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Best of 2022: Teen

Updated: February 7, 2023

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

Book cover for All My Rage
All My Rage
Tahir, Sabaa
Call Number: YA

Set in a small town, teens Salahudin and Noor come to terms with their personal lives, despite having a huge fight that could end their friendship. At the heart of the novel are a boy whose family sought out the American Dream, a girl who is trying to escape the town she grew up in, and a young woman whose hopes for the future lead to life-changing choices. It's a hard-hitting, beautifully told novel of family, rage, and forgiveness.

Book cover for Ballad & Dagger
Ballad & Dagger
Older, Daniel José
Call Number: YA

Meet Mateo, an exquisite piano player whose community of pirates, Cuban Santeros and Sephardic Jews, gather for an annual party where he learns about his place amidst an ancient battle. Will he know who to trust to make it out alive after seeing a murder take place? 

Book cover for Boys of The Beast
Boys of The Beast
Zepeda, Monica
Call Number: YA

Embark on a road trip with three cousins as they travel from Oregon to New Mexico. Three strangers brought together by blood and circumstance find paths towards one another in this heartwarming and beautiful realistic read.

Book cover for Cold
Tamaki, Mariko
Call Number: YA

A slim novel about a recent ghost and a living girl. Georgia did not know the boy, but can't stop thinking about his death. Maybe because they were in the same town, maybe because they're both queer, but she has to find out more. Where will this story lead?

Book cover for Confessions of an alleged good girl
Confessions of an alleged good girl
Goffney, Joya
Call Number: YA

Monique, a preacher's daughter, has no one to talk to when she realizes she physically can't have sex. After her boyfriend breaks up with her, she tries to deal with her problem. With the help of friends, they secretly do some research to find out more about their bodies, and also discovers what good relationships look like.

Book cover for Dead flip
Dead flip
Farizan, Sara, 1984-
Call Number: YA

When one of three best friends disappears, the other two stop speaking. Five years later, in 1992, Cori and Maz are upperclassmen in high school and their worlds are apart, but their friend reappears, the same age he was when he disappeared. What's happened? What evil lurks under their happiness? This is an excellent step back into the 1990s.

Book cover for The first to die at the end
The first to die at the end
Silvera, Adam, 1990-
Call Number: YA

In this prequel to They Both Die at the End, readers get a peek into the origins of Deathcast and the first person to receive notification about who will die in the next 24 hours. Getting the call won't stop two boys from enjoying the best night of their lives and possibly falling in love. Have tissues close by...

Book cover for Frendo Lives
Frendo Lives
Cesare, Adam

In this sequel, the survivors of the Kettle Springs Massacre are trying to move on with their lives, but the media frenzy won't allow that. Quinn, Rust, and Cole must return to Kettle Springs and face their biggest fears, and even more murderous clowns. Cesare delivers a spine-chilling follow up to Clown in a Cornfield, that is also a sharp satire on conspiracy theories and modern media. 

Book cover for Gallant
Schwab, Victoria
Call Number: YA

This is a story about opposites, extremes, and the gray zones that are in between: autonomy and dependence; solitude and family; hope and despair; freedom and captivity; life and death. The tone is decidedly dark, but even in the darkest places it is possible to find happiness, love and belonging. Published as a YA novel, its protagonists and themes will appeal directly to teens, but also appeal to adults. Schwab joins the ranks of writers like Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman, who have written fiction that is targeted at children, but will appeal, and speak to, older readers as well.  

Book cover for Hell Followed With Us
Hell Followed With Us
White, Andrew Joseph
Call Number: YA

In this intense, violent pandemic tale, Benji, a transgender boy, has run from the fundamentalist cult that laid waste to the land. Finding a safe haven at the local LGBTQ+ Center does end his problems. He is still being chased by monsters and the bioweapon they infected him with is rearing its head. Will he be able to save those he loves before it's too late?

Book cover for High spirits : short stories on Dominican diaspora
High spirits : short stories on Dominican diaspora
Gomera-Tavarez, Camille
Call Number: YA

This beautifully written slim novel holds eleven short stories that include one family and many other generations. Dealing with the past and the present, identity and finding oneself, the extremely realistic characters will stay with you long after the last story.

Book cover for The Honeys
The Honeys
La Sala, Ryan

In the wake of his twin sister Caroline's horrific death, Mars, a genderfluid teen, embarks on a summer at the prestigious Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy in search of answers. Despite the camp's genteel façade, old-fashioned gender roles and toxic masculinity alienate Mars, who finds some comfort in the company of Caroline's old friends, the Honeys. Named for the beehives they tend, the Honeys are popular, beautiful, and somewhat terrifying. They may have ancient secrets and maybe a role in Caroline's death.

Book cover for I must betray you
I must betray you
Sepetys, Ruta
Call Number: YA

Delve into Romania in1989 and walk alongside Cristian as he navigates communism, informers and the quest for freedom while falling in love and fighting for his family. 

Book cover for The lost Dreamer
The lost Dreamer
Huerta, Lizz
Call Number: YA

In this epic world-building novel, a Dreamer named Indir can walk among dreams but also has to fight for her home and her people. In alternating chapters, Saya, an informally trained Dreamer, finds out truths about her past that rock her to her core. This is the first in what promises to be a fantastic series.

