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Reading Recs

YA reads to take back to school

We know it can be rough going back to school while kissing summer goodbye. But here are just a few reads to throw in your backpack on your way back to school to make the school year 10x better!

The Noh Family by Grace K. Shim

Imagine starting a new school…in a completely different country…with a super rich family you knew nothing about! This sparkling K-drama inspired debut novel introduces irrepressibly charming teen Chloe Chang, who is reunited with her deceased father’s estranged family via a DNA test, and is soon whisked off to Seoul to join them.

TJ Powar Has Something to Prove by Jesmeen Kaur Deo

Calling all debate team peeps! When TJ Powar—a pretty, popular debater—and her cousin Simran become the subject of a meme: with TJ being the “expectation” of dating an Indian girl and her Sikh cousin who does not remove her body hair being the “reality”—TJ decides to take a stand.

A Heavy Dose of Allison Tandy by Jeff Bishop

Not quite ready to let go of summer yet? Try out A Heavy Dose of Allison Tandy, a funny and heartfelt debut about a boy’s delirious summertime quest with his ex-girlfriend.

I Guess I Live Here Now by Claire Ahn

Going back to school can be hard, especially without your best friend. And thanks to a tiny transgression after school one day, Melody is shocked to discover that her parents have decided to move her and her mom out of New York Ciy to join her father in Seoul—immediately! Barely having had the chance to say goodbye to her best friend before she’s on a plane, Melody is resentful and homesick.

In this glittering city where the latest trends are born, Melody finds herself swept away by luxury, romance, and family drama… but is this a place she could ever call home?

Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions by Navdeep Singh Dhillon

This wouldn’t be a complete back to school list without a prom mention! For fans of Sandhya Menon and Adam Silvera comes a prom-night romantic-comedy romp about a Sikh teen’s search for love and identity.

And We Rise by Erica Martin

This powerful, impactful book explores through the Civil Rights Movement in 1950s-1960s America in spare and evocative verse, with historical photos interspersed throughout.

Remember Me Gone by Stacy Stokes

You may already be banging your head against your desk at the thought of the flashcards and memorization coming your way this semester. But for Lucy Miller, memories are a much bigger issue. Lucy Miller’s family has the unique ability to remove people’s painful memories—but Lucy isn’t prepared for truths she will uncover in this twisty speculative thriller.

The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum

Hoodie Rosen’s life isn’t that bad. Sure, his entire Orthodox Jewish community has just picked up and moved to the quiet, mostly non-Jewish town of Tregaron, but Hoodie’s world hasn’t changed that much. He’s got basketball to play, studies to avoid, and a supermarket full of delicious kosher snacks to eat.

That is, until he meets and falls for Anna-Marie Diaz-O’Leary—who happens to be the daughter of the obstinate mayor trying to keep Hoodie’s community out of the town. And things only get more complicated when Tregaron is struck by a series of antisemitic crimes that quickly escalate to deadly violence.

As his community turns on him for siding with the enemy, Hoodie finds himself caught between his first love and the only world he’s ever known.

Seton Girls by Charlene Thomas

Some schools come with dark secrets.

Seton Academic High is a prep school obsessed with its football team and their thirteen-year conference win streak, a record that players always say they’d never have without Seton’s girls. What exactly Seton girls do to make them so valuable, though, no one ever really says. They’re just “the best.” But the team’s quarterback, the younger brother of the Seton star who started the streak, wants more than regular season glory. He wants a state championship before his successor, Seton’s first Black QB, has a chance to overshadow him. Bigger rewards require bigger risks, and soon the actual secrets to the team’s enduring success leak to a small group of girls who suddenly have the power to change their world forever.

Getting Over Max Cooper by Marcelle Karp

We can’t help but throw in one more summery read to pack in before the end of summer! Boundaries are crossed and the edge of sanity is tested in this debut novel, which celebrates the complicated dynamics of female friendship and the heartbreaking ache of first love.

Cramm This Book by Olivia Seltzer

The *perfect* back to school read if you like to stay in-the-know. From the founder of The Cramm, a news outlet by and for the incredible Gen Z activists who are already shaping our global future (really!), this book is a dive into the history that’s made the world what it is today.

Practice Girl by Estelle Laure

For an empowering back to school read, we can’t forget Practice Girl. From the author of the acclaimed This Raging Light, Practice Girl is a heart-wrenching, relatable, and ultimately triumphant story about a girl who rejects her label and decides for herself who she is to the world. 

Azar on Fire by Olivia Abtahi

We want to be best friends with Azar, honestly.

Finding her voice takes on a whole new meaning when fourteen-year-old Azar Rossi sets out to win her local Battle of the Bands contest in this heartfelt and hilarious contemporary YA!

Zyla & Kai by Kristina Forest

And of course, we love a splash of mysterious romance in our back to school reading! Zyla & Kai is a love story about the will they, won’t they—and why can’t they—of first love. 

With and Without You by Austin Siegemund-Broka & Emily Wibberley

We lied. We want more romance. And author writing couple #Wibbroka has us covered!

If high school seniors Siena and Patrick were a superlative, they’d be Couple Most Likely to Marry. Three solid years of dating, and everyone agrees they’re perfect for each other. But with college on the horizon, Siena begins to wonder whether staying together is the best idea. Does she really want to be tied down during the most transformative years of her life? So she makes a decision to break up with Patrick, convincing herself it’s for the best. Though, before she can get the words out, he beats her to the punch: his family is moving. He’ll be spending senior year in Austin. A thousand miles away.

Caught off guard by the news, Siena agrees to stay with Patrick, believing their relationship will naturally fizzle out with time and distance. But over a series of visits throughout the school year, Siena begins to see a different side of Patrick–one that has her falling in love with him all over again.

They With They Were Us by Jessica Goodman

Get ready for the spoiled rich kids prep school murder mystery your shelf needs. Gossip Girl meets One of Us Is Lying with a dash of The Secret History in this slick, taut murder mystery set against the backdrop of an exclusive prep school on Long Island.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

And finally, what’s more fun than going back to school? Going back to a royal vampire boarding school, of course.

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . . 

Coming Soon! Mark your TBRs for…

How to Succeed in Witchcraft by Aislinn Brophy – September 27

A talented witch competes for a prestigious scholarship at her cutthroat high school in this contemporary YA fantasy for fans of Never Have I Ever and Sabrina the Teen Witch.

Margot Mertz for the Win by Carrie McCrossen and Ian McWethy – November 15

Margot faces senior year working on a campaign for local election while helping a fellow student run for class president—but when a mysterious blackmail plot emerges, and a loathesome opponent rises in the class race, Margot might have to return to the cleanup job she thought she’d left behind.

Penguin Teen