Check It Out Category: Lists

Best Young Adult Books of 2020

best young adult books of 2020

Get ready to add to your TBR list! At the end of 2020, we looked at various “best of” lists and considered the buzziest books at MPPL and–ta dah!–brought you some great reads from a not-so-great year. We’ve selected a little something for all types of readers, whether you’re in the mood for a page-turner or a slow-burner.

Looking for personalized book recommendations? Email teenmail@mppl.org or readers@mppl.org to connect with our book match specialists. Keep reading for a few of our favorite titles, or visit the full Best of YA 2020 list to check out your next read!

These Violent Delights book cover

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

In 1926 Shanghai, eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, heir of the Scarlet Gang, and her first love-turned-rival Roma Montagov, leader of the White Flowers, must work together when mysterious deaths threaten their city

Historical Fantasy; World-building

 

Furia book cover

 

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Seventeen-year-old Camila Hassan, a rising soccer star in Rosario, Argentina, dreams of playing professionally, in defiance of her fathers’ wishes and at the risk of her budding romance with Diego.

Relatable; Inspiring

 

Stamped: Racism, antiracism, and you book cover

 

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

“Reynolds lends his signature flair to remixing Kendi’s award-winning Stamped from the Beginning into a powerful “not a history book ” primer on the historical roots and present-day manifestations of antiblack racism in America.” (from Publishers Weekly)

Issue-oriented; Conversational

 

Enigma Game book cover

 

The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein

Told in multiple voices, fifteen-year-old Jamaican Louisa Adair uncovers an Enigma machine in the small Scottish village where she cares for an elderly German woman, and helps solve a puzzle that could turn the tide of World War II.

Suspenseful; Atmospheric

 

Cemetery Boys book cover

 

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Two sisters–Eri, a fashion model sleeping her way to oblivion, and Mari, a young student–form the center of a novel that documents a series of encounters in Tokyo during the witching hours between midnight and dawn.

Fast-paced; Enchanting

 

Super Fake Love Song book cover

 

Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon

When new-girl Cirrus mistakes self-described nerd Sunny Dae as the lead in a rock band, Sunny rolls with it forming a fake band with his friends, but as the lies continue he risks losing both Cirrus and his friends.

Funny; Romantic

 

Dragon Hoops book cover

 

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

“The trials of a high school basketball team trying to clinch the state title and the graphic novelist chronicling them.” (from Kirkus Reviews)

Candid; Triumphant

 

Not So Pure and Simple book cover

 

Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

High school junior Del Rainey unwittingly joins a Purity Pledge class at church, hoping to get closer to his long-term crush, Kiera.

Authentic; Thought-provoking

 

Theme Reading: 24-Hour Stories

24 hour stories

Sometimes all a story needs is 24 hours. 24 hours could be packed full of adventure, wit, thrills, chills, and more! All the books listed here take place within only a handful of hours in the lives of the characters. What might your story look like in 24 hours?

 

The Gretchen Question book cover

The Gretchen Question by Jessica Treadway

A single mother torn between protecting her only child or revealing herself fully to the people she loves most, Roberta finds herself at war with conflicting loyalties, the increasing betrayal by her own body, the confused love she feels for her oldest friend, and a trauma from her past that casts a deep and possibly permanent shadow not only over her own life, but over the legacy she will bestow upon her son.

Haunting; Thought-provoking

One Night Two Souls Went Walking book cover

 

One Night Two Souls Went Walking by Ellen Cooney

A young interfaith chaplain is joined on her hospital rounds one night by an unusual companion: a rough-and-ready dog who may or may not be a ghost. As she tends to the souls of her patients – young and old, living last moments or navigating fundamentally altered lives – their stories provide unexpected healing for her own heartbreak.

Hopeful; Moving

Amnesty book cover

 

Amnesty by Aravind Adiga

A young illegal immigrant in Sydney, Australia is forced to choose between risking deportation and reporting the murder of a female client.

Intricately Plotted; Witty

 

A Room Called Earth book cover

 

A Room Called Earth by Madeleine Ryan

Attending a party under the full moon in Melbourne, a young woman on the autism spectrum makes magical, extraordinary connections with the people she encounters, including a man with whom she pursues a rare intimate encounter.

