Summer is almost here, and the publishing world has gifted us with breezy reads for mornings spent lounging in hammocks, afternoons chilling on the beach and nights basking in air conditioning. From the haunting story of a teen choosing between what he wants and what his father demands (Meet Me Here by Bryan Bliss) to a hilarious Shakespeare retelling (The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Andersen), May kicks off a season of glorious, YA summer reads.
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1. Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann
Release Date: May 3rd from Greenwillow Books
Why You'll Love It: Let's give it up for books in verse! Heppermann's latest tells the story of a teen cross-country star who gets pregnant, has an abortion and finds herself in a downward spiral. It's like Miranda Kenneally (Things I Can't Forget) meets Cordelia Jensen (Skyscraping), tackling heavy subjects through verse. Want more? Check out Poisoned Apples, Heppermann's first book with Greenwillow.
Description: Addie has always known what she was running toward. In cross-country, in life, in love. Until she and her boyfriend—her sensitive, good-guy boyfriend—are careless one night and she ends up pregnant. Addie makes the difficult choice to have an abortion. And after that—even though she knows it was the right decision for her—nothing is the same anymore.
She doesn't want anyone besides her parents and her boyfriend to know what happened, and she doesn't want to run cross-country. She can't bring herself to be excited about anything--until she reconnects with Juliana, a former teammate who's going through her own dark places.
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2. Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman
Release Date: May 3rd from Balzer + Bray
Why You'll Love It: Get excited for the thrilling, alternate history world of Blankman's Traitor Angels. This swoon-filled book follows Paradise Lost author John Milton's daughter, drawing you into an intriguing time for literature and incorporating some Da Vinci Code-style plot twists. If you read The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall, you'll dig this story.
Description: Six years have passed since England's King Charles II returned from exile to reclaim the throne, ushering in a new era of stability for his subjects. Except for Elizabeth Milton. The daughter of notorious poet John Milton, Elizabeth has never known her place in this shifting world—except by her father's side. By day she helps transcribe his latest masterpiece, the epic poem Paradise Lost, and by night she learns languages and sword fighting. Although she does not dare object, she suspects that he's training her for a mission whose purpose she cannot fathom.
Until one night the reason becomes clear: the king's man arrive at her family's country home to arrest her father. Determined to save him, Elizabeth follows his one cryptic clue and journeys to Oxford, accompanied by her father's mysterious young houseguest, Antonio Vivani, a darkly handsome Italian scientist who surprises her at every turn. Funny, brilliant, and passionate, Antonio seems just as determined to protect her father as she is—but can she trust him with her heart?
When the two discover that Milton has planted an explosive secret in the half-finished Paradise Lost—a secret the king and his aristocratic supporters are desperate to conceal—Elizabeth is faced with a devastating choice: cling to the shelter of her old life or risk cracking the code, unleashing a secret that could save her father…and tear apart the very fabric of society.
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3. The Way Back to You by Michelle Andreani and Mindi Scott
Release Date: May 3rd from Katherine Tegen Books
Why You'll Love It: I have a special place in my heart for good road trip YA, and Andreani and Scott's The Way Back to You is an absolute must-read in this category. Two friends travel the country on a heartbreaking mission, resulting in a moving and often hilarious narrative. If you enjoyed Morgan Matson's Amy & Roger's Epic Detour or Jessi Kirby's Things We Know By Heart, this book is for you.
Description: Six months ago, Ashlyn Montiel died in a bike accident. Her best friend Cloudy is keeping it together, at least on the outside. Cloudy's insides are a different story: tangled, confused, heartbroken.
Kyle is falling apart, and everyone can tell. Ashlyn was his girlfriend, and when she died, a part of him went with her. Maybe the only part he cares about anymore.
As the two people who loved Ashlyn best, Cloudy and Kyle should be able to lean on each other. But after a terrible mistake last year, they're barely speaking. So when Cloudy discovers that Ashlyn's organs were donated after her death and the Montiel family has been in touch with three of the recipients, she does something a little bit crazy and a lot of out character: she steals the letters and convinces Kyle to go on a winter break road trip with her, from Oregon to California to Arizona to Nevada. Maybe if they see the recipients—the people whose lives were saved by Ashlyn's death—the world will open up again. Or maybe it will be a huge mistake.
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4. Jerkbait by Mia Siegert
Release Date: May 10th from Jolly Fish Press
Why You'll Love It: This might be the first ugly cry of the summer, as Siegert's debut introduces readers to identical twins who are brought together by one's attempted suicide. Exploring suicide, sexuality, and the pressure of other's expectations, it's a heavy book that's perfect for fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli and My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga.
Description: Even though they're identical, Tristan isn't close to his twin Robbie at all—until Robbie tries to kill himself. Forced to share a room to prevent Robbie from hurting himself, the brothers begin to feel the weight of each other's lives on the ice, and off. Tristan starts seeing his twin not as a hockey star whose shadow Tristan can't escape, but as a struggling gay teen terrified about coming out in the professional sports world. Robbie's future in the NHL is plagued by anxiety, while Tristan desperately fights to create his own future, not as a hockey player but as a musical theater performer.
As their season progresses and friends turn out to be enemies, Robbie finds solace in an online stranger known only as "Jimmy2416." Between keeping Robbie's secret and saving him from taking his life, Tristan is given the final call: sacrifice his dream for a brother he barely knows, or pursue his own path. How far is Robbie willing to go—and more importantly, how far is Tristan willing to go to help him?
