2023 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

The members of the Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers  Blogging Team are: Coordinator, Jodi Kruse, R. A. Long High School Library, Longview, WA; Rachel Adams, King County Library System, Seattle, WA; Sarah Carnahan Pulaski Academy, Little Rock, AR; Cathy DeCampli, Haddonfield Public Library, Haddonfield, NJ; Mike Fleming; Juanita High School Library, Kirkland, WA; Jenna Ingham, Verona Public Library, Verona, NJ; Julianne Novetsky, Warren Public Library, Warren MI; Laura Phelps, Lincoln Academy High School, Wiscasset, ME; Beth Slade, Twinsburg Public Library, Twinsburg, OH; Jessica Smith, Bend Senior High School, Bend, OR; Emily Walker, Lisle Library District, Naperville, IL.



The Agathas. By Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson. 2022. 405p.  Delacorte Press, $18.99 (9780593431115). Gr. 8-12.

Classmates Alice and Iris team up to investigate the murder of a young girl who is found dead after a party. Using Agatha Christie as their guide, the two tenacious teens set out to uncover the truth about what happened while digging up dirty secrets about their small town.

Alone Out Here. By Riley Redgate. 2022. 392p. Hyperion, $18.99 (9781368064729). Gr. 9-12.

Leigh Chen and a small group of teens escape a cataclysmic volcanic eruption on a starship. As isolation increases and food supplies decrease, it becomes clear that the crew faces danger both in the starship and in the vast outer space as they search for a habitable planet.

Arden Grey. By Ray Stoeve. 2022. 278p. Amulet Books, $18.99 (9781419746000). Gr. 9-12.

Arden Grey is dealing with a lot - a toxic mother who abandoned her, a newly transitioned best friend, and questions about her own sexual identity. Finding solace in film photography and a new group of friends, Arden slowly discovers what it means to find herself.

At the End of Everything. By Marieke Nijkamp. 2022. 386p. Sourcebooks Fire, $18.99 (9781492673156). Gr. 8-11.

Hope Juvenile Treatment Center is a last chance at rehabilitation for troubled teens until the adult staff deserts the facility. With the outside world on lockdown because of a deadly virus, the teens must learn how to survive on their own.

Bad Girls Never Say Die. By Jennifer Mathieu. 2021. 295p. Roaring Brook Press, $18.99 (9781250232588). Gr. 8-12.

A feminist spin on S. E. Hinton’s classic novel, The Outsiders, Evie Barnes and her fierce and loyal friends are considered “bad girls.” After a traumatic experience, their bond becomes even tighter. These girls must put their trust in one another to prevent another tragedy.

Blaine for the Win. By Robbie Couch. 2022. 326p. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $19.99 (9781534497467). Gr. 9-12.

Blaine is devastated when he gets dumped by his boyfriend because Blaine isn’t “serious enough” about his future. To prove Joey wrong and win him back, Blaine decides to run for senior class president.

Break This House. By Candice Iloh. 2022. 205p. Dutton Books, $17.99 (9780525556237). Gr. 9-12.

After relocating with her father to leave her tragic past behind, Yaminah learns of a family reunion that is also a celebration of life for her mother, whom she didn't know had passed away. What will deciding to go mean for her new life?

Cold. By Mariko Tamaki. 2022. 229p. Roaring Brook Press, $18.99 (9781626722736). Gr. 8-11.

A mystery-homicide in which both the ghost and the girl are trying to determine what happened and how they are unknowingly connected.

Counting Scars. By Melinda Di Lorenzo. 2022. 113p. Orca Book Publishers, $10.95 (9781459833555). Gr. 8-12.

Busted for shoplifting, Adele is sent to Camp Happy instead of juvie. She quickly finds herself attracted to a quietly mysterious teen who just might be a stone cold killer capable of murdering his mother.

*Daughter. By Kate McLaughlin. 2022. 330p. Wednesday Books, $18.99 (9781250817440). Gr. 9-12.

