2020’s Must-Read YA Novels According to YA Authors

Looking for your next young adult read? Let the experts help you out! YA authors are also voracious YA readers, and they know the genre inside and out. I always trust their recommendations, which is why I asked 17 of them to share the one YA novel they’re most excited to read in 2020. Check out their picks and share your 2020 YA TBR in the comments!

Woven In Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez
(January 7)

“With all the political upheaval happening in Bolivia right now, Isabel Ibañez’s Bolivian fantasy, Woven in Moonlight, is a timely and important novel. I had a chance to read an early copy of the book, and the tapestry magic featured in the novel is unlike anything I’ve read before in fantasy. Not to mention there’s mystery and intrigue in the form of a masked vigilante, who just so happens to be a love interest. Um, yes please!”
Adalyn Grace, author of All the Stars and Teeth

We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding
(January 7)

“Why am I excited to read We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding? Well, to begin with, I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I saw the title. (And not only because it got the theme song from Veronica Mars stuck in my head.) Alternating chapters between two former best friends, each reliving the end of their friendship, but in reverse order? Sounds intriguing and wholly original—and yet, completely relatable. As both a reader and a writer, I love unconventional narratives and exploring how friendships can fall apart. I can’t wait to dive into this one!”
Alyssa Sheinmel, author of What Kind of Girl

We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia
(February 25)

“You will read Tehlor Kay Mejia’s work if you have taste and/or a brain. If you have both, you’ll adore it. Mejia’s first book, We Set the Dark on Fire, envelops readers in a story that is luscious, gripping, and ingeniously nuanced. When I read it I felt like I was discovering a future classic. Something as vital as it was sensational. The sequel, We Unleash the Merciless Storm, scares me in how excited I am for it, and I really implore everyone to prepare as best they can.”
Ryan La Sala, author of Reverie

Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold
(February 25)

“If you don’t already have Elana K. Arnold’s Red Hood on your radar please fix your life ASAP. Arnold’s stories are uncomfortable and gripping in the best way possible, and Red Hood is no different. A feminist, unflinching look at the ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ fairytale, Red Hood is just as brutal and infuriating as Arnold’s Printz Honor-winning Damsel. You are going to want to be the first among your friend group to delve into this book that promises hours of discussion. And then, it’ll be time to smash the patriarchy.”
Justina Ireland, author of Deathless Divide

When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk
(March 10)

When You Were Everything is a powerful friendship breakup story set in New York, told in past and present chapters, allowing readers to slowly discover what led to their implosion. It’s such a relatable tale, as friendship breakups are often worse than romantic breakups, especially in high school. I felt for these girls deeply. Woodfolk has a poetic way with words that makes the story stick to your emotions, the tension rich and thick. She’s up there with Nina LaCour for sure.”
Tiffany D. Jackson, author of Grown

The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp, illustrated by Manuel Preitano
(March 10)

“There are so many amazing books out this year; it’s hard to choose! But if I have to choose just one: I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for Marieke Nijkamp’s The Oracle Code, a DC Comic’s YA graphic novel. I have always loved Barbara Gordon, both as Batgirl and then later as Oracle, so I cannot wait to see what kind of thrilling mystery Nijkamp and the artist, Manuel Preitano, will spin!”
Ashley Poston, author of Bookish and the Beast

We Are Totally Normal by Rahul Kanakia
(March 31)

“There are few books that leave an impression on me in quite the way Rahul Kanakia’s debut Enter Title Here did in 2016. I can still remember my palms sweating, my heart in my throat, as I was drawn into the world of an uber-high achieving girl with a lot to prove and a tenuous grasp on ethics. Kanakia managed to do something spectacular in that book, something subversive, in fact, by crafting a strong female lead who you’re just as likely to root against as you are to root for. I couldn’t wait for a follow-up. Now, Kanakia is back with We Are Totally Normal—a YA contemporary romance led by two queer boys who are navigating newfound sexuality and evolving identities. I couldn’t be more thrilled to dive back into the rich interior worlds of her smart, funny, immensely complicated characters.”
Leah Johnson, author of You Should See Me in a Crown

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed
(April 7)

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed is a must-read this year! Told in alternating points-of-view and spanning centuries, this is the feminist Muslim ‘muse’ novel you need to pick up, especially if you’re a fan of historical romances and Lord Byron!”
Sandhya Menon, author of Of Curses and Kisses

The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson
(April 7)

The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson is a marvelous book that I devoured in one sitting! It’s told from two points of view: May, a survivor of a school shooting, and Zach, the son of the lawyer who’s defending the shooter. The voice is so strong throughout. The complicated relationships between the two main characters, their families, and specifically May’s experience with grief and PTSD were all explored beautifully. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, and it needs to be on your TBR right now!”
Phil Stamper, author of The Gravity of Us

