I think one of the few things we can all agree on lately is that it’s been a tumultuous year for our fiery and often tragic political and social landscape. This is what kept sticking in my head as I worked to come up with my top ten list, which originally was going to be droll and lighthearted and then, well, wasn’t. The timely and moving YA books below vary in perspective, tone, and genre, but all of them have one thing in common: They are on some level about girls claiming their place, fighting back, speaking up, commanding space, and being heard. Some of these titles have been out for while; others are brand new. Collectively they are memorable reads, the kind of books you keep forever and re-read again and again as mood and need strike. Plus they kick butt. As they should.

Damsel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062742322
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - October 2nd, 2018

A powerful and visceral, feminist anti-fairy tale. This one takes no prisoners. As well it shouldn’t. A masterpiece.

Sadie Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250105714
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Wednesday Books - September 4th, 2018

A dead girl. A sister’s revenge. A podcast. A powerhouse and now bestselling novel with two narrative strands from an author you should all be reading.

Hole in the Middle Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616959562
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Soho Teen - September 4th, 2018

Body positivity. Being who you are regardless of the world’s judgments. A sharp feminist read from one of Austin’s newest voices.

The Hate U Give Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062498533
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - February 28th, 2017

Technically this one came out last year, but the movie arrived a few weeks ago. If you haven’t read it, read it. A girl with a foot in two worlds. A senseless shooting. Our sadly pervasive racial divides. Standing up for the truth. Starr’s story is so much more than a ‘ripped from the headlines’ read.

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316310277
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - January 2nd, 2018

Black’s back to her faerie story roots with this tale of Jude, fully human but taken away by her stepfather to grow up in Faerie. The result is a story of political machinations, a girl finding her power among dangerous creature, and a bit of a twisted love story to spice things up. The human girl who would be king. I loved it. And the soon to arrive sequel is even better.

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings #2) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062795328
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - October 2nd, 2018

Felicity Montague is going to achieve her dream of becoming a physician-- even if it’s the 1700s and the world expects nothing more of her than to be a wife and raise a brood. Adventure. Lady Pirates. Girl power. And organically seamless LGBTQ representation in this companion to last year’s GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE.

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250170972
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) - March 6th, 2018

Black Lives Matter meets Nigerian folklore-based fantasy. Women whose magic has been forcefully repressed and ripped away… until it begins to return. A story of protest, identity and female power. I’d call this one a solid companion piece to Thomas’s Hate U Give. Jimmy Fallon even made it his first book club pick. Plus, it's first in a series.

Moxie: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250104267
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Square Fish - September 18th, 2018

Another title that’s been out since last year, but which had to be on this list, both for its brilliance and for Houston author Mathieu’s own tireless political advocacy work. A teen girl fights institutional misogyny through her initially anonymous Moxie zine. A feminist primer.

The Belles Cover Image
ISBN: 9781484728499
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Freeform - February 6th, 2018

I’d love to see readers pair this one with Hole in the Middle. But it stands strong on its own. A dark fantasy version of New Orleans setting. And a post-2016 election inspired deep dive into our perceptions of beauty and a confrontation of the effects on women of color of both white feminism and the patriarchy. Clayton’s one of the co-founders of We Need Diverse Books.

A Room Away From the Wolves Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616203733
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - September 4th, 2018

No one writes twisty disturbing , angry girl stories quite like Nova Ren Suma, who like Elana K. Arnold and Margo Lanagan and others goes fearlessly after her themes. This one’s a little Gothic, a lot mysterious, and a willingness to create flawed girls whose determination to break free makes them beautiful.

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