I Have Always Been Me by Precious Brady-Davis (1st)
Precious Brady-Davis remembers the sense of being singular and grappling with “otherness.” Born into traumatic circumstances, Davis was brought up in the Omaha foster care system and the Pentecostal faith. As a biracial, gender-nonconforming kid, she felt displaced. Yet she realized by coming into her identity that she had a purpose all along.
In I Have Always Been Me, Brady-Davis reflects on a childhood of neglect, instability, and abandonment. She reveals her determination to dream through it and shares her profound journey as a trans woman now fully actualized, absolutely confident, and precious. She speaks to anyone who has ever tried to find their place in this world and imparts the wisdom that comes with surmounting odds and celebrating on the other side.
A memoir, a love story, and an outreach for the marginalized, Precious’s sojourn is a song of self-reliance and pride and an invitation to join in the chorus.
The Very Nice Box by Eve Gleichman and Laura Blackett (6th)
Ava Simon designs storage boxes for STÄDA, a slick Brooklyn-based furniture company. She’s hard-working, obsessive, and heartbroken from a tragedy that killed her girlfriend and upended her life. It’s been years since she’s let anyone in.
But when Ava’s new boss—the young and magnetic Mat Putnam—offers Ava a ride home one afternoon, an unlikely relationship blossoms. Ava remembers how rewarding it can be to open up—and, despite her instincts, she becomes enamored. But Mat isn’t who he claims to be, and the romance takes a sharp turn.
What We Devour by Linsey Miller (6th)
In a world of devastating power and a bloodthirsty monarch, it’s time for the wealthy to be devoured.
Lorena Adler has a secret―she holds the power of the banished gods, the Noble and the Vile, inside her. But she has spent her entire life hiding from the world and her past. Lorena’s content to spend her days as an undertaker in a small town, marry her best friend, Julian, and live an unfulfilling life so long as no one uncovers her true nature.
But when the notoriously bloodthirsty and equally Vile crown prince comes to arrest Julian’s father, he immediately recognizes Lorena for what she is. So, she makes a deal―a fair trial for her betrothed’s father in exchange for her service to the crown.
The prince is desperate for her help. He’s spent years trying to repair the weakening Door that holds back the Vile…and he’s losing the battle. As Lorena learns more about the Door and the horrifying price it takes to keep it closed, she’ll have to embrace both parts of herself to survive.
Everyone in this Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily R. Austin (6th)
Gilda, a twenty-something, atheist, animal-loving lesbian, cannot stop ruminating about death. Desperate for relief from her panicky mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church, and finds herself being greeted by Father Jeff, who assumes she’s there for a job interview. Too embarrassed to correct him, Gilda is abruptly hired to replace the recently deceased receptionist Grace.
In between trying to memorize the lines to Catholic mass, hiding the fact that she has a new girlfriend, and erecting a dirty dish tower in her crumbling apartment, Gilda strikes up an email correspondence with Grace’s old friend. She can’t bear to ignore the kindly old woman, who has been trying to reach her friend through the church inbox, but she also can’t bring herself to break the bad news. Desperate, she begins impersonating Grace via email. But when the police discover suspicious circumstances surrounding Grace’s death, Gilda may have to finally reveal the truth of her mortifying existence.
Impacted by Benji Carr (6th)
With every trip he makes to the dentist, Wade’s pain only gets worse. His smile has faded. He’s clenching his jaw and grinding his teeth more, not because of bad oral hygiene or any mishaps in orthodontics. Wade’s teeth don’t need straightening out, but the rest of his life could use that kind of adjustment. Wade has fallen in love with handsome Dr. Emmett, and their office visits in the afternoon have become decidedly more personal than professional. And poor Wade is sure his girlfriend Jessa would punch him in the mouth if she found out.
After all, Jessa did just abandon her church and her family to be with him. And she did just have Wade’s baby. So their relationship has already caused enough gossip in the small Georgia town of Waverly.
When Wade tries to end the affair, the breakup takes a brutal turn, leaving Wade in a state of panic. His life is under threat. His secrets could be exposed, and his family may fall apart before he realizes what kind of person he wants to be.
Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson (6th)
Three days. Two girls. One life-changing music festival.