Engaging; Character-driven

After Dark book cover

 

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

Two sisters–Eri, a fashion model sleeping her way to oblivion, and Mari, a young student–form the center of a novel that documents a series of encounters in Tokyo during the witching hours between midnight and dawn.

Reflective; Mystical

 

The Loop book cover

 

The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson

A biotech experiment gone wrong renders a small western Oregon tourist town the epicenter of an inexplicable outbreak that causes infected patients to turn murderous, challenging a small group of outcasts to survive a violent night.

Science Fiction; Horror; Darkly Humorous

Ordinary Hazards book cover

 

Ordinary Hazards by Anna Bruno

An award-winning debut finds a powerhouse businesswoman settling down with a motley crew of locals at a hometown bar where a series of decisions over the course of a single night changes their lives forever.

Introspective; Lyrical 

 

Summerwater book cover

 

Summerwater by Sarah Moss

A series of vignettes offer the idle thoughts of a group of strangers vacationing in a Scottish holiday park during a very rainy day, lost in their own little worlds, until a shocking event unites them.

Atmospheric; Suspenseful 

 

The Sun is Also a Star book cover

 

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Natasha, whose family is hours away from being deported, and Daniel, a first generation Korean American who strives to live up to his parents’ expectations, unexpectedly fall in love and must determine which path they will choose in order to be together.

Realistic Fiction; Romantic

 

Black History Month: Black Family Stories

Black Family Stories

“The Black Family” is this year’s Black History Month theme. It is brought to us by the organization that founded Black History Month, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. For more information on the association and to browse past themes, click here. Collected below are some fictional stories to enjoy all year round that embrace this year’s theme on the Black family.

The Travelers book cover

 

The Travelers by Regina Porter

A first novel by an award-winning playwright follows the experiences of two American families, one black and one white, against a backdrop of historical events from the 1950s through the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency.

 

 

It's Not All Downhill from Here book cover

 

It’s Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan

Confident that her best days are still ahead, a successful businesswoman relies on close friends and her resourcefulness when an unexpected loss turns her world upside down.

 

 

no one is coming to save us book cover

 

No One Is Coming To Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts

A tale inspired by The Great Gatsby is set in the contemporary South and follows the difficulties endured by an extended black family with colliding visions of the American dream.

 

 

Cover of The Turner House

 

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

Learning after a half-century of family life that their house on Detroit’s East Side is worth only a fraction of its mortgage, the members of the Turner family gather to reckon with their pasts and decide the house’s fate.

 

 

Red at the Bone book cover

 

Red At The Bone by Jaqueline Woodson

As Melody celebrates a coming of age ceremony at her grandparents’ house in 2001 Brooklyn, her family remembers 1985, when Melody’s own mother prepared for a similar party that never took place in this novel about different social classes.

 

 

An American Marriage book cover

 

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

When her new husband is arrested and imprisoned for a crime she knows he did not commit, a rising artist takes comfort in a longtime friendship, only to encounter unexpected challenges in resuming her life when her husband’s sentence is suddenly overturned.

 

 

Kind of Freedom book cover

 

A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

Explores the legacy of racial disparity in the South through the story of three generations of an African American family in New Orleans.

 

 

 

Homegoing book cover

 

Homecoming by Yaa Gyasi

Two half-sisters, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in 18th-century Ghana and experience profoundly different lives and legacies throughout subsequent generations marked by wealth, slavery, war, coal mining, the Great Migration and the realities of 20th-century Harlem.

Winter Reading Ideas: Books You May Have Missed In 2020

Books You May Have Missed in 2020

2020 was a year that had a lot going on! And the publishing train still kept on going! We have gathered titles that may have missed your book radar last year. More titles to explore can be found here.

The Boy Toy book cover

 

The Boy Toy by Nicola Marsh

A woman ready to give up on love meets her match in a man she never expected to fall for.

 

 

 

Germania book cover

 

Germania: A Novel of Nazi Berlin by Harald Gilbers

Reactivated against his will by the Gestapo in the bombed-out capital of the Reich in 1944, Jewish detective Richard Oppenheimer investigates a serial killer who has been leaving Nazi-connected victims at war memorials.

