It's Election Day! With everything going on, there's a good chance we won't know what the results are of this election until later. Record numbers of mail-in ballots and voter turnout means that everything takes longer to count. That can be super stressful, but you can use some of that time to dive into one of these books. They deal with very real issues, but their teenage characters can be a ray of hope for the future.
This is My America by Kim Johnson
Fans of Nic Stone, Tiffany D. Jackson, and Jason Reynolds won't want to miss this provocative and gripping debut.
Six Angry Girls by Adrienne Kisner
Raina Petree is crushing her senior year, until her boyfriend dumps her, the drama club (basically) dumps her, the college of her dreams slips away, and her arch-nemesis triumphs.
Things aren’t much better for Millie Goodwin. Her father treats her like a servant, and the all-boy Mock Trial team votes her out, even after she spent the last three years helping to build its success.
But then, an advice columnist unexpectedly helps Raina find new purpose in a pair of knitting needles and a politically active local yarn store. This leads to an unlikely meeting in the girls’ bathroom, where Raina inspires Millie to start a rival team. The two join together and recruit four other angry girls to not only take on Mock Trial, but to smash the patriarchy in the process.
Don't Ask Me Where I'm From by Jennifer De Leon
Being accepted into METCO, however, isn’t the same as being accepted at her new school. In her old school, Liliana—half-Guatemalan and half-Salvadorian—was part of the majority where almost everyone was a person of color. But now at Westburg, where almost everyone is white, the struggles of being a minority are unavoidable. It becomes clear that the only way to survive is to lighten up—whiten up. And if Dad signed her up for this program, he wouldn’t have just wanted Liliana to survive, he would have wanted her to thrive. So what if Liliana is now going by Lili? So what if she’s acting like she thinks she’s better than her old friends? It’s not a big deal. It’s fine.
But then she discovers the gutting truth about her father: He’s not on one of his side trips. And it isn’t that he doesn’t want to come home…he can’t. He’s undocumented and he’s been deported back to Guatemala. Soon, nothing is fine, and Lili has to make a choice: She’s done trying to make her white classmates and teachers feel more comfortable. Done changing who she is, denying her culture and where she came from. They want to know where she’s from, what she’s about? Liliana is ready to tell them.
The Assignment by Liza M. Wiemer
Would you defend the indefensible?
That's what seniors Logan March and Cade Crawford are asked to do when a favorite teacher instructs a group of students to argue for the Final Solution--the Nazi plan for the genocide of the Jewish people.
Logan and Cade decide they must take a stand, and soon their actions draw the attention of the student body, the administration, and the community at large. But not everyone feels as Logan and Cade do--after all, isn't a school debate just a school debate? It's not long before the situation explodes, and acrimony and anger result.
Based on true events, The Assignment asks: What does it take for tolerance, justice, and love to prevail?
Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam
was my life
didn’t start on the day
I was born
Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white.
The story that I think
will be my life
Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it?
With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.
Sources Say by Lori Goldstein
For fans of Becky Albertalli and Morgan Matson comes a funny, hearfelt novel about fueding exes running for class president and the scandal that makes the previously boring school election the newest trending hashtag.
At Acedia High School outside of Boston, student council has always been nothing more than a popularity contest. Nobody pays attention. Nobody cares.
But all that changes when the Frankengirls show up. During the very first week of school, someone plasters the halls with Photoshopped images of three "perfect tens"--images of scantily clad girls made from real photos of girls at school. The student body is livid. And the two presidential candidates, Angeline Quinn and Leo Torres, jump on the opportunity to propose their solutions and secure votes. After their messy break up, Leo and Angie are fighting tooth and nail to win this thing and their constituents are mesmerized as they duke it out.
As if things couldn't be more dramatic, the school's two newspapers get involved. The Red & Blue is run by Angie's sister Cat and she prides herself on only reporting the facts. But her morals are tested when The Shrieking Violet--written by an anonymous source and based less on facts and more on fiction--blatantly endorses Leo. Rumors fly, secrets are leaked, and the previously mundane student election becomes anything but boring.
Dear Justyce by Nic Stone
Shortly after teenager Quan enters a not guilty plea for the shooting death of a police officer, he is placed in a holding cell to await trial. Through a series of flashbacks and letters to Justyce, the protagonist of Dear Martin, Quan's story unravels.
From a troubled childhood and bad timing to a coerced confession and prejudiced police work, Nic Stone's newest novel takes an unflinching look at the flawed practices and ideologies that discriminate against African American boys and minorities in the American justice system.
Thoughts and Prayers by Bryan Bliss
Now, each one copes with the trauma as best as they can as the world around them keeps moving. Thoughts and Prayers is a story about gun violence, but more importantly it is the story of what happens after the reporters leave and the news cycle moves on to the next tragedy. It is the story of three unforgettable teens who feel forgotten.
Acclaimed author Bryan Bliss has made a place for himself writing books that face difficult and emotional topics head on with nuance, empathy, and a deft hand. Thoughts and Prayers is an extraordinary novel that explores what it means to heal and to feel safe in a world that constantly chooses violence.
I hope you enjoy these books, and don't forget to vote!