Toni is grieving the loss of her roadie father and needing to figure out where her life will go from here — and she’s desperate to get back to loving music. Olivia is a hopeless romantic whose heart has just taken a beating (again) and is beginning to feel like she’ll always be a square peg in a round hole — but the Farmland Music and Arts Festival is a chance to find a place where she fits.
The two collide and it feels like something like kismet when a bond begins to form. But when something goes wrong and the festival is sent into a panic, Olivia and Toni will find that they need each other (and music) more than they ever imagined.
Saved by a Song: The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting by Mary Gauthier (6th)
From the Grammy nominated folk singer and songwriter, an inspiring exploration of creativity and the redemptive power of song
Mary Gauthier was twelve years old when she was given her Aunt Jenny’s old guitar and taught herself to play with a Mel Bay basic guitar workbook. Music offered her a window to a world where others felt the way she did. Songs became lifelines to her, and she longed to write her own, one day.
Then, for a decade, while struggling with addiction, Gauthier put her dream away and her call to songwriting faded. It wasn’t until she got sober and went to an open mic with a friend did she realize that she not only still wanted to write songs, she needed to. Today, Gauthier is a decorated musical artist, with numerous awards and recognition for her songwriting, including a Grammy nomination.
In Saved by a Song, Mary Gauthier pulls the curtain back on the artistry of songwriting. Part memoir, part philosophy of art, part nuts and bolts of songwriting, her book celebrates the redemptive power of song to inspire and bring seemingly different kinds of people together.
It Ends in Fire by Andrew Shvarts (6th)
Alka Chelrazi is on a mission:
1. Infiltrate Blackwater Academy
2. Win the Great Game
3. Burn Wizard society to the ground. As a child, Alka witnessed her parents’ brutal murder at the hands of Wizards before she was taken in by an underground rebel group.
Now, Alka is deep under cover at the most prestigious school of magic in the Republic: Blackwater Academy, a place where status is everything, where decadent galas end in blood-splattered duels, where every student has their own agenda.
To survive, Alka will have to lie, cheat and kill, to use every trick in her spy’s toolkit. And for the first time in her life, the fiercely independent Alka will have to make friends, to recruit the misfits and the outcasts into her motley rebellion.
But even as she draws closer to victory – to vengeance – she sinks deeper into danger as suspicious professors and murderous rivals seek the traitor in their midst, as dark revelations unravel her resolve. Can Alka destroy the twisted game… without becoming a part of it?
There’s Magic Between Us by Jillian Maria (6th)
A diehard city girl, 16-year-old Lydia Barnes is reluctant to spend a week in her grandma’s small town. But hidden beneath Fairbrooke’s exterior of shoddy diners and empty farms, there’s a forest that calls to her. In it, she meets Eden: blunt, focused, and fascinating. She claims to be hunting fae treasure, and while Lydia laughs it off at first, it quickly becomes obvious that Eden’s not joking—magic is real.
Lydia joins the treasure hunt, thrilled by all the things it offers her. Things like endless places in the forest to explore and a friendship with Eden that threatens to blossom into something more. But even as she throws herself into her new adventure, some questions linger. Why did her mom keep magic a secret? Why do most of the townspeople act like the forest is evil? It seems that, as much as Lydia would like to pretend otherwise, not everything in Fairbrooke is as bright and easy as a new crush…
Out of Character by Annabeth Albert (6th)
Milo Lionetti is not a gamer. Not even close. But when a stupid bet costs him his brother’s prized cards, he’ll do anything to replace them before anyone notices they’re gone. To do that, he’ll need a little help from the best gamer he knows…who also happens to hate him.
Jasper Quigley is known for moonlighting on a popular gaming blog, but he’s eager to stop playing the sidekick. The last thing he wants is to help out Milo and dredge up feelings he’d rather forget. But helping Milo comes with some perks, including getting his help running a cosplay event at the local children’s hospital. All that forced proximity was not supposed to come with kissing, and definitely not falling in love…
Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil (6th)
Inspired by the Greek myth of Iphigenia and the Grimm fairy tale “Brother and Sister,” Michelle Ruiz Keil’s second novel follows two siblings torn apart and struggling to find each other in early ’90s Portland.
