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The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge

M.T. Anderson, illus. by Eugene Yelchin (Candlewick)

Told in narrative and illustrated pages, this witty, offbeat fantasy adventure starring an elfin spy and a goblin historian blends the absurd and the timely to explore questions about commonality, long-standing conflict, and who gets to write a world’s history.

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The Boneless Mercies

April Genevieve Tucholke (FSG)

In this haunting modern-day epic loosely inspired by Beowulf, four resourceful young women who have devoted their lives to ritual mercy killing decide to give it up in favor of more satisfying pursuits, and swear a blood oath to slay the fabled Blue Vee Beast.

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Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam

Elizabeth Partridge (Viking)

In this well-researched history, Partridge evokes the political controversy and intense emotions triggered by the Vietnam War. She skillfully interweaves original interviews and black-and-white photos with narrative to follow the daily lives of soldiers, a medic, a field nurse, and a Vietnamese refugee, examining their loyalties and moral sensitivity to the unending war.

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Children of Blood and Bone

Tomi Adeyemi (Holt)

Adeyemi’s devastating debut, book one in the Orïsha Legacy trilogy, chronicles 17-year-old Zélie’s battle to restore magic to the realm of the Orïsha and liberate its people from the tyrannical rule of King Saran. It’s a brutal, beautiful tale of revolution, faith, and star-crossed love.

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Darius the Great Is Not Okay

Adib Khorram (Dial)

Suffering from bullying and depression in the U.S., high school sophomore Darius isn’t sure how he’ll fare visiting family in Iran, but the country and its warmth help Darius to find himself and true friendship. First-time author Khorram’s coming-of-age novel brings to life the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of a culture steeped in tradition.

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Dry

Neal and Jarrod Shusterman (S&S)

Neal Shusterman and son Jarrod create a thrilling climate change dystopia in which California's denizens muddle through life during a drought—until the last of the water runs out. Core character relationships and an escalating, palpable desperation pervade the plot.

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Hey, Kiddo

Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Graphix)

In a graphic memoir that tells a story of finding identity, Krosoczka conveys the joys and complications of his young life in Worcester, Mass., including his relationship with his mother (a heroin addict) and his grandparents, who raised him. A stark, loving portrait of a real family.

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The Light Between Worlds

Laura E. Weymouth (HarperTeen)

In this smart love letter to portal fantasies, two sisters struggle with reacclimating to the modern world after spending years in a magical realm. Then one vanishes. A successful mix of wartime England and Narnia-like worldbuilding.

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On a Sunbeam

Tillie Walden (First Second)

An all-female and gender-nonbinary cast embarks on a dangerous mission in this sprawling space jaunt, a masterful blend of science fiction–inflected school drama, road trip, and adventure. Distinctive layers of flat color create temporal cohesion and emphasize themes of memory and chosen family in this graphic novel.

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The Poet X

Elizabeth Acevedo (HarperTeen)

Harlem sophomore Xiomara isn’t saintly like her virtuous twin brother seems to be—she’s as uncertain about undergoing the Catholic confirmation sacrament as she is certain about writing poetry and dating Aman, two things she’s sure her conservative Dominican parents won’t accept. Debut novelist Acevedo’s free verse offers an emotionally charged bluntness that reflects Xiomara’s determination and growing love of self.

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Pride

Ibi Zoboi (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)

"It's a truth universally acknowledged that when rich people move into the hood... the first thing they want to do is clean it up," begins this Bushwick-based Pride and Prejudice retelling that stands solidly on its own while cleverly paralleling Austen's classic. A contemporary story about race, gentrification, and young love.

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The Prince and the Dressmaker

Jen Wang (First Second)

After creating a scandalous dress for an attendee of Prince Sebastian’s 16th birthday party, Frances is secretly hired to design dazzling gowns for Lady Crystallia, the Prince’s alter ego. Set in a playfully tweaked 19th-century Paris, Wang’s utterly charming graphic novel highlights identity, acceptance, and fashion.

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Sadie

Courtney Summers (Wednesday)

Despite a stutter that’s gotten her teased and bullied, Sadie is brave unto recklessness, and she won’t rest until she finds the man she thinks killed her sister. Summers alternates Sadie’s unflinching first-person narration from the road with compelling transcripts from a true crime podcast covering the story.

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A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

Edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman (Greenwillow)

Fifteen Asian authors share short, genre-spanning retellings of myths and legends traditional to their own cultures in this outstanding anthology edited by Chapman and We Need Diverse Books president Oh. An author's note follows each dazzling tale, offering context on creative choices and changes.

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Truly Devious

Maureen Johnson (HarperCollins/Tegen)

Johnson kicks off a new series with this deliciously atmospheric mystery set at a prestigious Vermont academy. True crime–obsessed Stevie Bell, 16, hopes to solve the 1936 kidnapping and murder case surrounding the school's industrialist founder, and the school's deadly past resurfaces when a student from her dorm is killed.

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The War Outside

Monica Hesse (Little, Brown)

In 1944, 17-year-old Japanese-American Haruko and German-American Margot are imprisoned with their families in a Department of Justice–run internment camp for “enemy aliens” who are suspected by the U.S. government of being spies. Although the two groups in the Texas camp rarely mix, the young women, drawn realistically and sympathetically, find their friendship intensifying.

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A Winter’s Promise: Book One of the Mirror Visitor Quartet

Christelle Dabos, trans. from the French by Hildegarde Serle (Europa)

Dabos’s darkly enchanting debut, a French bestseller, introduces a detailed world that has been fragmented into floating islands known as arks. Ophelia, who can travel through mirrors and read objects’ histories through touch, despairs when forced to marry Thorn, the chief treasurer of a distant ark—though the motive for the arrangement remains mysterious.

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