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Blackout

Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon (Quill Tree)

Young Black love glows throughout this tender anthology, which follows six couples through a summer blackout in New York City. Twined with a primary arc are connections—some gentle, some combative, all thrilling—that feature characters experiencing love across the city’s landmarks. This joyful anthology brings a wonderful elation to stories of Black love, queer love, and alternative forms of affection.

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Firekeeper’s Daughter

Angeline Boulley (Holt)

Annishinabe author Boulley’s debut thriller centers Daunis Fontaine, 18, who, amid mounting local meth overdoses, uses her knowledge of chemistry as well as traditional plants and medicine to source the drug and reveal its seller. Hitting hard on issues such as language revitalization and how the presence of drugs impacts Native communities, this wonderfully tribally specific story will stand long in the hearts of readers.

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From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial That Galvanized the Asian American Movement

Paula Yoo (Norton Young Readers)

In 1982 Detroit, anti–Asian American sentiment is on the rise, leading to two white autoworkers killing Chinese American Vincent Chin. In six well-structured parts, Yoo’s carefully recreated historical account exhaustively details Chin’s murder and considers its resulting impact via a resonant volume that draws parallels between the haunting account and present-day hate crimes.

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Himawari House

Harmony Becker (First Second)

In Becker’s stunningly layered graphic novel debut, 19-year-old Nao, Japan-born and Midwest-raised, spends a gap year at a Tokyo-based sharehouse to reconnect with her roots. The language learning process, language’s role in defining identity, and multilingual experiences are lovingly illuminated in mostly translated Japanese, Korean, and English as the multiplicities of diasporic Asian identity are examined and held close.

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In the Wild Light

Jeff Zentner (Crown)

After discovering a bacteria-eating mold in a local cave, two Appalachian students are offered full scholarships to a prestigious prep school in Zentner’s tender novel of love and loss. Though introspective nature lover Cash Pruitt is loath to move away, the change helps him to develop new passions, such as poetry, that allow him to see the world, and himself, through new eyes.

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Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Malinda Lo (Dutton)

In San Francisco, 1954, 17-year-old Lily Hu discovers a lesbian hangout called the Telegraph Club. Dawning recognition of her own lesbianism comes alongside a budding connection with classmate Kathleen Miller, against a landscape of contemporarily resonant sociopolitical turmoil. Smoothly referencing places with historic Chinese American significance, Lo transcends historicity through a sincere exploration of identity and love.

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Let’s Talk About It: The Teen’s Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being a Human

Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan (Random House Graphic)

Moen and Nolan apply their signature humor to this accessible guide covering the “in-between stages” of intimacy, “from having a crush to... putting a condom on something.” Showcasing variations in ability, body shape, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, and pairings, this refreshingly inclusive read takes individual desires and needs into account while offering comprehensive, no-nonsense information on sex and sexuality.

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The Mary Shelley Club

Goldy Moldavsky (Holt)

Following a home invasion, Rachel Chavez spends her time bingeing scary movies to process her trauma and joins the Mary Shelley Club, a secret society whose members share a passion for all things horror—a devotion that takes a sinister turn. At once gripping teen melodrama, incisive meditation on fear, and love letter to horror tropes, Moldavsky’s adrenalized novel enthralls.

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The Mirror Season

Anna-Marie McLemore (Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends)

Referencing Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” McLemore’s spellbinding tale, written with due consideration and care, centers queer teen Ciela, who has inherited her bisabuela’s ability to “know what bread or sweet would leaven the heart of anyone she met.” After Ciela and a visiting boy are sexually assaulted at the same party, however, her gift disappears—and a strange season begins.

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The Other Merlin (Emry Merlin #1)

Robyn Schneider (Viking)

Schneider’s first foray into fantasy, a clever trilogy starter based in the King Arthur mythos, changes most of the canonical facts but gets everything that matters right. As bisexual teen Emry Merlin befriends Arthur and his best friend Lancelot, the bawdy jokes land, the magic flies, and the court politics feel high-stakes.

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Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People

Kekla Magoon (Candlewick)

Magoon presents an incisive, in-depth study of the Black Panther Party, starting with a history of slavery, emancipation, and segregation before diving into the civil rights and Black Power movements and ending with Black Lives Matter. Providing visual breaks that inform while contributing to a digestible pace, the volume offers nuanced information about the group’s self-defense stance, community programming, and dedication to legal action.

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Skin of the Sea

Natasha Bowen (Random House)

Simidele is a mermaid tasked with ushering to the afterlife the souls of West African people thrown overboard from passing slave ships, but when a teen lands in the water during a storm, she defiantly saves his life. Recognizing West Africa as a place of great invention, fellowship, and hope, Bowen centers a headstrong protagonist coming into her own power in an age of change.

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A Snake Falls to Earth

Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido)

With a basis in Apache stories, this sharply told speculative novel by Little Badger is a smartly intertwined, shifting-perspective story about two characters in worlds that diverged thousands of years ago: Earth-dwelling Nina, who is nine, and shape-shifting, Reflecting World–dwelling Oli, 15.

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Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet

Laekan Zea Kemp (Little, Brown)

Combining deliciously described food, expressive prose, and contemporary romance, Kemp follows two Latinx teens after their lives intersect at a beloved neighborhood restaurant on her last—and his first—day working there. Serving up finely rendered, stirring character arcs for both, the novel also offers an intimate portrait of two teens grappling with mental health, complicated family relationships, and newfound love.

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The Witch King (The Witch King #1)

H.E. Edgmon (Inkyard)

Having fled the fae kingdom where he was persecuted for Texas, a trans witch must face his former fiancé—a royal from that world attempting to secure the throne against a rival upstart. Technomagic and queer activism sparkle in Edgmon’s wisecracking, intimate debut, a vividly lovable, revolution-tinged celebration of trans joy, which refreshingly builds its conflict without jumping for trauma tropes.

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