New Voices in Teen Fiction

It’s always exciting to discover new books and authors and, as usual, some of the freshest voices can be found in young adult publishing.   Here are three recent debut novels you should know about:

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Twins Tyler and Marvin have always been close, but lately Tyler has been increasingly secretive and running with a new crowd.  When a party is broken up first by gunshots and then the police Marvin figures Tyler will make his own way home, but as the next day comes and goes and Tyler is still missing Marvin begins to fear the worst.  Searching the neighborhood only raises more questions, and Marvin starts to wonder how much he really knew his brother.  With sympathetic characters and an all-too-familiar premise, this speaks to the urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement.  A great read-alike for fans of The Hate U Give.

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

This fictionalized biography of baroque painter  Artemisia Gentileschi focuses on the event that forever shaped her life and art: her rape by Agostino Tossi, a tutor hired by her father.  After taking Tossi to trial (nearly unheard of during that time period), Gentileschi eventually returned to painting, focusing on biblical stories depicting women’s strength.  Gentileschi was far ahead of her time, depicting women as capable and human rather than objectifying them as dictated by painting traditions, and this timely novel will resonate with #MeToo survivors.  The raw and justifiably angry first-person verse is tempered by a gentle and loving second-person narration.

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius Kellner definitely does not run with the popular crowd.  Relentlessly bullied at school, a trip to Iran to spend time with his ailing grandfather offers some relief from the daily harassment and his battle with chronic depression.  Much to his surprise, it’s a developing friendship with Sohrab, the boy who lives next to his grandparents, that offers Darius his first real taste of possibility.  As Darius begins to learn more about Iran, his extended family, and himself, he begins to truly blossom.  This offers a wonderful look at Persian culture, the strength of family, and the magic of being seen for the first time.

~posted by Summer H.

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