2019 Staff Picks: Young Adult

By Skokie Staff Adult Services

Our expert staff members look back at the year and share their favorite titles.

  • Watch Us Rise

    2019 by Watson, Renée

    Set in a high school with a strong focus on social justice, this book was so full of strong young women that I can't help recommending it to everyone I know. Recommended by Denise.

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  • With the Fire on High

    2019 by Acevedo, Elizabeth

    I'm not much of a cook, but this novel about a young teen mom working toward her dream of becoming of a chef made me want to learn. Full of experimental recipes, this book will leave you wanting more (food)! Recommended by Denise.

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  • The Winter of the Witch: A Novel

    2019 by Arden, Katherine

    A thrilling conclusion to the excellent Winternight Trilogy, this fantasy seamlessly weaves magic, Russian folklore, and a very strong female protagonist. Brilliant and deep, with meaningful contests between good and evil, this has everything I want in fantasy. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Patron Saints of Nothing

    2019 by Ribay, Randy

    This is a tender, searching, righteous book about a boy whose cousin is murdered in Duterte's Philippines and his quest to find out what happened. It filled me with outrage, sadness, and joy all at once. Duterte's campaign of extrajudicial terror has horrified me from afar. I'm so thankful this timely, moving book was written. Recommended by Jarrett.

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  • Sorry for Your Loss

    2019 by Foley, Jessie Ann

    Set on Chicago's north side, this is the story of Pup, who, after the death of his big brother and hero, finds relief from grief in the form of photography. The youngest in a family of eight, Pup was always an afterthought, but when he discovers he has artistic talent and meets a true friend, everything changes. With scenes of family dysfunction so familiar they hurt, settings close to my heart, and a romance that felt organic and true, this was one of my favorites of 2019. Recommended by Jarrett.

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  • High: Everything You Want to Know About Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction

    2019 by Sheff, David

    Father-son writing pair David and Nic Sheff have written a crucial book for teens about drugs, drug abuse, and common misconceptions about the risks of drug use. Nic, who survived years of profound drug addictions, writes from the heart, and his perspective--as a partner to his son, advocate, and survivor in his own way--adds power to the stories and information provided. I believe we should provide teens with all the information they need to stay healthy and make good choices, even when it scares us. This book does that well. Recommended by Jarrett.

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  • Lovely War

    2019 by Berry, Julie

    Two connected stories are narrated by the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Themes include racism and prejudice, as well as falling in love when everything seems impossible all around you. Kudos to the author! Recommended by Sharon.

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  • I Wish You All the Best

    2019 by Mason Deaver

    The story of a teenager who has to rebuild their life after being kicked out of their home for their gender identity. They have to decide whether to be out at their new school and risk being rejected again, or stay in the closet and never feeling like they belong. Recommended by Quetzalli.

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  • The Weight of Our Sky

    2019 by Hanna Alkaf

    A heartbreaking tale of a race riot in Malaysia in the 1960s. One girl is desperate to find her mother during the riots, but her OCD makes it nearly impossible to do anything. She must depend on the kindness of strangers to survive. Recommended by Quetzalli.

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  • A River of Royal Blood

    2019 by Amanda Joy

    Set against a vivid North African backdrop, sisters Evalina and Isadore live in the Queendom of Myre, where sisters fight to the death for the ivory throne. Rreminiscent of Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone. Recommended by Mahjabeen.

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  • On the Come Up

    2019 by Angie Thomas

    Angie Thomas is continuing to develop as an author, and I think this is better than Thug. The descriptions of writing rhymes ring true, and Bri's emotions, shortcomings, and ability to find and use her voice gave me every kind of feel. Recommended by Rachael.

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  • The Field Guide to the North American Teenager

    2019 by Ben Philippe

    Norris is funny and lots of fun to read, even as his Harriet-the-Spy antics push him toward trouble. I love a misfit who tries to repair mistakes. Recommended by Rachael.

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  • Hurricane Season

    2019 by Nicole Melleby

    Trying to understand her musician dad's debilitating bipolar disorder, Fig studies the life of Vincent Van Gogh. After a neighbor helps her dad learn to cope with his illness, Fig struggles with how she fits in her dad's life. This is a beautiful story about coming out, art, and the difficulty of caring for a parent with a serious mental illness. Recommended by Jarrett.

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