Scarlet has no idea that her boring life and her paranoid mother are protecting her from her true identity. She is the daughter of notorious serial killer Jeff Lake, and he is willing to spill the secrets of his murder victims--but only to her.

Dead End Girls. By Wendy Heard. 2022. 324p. Christy Ottaviano Books, $17.99 (9780316310413). Gr. 9-12.

Maude has decided to fake her death. She wants to escape her heartless family and start fresh. With meticulous planning, she’s ready to fake her death while her entire family is on vacation in Hawaii. Maude’s plans are upended when her step cousin Frankie discovers the plan and wants in.

Diamond Park. By Phillippe Diederich. 2022. 275p. Dutton Books, $17.99 (9780593354254). Gr. 9-12.

After a skipped day of school to retrieve an Impala goes awry, Flaco and his friends are left to either wait for the police to solve a murder in which their friend is implicated, or try and prove her innocence on their own.

Dig Two Graves. By Gretchen McNeil. 2022. 342p. Hyperion, $17.99 (9781368072847). Gr. 9-12.

When Neve meets Diane at summer camp they instantly bond over the betrayals of people who had been close to them. Together they make a fantasy pact to kill their betrayers, but Neve’s betrayer ends up dead, Neve realizes that Diane might be taking the pact seriously.

The Getaway. By Lamar Giles. 2022. 382p. Scholastic Press, $19.99 (9781338752014). Gr. 9-12.

Four teenagers living and working in the world's best resort find themselves righting for their lives when a global catastrophe reveals the park is an end of the world vacation spot for Earth's most ruthless billionaires who expect top notch services from their new employees...or else.

Girl Overboard. By Sandra Block. 2022. 248p. Underlined, $9.99 (9780593483466). Gr. 9-12.

Izzy is expecting a boring family vacation on a cruise to Bermuda until she meets Jade, who turns the trip into an edgy adventure. It's all fun and parties until Jade goes missing and Izzy discovers that there is something very sinister on board their ship.

A Girl's Guide to Love and Magic. By Debbie Rigaud. 2022. 270p. Scholastic Press, $18.99  (9781338681741). Gr. 8-12.

Cicely’s birthday plans devolve into a fast-paced scavenger hunt to reverse a spirit’s possession of her aunt’s body following a Vodou reading that goes amok set against the backdrop of Brooklyn’s West Indian Day Parade.

Gold Mountain. By Betty G. Yee. 2022. 280p. Carolrhoda Lab, $18.99 (9781728415826). Gr. 6-10.

Tam Ling Fan disguises herself as her dead brother to work on the Central Pacific Railroad. Facing dangerous working conditions and railroad saboteurs, she struggles to keep her identity a secret while earning enough to pay for her father’s release from a Chinese prison.

Happily Ever Island. By Crystal Cestari. 2022. 326p. Disney-Hyperion, $18.99 (9781368075473). Gr. 9-12.

Best friends Madison and Lanie are selected for the trip of a lifetime on Disney's immersive experience resort, Happily Ever Island. Their island adventure is filled with romance, self-discovery, and a whole lot of Disney magic.

*Horror Hotel. By Victoria Fulton and Faith McClaren. 2022. 242p. Underlined, $9.99 (9780593483480). Gr. 8-12.

No one loves a haunted place the night before Halloween more than a group of ghost hunters. The group of four thinks filming at the notorious Hearst Hotel in Los Angeles will be the secret to reaching one million subscribers to their YouTube channel, but soon discover unexpected secrets.

Hotel Magnifique. By Emily Taylor. 2022. 391p. Razorbill, $18.99 (9780593404515). Gr. 7-10.

Sisters Jani and Zosa escape their mundane lives by entering the magical, enchanting world of the Hotel Magnifique, only to discover that danger and secrets lurk behind the beauty.

