Whether you're a teen, have a teenager in your life, or just enjoy teen reads, these titles are for you! Each month LPLS staff create a list of new releases that they recommend.
“Respect the Mic” by Peter Kahn
For Chicago's Oak Park and River Forest High School's Spoken Word Club, there is one phrase that reigns supreme: Respect the Mic. It's been the club's call to arms since its inception in 1999. As its founder Peter Kahn says, "It's a call of pride and history and tradition and hope."
This vivid new collection of poetry and prose -- curated by award-winning and bestselling poets Hanif Abdurraqib, Franny Choi, Peter Kahn, and Dan "Sully" Sullivan -- illuminates just that, uplifting the incredible legacy this community has cultivated. Among the dozens of current students and alumni, Respect the Mic features work by NBA champion Iman Shumpert, National Youth Poet Laureate Kara Jackson, National Youth Poet Laureate Kara Jackson, National Student Poet Natalie Richardson, comedian Langston Kerman, and more.
In its pages, you hear the sprawling echoes of students, siblings, lovers, new parents, athletes, entertainers, scientists, and more --all sharing a deep appreciation for the power of storytelling. A celebration of the past, a balm for the present, and a blueprint for the future, Respect the Mic offers a tender, intimate portrait of American life, and conveys how in a world increasingly defined by separation, poetry has the capacity to bind us together.
“The Case Files of Jeweler Richard, Vol. 1” by Mika Akatsuki
When Seigi Nakata rescued a handsome young jewelry appraiser from a group of drunken assailants, he got more than he bargained for! The appraiser is Richard Ranasinghe de Vulpian, a brilliant and mysterious British jewelry expert. Seigi hires him to appraise a family heirloom…and that is just the beginning. Together, they unlock the secret messages hidden in the hearts of precious stones–and those who possess them.
“A Spark Within the Forge” by Sabba Tahir
Before they were torn asunder, Laia lived happily and quietly with her Nan, Pop, and brother Darin within the Scholar district of Martial-ruled Serra. Although Laia is afraid to venture outside her home due to the heavy Martial presence, Darin loves to explore all parts of their home city… even those that are forbidden.
A chance encounter with famed swordsmith Spiro Teluman, who sees in Darin a talent for forging weapons, leads him down a path that pulls him away from his family but towards hope for his people. While Laia is forced to take her brother’s place accompanying Pop to combat a dangerous illness spreading quickly through Serra. When Laia discovers a surprising cure, will she brave exposure and the heavily-patrolled streets so she can save the city and someone she loves?
“Cramm This Book” by Olivia Seltzer
Today’s world can feel like a seriously confusing mess. Headlines and newscasters and posts are coming at us from all sides, each talking about the latest issues and injustices, and everyone with their own opinion on how to solve the problems of the day. It’s enough to make anyone’s mind melt. Right?
Enter: Cramm This Book, your one-stop-shop for the scoop behind the scoop of the day. This is the read you need to understand everything from how the conflicts in the Middle East got going to where Black Lives Matter and Me Too actually began to what the full deal is with all of the wildfires and hurricanes we see each year. Important topics to read more about? We think so too. Dip in for more on the wars, the movements, the disasters, and more — and get to know WTF is really going on.
“I Must Betray You” by Ruta Sepetys
Romania, 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force.
Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s left with only two choices: betray everyone and everything he loves—or use his position to creatively undermine the most notoriously evil dictator in Eastern Europe.
Cristian risks everything to unmask the truth behind the regime, give voice to fellow Romanians, and expose to the world what is happening in his country. He eagerly joins the revolution to fight for change when the time arrives. But what is the cost of freedom?
“Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman” by Kristen R. Lee
Savannah Howard sacrificed her high school social life to make sure she got into a top college. Her sights were set on an HBCU, but when she is accepted to the ivy-covered walls of Wooddale University on a full ride, how can she say no?
Wooddale is far from the perfectly manicured community it sells on its brochures, though. Savannah has barely unpacked before she comes face to face with microagressions stemming from racism and elitism. Then Clive Wilmington's statue is vandalized with blackface. The prime suspect? Lucas Cunningham, Wooddale's most popular student and son of a local prominent family. Soon Savannah is unearthing secrets of Wooddale's racist history. But what's the price for standing up for what is right? And will telling the truth about Wooddale's past cost Savannah her own future?
“Float” by Kate Marchant
Waverly Lyons has been caught in the middle of her parents’ divorce for as long as she can remember. This summer, the battle rages over who she’ll spend her vacation with, and when Waverly’s options are shot down, it’s bye-bye Fairbanks, Alaska and hello Holden, Florida to stay with her aunt.
Coming from the tundra of the north, the beach culture isn’t exactly Waverly’s forte. The sun may just be her mortal enemy, and her vibe is decidedly not chill. To top it off? Her ability to swim is nonexistent.
Enter Blake, the (superhot) boy next door. Charming and sweet, he welcomes Waverly into his circle. For the first time in her life, Waverly has friends, a social life, and soon enough, feelings…for Blake. As the two grow closer, Waverly’s fortunes begin to look up. But every summer must come to an end, and letting go is hardest when you’ve finally found where you belong.
“And We Rise” by Erica Martin
In stunning verse and vivid use of white space, Erica Martin's debut poetry collection walks readers through the Civil Rights Movement—from the well-documented events that shaped the nation’s treatment of Black people, beginning with the "Separate but Equal" ruling—and introduces lesser-known figures and moments that were just as crucial to the Movement and our nation's centuries-long fight for justice and equality.
