When we see ourselves reflected in stories, those characters and that world truly resonate with us. As a Latina Puerto Rican myself, I love diving into stories with diverse and unique characters that make us view the world in a broader manner. For me, it’s not just about the characters, but it’s also about the authors that dream up the stories and represent themselves or their knowledge of a different culture, showing up a different view of the world.
As an avid reader of young adult books, it is refreshing for me to read and immerse myself in these stories and worlds. From contemporary to even fantasy, there seems to be a great selection of books and stories that we can dig into and enjoy recently.
With that said, I wanted to share with all of you eight exciting young adult books that will be hitting bookstores in late spring, April and May of 2022. Full of these types of engaging tales, these are books that will capture your attention and heart and find a nice place in your bookshelf at the same time.
So, set aside some space in your TBR — even though I know it’s probably toppling over — and get ready for a serious and diversely fun book-buying spree!
K-Pop Revolution by Stephan Lee (April 5)
In the stunning sequel to the fantastic K-Pop Confidential, we get a continuation for a story readers adored.
The book follows Candace, who thought her life would slow down a bit after finally getting through the competitive experience of landing a coveted spot and debuting in a K-pop band. Boy, was she wrong. Now, not only is the company that helped her judging her every move, but her life is completely and utterly changed as she deals with overly excited fans, flashing cameras, and the bright glare of super-stardom. Her group, The Girls, is catching everyone’s attention, and so is her super-famous boyfriend, YoungBae. Everything takes a turn for the worse when a rival girl group comes into the K-pop scene, and she becomes the target of a very tough industry that doesn’t always protect their performers, as well as ruthless online bullies tracking her every move. Can she keep it up in this wild pop-star world? Read on to find out!
Lee is a fantastic author, and this fun and engaging sequel is a blast. If you have not picked up K-Pop Confidential yet, what are you waiting for? Do it ASAP and get ready for this release!
My Sister’s Big Fat Indian Wedding by Sajni Patel (April 19)
Who doesn’t love a story about a wedding? How about a huge Indian wedding, at that? Sign me up for this one!
Zurika Damani loves music, her violin, and hip-hop tunes. She is devastated when Juilliard rejects her and realizes that her chance at ever getting accepted is to be a part of a competition, where she would be judged by a selection of top college scouts. The only issue is that the competition lands at the same time that her sister’s wedding, a big one, is taking place in India. Oh, and throw in the groom’s South African cousin Naveen, a vocalist that loves to show-off his skills, who is also focused on taking the top spot in the same contest that Zurika is trying to shine at. Oh, and her mom is trying to get her to like Naveen. Not gonna happen, right? Can she make it and not ruin her sister’s big day? We shall see!
This looks like a fantastic, funny, and touching romantic comedy. I cannot wait to dig into it!
Flirting with Fate by J.C. Cervantes (April 19)
This completely adorable young adult romance will capture your heart and quickly run away with it.
The story follows Ava Granados, who feels guilty about not being able to visit her Nana’s deathbed due to a car accident. The accident was thanks to a massive rainfall, and it also made her meet a mysterious and handsome young man. While she is extremely sad she missed her, she is also frustrated that she missed her Nana’s mystical blessing, a tradition that has been passed on from generation to generation in her family. One day, Nana’s ghost appears to her and says that she did send her blessing, but it landed on the mysterious boy that she collided with that day instead. Now, she must make friends with the guy she got into the accident with and try to retrieve Nana’s missed blessing. But will she find love instead and let go of the reasons why she guards her heart from romance? We must read to find out.
I am extremely excited to have this book in my hands and cannot wait to dive into what this magical story about family and tradition, with some paranormal elements to boot.
Café con Lychee by Emery Lee (May 10)
From the author of Meet Cute Diary lands a sweet romantic comedy full of heart.
The book follows foodie rivals Theo Mori and Gabriel Moreno, who have always had a battle between each other due to competing restaurants, because their parents own an Asian American café and a Puerto Rican bakery in Vermont, and both families do not get along at all. Gabi is afraid to come out as gay, and he sees this restaurant as the only way he can please his parents and have a future. One day, both their lives change when a new fusion café opens up and threatens to lure away their customers. All of a sudden, Theo and Gabi are thrown into a situation where they must join forces, and they decide to create together a secret bakery to try to win back their fans. Will their mutual hate lead to love, as they realize they just might have feelings for each other?