*Jumper. By Melanie Crowder. 2022. 327p. Viking, $18.99 (9780593326961). Gr. 10-12.

Nineteen-year-old Blair Scott's dream of being accepted into the Forest Service's class of jumpers is complicated by a fierce fire season and a medical condition that endangers her life. Together with her best friend Jason, Blair treads the line between risk-taking and reckless and learns what it means to survive.

Kneel. By Candace Buford. 2022. 311p. Inkyard Press, $18.99 (9781335454355). Gr. 8-11.

After his best friend is unfairly suspended from the varsity football team in their senior year, Russell must decide if he should stay under the radar in the hope of scoring a scholarship, or use his voice to protest the racism in his small town.

*Live, Laugh, Kidnap. By Gabby Noone. 2022. 330p. Razorbill, $17.99 (9780593327296). Gr. 8-12.

Genesis (lives on a commune), Holly (staying for the summer), and Zoe (saving money to leave with her girlfriend) have one thing in common: distrust towards Hope Harvest Ministries. When an accidental encounter leads them to kidnap the teenage son of Hope’s leaders, they see a way out of town. 

Long Live the Pumpkin Queen. By Shea Ernshaw. 2022. 315p. Disney Press, $18.99 (9781368069601). Gr. 7-12.

When Pumpkin Queen, Sally Skellington, discovers a doorway to one of the ancient realms, she inadvertently unleashes the long-forgotten Sandman on the holiday and human worlds.

*Love Radio. By Ebony LaDelle. 2022. 316p. Simon and Schuster BFYR, $19.99 (9781665908153). Gr. 9-12.

Prince is a romantic but hasn’t got time for love unless it’s helping callers to his radio show. Dani is focused on her plan to move to New York and become a famous author. When these two meet they agree to give each three dates to see where it leads.

Mirror Girls. By Kelly McWilliams. 2022. 308p. Little, Brown and Company, $17.99 (9780759553873). Gr. 9-12.

After being separated at birth, two biracial twins, one presenting as black and the other passing as white, reunite in Jim Crow Georgia to break the curse on their family.

My Dearest Darkest. By Kayla Cottingham. 2022. 353p. Sourcebooks Fire, $10.99 (9781728236414). Gr. 10-12.

Two students at an elite boarding school unwittingly summon a mysterious creature from beneath the school and must work together to banish it before it destroys everyone they love.

No One Is Alone. By Rachel Vincent. 2022. 420p. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (9781547609192). Gr. 8-11.

When Michaela’s mom suddenly dies, she moves in with her estranged father and his secret family. As Michaela tries to adjust she inadvertently angers her new half-sister Emery by receiving the star role in the school play and drawing the attention of Emery’s ex-boyfriend.

Nothing Burns as Bright as You. By Ashley Woodfolk. 2022. 277p. Versify, $18.99 (9780358655350). Gr. 9-12.

This novel-in-verse burns with intensity and passion as this relationship quickly combusts from friendship to love and the destructive lengths that these two will go to be together.

Our Crooked Hearts. By Melissa Albert. 2022. 340p. Flatiron Books, $18.99 (9781250826367). Gr. 9-12.

A dark fantasy of witchcraft, secrets and lies; a mother and daughter play with supernatural fire, pushing the limits of darkness.

Out of the Fire. By Andrea Contos. 2021. 323p. Scholastic Press, $18.99 (9781338726169). Gr. 9-12.

Cass is determined to track down her kidnapper and exact justice. A chance encounter with a sympathetic girl in the bathroom leads her to the realization that there are other teens who need closure to their own traumas. Together, four young women make a pact to make their abusers pay.

Practice Girl. By Estelle Laure. 2022. 307p. Viking, $18.99 (9780593350911). Gr. 9-12.

Jo, a wrestling manager for her high school team, has a desire for a close relationship with a boy. She finds out she is considered a "practice girl" for boys to hook up with, but not be in a relationship. She must dig deep to find out what she wants and how to get it.

