May is the kickoff to summer, and bless these young adult writers because they are giving us some seriously stellar summer reading additions. Pick up one or two of these books for your next beach getaway — the afternoon will fly by as you read these thrillers, love stories, and coming-of-age tales. There's definitely something for everyone.
The likes of Sarah J. Maas, Jenny Han, Sara B. Larson, and way, way more are hitting us up with series additions (that frankly, we have desperate grabby hands for) and kicking off new series altogether.
Prepare for a May where books take us to Imperial Russia, the Norwegian arctic, and into a battle between Light and Dark, just like the most iconic ballet, um... ever. These stories will explore internet privacy (in a way that will have you cancelling that Snapchat account), anterograde amnesia, a capella groups, arranged marriage, and more.
And come on, it's almost summertime, so of course these stories will also take us to summer camp. Prepare for loads of diverse love stories that will have you swooning on your vacation. (Or, you know, at your desk at work, as you dream about a potential vacation.)
Check out the 19 best YA books of May and kick off your summer right.
'Always and Forever, Lara Jean' by Jenny Han (May 2; Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Jenny Han's beloved series needs no introduction, and needless to say all fans will be clamoring for the final installment of the series (one we never expected to actually get!). It's Lara Jean's senior year and things are going great: She loves her boyfriend, her sister Margot is coming home for the summer, and her father is getting remarried. But as everyone who has been there knows, senior year is one full of complicated life decisions and goodbyes, so things won't say picture perfect for long.
'A Court of Wings and Ruin' by Sarah J. Maas (May 2; Bloomsbury Children's)
The second major series book hitting shelves this May is Sarah J. Maas' A Court of Wings and Ruin, the insanely anticipated third installment of her Beauty and the Beast + Hades and Persephone mashup series, A Court of Thorns and Roses. War is imminent, and it's threatening everything Feyre has. Without any spoilers, it's the gritty, sexy, magical story you have come to know and love from Maas, and, duh, it's a must-read for all fans.
'The One Memory of Flora Banks' by Emily Barr (May 2; Philomel Books)
Do yourself a huge favor and grab this atmospheric, unique mystery for your Memorial Day weekend getaway. In The One Memory of Flora Banks, Flora has anterograde amnesia and can't remember anything since her brain tumor was removed when she was 10. But when she kisses Drake, her BFF's boyfriend, the night before he leaves for the Norwegian arctic, the one memory sticks. Convinced Drake holds the key to her memories, she take off for the arctic to find him with nothing but notes to remind her who she is and "be brave" tattooed to her skin.
'Noteworthy' by Riley Redgate (May 2; Amulet Books)
The super-fun and thoughtful Noteworthy is like mixing early season Glee with Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and adding in some meditation on gender roles and privilege. (Doesn't that sound epic?) Jordan is basically a nobody in her regular spot at Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. So when the Sharpshooters, the elite all-male acapella group, announce they are accepting one more member, Jordan dresses as male Julian, tries out, and gets the part. And as Julian, she learns a whole lot more about who she is as Jordan. Bonus: Riley Redgate actually wrote music for all the songs, and you can find them on her Bandcamp page.
'Windfall' by Jennifer E. Smith (May 2; Delacorte Press)
Alice doesn't believe in luck — after all, her parents died a year apart from each other — but she does believe in love. And she thinks she's found it with her best friend, Teddy. For his 18th birthday, when it seems like they might finally be ready to take their friendship to the next level, she buys him a lotto ticket. He wins $140 million, and everything changes.
'The Other F-Word' by Natasha Friend (May 7; Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Families come in all shapes and sizes, and The F-Word explores one type of "non-traditional" family structure that is so often overlooked in such a fresh way. Hollis and Milo were both conceived via in vitro fertilization with the same sperm donor. Milo loves his two moms, but his allergies lead him into exploring his genetics; Hollis lost one of her moms several years ago, but now her mom Leigh is excited about connecting her to a half-blood-brother. When Milo and Hollis connect, they go in search of their biological father and end up learning a whole lot about what it means to be family.
'The Lines We Cross' by Randa Abdel-Fattah (May 9; Scholastic)
In this "so timely Randa Abdel-Fattah must be clairvoyant" book, Michael is often dragged to anti-Muslim-immigrant demonstrations, and he's fairly complacent with that reality. However, when he meets Mina, everything changes. Mina is a new student at his prep school, and she happens to be a refugee from Afghanistan fleeing war and destruction. While so many students greet her icily, Michael starts to really question his parents' (and so many other people's) perspective. Already a major hit in Australia, The Lines We Cross is sure to hit nerves here in the U.S., in a good way.
'Ramona Blue' by Julie Murphy (May 9; Balzer + Bray)
Readers have been dying to get their hands on Julie Murphy's next book since her body positive, triumphant Dumplin'. In Ramona Blue, our heroine Ramona knows three things for sure: She likes girls, she's the most responsible member of her tight-knit family, and she's ready to escape her Mississippi trailer for something bigger. Her family have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina, and Ramona was already juggling three jobs to help support everyone when her sister announced she was pregnant. Moreover, her old swimmer friend Freddie returns to town, and she thinks she might be attracted to him... is she attracted to boys? Murphy explores not just the fluidity of sexuality, but of family and life in general in this novel.
'It's Not Like It's a Secret' by Misa Sugiura (May 9; HarperTeen)
Sana Kiyohara is keeping loads of secrets in her predominantly white town in Wisconsin, afraid to upset her family or community. Two of the biggest? Her father is having a prolonged affair and she has feelings for her female best friend. But now that Sana's dad is moving them to the far more diverse California town, she starts to unburden herself... but of course, it's what comes after the secret spilling that's the hardest part. Sana is such an incredibly real and vibrant character, and having her voice guide us through complicated issues of race, family, class, and more is wonderful.
