One of the first books I read this year, this graphic novel stood out as one of my favorite reads. On the first page, we meet Frances, a girl working as a seamstress who dreams of creating fabulous gowns. Her work catches the eye of Prince Sebastian, and the pair soon become friends. I read this entire book during a lunch break, and I teared up at the end. It hits all of the notes I'm wanting in a book: adventure, great characters, acceptance, and a whole lot of love.
I recommend this book often since it exists in a space where both younger and older teens will enjoy it. The main character, Nisha, is a 12-year-old girl fleeing from her family home during the Partition of India in 1947. The journey is gripping and the writing is insanely beautiful.
Out of all the teen fiction I read this year (and I read quite a bit), I think Puddin' was my favorite read. The friendship that forms between Millie and Callie is a stand out for me, plus we get to see some of our favorite characters from Dumplin' show up. I love a good romance, but I'm ready to read more epic female friendship stories like this one this coming year.
Okay so this wasn't written this year, but I just discovered it this year and WOW. I'm incredibly jaded when it comes to teen dystopian series, and this blew me away. The concept was completely original to me and it didn't feel forced. It felt like the author sat down and thought, "What if the Great Library at Alexandria never burned down?" I was also invested in all of the characters, and I can't wait for the final book to come out.
This was one of the few adult fiction novels I read this year, and I find myself thinking about this book often. I'm a sucker for intense character development, and while I found the main character Nikki to be almost unlikeable at first, her story arc is one of my favorites this year. The novel has a little something for everyone: romance, mystery, and a slew of strong female characters.
If you read any short story collection, make it this one. All of these stories are retellings of classic Asian and South Asian stories and legends. My favorite stories include "Olivia's Table," "Land of the Morning Calm," and "The Crimson Cloak," but really all of these are worth a read.
You might be asking, "Why is there a picture book on this list of primarily YA novels?" And I will tell you it's because we are sleeping on picture books, y'all. Some of the books that move me the most are picture books, and this one is especially touching. The Little Elliot series is really good about showing real moments, like how we all feel sad when we are alone or how sometimes it's hard to get into the Christmas spirit. But the endings are always uplifting and hopeful.
I read Blood, Water, Paint all the way back in March, and I still don't quite know what words I need to use to say how much I love it. It's a book that has left me speechless, and while that's slightly problematic from a blog writing standpoint, I'm so grateful to have read this book. Told in free verse, the story focuses on the life of Artemisia Gentileschi, a 17th century painter who was raped, took her rapist to trial, and won her case. I'm not going to lie—it's a hard read. But it is so worth it. And out of all the books on this list, this is the book I recommend the most.