Join the YASF team!

There are some upcoming openings in YASF! If you are interested in becoming the incoming manager for the YASF please fill out the google form linked here. We are looking for candidates that regularly attend meetings and participate in the forum. The position begins after the ILA 2021 Annual Conference.

We also have two spots opening on the YASF board. The Social Media Manager and Tournament of Books Manager positions are available. Please fill out this form to indicate your interest in the position of your choice. Ideal candidates will have attended YASF meetings in the past year and participate in the forum.

The preferred deadline for applications is June 30th. If you have any questions about what being a manager or board member is like, please reach out to us

May 13, 2021 Meeting

Young Adult Services Forum

Meeting Minutes 05.13.2021

Attendance:

Managers: Izabel Gronski (Oak Lawn) – Manager, Joe Marcantonio (Schaumburg) – Outgoing Manager, Kylie Peters (Geneva) – Incoming Manager

Board: Heather Colby (Homer Township) – iREAD YA Liaison and Social Media Manager, Nicole Mills (Glenview) – Board Member at Large, Quinn Stitt (Berwyn) – Tournament of Books Wizard, Martha Buehler-Sullivan (Brookfield) – YA Librarian of the Year Award

Members: Lisa Barefield (Wheaton), Rachael Bild (Skokie) Donna Block (Niles-Maine), Erin Faxel (Orland Park), Mariel Fechik (soon to be Deerfield), Hailey Frailey (Oswego), Yvette Garcia (Chicago), Claire Griebler (Park Ridge), Sonya Hill (Ela), Krista Hutley (Wilmette), Maisie Iven (Naperville), Andrea Johnson (Mount Prospect), Patti Palmer (Elmhurst), Allison Riggs (Schaumburg), Rachel Strolle (Glenside), Abigail Weaver (Mount Prospect)

Tournament of Books

Winner

  • Reviewer’s Bracket Winner: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
  • People’s Choice Winner: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
  • First time it’s been the same winner!
  • Message from Aiden Thomas for us!

Honorary awards

  • Most wished made it past first round for People’s Choice bracket: Go With the Flow by Karen Schneemann and Lily Williams
  • Most wished made it past first round for Reviewer’s bracket: Flamer by Mike Curato
  • Book we wish won the Reviewer’s bracket (after Cemetery Boys): Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Thank you, reviewers!

Submit for 2021 Tournament of Books: http://bit.ly/TOB2022Books

  • No nonfiction
  • Must be published 2021
  • No sequels or companion books
  • Graphic novels and fiction are welcome
  • Extra consideration goes to debut novels, #OwnVoices, etc.
  • Extra consideration goes to titles that get the most submissions, so still submit it even if you think it’s a shoe-in!

Diversity Audits

YASF Diversity Audit Recommended Resources: https://docs.google.com/document/d/19BxQo2xLTFDN_cqTfLOP6nmfFRQuW3f1FTtqArv-dJQ/edit?usp=sharing

Yvette Garcia – Chicago Public Library

Taking an LJ class: https://www.libraryjournal.com/?event=evaluating-auditing-and-diversifying-your-collections-april-2020

  • You need to spend time with the books.  Get your hands on each book.
  • Do your homework.  Research. Especially necessary for harder-to-spot types of diversity.
  • Start out with a small subset, such as adult mysteries.
  • There are lots of forms out there you can use.
  • Aim to have the collection match the demographics of your community, but sometimes you can’t because the books just aren’t being published.
  • Set goals.  Pick and choose your priorities.
  • “The danger of a single story,” a TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg
  • Your staff may need you to move forward in small steps.

