I’ve been posting my favorite books of the year for several years now, and even though my own debut novel came out this year, I have plenty of other favorites! As usual, I fell hard for some historicals and novels-in-verse, and I’m also including a graphic novel that both my kids and I absolutely adored. In fact, I had quite a few middle grade books among my top picks:
- THE BRIDGE HOME by Padma Venkatraman. As with all of Padma’s stories, this book is full of heart (which might break just a little while reading, but it’s so worth it).
- NEW KID by Jerry Craft. This graphic novel is a must-read for everyone. Fantastic artwork and story.
- OTHER WORDS FOR HOME by Jasmine Warga. A gorgeous novel-in-verse about a new immigrant and her family.
- HOW HIGH THE MOON by Karyn Parsons. This racially-charged historical is set partially in South Carolina and partially in Boston, and takes the reader along on a difficult journey they won’t soon forget.
But as usual, most of my favorites this year were young adult titles. So many favorites this year! Here are a handful of my top picks:
- INTERNMENT by Samira Ahmed. This dystopian places a teenager and her family in a Muslim internment camp and follows her resistance from within its walls.
- LOVELY WAR by Julie Berry. The setting in this WWI historical was vivid, the writing gorgeous, and the story layered and rich and divine. Also, the romance(s)! Simply lovely.
- THE DOWNSTAIRS GIRL by Stacey Lee. I adore all Stacey Lee’s books, and this one is my favorite yet. Jo is a Chinese American girl living in Reconstructionist Georgia whose determination is an inspiration.
- BUTTERFLY YELLOW by Thanhha Lai. I love Thanhha’s verse, but the prose is just as lovely here. It’s a post-Vietnam War historical and a tragic reminder of the scars immigrants fleeing terrible situations bear.
I also had a couple of really innovative favorites:
- PET by Akwaeki Emezi. People have been calling this one genre defying and it sure is. Jam calls forth Pet, who returns to Jam’s world to hunt a monster. Absolutely incredible.
- IN PARIS WITH YOU by Clémentine Beauvais, translated by Sam Taylor. I read this novel-in-verse in the English translation, but I do want to try it in my (rusty) French as well because aaaaah, all the feelings! I loved this gorgeously-written retelling of Eugine Onegin.
Finally, a few bonus books from the 2020 ARC titles I was lucky enough to read this year:
- THE BLOSSOM AND THE FIREFLY by Sherri L. Smith. Get this one on your radar pronto, and get those tissues handy! I love everything about this historical set in Japan in the final days of WWII. Absolutely stunning.
- THE ASSIGNMENT by Liza Wiemer. This fictional story is based on a real incident that had high school students taking sides in a mock debate about the Final Solution. Like the real-life students, these students refuse to participate, taking a powerful stand against hate.
- FLOWERS IN THE GUTTER by K. R. Gaddy. This work of narrative non-fiction offers an impressive body of research about the Edelweiss Pirates, a loosely-grouped band of teen resistance members during WWII.
That’s it from me for 2019. What were your favorites from this year? And what books are you most looking forward to in 2020? Please share!