ICPL's Favorite Books of 2019: Young Adult

by Meredith

Every year ICPL staff vote on their top books published that year, identifying their favorite reads in 10 categories: FICTION; YOUNG ADULT; PICTURE BOOKS; MIDDLE GRADE AND CHILDREN'S; MYSTERY; ROMANCE; SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY; BIOGRAPHIES and MEMOIRS; NONFICTION; and GRAPHIC NOVELS.

Join us as we share our favorites in each category, then be sure to check out what titles were named BEST OF THE BEST for 2019. To make our BEST OF THE BEST list, a book had to be nominated by more than one employee. The book with the most staff nominations is ICPL's BEST BOOK of 2019!

We'll announce the BEST OF THE BEST for 2019, and our pick for BEST BOOK of 2019, on December 31. For now, enjoy our favorite YOUNG ADULT books of 2019!

With the fire on high

Elizabeth Acevedo

Young Adult

"Teen mother Emoni Santiago struggles with the challenges of finishing high school and her dream of working as a chef." --

A beautiful story. The writing was so descriptive, I felt like I could taste every dish. "Trust, okay? Trust. Yourself mainly, but the world, too. There is magic working in your favor."
- Meredith

The wicked king

Holly Black

Young Adult

As seneschal to High King Cardan, Jude must fight to keep control of the Faerie throne while her younger brother, Oak, enjoys the childhood she never knew.

The revolution of Birdie Randolph

Brandy Colbert

Young Adult

Sixteen-year-old Dove "Birdie" Randolph's close bond with her parents is threatened by a family secret, and by hiding her relationship with Booker, who has been in juvenile detention.

I wanna be where you are

Kristina Forest

Young Adult

When Chloe's mom forbids her to apply for a spot at the dance conservatory of her dreams, she devises a secret plan to drive two hundred miles from Philadelphia to New York, the nearest audition. When annoying neighbor Eli insists upon hitching a ride, he threatens to tell Chloe's mom if she leaves without him and his smelly dog, Geezer. Now Chloe's chasing her ballet dreams down the east coast, with two unwanted (but kinda cute) passengers in her car, butterflies in her stomach, and a really dope playlist on repeat. -- adapted from jacket


Marie Lu

Young Adult

Eden Wing has been living in his brother's shadow for years. Even though he's a top student at his academy in Ross City, Antarctica, and a brilliant inventor, most people know him only as Daniel Wing's little brother. A decade ago, Daniel was known as Day, the boy from the streets who led a revolution that saved the Republic of America. But Day is no longer the same young man who was once a national hero. These days he'd rather hide out from the world and leave his past behind. All that matters to him now is keeping Eden safe--even if that also means giving up June, the great love of Daniel's life. As the two brothers struggle to accept who they've each become since their time in the Republic, a new danger creeps into the distance that's grown between them. Eden soon finds himself drawn so far into Ross City's dark side, even his legendary brother can't save him. At least not on his own . . .

Wayward son

Rainbow Rowell

Young Adult

"Simon Snow is back and he's coming to America! The story is supposed to be over. Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after... So why can't Simon Snow get off the couch? What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light... That's how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West. They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place... With Wayward Son, Rainbow Rowell has written a book for everyone who ever wondered what happened to the Chosen One after he saved the day. And a book for everyone who was ever more curious about the second kiss than the first. It's another helping of sour cherry scones with an absolutely decadent amount of butter. Come on, Simon Snow. Your hero's journey might be over--but your life has just begun"--

Rainbow does it again! I know of no other author with such a knack for writing and creating characters to absolutely fall in love with (SHEPARD <3 <3 <3). If you liked "Carry On," you're going to like this--no doubt about it. It ends on a cliffhanger (curses!), but Rainbow has already announced a follow up: "Any Way the Wind Blows." I can't wait!
- Brian

There's something about Sweetie

Sandhya Menon

Young Adult

"The irresistible companion novel to the New York Times bestseller When Dimple Met Rishi, which follows Rishi's brother, Ashish, and a confident, self-proclaimed fat athlete named Sweetie as they both discover what love means to them. Ashish Patel didn't know love could be so... sucky. After being dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up. The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl -- under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he'll be taking his date on "fun" excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work? Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she's also fat. To Sweetie's traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death. Sweetie loves her parents, but she's so tired of being told she's lacking because she's fat. She decides it's time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she'll show the world (and herself) what she's really made of. Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there's an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other?" --

This book is adorable! Two Indian-American kids date against their parents' wishes. Plus, this book has a good dose of body positivity!
- Amanda

The secret commonwealth

Philip Pullman


Lyra Belacqua, aka Lyra Silvertongue, is an undergraduate at St. Sophia's College. She and her daemon, the soft-furred pine marten Pantalaimon, are alienated to the point of hostility. Lyra falls under the influence of popular writers who express 'universal skepticism' and contempt for sentiment, kindness and faith. When Pantalaimon witnesses a murder, both of them are pulled into a conspiracy involving the Magisterium. Lyra reconnects with Malcolm Polstead, now a professor at the College, but they are soon drawn back into a battle Lyra thought she'd left behind forever. -- adapted from jacket and online reviews


Crystal Simone Smith

Young Adult

Aurelia, the first princess born in Renalt in 200 years, is destined to marry the mysterious prince of Achelva, Valentin, but her treacherous lady-in-waiting, Lisette, plots to take her crown.

On the come up

Angie Thomas

Young Adult

When sixteen-year-old Bri, an aspiring rapper, pours her anger and frustration into her first song, she finds herself at the center of a controversy.

We hunt the flame

Hafsah Faizal


In a world inspired by ancient Arabia, seventeen-year-old huntress Zafira must disguise herself as a man to seek a lost artifact that could return magic to her cursed world.

With a tag line like, "People lived because she killed; people died because he lived." how could you not fall in love with this book? I can't wait for the second book to come out!
- Alyssa


Brittney Morris


An honors student at Jefferson Academy, seventeen-year-old Keira enjoys developing and playing Slay, a secret, multiplayer online role-playing game celebrating black culture, until the two worlds collide.