I enjoyed Emery Lee’s first novel, so I am excited to dig into this story, which seems to have the perfect rivals to lovers vibe going on between its pages.
The Noh Family by Grace Shim (May 3)
This novel by a debut Korean American author looks like an amazing treat!
Chloe Kang is a teen living in Oklahoma with her mother. She relishes her life as an only child, plus her dad passed away years ago in Seoul, and her mom is an orphan. So, when her friends gift her a DNA test for giggles, she doesn’t think much of it. That is until the results come back, and it turns out that she has a whole extended family coming from her deceased dad’s side who own a top-notch department store where they live in Korea — and they are also extremely wealthy. Now, Chloe is suddenly thrown into a whirlwind of an experience, as she decides to fly over there for two weeks. The family are excited to meet her, but her mom is not thrilled with the idea of her meeting the Noh family. As Chloe finds herself in luxurious adventures in Seoul with a fancy new friend called Miso Dan, who also has connections with her mom back home, she realizes maybe meeting them is not such a great idea after all.
This seems like an exciting adventure of a novel, filled with twisty family secrets and drama as it transports us to Korea.
The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes (May 17)
I spent 6th grade in a Catholic school in Puerto Rico, and I still remember the strict uniforms and even stricter curriculum. This story seems like a blast, covering what it’s like navigating this type of environment as a queer Mexican American gal.
In the story, 16-year-old Yamilet Flores is a stylish queer girl trying to keep herself undercover in her high-end Catholic school, full of mostly white students. She does not want to fall in love, especially after being outed by her crush and ex-bestie before transferring to the school. All she truly wants at the moment is to make her mother proud of her and to keep her brother out of trouble. Problem is, acting hetero becomes hard when Bo, the only openly queer girl at school, attracts her with her beauty, smarts, and all-around perfection. Also, her mom does not know she’s gay, and she’s afraid of word spreading and her mom finding out about her. So she decides to keep her feelings and queerness quiet for now — but it becomes harder and harder every day. What can she do now?
This book promises some hilarious, heartfelt, and realistic moments, and I am all into picking up a copy when it hits the bookish world.
Together We Burn by Isabel Ibañez (May 31)
Hear me out. You need this romantic fantasy in your life as soon as it comes out. I had a chance to dig into an advanced copy recently, and the author of Woven in Moonlight outdid herself with this story.
Inspired by Medieval Spain times, we follows the ethereal and talented Zarela Zalvidar, an 18-year old flamenco dancer who also holds an important title as the daughter of the most famous Dragonador in Hispalia. Dragonadors fight in vast arenas, and one will someday be hers. People flock from far away to see her father battle it out with dragons. Yet, when one celebratory show goes horribly wrong, Zarela’s life is changed in a quick instant. Enter the hot and endearing Arturo Díaz de Montserrat, a fierce Dragonador himself, who does not want to help Zarela learn to be a Dragonadora herself. The issue is, Zarela needs to learn from him in order to keep her hefty inheritance, at a time that the Dragon Guild is eager to swoop in and take everything away from her. She won’t take his rejection as an answer, and that’s when the story takes off into a slow burn and engaging tale that you will not be able to put down.
Full of rich drama, great storytelling and writing, as well as powerful characters, this story will capture your attention with its originality and sweeping imagery. Do pick it up ASAP when it is released in bookstores.
Kings of B’More by R. Eric Thomas (May 31)
This coming-of-age story, featuring two close Black queer besties going on an adventure in Baltimore, will capture your heart.
I was lucky to get an ARC for this novel, and I highly recommend it for all of you! It tells the tale of Harrison and his best friend, Linus, who are completely inseparable. They both even have the same summer job, and are nervous about starting 11th grade in the Fall, a school year that they feel is a little bit too close to graduation and upcoming adulthood. Harrison is devastated when Linus invites Harrison to their favorite hangout spot that looks over the city and tells him he’s actually moving away from Baltimore in a week. So, they decide to go on a great adventure and take a small road trip, where they decide to do things they’ve feared at times or have always wanted to do. From attending a rooftop party, to their first Pride celebration, it’s a touching story of friendship.
We all have that friend that is super close to us and we remember forever, so I feel like this story resonates with relatable themes, such as how expansive the world feels as a teen, and how losing a friend to a place far away can be extremely painful.
Looking forward to any more fun books with diverse characters that are coming out soon? Have you read anything like these type of stories lately? Feel free to let me know on Twitter @AuroraMiami. Enjoy adding more books to your shelves!