Queen of the Tiles. By Hannah Alkaf. 2022. 294p. Salaam Reads, $18.99 (9781534494558). Gr. 8-11.

One year ago, Najwa Bakri's best friend, Trina Lowe, collapsed during a Scrabble Tournament. Now, Najwa has returned determined to win Trina's title and heal herself. All bets are off when Trina's inactive Instagram account begins posting cryptic messages with messages that suggest that someone at the tournament murdered Trina.

Rain Rising. By Courtne Comrie. 2022. 327p. Harper, $16.99 (9780063159730). Gr. 5-8.

Comparing herself to her best friend, eighth grader Rain Washington feels fat, ugly, and untalented After a vicious attack on her older brother, Rain begins to discover a support system of classmates and school staff who want to help her see herself as they see her: beautiful, talented, and worthy.

Remember Me Gone. By Stacy Stokes. 2022. 362p. Viking, $17.99 (9780593327661). Gr. 8-12.

Lucy and her father share the ability to erase other people's memories. As Lucy works to develop her ability, she discovers that her father holds memories of her mother that don’t match the narrative Lucy’s been given as well as a malevolent hometown history.

The Rumor Game. By Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra. 2022. 471p. Hyperion, $18.99 (9781368014144). Gr. 9-12.

After a summer scandal, Bryn returns to Foxham Prep an outcast. Georgie returns after a summer at a weight loss camp to new popularity.  Cora is Bryn’s ex-best friend, but when a rumor puts the three of them in the center of school and online gossip, reputations are at stake.

The Sea Knows My Name. By Laura Brooke Robson. 2022. 261p. Dial Books, $18.99 (9780525554066). Gr. 9-12.

Amongst the volcanic ruins of Astoria, a mythical country ruled by pirates and nature, Thea must come to terms with the ruthlessness of her pirate queen mother and the betrayal of her first love.

Stinetinglers: All New Stories by the Master of Scary Tales. By R.L. Stine. 2022. 210p. Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (978-1250836274). Gr. 3-6.

These short stories vary from creepy bugs, haunted homes, body grotesque changes, and other spooky things that are unexplainable. Each offers what seems to be an average life of a tween before strange things occur. Included are Stine's personal notes to his past or what inspired each story.

Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions. By Navdeep Singh Dhillon. 2022. 300p. Dial Books, $17.99 (9780593109977). Gr. 9-12.

On the one-year anniversary of his brother’s death, a stolen journal leads Sunny on an all-night adventure full of romantically wonderful and ridiculously reckless choices that irrevocably reshape his outlook on life.

Survive the Dome. By Kosoko Jackson. 2022. 326p. Sourcebooks Fire, $18.99 (9781728239088). Gr. 9-12.

Teen journalist Jamal Lawson is catapulted into a living nightmare when he is covering protests of police brutality when the city of Baltimore is encased in an impenetrable dome by corrupt city officials.

These Deadly Games. By Diana Urban. 2022. 404p. Wednesday Books, $18.99 (9781250797193). Gr. 9-12.

Crystal Donovan's laser focus on her team's upcoming Mortal Dusk tournament is shattered as she must choose between the tournament and completing tasks given by an anonymous stranger that have increasingly deadly consequences for her team and her family.

This Golden State. By Marit Weisenberg. 2022. 384p. Flatiron Books, $18.99 (9781250786272). Gr. 8-12.

Poppy and her family have been living on the run and following a set of strict rules to keep them “safe” for as long as she can remember. When they move to California and Poppy takes a DNA test she inadvertently discovers the truth about her family’s paranoia.

This Might Get Awkward. By Kara McDowell. 2022. 319p. Scholastic Press, 17.99 (9781338746235). Gr. 7-10.

Gemma Wells is prepared to spend a boring summer alone.  All that changes when she rescues the super popular (and her secret crush) Beau Booker. As Beau lies comatose in the hospital, Gemma discovers that she may just be falling for his older brother, Griff.

