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YA Shout Outs: Books We’re Grateful For

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the Tor Teen team has gathered together to share some of the YA books we’re most grateful for this year. Here are the remarkable stories that brought us magic, comfort, joy, and hope!


Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

“There are many books I’m thankful for, but one in particular is Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. This fantastical tale holds a special place in my heart because it’s a feel-good book that always manages to bring a smile to my face. If you’re unfamiliar with this enchanting story, it’s about a young woman named Sophie who (in an unfortunate turn of events) attracts the attention of the Witch of the Waste. The Witch puts Sophie under a terrible spell–one that strips her of her youth and transforms her into a crone. Her only chance at breaking this spell lies within the walls of the ever-moving castle over the hills…wizard Howl’s Castle. Sophie strikes a deal with the fire demon Calcifer who keeps the castle aloft, and thus the story unfolds. The main characters, Sophie, Howl, and Calcifer are so loveable and charming in their own ways (I actually came very close to getting a Calcifer tattoo last year!). Not to mention, the Studio Ghibli adaptation of this book is phenomenal. This is one of the very rare cases in which I can daresay the movie is just as good as the book! The simple act of writing this blurb is making me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and I’ll be forever grateful that this magical book exists.”

—Ariana, Assistant to VP. Marketing & Publicity

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

“My reading life in 2020 has been all about finding comfort in an otherwise difficult year, and Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas brought me so much joy and comfort when I read it! The story follows Yadriel Flores, a trans boy and a young brujo who wants to prove his abilities to his traditional family so they finally accept him as his true gender. To do that, he must summon a spirit and release it to the afterlife, but this plan doesn’t go quite as he expected. Yadriel accidentally summons the ghost of Julian Diaz, a bad boy from his school who recently went missing. What follows is a heart-warming story filled to the brim with mystery, adventure, and a romance that will capture your heart. All of the characters in this book are so engaging and dynamic, and I want to be best friends with Yadriel, Julian, and Maritza! I’m grateful that I was able to read Cemetery Boys when I was in desperate need of a comforting book, and I’m so grateful that there are more books about trans characters written by trans authors out in the world.”

—Sarah, Digital Marketing Coordinator

The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune

“TJ Klune’s The Extraordinaries is a queer coming-of-age story that follows fan fiction writer Nick Bell, and his love for Nova City’s mightiest superheroes. There are many reasons why this book is extraordinary: Nick Bell’s hilarious and energetic voice; the honest and sweet relationship between Nick and his dad, a relationship often overlooked in YA; and Nick’s personal experience with ADHD—how it affects everything from his interactions with family and friends to his schoolwork and love life. There are so many earnest, funny, and endearing elements of this story. But for me, what makes this book extraordinary is that its cast of characters are primarily queer — including the superheroes! Representation matters, and it matters in all genres of YA, including fantasy. To have queer characters be the heroes of their story is a big deal. This is a book I would have been thankful to have read as a teenager, and I am certainly thankful now.” 

—Anthony, Associate Director of Marketing

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

“I’ve never been so moved or blown away by a YA memoir. In listening to the audiobook of All Boys Aren’t Blue—narrated by author and activist George M. Johnson—readers will experience the harrowing and inspirational journey of a young queer Black person coming into their most authentic self. Johnson’s memoir-manifesto does not pull punches as they share candid stories of their personal experiences with identity, racism, and consent, but Johnson’s writing also shines a beautiful light on moments of Black joy. Johnson’s story of resilience is a balm for the souls of BIPOC queer teens everywhere. I am thankful for the representation this story depicts and for the hope it brings to a world in need of it now more than ever.”

—Isa, Marketing Manager

Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer

“I’m thankful for Naomi Kritzer’s Catfishing on CatNet because I generally adore stories about non-evil artificial intelligence and also because it made me remember fondly friends I’ve had whose faces I’ve never seen and IRL names I’ve never known. Catfishing features a group of Internet friends who congregate on a website for chatting and sharing pictures of animals called CatNet, and it’s the most true-to-life depiction of supportive online culture that I’ve read.”

—Andrew, Marketing Assistant

 

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