All her life, seventeen-year-old Iph has protected her sensitive younger brother, Orr. But this summer, with their mother gone at an artist residency, their father decides it’s time for fifteen-year-old Orr to toughen up at a wilderness boot camp. When he brings Iph to a work gala in downtown Portland and breaks the news, Orr has already been sent away. Furious at his betrayal, Iph storms off and gets lost in the maze of Old Town. Enter George, a queer Robin Hood who swoops in on a bicycle, bow and arrow at the ready, offering Iph a place to hide out while she figures out how to track down Orr.
Orr, in the meantime, has escaped the camp and fallen in with The Furies, an all-girl punk band, and moves into the coat closet of their ramshackle pink house. In their first summer apart, Iph and Orr must learn to navigate their respective new spaces of music, romance, and sex work activism—and find each other to try to stop a transformation that could fracture their family forever.
Bolla by Pajtim Statovsi, trans. by David Hackston (6th)
April 1995. Arsim is a twenty-four-year-old, recently married student at the University of Pristina, in Kosovo, keeping his head down to gain a university degree in a time and place deeply hostile to Albanians. In a café he meets a young man named Miloš, a Serb. Before the day is out, everything has changed for both of them, and within a week two milestones erupt in Arsim’s married life: his wife announces her first pregnancy and he begins a life in secret.
After these fevered beginnings, Arsim and Miloš’s unlikely affair is derailed by the outbreak of war, which sends Arsim’s fledgling family abroad and timid Miloš spiraling down a dark path, as depicted through chaotic journal entries. Years later, deported back to Pristina after a spell in prison and now alone and hopeless, Arsim finds himself in a broken reality that makes him completely question his past. What happened to him, to them, exactly? How much can you endure, and forgive?
Entwined with their story is a re-created legend of a demonic serpent, Bolla; it’s an unearthly tale that gives Arsim and Miloš a language through which to reflect on what they once had. With luminous prose and a delicate eye, Pajtim Statovci delivers a relentless novel of desire, destruction, intimacy, and the different fronts of war.
Out of Bounds by A.J. Truman (9th)
The plan was simple: Play the Game. Get the glory. Stay in the closet.
But the plan didn’t include my childhood crush walking back into my life. First, he wrecked my concentration. Then my body.
For college jock Cliff, crushing it on the court is all that matters. Yet his tightly maintained status quo begins to unravel when he discovers Brennan, his brother’s smooth-talking best friend, is also on campus.
Brennan’s last minute transfer to Browerton was an escape from a relationship that left his heart in shambles. When he offers to help Cliff with a class project, lessons in sketching give way to sizzling sexual tension – and some fun with neckties.
But as Cliff’s star rises on campus, their relationship becomes less of a release and more of a liability to his NBA aspirations. Brennan fears his heart is bound to be broken again, while Cliff grapples with a decision that’ll come down to the buzzer: the game or the guy?
Buy it: Amazon
The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (13th)
Sixteen-year-old Jake Livingston sees dead people everywhere. But he can’t decide what’s worse: being a medium forced to watch the dead play out their last moments on a loop or being at the mercy of racist teachers as one of the few Black students at St. Clair Prep. Both are a living nightmare he wishes he could wake up from. But things at St. Clair start looking up with the arrival of another Black student—the handsome Allister—and for the first time, romance is on the horizon for Jake.
Unfortunately, life as a medium is getting worse. Though most ghosts are harmless and Jake is always happy to help them move on to the next place, Sawyer Doon wants much more from Jake. In life, Sawyer was a troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school before taking his own life. Now he’s a powerful, vengeful ghost and he has plans for Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about dead world goes out the window as Sawyer begins to haunt him. High school soon becomes a different kind of survival game—one Jake is not sure he can win.
The Calyx Charm by May Peterson (July 13th)
Violetta Benedetti knows how to hide things. She spent years concealing herself behind the persona her father expected of her. Now she hides in the dark corners of Vermagna’s underworld, lying low to keep her father from using her magic in his unending quest for power.
But her biggest secret is her love for her best friend, who only knew her as Mercurio Benedetti, not the woman she is today. Now he’s dead, and she’ll never be able to tell him the truth.
Tibario Gianbellicci was dead. And then…he wasn’t. Reborn as an immortal, he has powers he never imagined. Powers his crime boss mother wants to tap into to destroy their longtime rivals: House Benedetti.
But Tibario is hiding something, too: his best friend is a Benedetti—and the love of his life. With a second chance at life, he’ll have to risk revealing his heart.
