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Young adult books roundup – reviews

Young adult books roundup – reviews

Two rising stars of young adult fiction, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé and Adiba Jaigirdar, team up for summer romcom Four Eids and a Funeral (Usborne, out June). Inseparable when they were growing up, Said and Tiwa have barely spoken since an incident many Eids ago. Can a funeral and a fire at the town’s Islamic Centre bring them back together? This delightful romance combines a fresh take on the enemies-to-lovers trope with a feelgood story about family and community.

Nathanael Lessore was shortlisted for the Carnegie medal for his debut novel, Steady for This, and his second book, King of Nothing (Hot Key), confirms him as a major new name in writing for younger teenagers. Fourteen-year-old Anton and his friends rule the school until he gets into serious trouble. By way of punishment, his mum sends him to a local community group where unexpected friendships help him to reframe the way he sees the world. It’s testament to Lessore’s lightness of touch and believable characters that despite delving into big topics such as toxic masculinity and grief, this is an immensely readable book that never feels too worthy.

An illustration from Nathanael Lessore’s ‘immensely readable’ King of NothingView image in fullscreen

If My Words Had Wings by Danielle Jawando (Simon & Schuster) sees Tyrell in a young offenders’ prison after being caught up in an armed robbery. He’s determined to turn his life around on release, but systemic discrimination threatens to derail him at every turn. He feels condemned to be seen as a criminal for ever, until a poet who had visited his prison provides an unexpected spark. Jawando’s writing is raw and compelling, shining a light on the inequalities of the criminal justice system and celebrating the power of words and hope.

In Louise Finch’s Iris Green, Unseen (Scholastic), Iris discovers her boyfriend cheating on her with her best friend. She feels worthless and invisible and, in a speculative twist, this feeling causes her to actually become invisible. Traversing heartbreak, romance and the complexities of friendship, Iris Green… is a poignant, deeply moving look at one girl’s journey to put herself back together, discovering difficult truths about herself and others along the way.

There’s more self-discovery in Homebody by Theo Parish (Macmillan.99), a graphic novel memoir by a non-binary author-illustrator. Growing up in a household with relaxed gender roles, Theo is stifled by the societal expectations of the outside world. The book follows their journey through school and art college as they slowly find the confidence to build their image in a way that feels authentic. Uplifting and resonant.

Finally, queen of YA crime Holly Jackson returns with a blisteringly good standalone thriller, The Reappearance of Rachel Price (Electric Monkey). When she was a toddler, Bel’s mother disappeared without a trace, only to make a dramatic return 16 years later during the filming of a documentary about the case. Bel suspects the truth is more complicated than it first appears and takes it upon herself to investigate. Jackson is brilliant on the quiet menace of domestic drama and family secrets, ramping up the tension with expert plotting.

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Source: theguardian.com