Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki
“Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me” is a graphic novel written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell. It’s a refreshing take on teenage heartache and LGBTQ+ relationships, foregoing the tired “coming out” trope and diving right into protagonist Frederica “Freddy” Riley’s unhealthy relationship with the titular Laura Dean. However, unlike the toxic relationship story, the true focus is on the effect Laura’s behavior has on Freddy and the relationships with her friends and family. The emotional core of “Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me” is Freddy’s bonds with those who truly matter to her, rather than a romantic interest, which makes the narrative truly unique in the oversaturated market of young adult fiction. The gorgeously illustrated panels, unostentatiously diverse cast, and thoughtful, heartfelt story give the reader an unforgettable experience.
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Despite the massively popular television adaptation, “Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter,” written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, stands on its own as a hilarious and heartwarming frolic through a biblical apocalypse. The eccentric cast is endearing and the prose is a delightful showcase of Gaiman and the late Pratchett’s celebrated writing skills, with a rotating range of third-person narrators and humorous footnotes. The novel has a sweet, lived-in feeling to it. The friendship shared by protagonists Crowley (a demon) and Aziraphale (an angel), as well as the chemistry between the rest of the characters, makes for charming dialogue. With a disarmingly genuine narrative and comedy around every corner, “Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Anges Nutter” is a striking piece of light-hearted religious satire and a cult classic since the ‘90s.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
“The Song of Achilles,” the debut novel of author Madeline Miller, is a must-read for fans of ancient Greek mythology. Elegantly written in vibrant, captivating prose, “The Song of Achilles” is a retelling of “The Illiad,” focusing on the tragedy of Patroclus—a lonely, exiled prince—and Achilles—one of the greatest heroes of the Trojan War. Rather than recounting the violent and glorious exploits of Achilles’ career, the novel adopts a more withdrawn, humanizing perspective, utilizing the lesser-known Patroclus as its narrator. This approach, paired with Miller’s exceptional writing style, allows the novel to successfully chronicle the intricacies of the two prince’s relationship as well as enrapture readers with a rich world and nuanced politics. “The Song of Achilles” is highly acclaimed, boasting the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction, and Miller was shortlisted for the 2012 Stonewall Writer of the Year.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáen
“Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” is a coming-of-age novel by author Benjamin Alire Sáen. Published in 2012, this novel features two young boys as they face a variety of struggles regarding race, ethnicity, sexuality, and familial disputes. The novel offers a bright perspective on a familiar story, with a positive representation of the LGBTQ+ community as well as the Latinx community. “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” has won multiple awards including the 2013 Stonewall Book Award, the 2013 Pura Belpre Author Award, and a Printz Honor. This novel is aimed towards young adults, but it offers a unique perspective that readers of all ages will enjoy, along with a heartwarming portrayal of the ups and downs of growing up.
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
“I am Malala” is a nonfiction memoir depicting the story of Malala Yousafzai in her own words, co-written by Christina Lamb. Yousafzai is the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for her work against the suppression of children and equal access to education. “I am Malala” recounts Yousafzai’s experience fighting for women’s rights in Pakistan and her experience being targeted and shot by the Taliban. After the attempt on her life, Yousafzai became one of the leading advocates for women’s rights all over the world. “I am Malala” is an inspirational and highly impactful memoir encouraging young people to stand up for themselves and for others in the face of adversity. This memoir will inspire people of all ages to see the world in a different light and encourage people to stand up for voices that have been silenced.