dutton)

An artistically talented 16-year-old—stuck in neutral and ready to drop out of life—starts running into past and future versions of herself in this story of a teenager's search for meaning. It's just the latest in a string of philosophical, challenging, and rewarding-on-multiple-levels novels from King.

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The Sun Is Also a Star

Nicola Yoon (Delacorte)

Yoon's sophomore novel lasers in on the intense romance between teenagers Natasha and Daniel during a single day in New York City. But the story takes an addictively expansive approach to questions of fate, chance, and destiny as Yoon simultaneously delves into the intersecting lives of people in the teens' midst.

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Unbecoming

Jenny Downham (Scholastic/Fickling)

Downham skillfully interweaves the conflicts of three generations of women in a story set in motion when Katie’s grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s, moves into Katie and her mother’s apartment. Sexuality, social pressures, and memory are just some of the themes that emerge as Downham delves into the women’s lives.

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Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II

Albert Marrin (Knopf)

As the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor arrives, Marrin looks closely at the harsh treatment of Japanese-American citizens during WWII, including the forced removal of those living on the West Coast into "relocation" centers. It's a thorough, clear-eyed account of an ugly period in American history.

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