If you thought 2017 in YA books was never going to be topped, it's time to think again. Although it's undeniable that 2017 was a banner year for all genres in young adult, from established authors to debuts, just a cursory glance at all that is to come in YA contemporary in 2018 makes it obvious that the best is yet to come. It's beyond gratifying to see that the trend of characters that bring real representation, plots that work through important issues, and authors that are using YA to connect their readers to others who are both like and completely unlike them.
Because, as we all know, this is going to continue to be more important than ever moving forward...and getting some insanely good books out of the deal is just icing on the book shaped cake. This selection of 27 of the most highly anticipated releases of the year are filled with diverse and Own Voices picks, stories both heartwarming and heart-wrenching, with topics ranging from lighthearted romance to serious political commentary. If you've been wanting to pad your TBR with some new reads to look forward to, consider these numbers one through 27 at the very top.
'Nice Try, Jane Sinner' by Lianne Oelke (Jan. 9, 2018)
After a personal crisis and her subsequent expulsion from high school, Jane Sinner is going nowhere fast. Jane’s well-meaning parents push her to attend a high school completion program at the nearby Elbow River Community College, and she agrees, on one condition: she gets to move out. Jane tackles her housing problem by signing up for House of Orange, a student-run reality show that is basically Big Brother. As House of Orange grows from a low-budget web series to a local TV show with fans, Jane decides to prove to the world that she has what it takes to win.
'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?
'Down and Across' by Arvin Ahmadi (Feb. 6, 2018)
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 grit. 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.
'Flight Season' by Marie Marquardt (Feb. 20, 2018)
TJ Carvalho witnessed the only moment in Vivi Flannigan’s life when she lost control entirely. Now, TJ can’t seem to erase that moment from his mind, no matter how hard he tries. Vivi doesn’t remember any of it, but she’s determined to leave it far behind. And she will. But when Vivi returns home from her first year away at college, her big plans and TJ’s ambition to become a nurse land them both on the heart ward of a university hospital, facing them with a long and painful summer together – three months of glorified babysitting for Ángel, the problem patient on the hall. As it turns out, though, Ángel Solís has a thing or two to teach them.
'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.
'Where I Live' by Brenda Rufener (Feb. 27, 2018)
Linden Rose has a big secret – she is homeless and living in the halls of her small-town high school. Her position as school blog editor, her best friends, Ham and Seung, and the promise of a future far away are what keep Linden under the radar and moving forward. But when cool-girl Bea comes to school with a bloody lip, the damage hits too close to home. Linden begins looking at Bea's life, and soon her investigation prompts people to pay more attention. And attention is the last thing she needs.
'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.
'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.
'Emergency Contact' by Mary H. K. Choi (March 27, 2018)
When Penny Lee heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind. Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too. He knows that this chapter of his life will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second it's really testing him. When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and start to share their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without actually having to see each other.
'I Have Lost My Way' by Gayle Foreman (March 27, 2018)
Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from home to find the boy that he loves, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City after a family tragedy leaves him isolated on the outskirts of Washington state. After the three of them collide in Central Park, they slowly reveal the parts of their past that they haven't been able to confront, and together, they find their way back to who they're supposed to be.
'Finding Yvonne' by Brandy Colbert (April 7, 2018)
Since she was seven years old, Yvonne has had her trusted violin to keep her company, especially in the days after her mother walked out on their family. But with graduation just around the corner, she is forced to face the hard truth that she just might not be good enough to attend a conservatory after high school. Full of doubt about her future, Yvonne meets a street musician and fellow violinist who understands her struggle. He’s mysterious, charming, and different from Warren, the familiar and reliable boy who has her heart. But when Yvonne becomes unexpectedly pregnant, she has to make the most difficult decision yet about her future.
'Leah On The Offbeat' by Becky Albertalli (April 24, 2018)
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat — but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends she's bisexual — not even her openly gay BFF, Simon. So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting — especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.
'Stay Sweet' by Siobhan Vivian (April 24, 2018)
Summer in Chickadee Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery — the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade.. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best for friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business… but Grady’s got some changes in mind.
'Tradition' by Brendan Kiely (May 1, 2018)
Prestigious. Powerful. Privileged. This is Fullbrook Academy, an elite prep school where history looms. But some traditions upheld in its hallowed halls are profoundly dangerous. Jules Devereux just wants to keep her head down, so she can leave Fullbrook and its old-boy social codes behind. Jamie Baxter feels like an imposter at Fullbrook, but the hockey scholarship that got him in has given him a chance to escape his past. As Jules and Jamie’s lives intertwine, and the pressures to remain silent about the school’s secrets intensify, they are faced with the difficult question: can they stand together against classmates — and an institution — who believe they can do no wrong?
'On The Come Up' by Angie Thomas (May 1, 2018)
The highly anticipated second novel from Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give, returns to the world of Garden Heights in a story about an aspiring teen rapper and what happens when you get everything you thought you wanted.
'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?
'Puddin' by Julie Murphy (May 8, 2018)
Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream—and to kiss her crush. Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend. When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they will surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing they might have more in common than they ever imagined.
'Picture A Blue Sky' by Julie Buxbaum (May 14, 2018)
On the 15th anniversary of the tragedies of 9/11, 16-year-old Abbi is once again in the news. On that fateful day, she was being carried safely away from the devastation when an iconic photograph was taken of her and the young woman holding her. Thus, Abbi was lovingly celebrated as Baby Hope. The fame had been a curse. Now that it's summer, Abbie wants to shed that forced identity and present a new self. As a counselor at a day camp she meets Noah, who reveals that he knows her secret. Will he help or hinder her efforts to move forward?
'The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik' by David Arnold (May 22, 2018)
Noah Oakman is a 16-year-old, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend. Then Noah gets hypnotized. Now he can suddenly see changes, inexplicable scars, odd behaviors, rewritten histories — in all those around him.
'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.
'Monday's Not Coming' by Tiffany D. Jackson (June 5, 2018)
Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help. As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. But how can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?
'Save The Date' by Morgan Matson (June 5, 2018)
Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait. For the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect. The only problem? It's shaping up to be an absolute disaster. Over the course of three chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.
'What If It's Us' by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (Oct. 2, 2018)
Arthur and Ben meet at the post office as Ben ships his ex-boyfriend’s things back to him. It's a missed connection — but then the universe pushes them back together again in a series of failed “first” dates.