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All the Days Past, All the Days to Come

Mildred D. Taylor (Viking)

This absorbing historical novel concludes the five-volume story of the Logan family, which began in 1975. Through narrator Cassie, Taylor deftly sketches the strong characters of this tight-knit, though increasingly far-flung, family, and offers insights into seismic social movements amid the grim realities of racism. A satisfying conclusion to a landmark saga.

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Cemetery Boys

Aiden Thomas (Swoon Reads)

In Thomas’s vibrant YA debut, Yadriel, a gay, trans 16-year-old, is determined to prove himself, as a brujo and as a boy, to the traditional brujx cemetery community he grew up in. Thomas combines concept and execution in a romantic mystery as poignant as it is spellbinding, weaved in a mosaic of culture, acceptance, and identity.

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Dragon Hoops

Gene Luen Yang (First Second)

In 2014, as a teacher at a Catholic high school in Oakland, Calif., Yang is drawn to a story about the school’s basketball team. He alternates portraying player backstories and the Dragons’ 2014 season with interstitials about the sport’s beginnings and early tensions, historical and present-day discrimination, and Yang’s own work-life balance. With signature illustrations that bring the fast-paced games to life, Yang has crafted a triumphant, telescopic graphic memoir that explores the effects of legacy and the power of taking a single first step.

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Elatsoe

Darcie Little Badger, illus. by Rovina Cai (Levine Querido)

Indigenous stories, modern-day technology, and the supernatural successfully blend to build a fast-paced murder mystery in Little Badger’s intriguing solo debut. After asexual 17-year-old Ellie’s older cousin is fatally injured, he comes to her in a dream; Lipan Apache Ellie, who has inherited the gift of waking and training ghosts, sets out to unmask the killer. Cai’s grayscale illustrations imbue the book with shadowy breath and movement.

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Everything Sad Is Untrue (A True Story)

Daniel Nayeri (Levine Querido)

Marked by a distinctive voice, Nayeri’s impressive autobiographical novel is narrated by 12-year-old Khosrou, known as Daniel, who models himself after Scheherazade. The chapterless “patchwork story” moves nimbly through Daniel’s dreamlike early childhood in Iran, a year in an Italian refugee camp, and the family’s eventual life in Oklahoma. Mesmerizing and hard-hitting at once, this work of personal mythology is a rare treasure.

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The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games #1)

Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Little, Brown)

When high school junior Avery Grambs is summoned to a billionaire stranger’s will reading, she is stunned to learn that he has left her the bulk of his estate. To inherit, she must spend a year living in his labyrinthine mansion with his furious daughters and his brilliant, hypercompetitive grandsons. Tony trappings complement the delightfully soapy plot of Barnes’s strong, Knives Out–esque series opener.

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The Magic Fish

Trung Le Nguyen (Random House Graphic)

Alternating between Tiến, 12, who “speak[s] mostly English” and struggles to come out to his parents, and his mother, Hiến, a refugee and seamstress who “speak[s] mostly Vietnamese,” the graphic novel intertwines fairy tales with the characters’ narrative. Nguyen’s poignant debut captures the essence of the bond between a parent and child, proving that language—and love—can transcend words.

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Punching the Air

Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)

Using free verse, Zoboi and Salaam craft a powerful indictment of institutional racism through the imagined experience of Amal, a wrongly convicted Black 16-year-old. Likening the pervasive imprisonment of Black bodies to the history of chattel slavery and describing how educational racism feeds Black students into the school-to-prison pipeline, the authors deliver an unfiltered perspective of the U.S. criminal justice system.

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Raybearer

Jordan Ifueko (Amulet)

In Ifueko’s stunning fantasy debut, a nefarious woman commands a djinn to impregnate her with a child who must someday grant her a wish. Years later, she sends the child, Tarisai, to compete for inclusion on the crown prince’s council, and Tarisai must decide where her loyalty lies. By crafting a world plagued by imperialism, poverty, and institutionalized misogyny, Ifueko illustrates the need for social change and inspires readers to fight for it.

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Red Hood

Elana K. Arnold (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)

Arnold artfully spins a dark, magic-tinged “Little Red Riding Hood” retelling. Attacked after homecoming by a vicious wolf, Bisou Martel, 16, slays her pursuer. The next day, a boy who behaved forcefully with Bisou is found in the woods—dead from the same wounds as the wolf that Bisou killed. The Printz Honoree delivers a sharp critique of male entitlement and a celebration of feminine power.

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The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh

Candace Fleming (Random House/Schwartz & Wade)

Fleming skillfully crafts a layered, well-paced portrait of Charles Lindbergh’s soaring popularity and plunging fall. In riveting detail, Fleming relates Lindbergh’s planning and execution of the solo transatlantic flight that made him the most famous man in the world, the tragic kidnapping of his firstborn child, and his fall from grace after he became fascinated with eugenics and isolationist politics. A compelling biography of a flawed, larger-than-life man.

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Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-Winning ‘Stamped from the Beginning’

Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi (Little, Brown)

Reynolds lends his signature flair to remixing Kendi’s award-winning Stamped from the Beginning into a powerful “not a history book” primer on the historical roots and present-day manifestations of anti-Black racism in America. Told economically, loaded with historical details that connect to current experiences, and bolstered with suggested reading and listening, Kendi and Reynolds’s volume is essential, meaningfully accessible reading.

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The Way Back

Gavriel Savit (Knopf)

At once historical and tenderly intimate in scope, Savit’s ambitious novel begins in an Eastern European shtetl, where the arrival of the Messenger of Death sets two Jewish youths on intersecting paths. Both travel into a graveyard-adjacent realm, attracting the attention of powerful, corrupt demon nobles. Savit creates a narrative tangle of chases and bargains, presenting a bewitching allegorical adventure.

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We Are Not Free

Traci Chee (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Spanning three years, from 1942 to 1945, Chee’s accomplished novel about America’s treatment of Japanese Americans traces the trajectories of 14 Nisei teens deported from San Francisco. Ambitious in scope and complexity, this is an essential contribution to the understanding of the wide-ranging experiences impacting people of Japanese ancestry in the U.S. during WWII.

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You Should See Me in a Crown

Leah Johnson (Scholastic Press)

When the music scholarship she’s counting on falls through, Liz Lighty’s brother persuades her to run for prom queen as one of the only Black girls at her wealthy, majority-white high school—and try to win the $10,000 scholarship that accompanies the crown. With wit and grounded optimism, debut author Johnson creates a heartfelt and laugh-out-loud funny YA rom-com.

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