TJ Powar Has Something to Prove. By Jesmeen Deo. 2022. 359p. Viking, $17.99 (9780593403396). Gr. 9-12.

In response to an ugly meme targeting her cousin, debate star TJ Powar gives up hair removal to prove she can be hairy and beautiful.

Trigger. By N. Griffin. 2022. 244p. Atheneum, $18.99 (9781533487178). Gr.10-12.

Didi lives in isolation and off-the grid with a demanding father who expects her to be perfect in chess competitions and in shocking games of survival in which she is pitted against older men.

*Two Truths and a Lie. By April Henry. 2022. 273p. Little, Brown and Company, $17.99 (9780316323338). Gr. 9-12.

When a high school acting group gets trapped in a creepy motel during a blizzard, what starts as a silly game of two truths and a lie quickly turns deadly.

Vinyl Moon. By Mahogany L. Browne. 2022. 166p. Crown, $18.99 (9780593176436). Gr. 9-12.

Angel has just moved to Brooklyn to try and escape a violent event with her ex-boyfriend. Searching for a way forward, she finds solace in a group of young Black women who are willing to share their pains and dreams with her.

Well, That Was Unexpected. By Jesse Sutano. 2022. 406p. Delacorte Press, $18.99 (9780593433973). Gr. 9-12.

In this hilarious rom com set in Indonesia, Sharlot and George discover just how awkward it is to be catfished by their own parents, as they embark on a fake relationship that ultimately challenges their assumptions and causes them to question their own paths.

What We Harvest. By Ann Fraistat. 2022. 329p. Delacorte Press, $18.99 (9780593382165). Gr. 9-12.

Wren must uncover her small town's secrets as a blight turns every living creature into rotting, mindless zombies - and she's infected.

When You Get the Chance. By Emma Lord. 2022. 320p. Wednesday Books, $18.99 (9781250783349). Gr. 8-12.

Millie discovers an old online journal written by her single dad and realizes that three of the women he talks about might be her unknown mother. Millie sets out on a series of stunts and schemes to meet the women and find out which one is her mom.

White Smoke. By Tiffany D. Jackson. 2021. 373p. Katherine Tegen Books, $18.99 (9780063029095). Gr. 9-12.

The move to Cedarville is supposed to get Mari away from the scandal of a drug overdose in California, but it turns out that the family’s new home–while free–comes with some malevolent guests who want their home back.

Wrecked. By Heather Henson. 2022. 252p. Atheneum, $18.99 (9781442451056). Gr. 9-12.

As the Wizard's daughter, Miri feels like she can never escape her meth-making father's shadow. Rebuilding motorcycles and her childhood friend, Clay are the only things keeping Miri from running away until Fen shows up.

You'd Be Home Now. By Kathleen Glasgow. 2021. 387p. Delacorte Press, $18.99 (9780525708049). Gr. 9-12.

Emory survived a fatal car crash, but even as she is healing physically and emotionally, her parents make her responsible for her older brother’s recovery from a heroin addiction.

*You'll Be the Death of Me. By Karen M. McManus. 2021. 326p. Delacorte Press, $19.99 (9780593175866). Gr. 8-12.

Estranged friends, Ivy, Mateo, and Cal skip school to relive ‘the best day ever’ from middle school. After finding a dead classmate, they become more than witnesses and realize their former friends have secrets of their own.

Graphic Novel or Illustrated Text

Ain't Burned All the Bright. By Jason Reynolds. Art by Jason Griffin. 2022. 384p. Atheneum, $19.99 (9781534439467). Gr. 7-12.

A mashup of art and text that explores what it means to breathe, to exist, and to move closer to those you love through the eyes of a young Black man.