Paranorthern and the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-Calypse by Stephanie Cooke and Mari Costa (13th)
It’s fall break in the supernatural town of North Haven, and young witch Abby’s plans include pitching in at her mom’s magical coffee shop, practicing her potion making, and playing board games with her best friends—a pumpkinhead, a wolf-girl, and a ghost. But when Abby finds her younger sister being picked on by some speed demons, she lets out a burst of magic so strong, it opens a portal to a realm of chaos bunnies. And while these bunnies may look cute, they’re about to bring the a-hop-ocalypse (and get Abby in a cauldronful of trouble) unless she figures out a way to reverse the powerful magic she unwittingly released. What’s a witch to do?
In this deliciously humorous, cozy, and bewitching graphic novel, sometimes the most of powerful magic comes from our connections to family and friends (but kicking bunny butt is great, too)
Buy it: Bookshop | Amazon | IndieBound
Flash Fire by T.J. Klune (13th)
This is the sequel to The Extraordinaries
Nick landed himself the superhero boyfriend of his dreams, but with new heroes arriving in Nova City it’s up to Nick and his friends to determine who is virtuous and who is villainous. Which is a lot to handle for a guy who just wants to finish his self-insert bakery AU fanfic.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers (13th)
It’s been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.
One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.
But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.
They’re going to need to ask it a lot.
Becky Chambers’s new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?
The Rebellious Tide by Eddy Boudel Tan (13th)
Sebastien has heard only stories about his father, a mysterious sailor who abandoned his pregnant mother thirty years ago. But when his mother dies after a lifetime of struggle, he becomes obsessed with finding an explanation—perhaps even revenge.
The father he’s never met is Kostas, the commanding officer of a luxury liner sailing the Mediterranean. Posing as a member of the ship’s crew, Sebastien stalks his unwitting father in search of answers to why he disappeared so many years ago.
After a public assault triggers outrage among the ship’s crew, Sebastien finds himself entangled in a revolt against the oppressive ruling class of officers. As the clash escalates between the powerful and the powerless, Sebastien uncovers something his father has hidden deep within the belly of the ship—a disturbing secret that will force him to confront everything he’s always wondered and feared about his own identity.
Breeder by Honni van Rijswijk (13th)
Will Meadows is a seemingly average fifteen-year-old Westie, who lives and works in Zone F, the run-down outermost ring of the Corporation. In the future state of the Corp, a person’s value comes down to productivity: the right actions win Units, the wrong ones lose them. If Will is unlucky and goes into Unit debt, there’s only one place to go: the Rator. But for Zone F Breeders, things are much worse — they’re born into debt and can only accrue Units through reproduction.
Every day in Zone F is a struggle, especially for Will who is fighting against time for access to an illegal medical drug, Crystal 8. Under the cover of night, Will travels to the Gray Zone, where life is less regulated and drugs — and people — are exchanged for gold. There, Will meets Rob, a corrupt member of the Corporation running a Breeder smuggling operation. Will also meets Alex, another teen whom he quickly recognizes as a Breeder in disguise.
Suddenly, Will has an illicit job and money, access to Crystal, and a real friend. As the pair grows closer, Alex shares her secret: she is part of the Response, an uprising to overthrow the Corporation. Caught up in the new friendship, Will and Alex become careless as the two covertly travel into Zone B for a day of adventure. Nothing goes as planned and Will’s greatest fear is realized. Will his true identity be revealed?
The Mythic Koda Rose by Jennifer Nissley (13th)
Everything Koda Rose knows about her father she’s learned from other people. Moving to New York City with her mom won’t change that, even if New York was Mack Grady’s city—where he became famous, where he wrote his music, and also where he died.
Koda has more important things on her mind. Like how she’s in love with her best friend, Lindsay, and doesn’t have the courage to tell her. Agonizing over how to confess her feelings leads Koda to explore Mack’s enigmatic history in search of answers. She tracks down her dad’s band mate and ex-girlfriend, Sadie Pasquale, and finds herself becoming rapidly obsessed with the mercurial musician.
As Koda and Sadie’s complicated bond deepens, they are both forced to grapple with the black hole Mack left behind, or get sucked in themselves.
