School is out, work (hopefully!) is more relaxed, and the days are longer and warmer. Which in the lives of book nerds like us means that there's so much more reading time to be had. And thankfully, there's also many more new young adult novels coming in June to fill our vacation TBR piles.
Young adult authors are ready to fill the gaps in our schedules with juicy romances (some of which are set in summer themselves, so it couldn't be more perfect, fantastical adventures, and thought-provoking reads that feel so utterly now, whether they're centered on climate change, Muslim-American identity, or domestic abuse.
So whether you want to vanish into a book this summer or use one to boost your desire to get out there and protest and work for progress, this list has something for you. (Just ask Leonardo DiCaprio, who was already so inspired by one of these books that he's planning to produce the movie.)
This summer might be full of lazy beach days and plane rides to tropical destinations, or it might lean more to sitting on your fire escape trying desperately to catch a breeze in the summer swelter or deciding to take an extra long lunch break just because. Either way, one of these 11 books will keep you company.
1'Once and for All' by Sarah Dessen (June 6; Viking Books for Young Readers)
YA queen Sarah Dessen is back to give you another swoonworthy summertime romance perfect to pack on your beach vacation. Louna is spending her summer working for her mother in her wedding planning business — which is poor timing, because Lourna's relationship just ended tragically, and she isn't feeling very "happily ever after." However, when the business hires the charming Ambrose, his over-the-top efforts to woo Lourna start to get her to take down her walls to love again.
2'Tash Hearts Tolstoy' by Kathryn Ormsbee (June 6; Simon & Schuster)
Kathryn Ormsbee's Tash Hearts Tolstoy shines a light on an often underrepresented community in literature: Her main character Natasha “Tash” Zelenka is asexual, but of course that's only one small thing that defines who she is. Tash's small web series has gone viral, bringing her internet fame, fans, and crazy pressure to live up to the hype. Her series is a take on Anna Karenina, and now it's up for an online award. To make things more complicated, she is falling for another nominee, but can't figure out how to tell him about her asexuality. The story is LOL-worthy, heartfelt, and perfect for lit nerds, so it's a wonderful bonus that it brings important diverse representation to the bookshelves.
3'Song of the Current' by Sarah Tolcser (June 6; Bloomsbury Children's Books)
For generations, Caroline "Caro" Oresteia's family members have been called to their destiny working the wherries on the river by the river god. The only problem? Caro is 17 and still hasn't been called. But she might finally get a chance to show her true calling when her father is arrested for refusing to carry a secret package on his wherry, and Caro agrees to do it in exchange for his release. Turns out that "package" is a person — an arrogant royal courier named Tarquin Meredios — and pirates are after him. Now, Caro becomes embroiled in that political conflict, and the result is a swashbuckling, romantic adventure that is perfect to get lost in on a summer day.
4'Words in Deep Blue' by Cath Crowley (June 6; Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Cath Crowley's lovely Words in Deep Blue is as much a love letter to words, literature, and language as it is a romance between two people. Henry and Rachel were best friends, perhaps on the cusp of something more, when Rachel moved away. On her last night, she tucked a confession of her feelings into a book in Henry's family's bookshop. Now, years later, Rachel has returned to town after the death of her brother — returning also to the bookstore and to Henry, who never responded to her proclamation. Now, the two are working side by side as Rachel faces her new life of grief, and the story beautifully switches between Rachel and Henry's perspectives, even interspersing other love letters patrons have left in their favorite books.
5'The Unlikelies' by Carrie Firestone (June 6; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
If the cover didn't already make you think it's the perfect summer read, this might: Five very different teenagers band together the summer before their senior to secretly perform secret Good Samaritan acts. Sadie became internet famous after helping a baby in need, and was soon introduced to four other "hometown heroes" from all different walks of life. The group decides to anonymously help take down bullies and internet trolls in acts of vigilantism. Things take a turn, though, when they try to help a friend with a heroin problem. The Unlikelies feels very much grounded in today's issues, and it's as thought-provoking as it is fun.
6'The Sandcastle Empire' by Kayla Olson (June 6; HarperTeen)
You know you need to get your hands on a book when it's already been optioned for a movie, set to be produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. That's the case with The Sandcastle Empire, a near-future story set in a post-sea-rise America that's embroiled in a world war. Needless to say, its hot button environmental issues are very pertinent to the world today. In this world, the Wolfpack controls all of the resources, and they killed Eden's family and put her in a labor camp. But now she has escaped and goes on a search to find the legendary island that is rumored to be the final neutral territory on the globe. However, even there, she can't seem to escape danger.
7'Saints and Misfits' by S.K. Ali (June 13; Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Saints and Misfits is being billed as a modern-day My So-Called Life starring a Muslim teen, so we're all already frantically clicking over to pre-order, yes? Janna divides people into three categories: saints, misfits, and monsters. Saints are the people who move the world forward with no recognition. Janna herself is a misfit, one of the people who don't belong — just like how she feels she can't belong with her crush Jeremy because he's white. But monsters? They sometimes pretend to be the saints, which is what makes them dangerous. And Janna knows one monster in particular: the seemingly do-gooder boy who assaulted her. S.K. Ali's Janna is precisely the kind of YA protagonist we need more of: she's Muslim, but she and the rest of her story are not defined by that one fact about her. She's brave and thoughtful and willing to fight back.
8'Our Dark Duet' by Victoria Schwab (June 13; Greenwillow Books)
Finally! Victoria Schwab is back with her followup to This Savage Song, and the second book in her two-book Monsters of Verity series, Our Dark Duet. We pick back up six months later with monster hunter Kate Harker and monster August Flynn as the monster-human war really comes to fruition. But now there's an even bigger danger at hand: a new monster that brings out its victims' inner demons, which could be bad news for Kate.
9'Bad Romance' by Heather Demetrios (June 13; Henry Holt and Co.)
Heather Demetrios's Bad Romance feels terrifyingly real and raw and it helps to unravel some of the damaging narratives around domestic abuse — particularly blaming a female victim for not leaving. Written as character Grace's first-person directive to her abusive boyfriend, the novel shows how a young woman can slowly become trapped in a dangerous relationship, despite warnings and even when she realizes it for herself. Grace has never had stable or loving parents; her stepfather uses fear to control her and her mother. And so when the charming Gavin seems to offer her a way out, her descent into the abusive relationship begins.
10'The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue' by Mackenzi Lee (June 27; Katherine Tegan Books)
Before he's expected to take over the family estate, 18th-century Bristish lord Henry “Monty” Montague sets off on a grand hedonistic adventure across Europe with his best friend and secret crush Percy. They have one task: bring Monty's sister to school in Marseille. Those plans quickly go awry when, in a drunken escapade at Versailles, Monty steals something from the mansion and is now caught up in a manhunt. Mackenzi Lee's story is insane anachronistic fun that still feels relevant to today.
11'Want' by Cindy Pon (June 13; Simon Pulse)
Cindy Pon is a force to be reckoned with in YA fantasy, and Want is no exception. In a near-future world, the rich are able to essentially buy themselves longer lives by investing in suits that ward off the pollution that ravages their world. Now, poorer Zhou sets off to masquerade as a wealthy citizen to infiltrate the Jin Corp, which not only makes the pollution-resistant suits, but is also suspected of creating that pollution in the first place to drive sales. Things get even more complicated when Zhou falls for the daughter of the CEO. In a current world that's struggling with class divides and the privilege of the 1 percent, Want feels so vital without being preachy.