Alea Perez – Elmhurst Public Library

  • Started an audit of picture books on February 1st. Anticipate it will take at least the rest of the year.
  • They use a Google form since so many people are working on it.  The results go into a spreadsheet.
  • They are just looking at what currently exists to inform future collection management.  Not weeding based on this.
  • Elmhurst is mainly white, so they want to do better than community representation.
  • What they look for
    • Author’s race, gender, sexuality
    • Neurotypical and neurodivergent authors
    • Physically abled and disabled authors
    • Main characters, then secondary characters: includes races and non-human
    • Main characters, then secondary characters’, sexuality
    • Body representation, positive and negative
    • Main characters, then secondary characters’, physical and mental disability
    • Main characters, then secondary characters’, citizenship status
    • Main characters, then secondary characters’, religions
      • For Jewish, note Holocaust and non-Holocaust
    • Socioeconomics, family dynamics, addiction, setting, #OwnVoices (joyful or traumatic)
  • Offered a glossary to help with race terms
  • Include an “other” option where necessary
  • Space for notes if staff are unsure of something or who notice something that isn’t reflected in the form questions
  • Afterward, use the info to inform policy and procedure changes

Allison Riggs – Schaumburg Township District Library

Quinn Stitt – Berwyn Public Library

  • Theirs is based off Oak Park’s audit
  • Using Category 4 tags in SWAN
  • They are looking at the main character and creator
  • They look for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ identities, and disability (including mental illness)
  • Get into the mindset where you do the research when purchasing
  • Helps with booklists!
  • A diversity audit is not one size fits all.  Come up with a method that works for you.

Rachael Bild shared a document, “Diverse Graphic Novel Creators.”

12 stereotypes/red flags: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Cb6NnqNeBLAjr_VlWJtmNBXep9TrimO1wIOz_U1wKGk/edit?usp=sharing

Discussion

  • Weeding and Promoting
    • Give books with diversity a second look if they come up for weeding
    • If it’s the only one of a certain voice, keep it
    • Put diverse books on displays, especially on one that are not displays about diversity.
  • Unspecified characters
    • Often assumed white and cishet
    • If they have no defining race or sexuality characteristics, then they read as white and cishet.

Approval of Minutes

Board Updates

  • YA Librarian of the Year (Martha Sullivan)
    • Nominations due May 15.
  • Social Media (Heather Colby)
    • Facebook 249, Twitter 158
    • Quinn made social media for ToB so organized!
    • Contact Heather with social media matters: heather@homerlibrary.org

YASF Updates

  • iRead (Heather)
    • Donna Block is chair of the theme for summer 2023  “Find Your Voice”
    • Thank you to those who submitted to the Resource Guide for 2022, “Read Beyond the Beaten Path.”
  • Unconference – Accepted for ILA!
    • Volunteers needed
      • Lisa, Joe, Kylie
  • Self-Care for Library Staff – Patti Palmer
    • Will be an upcoming ILA Noon Webinar on Wed., June 9. More info from ILA should be coming soon.
    • Presented by the Elmhurst Public Library social worker.
    • Will not be at ILA.

Open Discussion

  • Discord – Any proactive privacy things you are doing?
    • Can Discord (and other social media) be FOIA’d?
    • Rachael tried an auto-delete bot. Teens complained that their recent messages had been deleted.  But you can set it to keep posts for longer.
  • Rachel Strolle’s database of YA books: https://2021ya.tumblr.com/
  • We will have forms out in the summer for a new Incoming Manager and board members.

Future Professional Development

  • ALA Annual  – June 24-29 Virtual
  • C2E2 – December 10-12
  • IYSI March 16-17, 2023 in Normal, IL
  • ILA Noon Network – ongoing

Upcoming Meetings

  • August 12, 2021
  • September 9, 2021

And the winner is…

For the first time ever since we’ve instituted People’s Choice, the same book has won both our Reviewers’ Choice and our People’s Choice brackets!

And that book is…

CEMETERY BOYS by Aiden Thomas!

Congrats Aiden for dominating this year’s tournament with a memorable and well-loved debut!

A hearty congrats also goes to the runner-ups for the tournament: Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez (Reviewers’ Bracket) and Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (People’s Choice Bracket!