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
(May 5)

“Elizabeth Acevedo is gifting us with another novel-in-verse this year, and I’m ready for it. I’ll admit that I’m a huge fan of verse novels—their strong visual and emotional impressions, their rhythm, their condensed language—and Acevedo’s Clap When You Land promises even more. It’s the dual narrative story of two sisters, Camino (lives in the Dominican Republic) and Yahaira Rios (lives in New York City), who only learn of each other’s existence after their father dies in a plane crash. This is bound to be an emotional read full of grief and love, and also rich with Afro-Latinx and Latinx culture.”
Liara Tamani, author of All The Things We Never Knew

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
(May 12)

“Everyone should absolutely have Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (a Lambda and Stonewall Award-winning author) on their 2020 TBR list! His new YA novel is about a trans boy, Felix, who is trying to survive high school and find his happily ever after when he starts getting bullied by an anonymous transphobe. Felix is determined to get revenge, but when his catfishing scheme turns into a quasi-love triangle, things get complicated. I am so excited to read this story about identity, love and realizing your self-worth. You won’t want to miss it!”
Aiden Thomas, author of Cemetery Boys

We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez
(May 19)

A book that I feel should be on everyone’s radar is We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez, which tells the story of three young migrants fleeing Guatemala and making the hard journey through Mexico to reach the United States. If you are a teacher or a librarian, this story could mirror the stories of some of your students or their families. And if you are a young person who has undergone this journey or are close to someone who has, then you may be able to see yourself reflected in these pages.”
Samantha Mabry, author of Tigers, Not Daughters

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
(June 2)

“One of my most anticipated reads of 2020, and a title you should add to your TBR right now, is A Song Below Water, a contemporary YA fantasy by Bethany C. Morrow. In a world where magical creatures exist, siren Tavia and her best friend Effie not only have to hide their supernatural abilities, they also have to navigate high school drama and confront their own traumas in the city of Portland, where Black girls with magical powers are seen as the ultimate threat. The cover is beautiful and the premise is mind-blowing. I can’t wait!”
Kalynn Bayron, author of Cinderella Is Dead

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
(June 9)

“A young brujo casts a spell that backfires? I’m in! You know I’m in. Yadriel seeks help from the beyond in order to prove his true gender to his family. Instead, he summons the spirit of his school’s bad boy, Julian. They decide to team up and help each other. This looks like it’s promising some undead ghostly romance and if there is a trope that I live for it’s the ‘we can’t be together for magical reasons like the fact that I’m a ghost.’ I know that’s very specific, but I’m so thrilled that Aiden Thomas has written this book and I can’t wait to read it, along with everyone else!”
Zoraida Córdova, author of Incendiary and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge A Crash of Fate

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon
(June 16)

Today Tonight Tomorrow is an absolute delight! Filled with trademark Rachel Lynn Solomon ingredients (a duo of richly realized characters, an exploration of Jewish identity, and sex-positivity), Solomon’s foray into rom-com is filled with delicious banter, crossed wires, and zip-up-your-spine feels. On their final day of high school, rivals Rowan and Neil form a wary alliance to annihilate the competition (and each other) in Howl—a live-action game that’s part scavenger hunt, part capture the flag, part love letter to Seattle, and 100% fun. Be prepared to laugh a lot, feel even more, and fall head over heels for Today Tonight Tomorrow.”
Kit Frick, author of I Killed Zoe Spanos

Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar
(August 11)

“A book that readers should absolutely have on their TBRs is Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar. It features Hindu mythology and follows the journey of Sheetal, the half-mortal daughter of a star who must venture into the celestial court of her mother’s world to save her human father’s life. It sounds absolutely gorgeous, with celestial intrigue, vivid magic, and dangers lurking just beyond the starlight. Plus, Thakrar’s writing is so lush and evocative that I know reading it will be like draping myself in gossamer and dreams. I can’t wait!”
Lori M. Lee, author of Forest of Souls

Fable by Adrienne Young
(September 1)

“Adrienne Young’s Fable is a sweeping adventure set amongst a dangerous world where precious stones are bought and bartered. Prepare yourself for gripping tension as our heroine navigates terrifying ocean depths and a crew unwilling to take her on until she proves herself. This story is deeply romantic, but at its core, the tale follows the tumultuous relationship between a ruthless father and his abandoned daughter. This book is a must-read.”
Isabel Ibañez, author of Woven In Moonlight

Kelly Gallucci

Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of We Are Bookish, where she oversees the editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors and NetGalley members. When she's not working, Kelly can be found color coordinating her bookshelves, eating Chipotle, and watching way too many baking shows.

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