One of the awards announced Monday in Seattle is the William C Morris YA Debut Award. This is a lesser known award (compared to the big hitters like Newbery and Cadlecott), but it's the one I look most forward to. They release a list of finalists in December, so right there you have a handful of brand new YA authors you know you should keep an eye on. And the choices are always thoughtful, exciting, and fresh.
This year the award went to Adib Khorram's Darius the Great is Not Okay, a gentle story about a teen Pakistani-American boy who travels with his parents and sister to visit his grandparents in Pakistan for the first time. This book is a deep dive on identity. Darius doesn't feel as in touch with his history as he'd like to, and his depression, outsider status in school, and his rocky relationship with his father compound his disconnection on a trip that was supposed to tie up all the loose ends of his past. Then Darius finds something he has never really had-- a friend. The story is funny, and subtle, and features one of my favorite things-- loving and detailed descriptions of food.
The four finalists are ALL worth checking out, though!
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi had an incredible amount of buzz and an enthusiastic following BEFORE it was chosen for The Jimmy Fallon Book Club. This West African fantasy novel is that epic read you've been waiting for.
Check Please vol. 1, #Hockey! by Ngozi Ukazu is a graphic novel series starter about a boy who has a figure skating past, a rough and tumble hockey present, and a possible romantic future with a cute boy on the team...
And last but CERTAINLY not least, What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper is a beautifully told and beautifully illustrated novel about some young Holocaust survivors trying to rebuild a life.