And now on to the remaining honor books! The book people wished had made it past the first round of People’s Choice voting was…Go With the Flow by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann!

The book people wished had made it past the first round of of the reviewer’s bracket was…Flamer by Mike Curato!

The book with that people wished had won of all 32 titles this year (besides Cemetery Boys) was…Legendborn by Tracy Deonn!

Thank you to all our judges this year (*pauses for a round of applause*) and to everyone following along!

We will see you for next year’s 2022 Tournament of Books!

April 8, 2021 Meeting

Young Adult Services Forum

Meeting Minutes 04.08.2021

Attendance: 

Managers: Izabel Gronski (Oak Lawn) – Manager, Joe Marcantonio (Schaumburg) – Outgoing Manager, Kylie Peters (Geneva) – Incoming Manager

Board: Heather Colby (Homer Township) – iREAD YA Liaison and Social Media Manager, Nicole Mills (Glenview) – Board Member at Large, Quinn Stitt (Berwyn) – Tournament of Books Wizard, Martha Buehler-Sullivan (Brookfield) – YA Librarian of the Year Award

Members: Sonya Hill (Ela), Lisa Barefield (Wheaton), Hailey Frailey (Oswego), Krista Hutley (Wilmette), Andrea Johnson (Mount Prospect), Patti Palmer (Elmhurst), Lisa Boles, Jennie Stevens

ILA: Cyndi Robinson (Deputy Director of ILA and Staff Liaison), Mary Jo Matousek (Board Rep for School Libraries)

Approval of Minutes

Board Updates

  • YA Librarian of the Year (Martha Sullivan)
    • Committee met to do the awards audit and sent their suggestions for changes to ILA.
    • Currently accepting nominations for the award. Due May 15. Nominate yourself or someone else here.
  • Social Media (Heather Colby)
    • Facebook 246, Twitter 157
    • Heather updated the “What is the YASF?” section on the blog.
    • Heather will update the phone number attached to the YASF Twitter.
    • Contact Heather with social media matters: heather@homerlibrary.org
  • Member at Large (Nicole Mills)

YASF Updates

  • iRead (Heather)
    • The guide for 2022 “Read Beyond the Beaten Path” is just about done.
    • In several months, they will be looking for submissions for the 2023 theme “Find Your Voice.”
  • Other Professional Development
    • What else are we interested in?
      • Teen brain development, author visits, collection development, diversity audits, inclusive collections…
    • May meeting could be professional development or an author visit.
      • Usually it is RA-focused.
      • Visit from the Tournament of Books winner?
        • Could be difficult to get them
        • Could we get them to speak at ILA Conference?
    • Vote for the People’s Choice Winner!
      • It’s okay if you haven’t read the books. Still vote.
      • All match-ups were made required on the voting form because in the past, match-ups at the top of the list for more votes than those at the end.
    • We do not have any more budget this year as YASF.
    • Could we have a diversity audit panel with speakers from libraries who are doing it?
      • Oak Park, Schaumburg, Berwyn are doing it.
      • There is a RAILS webinar on the subject.
    • FINAL DECISION: Our May program will be about inclusive collections and diversity audits. E-mail Iza at IGronski@olpl.org if you are interested in getting involved.
  • Unconference – We are submitting this  as an ILA proposal
    • ILA conference will now be hosted via Feedloop, which uses Zoom. You can do webinars with breakout groups.
    • Iza will contact YSF and submit the proposal.
  • ILA proposals
    • Elmhurst’s social worker is on board with Patti to present on librarian self-care.  No one else has joined yet.

