25 Best Teen Novels of 2020

It was a year of incredible diversity in teen novels. Here are my favorites of the year:

Again Again by E. Lockhart

Again Again by E. Lockhart (9780385744799)

“I particularly loved the characters that Lockhart creates here. They are maddening at times but also glorious individuals who are creative and interesting.”

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (9780062990297)

“Just starting reading, it is clear that the poems are done by a master storyteller. They allow readers to deeply understand the struggles of Michael from his family life to friendships that come and go to coming out and then performing.”

The Bridge by Bill Konigsberg

The Bridge by Bill Konigsberg (9781338325034)

“He gives us the darkness and then the light, the ending portrayal of their stories are just what the reader needs, hope and unlikely friends.”

Burn by Patrick Ness

Burn by Patrick Ness (9780062869494)

“Ness as always surprises and amazes in this new novel. His world building is remarkable, combining alternative history of the late 1950’s with fantasy into a world that is entirely believable.”

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (9780062882769)

“Beautifully written, this is another marvel of a read from Acevedo.”

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger (9781646140053)

“It’s a rich tapestry of fantasy, centered on Native American culture. That tapestry is impressive on its own but adding to the appeal is a deep murder mystery as well as a façade that must fall.”

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Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh (9780525556206)

“Her verses are searing at times, other times like a dream, and still others a call to action. She writes with such compassion and courage here that it’s incredible that this is her first novel.”

Everything Sad Is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri (9781646140008)

“It’s a world of stories that shows the tangled lives of immigrants, from what they have lost to what they discover as well.”

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson (9780062840356)

“Jackson writes with such raw power here. She harnesses growing tensions, fear for Enchanted’s life, and reader’s horror at the situation that Enchanted finds herself in.”

Kent State by Deborah Wiles

Kent State by Deborah Wiles (9781338356281)

“Brace yourself for this one. Wiles doesn’t pull any punches here. She allows all of the voices to speak, almost a chorus of the times, speaking about the draft, the Vietnam War, the incredible pressures on college students, the attitudes of the town, and the expectations for the National Guard.”

Layoverland by Gabby Noone

Layoverland by Gabby Noone (9781984836120)

“Hilarious, romantic and never dull, this novel is heavenly.”

Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles (9780062349217)

“A frank look at sex, lies and toxic masculinity with a main character to cheer for, despite it all.”

Parachutes by Kelly Yang

Parachutes by Kelly Yang (9780062941084)

“Yang tells the story of Chinese parachute students who come to the United States for high school. Their experience is fascinating and unique.”

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam (9780062996480)

“Told in verse, this is a powerful book that insists that readers see how the system actually works, its inherent racism, and the way that Black youths, particularly boys, are seen by white communities and white teachers.”

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (9781419739828)

“The depth of this teen novel is remarkable, particularly for a debut novel. It is a book that submerges the reader into a world they have never seen or experienced before.”

Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold

Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold (9780062742377)

“With ties to both fantasy and elements of allegory, this novel is dark and bloody, just right to be relished by young feminists.”

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown (9780062891495)

“Unique, detailed and fascinating, this first book in a series is a heady mix of African myth, political intrigue and fantasy.”

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (9781534457690)

“A dynamite first book in a dazzling fantasy series.”

Three Things I Know Are True by Betty Culley

Three Things I Know Are True by Betty Culley (9780062908025)

“Culley’s verse is written with the tautness of a violin string. Her words stretch and hum, resonant with meaning. She doesn’t use any extra words, her poetry spare and rich with emotion that goes unstated but fills the pages.”

Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry

Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry (9781616208967)

“Mabry’s novel is exceptional. Her writing is achingly beautiful, telling a story of profound grief and pain.”

Village of Scoundrels by Margi Preus

Village of Scoundrels by Margi Preus (9781419708978)

“A large part of the success here is Preus’ writing which contains a strong sense of justice and resistance in the face of the Gestapo.”

The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert (9781368053297)

“Political and romantic, this book is also a clarion call to vote and get involved.”

Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour (9780593108970)

“Gorgeously written and filled with icy darkness and glowing warmth, this novel is a triumph.”

The Way Back by Gavriel Savit (9781984894625)

“It is a great twisting and writhing story that the reader simply must give themselves up to and enjoy the journey.”

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee (9780358131434)

“Her writing is exceptional, moving from straightforward storytelling to passages that sing with poetic touches to direct verse. All of it screams of the injustice, demanding that people see what actually happened in the camps and the impossible decisions faced by the Japanese Americans who were held there.”

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