Batter Royale. By Leisl Adams. Art by Author. 2022. 234p. Amulet Books, $24.99 (9781419750755). Gr. 8-11

17-year-old Rose and her best friend Fred enter a baking competition that tests their relationship and baking skills. With a $500,000 prize at stake, Batter Royale will be no cake walk.

*Button Pusher. By Tyler Page. Art by Author. 2022. 244p. First Second, $21.99 (9781250758347). Gr. 5-8.

Through illustrations and humor, Page recounts his childhood from his ADHD diagnosis to high school graduation using the history and evolution of the neurodivergence to explain in detail this common experience.

Girl on Fire. By Alicia Keys. Art by Brittney Williams. 2022. 215p. Harper Alley, $19.99 (9780063029569). Gr. 8-12.

Lolo Wright discovers she has unexpected superpowers when her brother is accosted and brutalized by a pair of cops in a case of mistaken identity. Her control over her powers grows as she must battle the local drug dealer who wants to recruit her for his own nefarious purposes.

Muhammad Ali. By Gabe Soria. Illustrated by Chris Brunner, Colors by Rico Renzi. 2022. 63p. Penguin Workshop, $7.99 (9780593224625). Gr. 3-6.

Boxing fanatics would argue that the Thrilla in Manila was one of the greatest boxing matches of all time. This abbreviated biography of the fighters, the venue, and the fight's outcome is gorgeously written and illustrated.

Squire. By Sara Alfageeh & Nadia Shammas. Art by Sara Alfageeh. 2022. 302p. Quill Tree Books, $21.99 (9780062945853). Gr. 8-11.

Looked down upon for her Ornu heritage, Aiza’s opportunity for citizenship in the Bayt-Sajji Empire appears when she enlists for squire training. However, the cost of military honor is a dark reality that leaves Aiza calculating what morals are worth sacrificing in the name of duty. 

*Swim Team. By Johnnie Christmas. Art by the Author. 2022. 245p. HarperAlley, $21.99 (9780063056770). Gr. 4-7.

Bree's move to Florida introduces her not only to a group of new friends, but to an opportunity to overcome her fear of swimming in this beautifully written full-color graphic novel.


And We Rise: The Civil Rights Movement in Poems. By Erica Martin. 2022. 153p. Viking, $17.99  (9780593352526). Gr. 9-12.

A poignant and educational collection of poems that chronicle the Civil Rights Movement. Each chapter highlights major events and people from the time.

Code Name Badass: The True Story of Virginia Hall. By Heather Demetrios. 2021. 368p. Atheneum, $19.99 (9781534431874). Gr. 8-12.

Heather Demetrios proves that Virginia "Dindy" Hall was far more than the daughter of wealth and privilege in this rollicking biography that recounts Hall's role in the French resistance during World War II and subsequent contributions to the United States intelligence community.

 Hometown Victory: A Coach’s Story of Football, Fate, and Coming Home. By Keanon Lowe. 2022. 223p. Flatiron Books, $28.99 (9781250807632).

Drawn home to mourn a friend's death by overdose, Keanon Lowe takes a coaching position in his home town of Portland, Oregon. This memoir tells how he inspired a team of young men to overcome their personal challenges to become a winning team in just two years.

In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Story of Its Survivors.  By Doug Stanton and Michael J. Tougias. 2022. 226p. Henry Holt and Company, $19.99 (9781250771322). Gr. 6-10.

When the USS Indianapolis is torpedoed during World War II and sinks, nearly 1,000 sailors are stranded in the ocean facing unimaginable dangers. They have no supplies, get continual blisters from the sun, and then there are the sharks that feed on them while they await rescue.

*Punching Bag. By Rex Ogle. 2021. 207p. Norton Young Readers, $17.95 (9781324016236). Gr. 7-10.

In this autobiographical follow up to his first book, Free Lunch, we follow Rex as he struggles through his teen years in a home full of domestic violence, mental illness, and substance abuse. Imagining his deceased sister as a guardian angel, Rex endeavors to shield his younger brother and survive.