Fantasy. Ever since her mother was drowned in one of the Cleansings designed to rid Spira City of witches, Julia has lived with a motley gang of thieves and con artists. Her unusual ability to make herself unnoticeable makes Julia an ideal candidate for undercover jobs like her current assignment: posing as a maid in order to learn the secrets of the wealthy Och household. What she discovers there is more shocking than she could have suspected, leading Julia to question what she believes and who she can trust, and setting up a conflict that will unfold far beyond this page-turning trilogy-starter.
Historical Fiction. Ambitious Mercy Wong has both the intelligence and the drive to become a businesswoman, even though 1906 San Francisco doesn't offer many opportunities for a lower-class Chinese American girl. Undaunted, Mercy poses as an heiress and bribes her way into St. Clare's, an upper-crust boarding school. Maintaining the deception isn't easy, but just when it looks like things might fall apart, an earthquake rocks the city, forcing Mercy to focus on a new goal: survival. Presenting real-life events through the eyes of a sympathetic heroine, Outrun the Moon is a must-read for historical fiction fans.
Fiction. Sixteen-year-old Adrian's comic book superhero, Graphite, is a lot braver (and more openly gay) than his creator. But Graphite gets to live in a Renaissance-art-inspired fantasy world, while Adrian is stuck at a Texas high school packed with stereotypical, homophobic "Bubbas." Only his art, his diverse crew of misfit friends, and his obscurity keep Adrian sane…and that obscurity vanishes after Adrian impulsively rescues another gay student from a violent attack. Illustrated with Adrian's comics and filled with fully realized characters, this satisfying coming-out drama will appeal to readers who love Becky Albertalli's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.
Fiction. From the moment she opens The Bubblegum Reaper, Nanette is changed. The cult classic novel speaks directly to her uneasiness about the comfortable conformity of her life. Desperate for more insight, Nanette reaches out to the reclusive author, who connects her with Alex, a troubled teen poet and fellow die-hard fan. As Nanette and Alex's relationship deepens, her feelings about the book (and about herself) develop as well, and in equally unexpected ways. Similar to Natalie Standiford's How to Say Goodbye in Robot, Every Exquisite Thing is a provocative look at big questions and the (possibly futile) search for answers.
Historical Fantasy. There can only be one Imperial Enchanter. But in 1825, when the tsar needs magic to protect Russia from threats from all sides, two young enchanters rise to the challenge: fierce, powerful Vika and well-trained, determined Nikolai. The two meet in St. Petersburg for the Crown's Game, a magical duel in which the winner gains "unimaginable power" and the loser faces swift death. Underneath their intensifying competition, however, simmers an attraction that's as passionate as it is doomed. If you're captivated by the high-stakes magic and Russian-influenced atmosphere in this debut novel, be sure to try Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy as well.
Memoir. It was through YouTube that Arin Andrews first learned the term to describe how he'd always felt: transgender. After struggling for years because his identity didn't match up with his (biologically female) body, Arin was finally able to seek out support -- from family, friends, and a therapist -- and pursue gender transition. Here, Arin describes not only his transition process, but also his high-profile high school romance and the breakup that followed. To hear the other side of that story, you can check out Katie Rain Hill's Rethinking Normal; for yet another open, friendly memoir about growing up trans in the spotlight, try Jazz Jennings' Being Jazz.
Memoir. From the first scene -- in which the author's brother helps him pee into a travel urinal on a minibus -- you'll see that this memoir by blogger Shane Burcaw is no soft-focus inspirational read. With a combination of "snark, swagger and self-deprecation" (Kirkus Reviews), Shane invites readers into an unflinching look at life with spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative (and potentially fatal) disease. Whether he's sharing his childhood discovery that wheelchairs make great getaway vehicles or describing his young adult exploration of sex and relationships, Shane's gleefully profane, live-to-the-fullest perspective is both thought-provoking and uproariously funny.
Memoir. Her movements onstage may appear effortless, but Michaela DePrince's journey to a successful ballet career was far from easy. Born in Sierra Leone, she lost her loving parents at a very young age. While living in an orphanage, she saw a photo of a ballerina that ignited her passion for dance -- a passion she pursued after being adopted by a supportive American couple. Despite grueling training and prejudiced American attitudes, Michaela persevered, finding success with several prestigious dance companies (not to mention a cameo in Beyoncé's Lemonade). Both candid and lyrical, Taking Flight is a must-read for dance lovers, as well as anyone looking for an uplifting true story.
Graphic Memoir. Have a snack handy before you read Relish, because it's sure to make you hungry. In this "nostalgic and funny food-centric memoir" (Booklist), cartoonist Lucy Knisley serves up mouthwatering recipes alongside memories about growing up with her chef mother and foodie father. While many people are snobby about gourmet food, Lucy's upbeat attitude and slightly retro illustrations are refreshingly unpretentious, giving her stories a friendly, intimate flavor. Whether you're an accomplished cook or you'd need instructions just to boil water, you'll savor this delicious read.
Memoir. As "The Girl Who Faked Her Own Pregnancy as a Senior Project," Gaby Rodriguez changed overnight from being "just another unknown 17-year-old girl [...] to an international media sensation." In this impassioned and thought-provoking memoir of her revealing social experiment, Gaby describes her family history, her observations about how she was treated when she pretended to be pregnant, her conclusions, and the emotional costs of the project (both for Gaby and for her family, teachers, and friends). Also presented as a Lifetime TV movie, Gaby's story is sure to fascinate anyone interested in the way stereotyping affects behavior.