'Flame in the Mist' by Renee Ahdieh (May 16; G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers)
Consider us #blessed to have a new series from Renee Ahdieh, because Flame in the Mist has her signature lush and dangerous romantic adventure vibes we loved so much in The Wrath and the Dawn. This time around, we're introduced to the whipsmart daughter of a samurai, Mariko. But because she's a woman, all she's destined for is arranged marriage. However, on her way to the wedding, she's ambushed by the Black Clan, who have a hit out on her. Now, she dresses as a man to infiltrate the clan and uncover who is out to murder her.
'The Crown's Fate' by Evelyn Skye (May 16; Balzer + Bray)
Evelyn Skye is back with the sequel to her fan-favorite The Crown's Game. Without spoiling book one (you still have time to catch up!), we're back in this fantastical Imperial Russia, but things have definitely changed. For one, the magic is growing, and our three main characters are dispersed, each dealing with the results of the last Crown's Game. But they're definitely all still going to have to work together save not only themselves but their world.
'Antisocial' by Jillian Blake (May 16; Delacorte)
In a time when so much of our lives is lived online, Antisocial feels terrifyingly real. (Excuse me while I go delete everything from my phone.) Someone is targeting the popular seniors at Alexandria Prep, and they're taking an entirely digital track. Much like you've seen happen to your favorite celebs, their phones are hacked and text messages and photos are shared with everyone, bringing lots of little secrets to light. Pretty Little Liars fans should probably read this one between episodes.
'The Names They Gave Us' by Emery Lord (May 16; Bloomsbury Children's)
Lucy feels like she has done everything right. So when her mother's cancer comes back, she feels betrayed. Now, her mom persuades her to spend her summer working not at the bible camp she planned on, but at Daybreak a camp for "troubled" kids, kids who are dealing with trauma. Through the diverse cast of campers she meets, Lucy starts to open herself up again. However, then she starts to uncover some family secrets... We already know that Emery Lord is a YA star, and she brings a sensitive and thoughtful perspective (though still with plenty of summer fun) to the ideas of grace and peace.
'Grit' by Gillian French (May 16; HarperTeen)
Darcy has a reputation for being a "slut" in her small, Maine town, but the rumors and harassment constantly swirling about that aren't even the biggest of her problems. This summer as she works picking blueberries, the police question her about the disappearance of her friend Rhiannon last summer, after hearing whispers about Darcy around town. I won't spoil anything, because you'll really want to let this one unfold page after page, as you learn what happened the night Rhiannon disappeared and what it means for Darcy and her family. Gillian French masterfully weaves this story with heart and well... grit.
'When Dimple Met Rishi' by Sandhya Menon (May 30; Simon Pulse)
Beyond having one of my favorite covers of the year, When Dimple Met Rishi is the romantic comedy your summer needs. The story alternates between the voices of two Indian-American teens, Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel, whose parents have arranged for them to be married. While Rishi's romantic side has him swooning over the idea of wooing his future wife at a summer app development camp, Dimple is far too focused on her future (and current) coding career. Though isn't there some saying about opposites attracting? Sandhya Menon's story is LOL-worthy and romantic while still being thought-provoking about culture and tradition and how that should affect your identity today.
'I Believe in a Thing Called Love' by Maurene Goo (May 30; Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Desi Lee is pretty much a nicer version of Reese Witherspoon's character in Election: As a high school senior, she has perfect attendance and straight As, plays two varsity sports, knows her way around under a car hood, is part of several school clubs, and is class president. One thing not on her resume? Having a boyfriend. Now, inspired by her father's favorite Korean dramas, she's prepared to study for and go after the boy she has a crush on using formulas like "Find Out the Guy’s Big Secret, Preferably Through Excruciatingly Repetitive Flashbacks." LOL. Goo has created a heroine (reminiscent of Jane from Jane the Virgin) we can laugh along with and cheer for as she tries to date and learns about herself along the way.
'One of Us Is Lying' by Karen M. McManus (May 30; Delacorte)
What if The Breakfast Club was also a Clue-style murder mystery? You'd get One of Us Is Lying, a YA novel that features five high school students from five walks of life who end together in detention — and one of them is murdered. To add to the drama, this student had planned to expose secrets from each of the four other classmates the next day, so they all had motive. You'll tear through this juicy, super-fun (if murder can ever be fun?) thriller.
'Eliza and Her Monsters' by Francesca Zappia (May 30; Greenwillow Books)
Eliza is shy IRL, but online she's LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a seriously popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. Her life online is so vibrant and fulfilling (or so she thinks) that she doesn't even try to form friendships off the screen. But her two worlds collide when Wallace, a Monstrous Sea fanfiction writer, transfers to her school and the two bond in adoration of the comic. Wallace doesn't know that Eliza is the creator, and Eliza starts to wonder if she might want to take some of her world offline. Francesca Zappia is known for being super unique and creative, so it's no surprise that readers can actually read parts of the webcomic and fanfiction in the book, making it feel like such a fully realized world.
'Dark Breaks the Dawn' by Sara B. Larson (May 30; Scholastic)
We already know that Defy's Sara B. Larson slays epic fantasy, so just mentally prepare yourself for her new duology based on a fantastical Swan Lake. Princess Evelayn of the Light kingdom will come of age on her 18th birthday and access her full magical powers. Right now, she's struggling to fully shapeshift into a swan, as she is supposed to. This is a problem because King Bain of the Dark kingdom is plotting a takeover. The iconic ballet is ripe material for adaptation and Larson does it dazzling justice.