Right about now is the time of year when I start to get really excited about reading again. After working through the same TBR for the past few months (not to mention devouring all of those frothy beach reads one after another in the summer) October is when I plunk down and start researching the books I am most excited to read in the coming months. And with my yearly reading goal almost complete, I can really start looking forward to piling up all of those new, most-anticipated reads of 2018. For me, a big bulk of that excitement includes young adult books and most especially diverse and Own Voices YA.
The YA community of authors and readers have been hugely influential in the movement toward more diverse representation in publishing. It's overwhelmingly evident that this community is not backing down in their demands for stories that reflect a wider array of experiences. And though there is always more work to do, just a quick look at thereleases coming our way in the first half of 2018 shows tons of books with intriguing plots, gorgeous covers, and, most importantly, POC leads with refreshingly real and relatable stories to tell. Check out these 17 highly anticipated releases below, and start adding them to your 2018 TBR right now.
'Love, Hate & Other Filters' by Samira Ahmed (Jan. 16, 2018)
Maya Aziz is torn between futures: the one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter, and the one where she goes to film school in New York City. There's also the fun stuff, like laughing with her best friend Violet, making on-the-spot documentaries, sneaking away for private swimming lessons at a secret pond in the woods. But her world is shattered when a suicide bomber strikes in the American heartland; by chance, he shares Maya's last name. What happens to the one Muslim family in town when their community is suddenly consumed by hatred and fear?
'A Land of Permanent Goodbyes' by Atia Abawi (Jan. 23, 2018)
Tareq lives in Syria with his warm and loving family... until the bombs strike. He, his father, and his younger sister are the only survivors, and they have no choice but to go to Raqqa, where they have extended family. But Raqqa is a stronghold for Daesh, the militant group that claims to follow the tenets of Islam, yet really only exists to instigate violence and intolerance. This is a story of resilience in the face of darkness, and of one boy's courage in desperate circumstances.
'Down and Across' by Arvin Ahmadi (Feb. 6, 2018)
Scott Ferdowsi can hardly commit to a breakfast cereal, let alone a passion. With college applications looming, Scott's parents pressure him to get serious and settle on a career path. Desperate for help, he sneaks off to Washington, DC, to seek guidance from a famous professor who specializes in the psychology of success. He never expects an adventure to unfold... but that's what Scott gets when he meets ballsy college student Fiora Buchanan. Soon, Scott finds himself sneaking into bars, attempting to pick up girls at the National Zoo — and opening his eyes to who he really wants to be.
'American Panda' by Gloria Chao (Feb. 6, 2018)
At 17, Mei is a freshman at MIT, on track to fulfill the rest of her predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a pre-approved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies. With everything her parents have sacrificed, Mei can't bring herself to tell them the truth — that she doesn't want to be a doctor, and she has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is not Taiwanese. But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are worth it.
'The Belles' by Dhonielle Clayton (Feb. 20, 2018)
Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. But Camellia wants to be the favorite — the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace. But once Camellia arrives at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined.
'A Girl Like That' by Tanaz Bhathena (Feb. 27, 2018)
Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school. You don't want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did they end up dead, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned.
'The Poet X' by Elizabeth Acevedo (March 6, 2018)
Xiomara Batista has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook — especially after she falls for a boy in her bio class named Aman. But her Mami is determined to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, and Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend, much less speak her words out loud. But Xiomara refuses to be silent.
'Children of Blood and Bone' by Tomi Adeyemi (March 6, 2018)
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
'After The Shot Drops' by Randy Ribay (March 6, 2018)
Bunny and Nasir have been best friends forever, but when Bunny accepts an athletic scholarship across town, Nasir feels betrayed. While Bunny tries to fit in with his new, privileged peers, Nasir spends more time with his cousin, Wallace, who is being evicted. Nasir can't help but wonder why the neighborhood is falling over itself to help Bunny when Wallace is in trouble. When Wallace makes a bet against Bunny, Nasir is faced with an impossible decision — maybe a dangerous one.
'The Beauty That Remains' by Ashley Woodfolk (March 6, 2018)
Autumn always knew exactly who she was: a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect. But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.
'Tyler Johnson Was Here' by Jay Coles (March 20, 2018)
When Marvin Johnson's twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid. The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it's up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean, even as his family falls apart.
'The Astonishing Color of After' by Emily X.R. Pan (March 20, 2018)
Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird. Leigh travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.
'Dread Nation' by Justina Ireland (April 3, 2018)
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained to protect the well-to-do. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy. And the restless dead are the least of her problems.
'The Way You Make Me Feel' by Maurene Goo (May 8, 2018)
Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet who's crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?
'Give Me Some Truth' by Eric Gansworth (May 29, 2018)
Carson Mastick is a senior in high school and desperate to make his mark — on the reservation and off. A rock band — and winning the local Battle of the Bands, with a prize trip to New York City — is his best shot. Maggi Bokoni has just moved back to the reservation from the city with her family. She's dying to stop making the same traditional artwork her family sells to tourists, stop feeling out of place, and stop being treated like a child. Carson and Maggi — along with their friend Lewis — will soon navigate loud protests, even louder music, and first love.
'From Twinkle, With Love' by Sandhya Menon (June 5, 2018)
Aspiring filmmaker Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy, Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true times two. When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen for the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.
'Not The Girls You're Looking For' by Aminah Mae Safi (June 19, 2018)
Lulu Saad doesn't need your advice. She's got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It's all under control. Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can't find her way out of this mess soon, she'll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She'll have to go looking for herself.