Grab your backpacks and pencil cases! Back-to-school season is upon us and whether you’re weeks away from heading back to class or you have a month of summer adventures left, finding the perfect book to take with you is a must! From hallway drama (and mysteries!) to impossible trips, these books hit the sweet spot for stories on the edge of fall.
When It All Syncs Up by Maya Ameyaw
“Ballet is Aisha’s life. So when she’s denied yet another lead at her elite academy because she doesn’t “look” the part, she knows something has to change–the constant discrimination is harming her mental health. Switching to her best friend Neil’s art school seems like the perfect plan at first. But she soon discovers racism and bullying are entrenched in the ballet program here, too, and there’s a new, troubling distance between her and Neil. And as past traumas surface, pressure from friends and family, a new romance, and questions about her dance career threaten to overwhelm her. There’s no choreography to follow–for high school or for healing. Aisha will have to find the strength within herself–and place her trust in others–to make her next move.”
Clementine and Danny Save the World (And Each Other) by Livia BlackBurne
“Clementine Chan believes in the power of the written word. Under the pseudonym Hibiscus, she runs a popular blog reviewing tea shops and discussing larger issues within her Chinatown community. She has a loyal, kind following, save for this one sour grape named BobaBoy888.
Danny Mok is allergic to change, and the gentrification seeping into Chinatown breaks his heart. He channels his frustration into his internet alter ego, BobaBoy888, bickering with local blogger Hibiscus over all things Chinatown and tea.
When a major corporation reveals plans that threaten to shut down the Mok’s beloved tea shop, Clementine and Danny find themselves working together in real life to save this community they both love. But as they fall hard for this cause—and each other—they have no clue that their online personas have been fighting for years.”
Immortal Longings by Chloe Gong
“Every year, thousands in the kingdom of Talin will flock to its capital twin cities, San-Er, where the palace hosts a set of games. For those confident enough in their ability to jump between bodies, competitors across San-Er fight to the death to win unimaginable riches.
Princess Calla Tuoleimi lurks in hiding. Five years ago, a massacre killed her parents and left the palace of Er empty…and she was the one who did it. Before King Kasa’s forces in San can catch her, she plans to finish the job and bring down the monarchy. Her reclusive uncle always greets the victor of the games, so if she wins, she gets her opportunity at last to kill him.
Enter Anton Makusa, an exiled aristocrat. His childhood love has lain in a coma since they were both ousted from the palace, and he’s deep in debt trying to keep her alive. Thankfully, he’s one of the best jumpers in the kingdom, flitting from body to body at will. His last chance at saving her is entering the games and winning.
Calla finds both an unexpected alliance with Anton and help from King Kasa’s adopted son, August, who wants to mend Talin’s ills. But the three of them have very different goals, even as Calla and Anton’s partnership spirals into something all-consuming. Before the games close, Calla must decide what she’s playing for—her lover or her kingdom.”
The St. Ambrose School Girls by Jessica Ward
“When Sarah Taylor arrives at the exclusive St. Ambrose School, she’s carrying more baggage than just what fits in her suitcase. She knows she’s not like the other girls—if the shabby, all-black, non-designer clothes don’t give that away, the bottle of lithium hidden in her desk drawer sure does.
St. Ambrose’s queen bee, Greta Stanhope, picks Sarah as a target from day one and the most popular, powerful, horrible girl at school is relentless in making sure Sarah knows what the pecking order is. Thankfully, Sarah makes an ally out of her roommate Ellen “Strots” Strotsberry, a cigarette-huffing, devil-may-care athlete who takes no bullshit. Also down the hall is Nick Hollis, the devastatingly handsome RA, and the object of more than one St. Ambrose student’s fantasies. Between Strots and Nick, Sarah hopes she can make it through the semester, dealing with not only her schoolwork and a recent bipolar diagnosis, but Greta’s increasingly malicious pranks.
Sarah is determined not to give Greta the satisfaction of breaking her. But when scandal unfolds, and someone ends up dead, her world threatens to unravel in ways she could never have imagined. The St. Ambrose School for Girls is a dangerous, delicious, twisty coming-of-age tale that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.”
I’m Not Here to Make Friends by Andrew Yang
“When Sabine Zhang is picked for Hotel California, a teen reality show with an all-Asian cast, she jumps at the opportunity. As one of few Asians at her high school in the Midwest, she’s always felt as if she was playing a side character in someone else’s story. But on this show, she’ll finally have a chance to step into the spotlight.
All Yoona Bae wants is to get away. The girls at church think she’s mean, her mom thinks she’s a troublemaker, and she’s tired of fighting against her unearned bad reputation. So when she’s invited to appear on Hotel California, Yoona sees it as an opportunity to chill out, make some friends, maybe even get a tan.
But life on the show isn’t all sunshine and self-actualization. The producers want drama at all costs, even if it means pitting Sabine and Yoona against each other. With the season finale looming, can the girls figure out a peaceful way forward, before they lose control of their own narratives?”