Three Seeking Stars by Avi Silver (13th)
Sohmeng Minhal is going to fix the world.
With her home still in jeopardy, she doesn’t have much choice. What she does have is Ahnschen, an endearing prince of the dangerous empire that is disrupting the sãoni migration route. If she can convince Hei to trust him long enough to safely return him to his people, Sohmeng might just have a chance of restoring balance to Eiji. That is, until an unexpected piece of her past emerges from the jungle and challenges everything she is trying to achieve.
Now, the future of Eiji rests in Ahn’s hands—but does he have the courage to face the harm inflicted by his people? Determined to do right by the beloved friend who died on his sword, it will take a lot of unlearning to prove to Eiji—and to Hei—that he can, in fact, be good.
In the second chapter of the Sãoni Cycle, Sohmeng, Hei, and Ahn must reconcile their places in the human and natural worlds, all while navigating their complicated feelings about one another.
Being You: A First Conversation about Gender by Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, illustrated by Anne/Andy Passchier (13th)
Based on the research that race, gender, consent, and body positivity should be discussed with toddlers on up, this read-aloud board book series offers adults the opportunity to begin important conversations with young children in an informed, safe, and supported way.
Developed by experts in the fields of early childhood and activism against injustice, this topic-driven board book offers clear, concrete language and beautiful imagery that young children can grasp and adults can leverage for further discussion.
While young children are avid observers and questioners of their world, adults often shut down or postpone conversations on complicated topics because it’s hard to know where to begin. Research shows that talking about issues like race and gender from the age of two not only helps children understand what they see, but also increases self-awareness, self-esteem, and allows them to recognize and confront things that are unfair, like discrimination and prejudice.
This second book in the series begins the conversation on gender, with a supportive approach that considers both the child and the adult. Stunning art accompanies the simple and interactive text, and the backmatter offers additional resources and ideas for extending this discussion.
The Monster I Am Today: Leontyne Price and a Life in Verse by Kevin Simmonds (15th)
Leontyne Price remains one of the twentieth century’s most revered opera singers and, notably, the first African American to achieve such international acclaim. In movements encompassing poetry and prose, writer and musician Kevin Simmonds explores Price as an icon, a diva, a woman, and a patriot—and himself as a fan, a budding singer, and a gay man—through passages that move polyphonically through the contested spaces of Black identity, Black sound, Black sensibility, and Black history.
Structured operatically into overture, acts, and postlude, The Monster I Am Today guides the reader through associative shifts from arias like “weather events” and Price’s forty-two-minute final ovation to memories of Simmonds’s coming of age in New Orleans. As he melds lyric forms with the biography of one of classical music’s greatest virtuosos, Simmonds composes a duet that spotlights Price’s profound influence on him as a person and an artist: “That’s how I hear: Her.”
She Who Became the Sun by Shelly Parker-Chan (20th)
“I refuse to be nothing…”
In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…
In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.
When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.
After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.
Everyman by M. Shelly Conner (20th)
Eve Mann arrives in Ideal, Georgia, in 1972 looking for answers about the mother who died giving her life. A mother named Mercy. A mother who for all of Eve’s twenty-two years has been a mystery and a quest. Eve’s search for her mother, and the father she never knew, is a mission to discover her identity, her name, her people, and her home.
Eve’s questions and longing launch a multigenerational story that sprawls back to the turn of the twentieth century, settles into the soil of the South, the blood and souls of Black folk making love and life and fleeing in a Great Migration into the savage embrace of the North.
Eve is a young woman coming of age in Chicago against the backdrop of the twin fires and fury of the civil rights and Black Power movements–a time when everything and everyone, it seems, longs to be made anew.
At the core of this story are the various meanings of love–how we love and, most of all, whom we love. everyman is peopled by rebellious Black women straining against the yoke of convention and designated identities, explorers announcing their determination to be and to be free. There is Nelle, Eve’s best friend and heart, who claims her right both to love women and to always love Eve as a sister and friend.
Brother Lee Roy, professor and mentor, gives Eve the tools for her genealogical search while turning away from his own bitter harvest of family secrets. Mama Ann, the aunt who has raised Eve and knows everything about Mercy, offers Eve a silence that she defines as protection and care. But it is James and Geneva, two strangers whom Eve meets in Ideal, who plumb the depths of their own hurt and reconciliations to finally give Eve the gift of her past, a reimagined present, and finally, her name.
