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Best of 2020: Teen

Updated: January 29, 2021

The best books of the year, as selected by Los Angeles Public Library staff. Perfect for holiday gift-giving! More books for young adults are at LAPL Teen Web.


Book cover for All These Monsters
All These Monsters
Tintera, Amy
Call Number: YA

In this series opener, Clara escapes her abusive home and joins a monster-hunting squad that kills scabs, creatures that are destroying the world. This fast-paced book with memorable characters, action sequences, and heart will leave you wanting the next in the series—immediately.

Book cover for Aurora Burning
Aurora Burning
Kaufman, Amie
Call Number: YA

Screaming for more! OMG! This sequel is as good as it gets. The ending is definitely not what I expected. The beginning was a little slow but boy does the middle and end make up for it! KAL!!!!!

Book cover for Cemetery Boys
Cemetery Boys
Thomas, Aiden
Call Number: e-Book

Yadriel wants to prove to his family that he is a real brujo. He intends to summon the spirit of his cousin who had just recently passed away, but instead summons the spirit of Julian Diaz, resident bad boy. Yadriel and Julian are stuck together while they solve the mystery of what happened to Julian. Set in East L.A., in the days celebrating Dia de los Muertos, the novel is full of magic and mystery, but it is also about family and Latinx traditions, love and acceptance.

Book cover for Clap When You Land
Clap When You Land
Acevedo, Elizabeth
Call Number: YA

A captivating read, written in verse. This story is about loss, grief, shame, family secrets, resentments, regrets, but also about hope and love. This marvelous book masterfully moves between the stories of Yahaira, who lives in NYC, and Camino, who lives in the Dominican Republic, as they learn about the death of their father, about each other's existence, and how they come to trust  and love each other. A real-life tragic accident that devastated the Dominican community, both in the US and the island, is the backdrop of this story.

Book cover for Date Me, Bryson Keller
Date Me, Bryson Keller
Van Whye, Kevin
Call Number: YA

Thanks to a dare made at a high school party, popular jock Bryson Keller has to date ten people for one school week each, whoever asks him out first on each Monday. On the ninth week, in a fit of pique, closeted senior Kai Sheridan blurts out an invitation for a date. Unwilling to lose the dare, Bryson accepts, but neither teen is prepared for what their one-week relationship has in store.

Book cover for Felix ever after
Felix ever after
Callender, Kacen
Call Number: YA

Felix gets more than he bargained for when he gets to know the boy he thinks is responsible for a cruel act, and his best friend becomes something more than his friend. Can he find his happily ever after?

Book cover for Fighting words
Fighting words
Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker
Call Number: YA

A middle grade YA novel about 10-year-old Della, who has always had sister Suki to protect her, especially that one fateful night with her mother’s boyfriend, but who was looking out for Suki? Two sisters have to find their voices in trauma, in order to come out the other side.

Book cover for A game of fox & squirrels
A game of fox & squirrels
Reese, Jenn
Call Number: YA

After Sam is removed from her abusive home and sent to live with an aunt in rural Oregon, all she wants is for things to go back to the way they were. But when she agrees to undertake a quest for the mischievous fox Ashander, she's forced to confront the wounds from her past and the possibilities for her future. This tender and heartbreaking urban fantasy novel shines a light on the intricacies of abuse and trauma.

Book cover for Hard wired
Hard wired
Vlahos, Len

An interesting Science Fiction book that explores Artificial Intelligence and makes us question what it means to be human.

Book cover for The Inheritance Games
The Inheritance Games
Barnes, Jennifer
Call Number: YA

A fun YA fantasy mystery read! A combination of Knives Out and Cinderella. In order for the protagonist to get the inheritance she must play the game. Full of twists, puzzles, and secrets! Very enjoyable.

Book cover for Legendborn
Deonn, Tracy
Call Number: YA

Excellently paced novel about a teen who, while mourning her mother’s death, stumbles into the reality of magic and discovers how it ties into her life. Full of mystery, suspense, romance and friendship, the start of this series will have you turning the pages well into the night.

Book cover for The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea
Tokuda-Hall, Maggie
Call Number: YA

A debut novel that spins a tale of adventure, betrayal, magic and romance, with diverse and inclusive characters, a wide range of ages, genders and ethnic backgrounds. The novel has a sense of wonder and discovery, whether it is regarding the world around us or who we are as individuals. It is a rousing swashbuckling romance with just the right amount of magic and wonder.

Book cover for A Phoenix First Must Burn
A Phoenix First Must Burn
Caldwell, Patrice (editor)
Call Number: YA

A beautiful short story collection, with a myriad of genres represented, including historical fiction, realistic, science fiction, fantasy with magic, mermaids, vampires and more. You’ll find many new favorites among these stories full of love and strength.

Book cover for Raybearer
Ifueko, Jordan
Call Number: YA

A wonderful debut YA novel that blends Nigerian folklore with other influences to create a rich, brilliant, fantasy world. The world building was extraordinary. Once I picked up the book I couldn't put it down until the end.

Book cover for Return of the thief : a Queen's thief novel
Return of the thief : a Queen's thief novel
Turner, Megan Whalen
Call Number: YA

This is one of the most satisfying series finales ever created, hands down. Eugenides, the titular Thief, reaches new heights of intelligence, craftiness, and misdirection as he struggles to bring three formerly warring kingdoms together to defeat a common foe, while not insulting the gods, who have long taken an interest in him. Featuring epic battles, the return of many characters, and elephants, this is a fantastic ending to a great series!

Book cover for A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin
Brown, Roseanne A.
Call Number: YA

This is an action packed first book in a series based on African mythology. It involves Malik, who escaped his dangerous home with his sisters, hoping for a new life, and Karina, the land’s princess, who is grieving for her mother and apprehensive about her new role.

Book cover for They Went Left
They Went Left
Hesse, Monica
Call Number: YA

World War II has just ended and concentration camps have been liberated. 18-year-old Zofia is free but traumatized and malnourished, without a home, money, possessions or family. She is determined to find her missing brother and make a new life for herself. This is a beautifully written historical novel that portrays a young woman who comes to terms with the past, her scars and slowly picks up the pieces of her shattered life.

Book cover for This Light Between Us: A Novel of World War II
This Light Between Us: A Novel of World War II
Fukuda, Andrew Xia
Call Number: YA

In 1935, ten-year-old Alex Maki is not pleased when he has to become pen pals with Charlie Levy of Paris, France, who turns out to be a girl. Even though they have a rocky start, the letters continue as their friendship grows, and they share their hopes, dreams and fears. The attack on Pearl Harbor happens, and teenage Alex, and his family are sent to the Japanese concentration camps, while Charlie faces the horrors of the Holocaust. Their friendship and love do not abate, and nothing can take away the light between them.

Book cover for Three Things I Know Are True
Three Things I Know Are True
Culley, Betty
Call Number: YA

Beautifully written novel in verse about friends divided in the aftermath of an accidental shooting. Will their wounds heal enough to embrace each other again?

Book cover for You Should See Me in a Crown
You Should See Me in a Crown
Johnson, Leah
Call Number: YA

Liz, a shy, black lesbian living in a very white midwestern community, finds her dreams shattered when her financial aid doesn’t come through for her dream college. She pursues her school scholarship, but must run for prom queen to get it, and must conquer her fears to pave the way for her dreams to become a reality.