New England is home to a beautiful coastline, snowy winters, and land rich with complicated history. There are small towns nestled in the mountains, and bright cities bustling with business. As a resident Rhode Islander, I have spent my fair share of time in both places. Some days, I navigate the T while visiting friends or family in Boston. On other days, I am headed to a remote part of New Hampshire to go hiking. The vibrancy of possibilities and interesting, sometimes spooky environments means that each of the New England states — Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, for anyone unfamiliar — are the perfect settings for young adult fiction. And I’m pleased to see YA in New England sprinkled throughout bookstands of new releases in 2022.
For example: looking for a city ripe with magic? Have the teens grow up in Providence, Rhode Island. Need a town where werewolves might thrive? Maine is ready and brimming with potential. While I enjoy reading stories set in far-off cities, there’s something so satisfying about seeing the East Coast represented in YA.
From anguished contemporary books about first love, to heavy stories threaded with magical realism, I have rounded up eight new and upcoming YA titles that take place in New England.
Deep In Providence by Riss M. Neilson
After a tragic car accident, a group of four close friends is reduced to three. Suddenly, Miliani, Inez, and Natalie are on their own in a world without Jasmine. So why does it feel like Jasmine’s spirit is lingering? And why are silly spells seemingly working and random visions turning into actual glimpses of the future? The friends have dabbled in magic before, but the stakes feel so much higher with the possibility that they can bring Jasmine back to life in some capacity. Riss M. Neilson’s debut is a Providence-based magical rollercoaster!
Family of Liars by E. Lockhart
Before “the Liars,” there was a time wracked with mysteries and deep-seated secrets. And E. Lockhart’s newest novel takes readers to that time. Family of Liars is a prequel set almost 30 years before Cadence, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat had the run of Beechwood Island in We Were Liars. Told in the voices of the previous generations, the story sheds light on the Sinclair family and their private Martha’s Vineyard island.
The Chosen One by Echo Brown
Echo is a first generation college student at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. While she harbored many dreams of college beforehand, she soon finds herself disenchanted and nearly drowning in homework. Thankfully, she has a lively group of friends and the possibility of a future with a boy she’s crushing on to keep her spirits up. But when she participates in an on-campus performance by a hypnotist, things start to shift. Could there be magic at play? Or does Echo hold all the answers within herself?
Blackwater by Jeannette Arroyo and Ren Graham
There’s talk of strange, bloodthirsty creatures in the woods of Maine. But high schooler Tony Price has more pressing problems, like his track and field career and his tenuous relationship with his father. When he starts interacting with shy Eli Hirsch, Tony finds he has much more to think about than usual. Eli, however, is struggling with both his health and the fact he’s seeing ghosts everywhere he goes. Could the infamous monster in the woods and the ghosts be connected in some way? If you’re looking for some spooky YA in New England — especially a graphic novel — Blackwater is the book for you.
Golden Boys by Phil Stamper
Golden Boys follows four friends during the summer before their senior year of high school. While they’ve all been raised— nearly inseparably — in their small hometown, this summer they’re all set to head somewhere new: Boston, Paris, Washington, D.C., and Daytona Beach. But are their relationships also headed somewhere new? Gabriel and Sal have a casual but romantic relationship with the understanding it’s nothing long term. Reese and Heath, on the other hand, are too shy to admit to any feelings for each other. What will this summer away from home mean when they all return in the fall?
Ride With Me by Lucy Keating
Charlie doesn’t have time for her life to be ruined by Andre, an annoyingly popular classmate. All she wants to do is enjoy being a rideshare driver and see where the wide open road leads (and hopefully that road leads out of her Massachusetts hometown). But when Charlie wrecks Andre’s car, it seems she has no choice but to see Andre all too often since she’s tasked with driving Andre to his heart’s content until his car is repaired. Will being stuck in the car together lead to a wholly unexpected journey?
Café Con Lychee by Emery Lee
Both Theo and Gabi are miserable. Their Vermont hometown feels tiny, especially since Theo is itching to go somewhere new and Gabi is struggling with remaining closeted. Even worse? The two do not get along. When both of their family’s businesses become overshadowed by the presence of a new cafe in town, it’s up to Theo and Gabi to save the day. Too bad they’ll have to work together to make their dreams possible…
Great or Nothing by Caroline Tung Richmond, Joy McCullough, Jessica Spotswood, and Tess Sharpe
It feels only fitting to finish up a roundup of YA in New England with a retelling of a local classic! What if Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women was set during World War II instead of the Civil War? In Great or Nothing, the authors explore what the story looks like if the March sisters are separated as they each try to contribute to the war effort. Meg is a teacher living at home in Concord, Massachusetts; Jo is an airplane factory worker; Amy serves in the Red Cross; and Beth explores her own path aside from her sisters.
Can’t get enough of new YA recommendations? Check out eight recent diverse YA mysteries! Want to know how I really feel about books set in my own New England state? Read about three things that happen when I read books based in my home state of Rhode Island.