The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters (27th)
Girls have been going missing in the woods…
When Natasha’s sister disappears, Natasha desperately turns to Della, a local girl rumored to be a witch, in the hopes that magic will bring her sister home.
But Della has her own secrets to hide. She thinks the beast who’s responsible for the disappearances is her own mother—who was turned into a terrible monster by magic gone wrong.
Natasha is angry. Della has little to lose. Both are each other’s only hope.
From the author of Ghost Wood Song, this eerie contemporary fantasy is perfect for fans of Wilder Girls and Bone Gap.
Summer Fun by Jeanne Thornton (27th)
Gala, a young trans woman, works at a hostel in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. She is obsessed with the Get Happies, the quintessential 1960s Californian band, helmed by its resident genius, B—-. Why did the band stop making music? Why did they never release their rumored album, Summer Fun?
Gala writes letters to B—- that she light not only on the Get Happies, but paint an extraordinary portrait of Gala. The parallel narratives of B—- and Gala form a dialogue about creation–of music, identity, self, culture, and counterculture.
I am Not Starfire by Mariko Tamaki and Yoshi Yoshitani (27th)
From New York Times bestselling author Mariko Tamaki (Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass) and artist Yoshi Yoshitani (Zatanna and the House of Secrets) comes a story about Mandy, the daughter of super-famous superhero Starfire, and her desperate attempts to get out from under her shadow.
Seventeen-year-old Mandy Koriand’r is not her mother. Daughter of Starfire and high school outcast, Mandy is constantly trying to get out from under the shadow of her bright, bubbly, scantily clad, and famous mother. Dyeing her bright orange hair black and sticking close to her best friend, Lincoln, Mandy spends her days at school avoiding Teen Titans superfans and trying to hide her feelings for the gorgeous, popular, and perfect Claire. And while Mandy usually avoids spending too much time with her alien mother, she’s been particularly quiet as she’s keeping one major secret from her: Mandy walked out of her S.A.T.
While Mandy continues to tell Lincoln her plans of moving to France to escape the family spotlight and not go to college, she secretly hides a fear of not knowing her identity outside of just being the daughter of a superhero and who she will become. But when she is partnered with Claire to work on a school project, their friendship develops into something more and a self-confidence unknown to Mandy begins to bloom. Claire seems to like Mandy for being Mandy, not the daughter of Starfire.
But when someone from Starfire’s past comes to disrupt Mandy’s future, Mandy must finally make a choice: give up before the battle has even begun, or step into the unknown and risk everything. I Am Not Starfire is a story about mother-daughter relationships, embracing where you come from while finding your own identity, and learning to be unafraid of failing, if it was even failing in the first place.
After You Died by Dea Poirier (27th)
Seventeen-year-old bisexual boy Asher remembers nothing from the night in 1968 that the police found him covered in his girlfriend’s blood. He knows he’d never hurt anyone, least of all her. But the only person who believes him is his twin sister. He’s sentenced to five years at the Dozier Reform School. And like Asher’s memory, Dozier hides violent secrets of its own.
Juvenile boys serving time for everything from truancy to murder are hidden away in the sinister School for Boys. Those who manage to escape its bounds with broken bones and scars are the lucky ones. Asher’s afraid he may end up like many of the other students buried beneath unmarked graves. Worse, his fellow inmates may become his next victims.
In hopes of recovering the events from the night of the murder, Asher visits the school’s psychiatrist. But when the memories return, he finds many aren’t his own. Thoughts, feelings, and visions from another life, and another time, slip into his mind. And each new memory brings consequences. First days disappear, then weeks. As the weeks slip away, students follow. He starts seeing his murdered girlfriend Olivia in the woods around the school. One morning, after following her ghost into the forest the night before, he wakes up outside covered in blood with no memory, and fears he’s killed someone else. On top of that, he learns that his sister—who had feared she was being stalked by a boy from their school—has disappeared. Could Asher himself somehow be responsible?
As Asher’s possible body count grows, he knows the answers he needs are trapped within his own mind, and in ghosts from the past. He needs to find out who he is and prove the murders aren’t connected to him or risk losing his sanity and freedom forever.
AFTER YOU DIED is a paranormal thriller loosely based on true events.