“Bright Ruined Things” by Samantha Cohoe
The only life Mae has ever known is on the island, living on the charity of the wealthy Prosper family who control the island’s magic and its spirits. Mae longs for magic of her own and to have a place among the Prosper family, where her best friend, Coco, will see her as an equal, and her crush, Miles, will finally see her.
But tonight is First Night, when the Prospers and their high-society friends celebrate the night Lord Prosper first harnessed the island’s magic and started producing aether – a magical fuel source that has revolutionized the world. With everyone returning to the island, Mae finally has the chance to go after what she’s always wanted.
When the spirits start inexplicably dying, Mae realizes that things aren’t what they seem. And Ivo, the reclusive, mysterious heir to the Prosper magic, may hold all the answers – including a secret about Mae’s past. As Mae and her friends unravel the mysteries of the island, and the Prospers’ magic, Mae starts to question the truth of what her world was built on.
“Wakers” by Orson Scott Card
Laz is a side-stepper: a teen with the incredible power to jump his consciousness to alternate versions of himself in parallel worlds. All his life, there was no mistake that a little side-stepping couldn’t fix.
Until Laz wakes up one day in a cloning facility on a seemingly abandoned Earth.
Laz finds himself surrounded by hundreds of other clones, all dead, and quickly realizes that he too must be a clone of his original self. Laz has no idea what happened to the world he remembers as vibrant and bustling only yesterday, and he struggles to survive in the barren wasteland he’s now trapped in. But the question that haunts him isn’t why was he created, but instead, who woke him up…and why?
There’s only a single bright spot in Laz’s new life: one other clone appears to still be alive, although she remains asleep. Deep down, Laz believes that this girl holds the key to the mysteries plaguing him, but if he wakes her up, she’ll be trapped in this hellscape with him.
This is one problem that Laz can’t just side-step his way out of.
“These Deadly Games” by Diana Urban
When Crystal Donavan gets a message on a mysterious app with a video of her little sister gagged and bound, she agrees to play the kidnapper's game. At first, they make her complete bizarre tasks: steal a test and stuff it in a locker, bake brownies, make a prank call.
But then Crystal realizes each task is meant to hurt--and kill--her friends, one by one. But if she refuses to play, the kidnapper will kill her sister. Is someone trying to take her team out of the running for a gaming tournament? Or have they uncovered a secret from their past, and wants them to pay for what they did...
As Crystal makes the impossible choices between her friends and her sister, she must uncover the truth and find a way to outplay the kidnapper... before it's too late.
“This Woven Kingdom” by Tahereh Mafi
To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.
The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can't put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.
“Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions” by Navdeep Singh Dhillon
Sunny G's brother left him one thing when he died: His notebook, which Sunny is determined to fill up with a series of rash decisions. Decision number one was a big one: He stopped wearing his turban, cut off his hair, and shaved his beard. He doesn't look like a Sikh anymore. He doesn't look like himself anymore. Even his cosplay doesn't look right without his beard.
Sunny debuts his new look at prom, which he's stuck going to alone. He's skipping the big fandom party—the one where he'd normally be in full cosplay, up on stage playing bass with his band and his best friend, Ngozi—in favor of the Very Important Prom Experience. An experience that's starting to look like a bust.
Enter Mindii Vang, a girl with a penchant for making rash decisions of her own, starting with stealing Sunny's notebook. When Sunny chases after her, prom turns into an all-night adventure—a night full of rash, wonderful, romantic, stupid, life-changing decisions.
“The New Girl” by Jesse Q. Sutanto
Lia Setiawan has never really fit in. And when she wins a full ride to the prestigious Draycott Academy on a track scholarship, she's determined to make it work even though she's never felt more out of place.
But on her first day there she witnesses a girl being forcefully carried away by campus security. Her new schoolmates and teachers seem unphased, but it leaves her unsure of what she's gotten herself into.
And as she uncovers the secrets of Draycott, complete with a corrupt teacher, a golden boy who isn't what he seems, and a blackmailer determined to get her thrown out, she's not sure if she can trust anyone...especially when the threats against her take a deadly turn.
“Extasia” by Claire Legrand
Her name is unimportant.
All you must know is that today she will become one of the four saints of Haven. The elders will mark her and place the red hood on her head. With her sisters, she will stand against the evil power that lives beneath the black mountain—an evil which has already killed nine of her village’s men.
She will tell no one of the white-eyed beasts that follow her. Or the faceless gray women tall as houses. Or the girls she saw kissing in the elm grove.
Today she will be a saint of Haven. She will rid her family of her mother’s shame at last and save her people from destruction. She is not afraid. Are you?
“No Filter and Other Lies” by Crystal Maldonado
Twenty one-year-old Max Monroe has it all: beauty, friends, and a glittering life filled with adventure. With tons of followers on Instagram, her picture-perfect existence seems eminently enviable.
Except it’s all fake.
Max is actually 17-year-old Kat Sanchez, a quiet and sarcastic teenager living in drab Bakersfield, California. Nothing glamorous in her existence—just sprawl, bad house parties, a crap school year, and the awkwardness of dealing with her best friend Hari’s unrequited love.
But while Kat’s life is far from perfect, she thrives as Max: doling out advice, sharing beautiful photos, networking with famous influencers, even making a real friend in a follower named Elena. The closer Elena and “Max” get—texting, Snapping, and even calling—the more Kat feels she has to keep up the façade.
But when one of Max’s posts goes ultra-viral and gets back to the very person she’s been stealing photos from, her entire world – real and fake — comes crashing down around her. She has to figure out a way to get herself out of the huge web of lies she’s created without hurting the people she loves.
But it might already be too late.