Holiday Recommendations for Young Readers 2023: Young Adult

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: A Hunger Games Novel, by Suzanne Collins, ages 13-17. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute. Their fates are now completely intertwined. Inside the arena,   it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute... and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes. “The twists and heartbreaks captivate.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Check & Mate, written by Ali Hazelwood, ages 14-17.  When eighteen-year-old Mallory begrudgingly agrees to return to chess in one last charity tournament, her surprise upset against Nolan Sawyer, the reigning world champ and bad boy of the chess world, sets her on an worldwin adventure as she rediscovers her passion for the game. "Filled with the author's signature humor, well-developed characters, and realistic conflicts, plus the fully realized setting of competitive chess, this captivating romance will delight teen readers.”-- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Gwen & Art Are Not In Love, by Lex Croucher, ages 13-18. The descendants of King Arthur, betrothed since birth and archenemies, agree to keep each other's secret: that they are both queer, in this medieval YA romcom for lovers of A Knight's Tale, full of sword-fighting, found family, and the very best of romantic tension. "A wonderful expansion of the YA romance genre...Frankly a delight." - Kirkus Reviews. Available on November 28.

I Loved You in Another Life, by David Arnold, ages 14-18. Transcending time and space, a celestial bird repeatedly brings two strangers together: from an escaped murderer in 19th century Paris, to a Norwegian kosmonaut in low-earth orbit, something is happening that began long ago, and will long outlast Evan and Shosh. With lyrical prose and original songs written and recorded by the author, this novel explores the history of love, and how some souls are meant for each other--yesterday, today, forever. "... Powerfully heartbreaking…. both lyrical and devastating." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

Courage to Dream: Tales of Hope in the Holocaust, written by Neal Shusterman, illustrated by Andrés Vera Martínez, ages 12-18. Courage to Dream plunges readers into the Holocaust - one of the greatest atrocities in human history - delving into the core of what it means to face the extinction of everything and everyone you hold dear. This gripping, multifaceted tapestry is woven from Jewish folklore and cultural history. Five interlocking narratives explore one common story - the tradition of resistance and uplift. “Moving examples of the power of culture and folklore to offer help, hope, and inspiration to act.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review.

Accountable: The True Story of a Racist Social Media Account and the Teenagers Whose Lives It Changed, by Dashka Slater, ages 13 and up. When a high school student started a private Instagram account that used racist and sexist memes to make his friends laugh, he thought of it as "edgy" humor. Over time, the edge got sharper. Then a few other kids found out about the account. Pretty soon, everyone knew. Ultimately no one in the small town of Albany, California, was safe from the repercussions of the account's discovery. Not the girls targeted by the posts. Not the boy who created the account. Not the group of kids who followed it. Not the adults--educators and parents--whose attempts to fix things too often made them worse. In the end, no one was laughing. And everyone was left asking: Where does accountability end for online speech that harms? And what does accountability even mean? “Thorough, thought-provoking, and all too relevant." -- Kirkus Reviews. Four starred reviews!

Her Radiant Curse, by Elizabeth Lim, ages 12-18. From the critically acclaimed author of Six Crimson Cranes comes a fantasy tale of two sisters--one as beautiful as the other is monstrous--who must fight to save each other when a betrothal contest gone wrong unleashes an evil that could sever their bond forever! “A fantasy to savor.... Artfully rendered, precisely paced, and piercingly true. Against the rich folkloric backdrop, Lim's complexly rendered characters come heartbreakingly alive." -- Booklist, starred review.

Charming Young Man, by Eliot Schrefer, ages 13-18. They say Léon Delafosse will be France's next great pianist. But despite his being the youngest student ever accepted into the prestigious Paris Conservatory, there's no way an impoverished musician can make his way in 1890s Paris without an outside patron. When the larger-than-life Count Robert de Montesquiou-Fézensac offers his patronage, Léon's dreams are made real. But the closer he gets to becoming France's next great thing, the further he strays from his old country life he shared with his family and his best friend Félix . . . a boy he might love. With each choice Léon makes, he must navigate a fine line between two worlds--or risk losing them both. “Beautifully realized and a pleasure to read.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review.

Enlightened, written and illustrated by Sachi Ediriweera, ages 12-18. A spirited young prince longing to learn more about the world grows into a man on a quest to find the cause of human suffering in this first-of-its-kind graphic novel retelling of the life of Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism. “... Conveys complex concepts in an accessible way… vividly rendered.” — Kirkus Reviews


Houses With a Story: A Dragon’s Den, a Ghostly Mansion, a Library of Lost Books, and 30 More Amazing Places to Explore, written and illustrated by Seiji Yoshida, translated from the Japanese by Jan Mitsuko Cash, Amulet Books, $24.99, ages 12-17. For fans of Studio Ghibli, this fantastical art book is a perfect gift that transports readers to imaginary houses, each with their own story to tell. In each house, readers discover the contents of rooms and closets, what's at the top of the stairs, and where shadowy hallways lead. Story text provides background and details about the lives of the residents and hints about their past and future. Featuring lush, full-color illustrations including diagrams, elevations, and sectional drawings, along with detailed descriptions of each character and their pets, the homes' architecture, design, location, and landscapes open doors to whimsy, wonder, and endless possibilities. “Offers tantalizing glimpses into imagination-inspiring rooms full of untold stories.” – Kirkus Reviews