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5. Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods
Release Date: May 10th from Crown Books for Young Readers
Why You'll Love It: Woods' debut introduces readers to the quirky and ultimately hilarious Wilamena, who has been raised to rely on the stars for guidance in her life. Wil's story is sweet, full of heart and packed with awkward moments that will send you reeling back to high school.
Description: When zodiac-obsessed teen Wilamena Carlisle discovers a planetary alignment that won't repeat for a decade, she's forced to tackle her greatest astrological fear: The Fifth House—relationships and love.
But when Wil falls for a sensitive guitar player hailing from the wrong side of the astrology chart, she must decide whether a cosmically doomed love is worth rejecting her dead mother's legacy and the very system she's faithfully followed through a lifetime of unfailing belief.
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6. Marked by Jenny Martin
Release Date: May 17th from Dial Books
Why You'll Love It:Paste listed Marked as one of the most-anticipated YA books of 2016… and now it's finally here. The sequel to Martin's sci-fi smash Tracked, Marked picks up with Phee helping to lead the rebellion.
One of the truly fantastic things Martin does in the sequel is that she explores Phee's trauma as a result of the battles. Phee wrestles with PTSD and guilt, giving this sci-fi thrill-ride serious emotional heft. It's Mad Max + Firefly + Star Wars + The Fast and the Furious. Get on it.
Description: After an escape gone wrong, Phee barely made it out of Castra alive. But Cash, the leader of the rebellion, is still missing—and Charles Benroyal is to blame. Caught between grief and blinding thoughts of revenge, Phee fights for the resistance, gaining new allies and, perhaps, making new enemies.
Meanwhile, Phee can't control her growing feelings for Bear, her best friend since childhood, and she's forced to make a choice—between the boy who has always been there for her and the one who might never return. As Benroyal's attacks grow bolder, Phee and her team embark on a daring mission to defeat the Sixers and save the planet. But no one is prepared for the sacrifices Phee will have to make to win this war once and for all.
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7. The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson
Release Date: May 17th from St. Martin's Griffin
Why You'll Love It: Full disclosure: There's a blurb from me on this book, and there's a reason for that. The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You is, hands down, one of the geekiest Young Adult novels you'll ever read. The nerdy jokes come at you fast and furious, with the pop-culture sensibilities of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline mashed together with the YA contemporary storytelling of Lauren Morrill and Amy Spalding. Packed with the drama that makes high school (and trips to Comic Con) so great, it's sure to be one of your favorite books of the year.
Description: Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West—and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing—down to number four.
Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben's, including give up sleep and comic books—well, maybe not comic books—but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it's time to declare a champion once and for all.
The war is Trixie's for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben's best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben's cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie's best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe—and they might not pick the same side.
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8. Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
Release Date: May 24th from G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Why You'll Love It: If you didn't pick up Lee's debut, Under a Painted Sky, you seriously missed out. So consider that a bonus recommendation in addition to Lee's latest, Outrun the Moon. Set during the historic San Francisco earthquake, it's a disaster story highlighting an era of racial divides and tension about a girl who refuses to give up… even in the face of a destroyed city.
Description: San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare's School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare's is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.
On April 18, an historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy's home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Mercy can't sit by while they wait for the Army to bring help. Fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, yet Mercy still has the "bossy" cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teen girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?
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9. The Inside of Out by Jenn Marie Thorne
Release Date: May 31st from Dial Books
Why You'll Love It: Thorne's The Inside of Out is about being an ally… and how not to be one. When Daisy's best friend comes out to her, all Daisy wants is to help fight for equal rights for her bestie. But despite her good intentions, she has a tendency to keep messing things up. The book's tagline, "every story needs a hero, sometimes it's just not you," sum it up so very nicely.
Description: When her best friend Hannah comes out the day before junior year, Daisy is so ready to let her ally flag fly that even a second, way more blindsiding confession can't derail her smiling determination to fight for gay rights. Before you can spell LGBTQIA, Daisy's leading the charge to end their school's antiquated ban on same-sex dates at dances—starting with homecoming. And if people assume Daisy herself is gay? Meh, so what. It's all for the cause.
What Daisy doesn't expect is for "the cause" to blow up—starting with Adam, the cute college journalist whose interview with Daisy for his university paper goes viral, catching fire in the national media. With the story spinning out of control, protesters gathering, Hannah left in the dust of Daisy's good intentions and Daisy's mad attraction to Adam feeling like an inconvenient truth, Daisy finds herself caught between her bold plans, her bad decisions and her big fat mouth
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10. Meet Me Here by Bryan Bliss
Release Date: May 31st from Greenwillow Books
Why You'll Love It: Bliss' latest novel explores military PTSD and trauma in a way that's as sensitive as it is real, and it's definitely making my favorites list this year. In Meet Me Here, a recently graduated teen has to make some tough choices, and over one night, he finds himself on an intense journey of self discovery. If you enjoy books by Sara Zarr or The Serpent King by Jeff Zenter, this one is for you.
Description: Thomas is supposed to leave for the Army in the morning. His father was Army. His brother, Jake, is Army—is a hero, even, with the medals to prove it. Everyone expects Thomas to follow in that fine tradition. But Jake came back from overseas a completely different person, and that has shaken Thomas' certainty about his own future. So when his long-estranged friend Mallory suggests one last night of adventure, Thomas takes her up on the distraction.
Over the course of this single night, Thomas will lose, find, resolve, doubt, drive, explore and leap off a bridge. He'll also face the truth of his brother's post-traumatic stress disorder… and of his own courage.