Recommended YA books, events & news for February
This month we have a wonderful selection of YA books to fall in love with: stories about young women pushing back against restrictions, young men pondering strength and masculinity, and stark truths about immigrant experiences in Australia.
Find our February picks for kids books here.
YA BOOK OF THE MONTH
The Boy from the Mish by Gary Lonesborough
It’s a hot summer, and life’s going all right for Jackson and his family on the Mish, even though Jackson has just broken up with his girlfriend. Like always, Jackson’s Aunty and cousins visit from Sydney, but this time they also bring Tomas, who has just spent time in juvenile detention. Jackson is expected to share his room and show Tomas around, and as the two boys grow closer, a tender and tentative relationship forms between them.
Debut author Lonesborough is a young Yuin man, and The Boy from the Mish is an Own-Voices story that’s authentic, funny, honest and beautifully written. Our reviewer Nina highly recommends this novel, saying: ‘It’s the kind of gentle, tender romance that will make your heart swell, and leave you thinking about Jackson and Tomas long after you’ve finished.’ You can read her review here.
For ages 14 and up.
FIVE YA BOOKS TO READ THIS MONTH
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
Seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter’s dad is in prison, his mom works two jobs, and Maverick reluctantly sells drugs for the King Lords to help make ends meet. But when a paternity test returns a surprise result, Maverick is catapulted into instant fatherhood. Trying to leave gang life behind, Maverick juggles school, a part-time job and baby Seven.
This prequel to the award-winning The Hate U Give is a stunning stand- alone novel about manhood, poverty, race and responsibility. Our reviewer Joe describes Maverick as ‘a brilliant protagonist who tells his story with an intensely expressive and infectiously likeable voice, all while facing the world with a kindness and honesty that is inspiring to see in a male hero.’ You can read his full review here.
For ages 14 and up.
Tiger Daughter by Rebecca Lim
Wen Zhou is the daughter and only child of Chinese immigrants whose move to the lucky country has proven to be not so lucky. Wen and her friend, Henry Xiao - whose mum and dad are also poor immigrants - both dream of escape from their unhappy circumstances, and they form a plan to sit an entrance exam to a selective high school far from home. But when tragedy strikes, it will take all of Wen’s resilience and resourcefulness to get herself and Henry through the storm that follows.
Our reviewer Xiao-Xiao was impressed by this ‘powerful Own-Voices story about perseverance and determination that will completely and utterly win over readers’ hearts.’ You can read her full review here.
For ages 11 and up.
Love is a Revolution by Renee Watson
When Nala reluctantly agrees to attend an open mic night for her cousin Imani’s birthday, she finds herself falling in instant love with Tye Brown, the socially-conscious MC. In order to impress him, Nala tells a few tiny lies that make her look more community-minded than she really is. As they spend more time together though, some of those lies get harder to keep up. Nala grapples with self-acceptance and growing family tensions as she tries to keep her first relationship afloat.
I reviewed this excellent novel about community, family and radical self-love, describing it as ‘an immersive and uplifting read, depicting multi-dimensional teenagers with passions, doubts, fears and dreams.’ You can read my full review here.
For ages 13 and up.
All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O'Donoghue
Maeve Chambers doesn’t think she has much going for her. She feels inadequate at home and at school, and she also managed to drive away her best friend Lily a year ago. But when she finds an old pack of tarot cards at school, Maeve discovers her talent for giving scarily accurate readings to the other students. Things are looking up - until she does a reading for Lily and draws a mysterious card, The Housekeeper. Two days later, Lily disappears. Can Maeve, her new friend Fiona and Lily’s brother Roe find her?
Our reviewer Claire admired this jam-packed paranormal fantasy that creates ‘a world of magic and horror set against an Irish town where new ideas are attempting to break free from traditional religious ideals.’ You can read her full review here.
For ages 14 and up.
Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez
Argentinian teenager Camila Hassan lives a double life. At home she is a careful daughter, living with her narrow-minded mother and abusive father. On the futbol field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila dreams of getting a scholarship to a North American university. But her old flame Diego is back in town, and Camila feels torn between her passion for futbol, her love for Diego and the restrictions placed upon her by her father and society.
Our reviewer Kim speaks highly of this novel about a determined and passionate young woman: ‘Inspirational and empowering, Yamile Saied Mendez has given Camilla a voice that is strong and true.’ You can read her full review here.
For ages 12 and up.
APPLICATIONS ARE OPEN FOR THE READINGS TEEN ADVISORY BOARD
We’re currently looking for a new intake of teenagers (aged 14–19) to join our Teen Advisory Board, starting in March 2021 and running until Feb 2022.
The board is a volunteer group of teenagers who meet monthly to discuss young adult books, learn about the book industry, talk with authors, publishers and book industry experts, write reviews, provide Readings staff with feedback on a range of topics, and more. This year, the board will be run online via Zoom, and we welcome applications from teenagers from anywhere in Australia. The deadline for applying is 5pm, Wednesday 24 February, 2021, and you can find everything you need to know here.
NEWS & EVENTS
We’re delighted to be hosting a conversation this Thursday 11 February 2021 at 8pm, between acclaimed writers Rebecca Lim and Alice Pung. They’ll chat about Lim’s new novel Tiger Daughter – a wonderfully compelling and authentic upper middle-grade/lower YA fiction about growing up Asian in Australia. This event is online and ticket entry is $5 per person, which is redeemable off purchase of the book when buying online from the Readings website. You can find all the details here.
On Thursday 25 February 2021 at 8pm we have a wonderful evening planned with bestselling author, teacher and Stonewall ambassador Juno Dawson. Dawson will be in-conversation with fellow award-winning YA author, Alison Evans. Dawson’s What’s the T? offers uncensored advice on coming out, sex, and relationships with her trademark humour and lightness of touch. This event is online and ticket entry is $5 per person, which is redeemable off purchase of the book when buying online from the Readings website. You can find all the details here.
The winners of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2021 were recently announced. The Writing for Young Adults category was won by Cath Moore, for her wonderful debut novel, Metal Fish, Falling Snow. Congratulations Cath!
It’s a new year, with plenty of new YA books to add to your to-be-read piles. We recently put together some recommended summer reads for teens, as well as our suggestions for kick-starting your YA book club reading lists. If you’re keen to know what’s in store for the rest of the year, we also rounded up our most anticipated kids and YA books of 2021.