This past weekend, I moved from Michigan to Iowa. While I did attend graduate school in Vermont, I’ve never lived out of Michigan before, so it’s big move for me. I’m mostly excited, a bit nervous, and eager to explore our new town. But the move has gotten me thinking about YA books where the protagonist is the new kid, and all of the heartache, excitement, and emotional tumult that is involved. If you want to read a few YA books about just this situation, here are five great ones that I recommend!
It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura
Sana has a lot of secrets that she keeps from her mom, but the two biggest are that she knows her dad is having an affair, and she wants to date girls. When her dad unexpectedly moves the family from Wisconsin to California, at first Sana is upset because she knows he wants to be closer to his mistress…but California brings a lot of positive new changes for Sana, including friendship with other Asian American girls her age, and a crush on a cute girl named Jamie. But in order to be truly happy in her new home, Sana will have to learn how to confront all of these secrets.
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe
When Norris Kaplan, a Black French Canadian teen, moves to Austin, Texas, it’s like stepping into a different world. Norris makes sense of his new home by viewing it through an anthropological lens, and categorizing all of the types of teens he encounters into jocks, cheerleaders, loners, misfits, and more. But a curious thing happens: The more time Norris spends with his new classmates, the more they seem to become real people to him. And when he makes a big mistake, he’ll have to scramble to make things right with the people he’s come to call friends.
Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June
Jay Collier is the only openly gay student in his rural town, and while he’s totally fine with who he is, he can’t help but feel like he’s just waiting for his life to start, and Jay keeps what he jokingly refers to as is “gay agenda” for when he finally escapes. Then, his family makes an unexpected and last minute move to Seattle right before the start of his senior year, and suddenly Jay’s chance to check items off his agenda is before him. But as Jay is living it up and experiencing exciting new opportunities at every turn, is he also missing out at a chance for a real relationship?
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown
Joanna’s preacher father has just remarried and is relocating them from Atlanta to a small town in Georgia. When they arrive, her father makes a big request: Please keep her sexuality on the down low. Joanna isn’t really thrilled to be going back into the closet, but for the sake of her dad, new extended family, and the small conservative town, she agrees. The only problem? Mary Carlson, the intriguing girl at her new school. Joanna can’t stop thinking about her…and wondering if maybe Mary Carlson could ever feel the same way about her.
Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan
Morgan is on track to win a scholarship and continue to play track in college — but first, she has to get through senior year. And when her conservative Catholic school gets wind that she’s a lesbian, she’s expelled and her scholarship is in peril. Morgan moves in with her older brother and starts school in a new district, but it’s far from ideal. Her standing as an athlete is in question, she’s far from home, and starting a new school senior year with a potential lawsuit against her former school is more than distracting. But then she meets Ruby, a beauty queen with a passion for fixing up cars, and she finds that there might be some positives to this new school.
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