Book cover for The Name She Gave Me
The Name She Gave Me
Culley, Betty
Call Number: YA

A beautiful novel-in-verse about an adoptee, Rynn, trying to come to terms with her abusive mother and finding her family roots. Searching for her birth mother, she finds a younger sister who is in foster care. Yearning to make a connection she sets off a chain of events that will have the reader rooting for Rynn at every turn.

Book cover for Only a Monster
Only a Monster
Len, Vanessa
Call Number: YA

An exciting and insightful story of romance, self-discovery, and adventure, with a culture inhabited by people who call themselves monsters because of the source of their power. The monsters and their power are held in check by strict rules and dire consequences for deviations. The novel is populated with a  wonderfully diverse cast of characters, few of which are who they seem. This novel is the first in a planned trilogy.

Book cover for Queen of the tiles
Queen of the tiles
Hanna Alkaf
Call Number: YA

An intriguing mystery set in the world of Scrabble competitions. Najwa walks into the year's championship games still healing from her best friend's death during last year's games. When her friend's Instagram starts posting messages, Najwa must work with those she may not trust to get to the bottom of it all.

Book cover for The Red Palace
The Red Palace
Hur, June
Call Number: YA

Immerse yourself in Korea, 1758 where Hyeon works as a palace nurse. She wants to do her job, but when four women are horribly murdered and her mentor is jailed, Hyeon must find out what really happened. Teaming up with Eojin, a young policeman who knows the culprit is still out there, they must discover who is hiding a killer.

Book cover for The road to after
The road to after
Lowell, Rebekah
Call Number: YA

Influenced by the author's life, in this short novel-in-verse we meet Lacey, her little sister and mom as they are rescued by grandparents, from an abusive father. After a life of rules and fear Lacey finds it hard to let go, but she slowly takes pleasure in her surroundings and her new life.

Book cover for Rust in the Root
Rust in the Root
Ireland, Justina
Call Number: YA

This riveting historical fiction meets fantasy, set in 1937, where there are two  groups in  America:  those who work magic and are often people of color; those who do not work magic and are often members of the KKK. Laura, a talented mage from a small town, lands an apprenticeship at the Bureau of the Arcane’s Conservation Corps in order to work magic to fix Blights. She finds more than she has bargained for, which might cost her her life.

Book cover for Serwa Boateng's guide to vampire hunting
Serwa Boateng's guide to vampire hunting
Brown, Roseanne A.
Call Number: YA

Serwa knows that adze take the shape of fireflies and are really vampires from Southeastern Ghana. She comes from a family of hunters, and has been left at her aunt’s to be safe. However, things that are not quite right in her new community. Will she be able to be a "normal girl," or will she have to put her life in danger to save others?

Book cover for She Gets the Girl
She Gets the Girl
Lippincott, Rachael
Call Number: YA

In this hate-to-love romantic comedy, Alex Blackwood and Molly Parker concoct a plan for each of them to get the girl of their dreams. By helping Molly gain enough confidence to talk to her crush, Alex will prove to her ex-girlfriend that Alex is capable of making friends, not just flirting. Alex and Molly embark on a five-step plan to each get their girl, but as they spend more time together, they begin to wonder if they are going after the wrong girl.

Book cover for The stars between us
The stars between us
Terrill, Cristin
Call Number: YA

This romantic mystery is set in a world where the poor and the rich live on different planets. Vika gets a chance to marry a rich stranger. Before she can decide if she's willing to sacrifice her self-respect, the stranger dies in a curious explosion. Living among the rich she must figure out if someone is targeting the heirs, or she might be the next victim.


Book cover for Survive the Dome
Survive the Dome
Jackson, Kosoko
Call Number: YA

Jamal, an aspiring journalist and photographer, heads to a Baltimore rally that's protesting police brutality. Suddenly a dome descends on the rally, which results in chaos and a military shutdown. Not knowing where to go, Jamal meets Marco and Catherine. Together, they must combat the city, the police and the military if they hope to get out of the dome alive.


Book cover for Together We Burn
Together We Burn
Ibañez, Isabel
Call Number: YA

Zarela is a dancer and part of a family of the most famous Dragonador in Hispalia. Tragedy strikes during an anniversary show and her father is at the brink of death. Facing punishment, mysteries and lies, Zarela must take his place but will need help in doing so. This is an edge of your seat fantasy-romantic-mystery.


Book cover for Travelers along the way : a Robin Hood remix
Travelers along the way : a Robin Hood remix
Safi, Aminah Mae
Call Number: YA

Looking for a remix of a classic? In this exciting adventure, Robin Hood is Rahma al-Hiud who follows her sister on the Third Crusade to Jerusalem in1192. Ending up with a group of travelers they must fight for their lives and foil the queen so they'll be able to help those around them, and themselves.

Book cover for Wash Day Diaries
Wash Day Diaries
Rowser, Jamila
Call Number: 741.5 R885

This vibrant novel is an engrossing read on Black sisterhood and the personal experience of Black hair care told through the shared ups and downs of Kim and her friends. The novel is both touching and funny, with beautiful illustrations.


Book cover for The Weight of Blood
The Weight of Blood
Jackson, Tiffany D.

In an homage to King's The Shining, this heart-pounding novel deals with a biracial teen and how she comes to terms with learning she's black, her family, and more, as the racially divided town hosts their first integrated prom.