 

 

Conjure Women book cover

 

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

A midwife and conjurer of curses reflects on her life before and after the Civil War, her relationships with the families she serves and the secrets she has learned about a plantation owner’s daughter.

 

 

The Bright Lands book cover

 

The Bright Lands by John Fram

Reluctantly returning to his small hometown when his star football player brother goes missing, a disgraced older sibling reconnects with the local sheriff, who begins to suspect former classmates in her search for her own missing brother.

 

 

The Royal Governess: a Novel of Queen Elizabeth II's Childhood book cover

 

The Royal Governess: a Novel of Queen Elizabeth II’s Childhood by Wendy Holden

Accepting the position of a lifetime tutoring the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, young Marion Crawford defies protocol to introduce the princesses to the experiences of everyday people while witnessing some of the 20th century’s most seismic events.

 

 

Ties that Tether book cover

 

Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo

Unexpectedly falling in love with a white man after her mother’s latest disastrous matchmaking effort, a young Nigerian woman struggles to follow her heart without breaking her mother’s or compromising her own identity.

 

 

The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett book cover

 

The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons

Wanting to organize an assisted death on her own terms, a world-weary octogenarian forges an unexpected bond with an exuberant 10-year-old who drags her to tea parties, shopping sprees and other social excursions.

Black History Month: Must See Black Cinema

Must See Black Cinema

In honor of Black History Month, we gathered some of the best-reviewed recent Black films for you to enjoy all year round. Featuring a wide array of thrills, drama, and great story, all of which have garnered applause, there’s something for every viewer. Find your match below, or contact us for a personalized suggestion.

Sorry to Bother You DVD cover

 

Sorry To Bother You

When telemarketer Cassius Green discovers the key to professional success, he finds his life at work becoming more and more bizarre.

 

 

Tangerine DVD cover

 

Tangerine

It’s Christmas Eve in Tinseltown and Sin-Dee is back on the block. Upon hearing that her pimp boyfriend hasn’t been faithful during the 28 days she was locked up, the working girl and her best friend, Alexandra, embark on a mission to get to the bottom of the scandalous rumor. Their rip-roaring odyssey leads them through various subcultures of Los Angeles.

 

Fast Color DVD cover

 

Fast Color

Hunted by mysterious forces, a young woman with supernatural abilities must go on the run when her powers are discovered. With nowhere else to go, she flees back to her family and the farmhouse she abandoned long ago. There, while being pursued by the local sheriff, she begins to mend the broken relationships with her mother and daughter.

 

Us DVD cover

 

Us

Haunted by trauma from her past and compounded by a string of eerie coincidences, Adelaide grows increasingly certain that something bad is going to befall her family. After spending a tense beach day with their friends, Adelaide and her family return to their vacation home. When darkness falls, the Wilsons discover the silhouette of four figures holding hands as they stand in the driveway: doppelgängers of themselves.

 

Harriet DVD cover

 

Harriet 

Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, the movie tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.

 

Pariah DVD cover

 

Pariah

Alike is a 17-year-old African-American woman who lives with her parents and younger sister in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood. She has a flair for poetry, and is a good student at her local high school. Alike is quietly but firmly embracing her identity as a lesbian. Wondering how much she can confide in her family, Alike strives to get through adolescence with grace, humor, and tenacity–sometimes succeeding, sometimes not, but always moving forward.

 

Queen & Slim DVD cover

 

Queen & Slim

While on a forgettable first date together in Ohio, a black man and a black woman, are pulled over for a minor traffic infraction. The situation escalates, with sudden and tragic results, when the man kills the police officer in self-defense. Terrified and in fear for their lives, the man, a retail employee, and the woman, a criminal defense lawyer, are forced to go on the run. But the incident is captured on video and goes viral, and the couple unwittingly becomes a symbol of trauma.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco DVD cover

 

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind. As he struggles to reconnect with his family and reconstruct the community he longs for, his hopes blind him to the reality of his situation.

If Beale Street Could Talk DVD cover

 

If Beale Street Could Talk

A timeless love story set in early 1970s Harlem involving newly engaged nineteen-year-old Tish and her fiancé Fonny who have a beautiful future ahead. But their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Now the pair and their families must fight for justice in the name of love and the promise of the American dream.