Today is World Book Day in the UK and to celebrate, myself and lots of other UK book bloggers are sharing three YA or MG book recommendations for children and teens.
I have a lot of favourite YA books so it was A Struggle™ to narrow it down to three. But I managed it and I’ve picked three novels that have positive uplifting messages and would be great for older teens.
Slay by Brittney Morris
This is a YA contemporary about Keira, a young Black girl who has created her own immersive, multiplayer video game, SLAY, where players can duel each other. No-one in Keira’s family or friendship group knows that she created the game, but when an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera, her secret may have to come out.
This is a wonderful novel about friendship, community, and the positive impact video games can have on people’s lives. With her excellent writing, Brittney Morris draws us into the world of SLAY and captivates us with Keira’s life both in the game and outside it.
This story is accessible to gamers and non-gamers alike, with battle scenes that are easy to follow and brilliant world building. Some of the plot twists will take you completely by surprise and I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that I didn’t see them coming.
This novel also explores issues of racism, cultural appropriation, toxic masculinity, and colorism in an incredibly powerful way. Each issue is raised and continuously discussed and challenged throughout the novel from Kiera’s perspective as a Black woman. The whole story is a celebration of Black culture, power, and joy, and it’s a truly fantastic read.
Content warnings for racism, sexism, threats of violence, toxic relationships, online harassment and abuse.
The Extraordinaries by T. J. Klune
The Extraordinaries follows Nick, a teen with ADHD, who loves superheroes and if a massive fan of his city’s very own hero, ShadowStar. After a chance encounter with ShadowStar in person, Nick decides that he should become an Extraordinary and set about devising a way to do so.
Nick is star of this novel with his vibrant personality, enthusiasm, and love for his family, friends, and the city. He and the other characters all leap of the page and their development is streamlined and captivating.
This story deals with grief, loss of a parent, and explorations of sexuality, as well as discussing ADHD and neurodivergence. Klune has ADHD, so this book is own voices for that representation and the care and nuance he’s put into writing Nick’s story really comes across on-page.
LGBTQIAP+ characters are at the front and center of this story and it’s great to see a queer coming-of-age narrative embedded into a fantasy story. The book also has some laugh-out-loud moments, with funny dialogue, snappy comebacks, and witty one liners that light up the story.
Content warnings for death of a parent, violence, discussions of homophobia and ableism.
A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
This is a YA contemporary about a young Cuban-American girl, Lila, who moves to England for the summer to improve her mental health after a bereavement and several other life upheavals. While there, she reignites her love for baking, makes new friends, and meets a boy who may or may not have feelings for her.
If you want a wholesome romance between a passionate, ambitious girl who loves baking and a soft boy who’s trying to keep his shop afloat, then this is definitely the book for you.
Lila is the kind of character that never gives up and eventually wins everyone over, and I loved seeing her grow and succeed in this story. Her Cuban heritage also plays a big part in the story and I liked hearing her talk about her family history.
The novel discusses grief in a thoughtful, nuanced way, showing that there’s no one way that people grieve and that everyone handles loss differently. But it’s also filled with so many affirming moments that you’ll likely finish the book feeling all warm and fuzzy.
Content warnings for death of a family member, grief, bereavement, gaslighting.
Those are my three YA book recommendations for World Book Day 2021. If they sound like your kind of book then I hope you’ll consider picking them up and supporting the authors.
Check out the next post in the WBD series from Alex @Alexs Books and the rest of the posts from other bloggers and bookstagrammers!