Open Discussion

  • Summer Reading
    • Most libraries are doing mostly or all virtual programming.
    • Outdoor in-person programs
      • Renting a tent with pop-up programs (Nicole)
      • Using plaza and park nearby (Lisa)
      • Tie-dye, park cleanup, adopting a garden, nature walks
  • Reopening plans
    • Several libraries are returning to full hours or implementing expanded hours, or lengthening time patrons can stay in the building.
    • Some have study rooms and teen rooms reopening or furniture being brought back.
    • Many staff are doing little or no work from home at this point.
    • Some libraries are moving toward having the option to work from home a bit after COVID-19.
  • Staffing challenges
    • Several libraries have lost a lot of staff and are in hiring freezes.
  • What do you do when you have a bad board member?
    • There’s not much staff can do except vote them out.
    • Staff can attend Board meetings.  It’s enlightening.
    • ILA trains the trustee board on issues of trustee bullying, people trying to do other people’s jobs, etc.  It is a common issue.

Future Professional Development

  • Reaching Forward and Reaching Forward South (combined) – May 7 Virtual
  • ALA Annual  – June 24-29 Virtual
  • C2E2 – December 10-12
  • IYSI March 16-17, 2023 in Normal, IL
  • ILA Noon Network – ongoing

Upcoming Meetings

  • May 13, 2021 – Reader’s Advisory meeting on inclusive collections and diversity audits
  • August 12, 2021
  • September 9, 2021

Round IV, Bracket II: Cemetery Boys vs. Grown

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

Trigger Warning: Cemetery Boys includes descriptions of transphobia and violence.

Cemetery Boys is LGBTQ+ fiction, paranormal fiction, fantasy, and romance all wrapped up in a mystery with a focus on identity, culture, and acceptance. The characters are relatable and empathetic, and become more dynamic as the story progresses. World-building is interspersed throughout the story without being obtrusive, making Cemetery Boys a pick for teens who are more comfortable with realistic fiction but are interested in a light fantasy read. A looming deadline brings a sense of urgency to the story, so reluctant readers may be well served by the quick hook and fast pace. Thomas incorporates humor throughout the characters’ interactions, and this paired with the charming slow burn romance makes for an endearing and engaging read – great for teens looking for a light-hearted romance.

This book would be great for teens looking for LGBTQ+ fiction, especially within the context of family and cultural relationships and traditions. The book also presents a mystery throughout and has its share of twists and turns. While more savvy readers may spot these coming and may be left a little underwhelmed, those looking for charm and humor will not be disappointed. 

Non-Book Readalikes: If you like the TV show Julie & the Phantoms or the video game Flipping Death, you might like Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas.


Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

Korey Fields is dead. 

When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom.

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight.

Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields? 

All signs point to Enchanted. 

Trigger Warning: Grown includes descriptions of abuse, sexual assault, and a toxic relationship.

Grown is a relevant and poignant story inspired by real events, including those surrounding musician R. Kelly. This novel delves into social commentary on topics including abuse, rape culture, and the neglect in cases involving black girls and women. Jackson’s captivating story follows a young woman with the courage and strength to escape her abuser. She also details both positive and negative family and community relationships surrounding the protagonist. The story tackles all this while presenting empathetic characters and a story propelled by an unfolding mystery.

Grown’s first person narration and steady pacing provides readers with a sense of urgency that makes this book an appealing pick for reluctant readers who will be quickly drawn into the plot. Teens who are looking for a mystery and thriller that tackles tough topics will be well served by Grown. Readers who tend to feel disoriented by shifting timelines may do best to steer clear of this novel; however, readers who stick with the novel and the merging storylines will find this style lends itself to building suspense as the book progresses.

Non-Book Readalikes: If you are interested in the documentary Surviving R. Kelly, explorations into the #MeToo movement, or 13 Reasons Why, you might like Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson.


Winner: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Both of these books are great picks for teen (and adult!) readers, and Grown is a very relevant read. Overall, however, I feel the book that would appeal to a wider array of teens is Cemetery Boys. This book is difficult to fit into one genre (mystery, romance, LGBTQ+, paranormal, humorous), and because of that it has a wide potential audience. The fast-pace and endearing characters are also a sure bet for many readers.


Noelle Spicher is an Adult & Teen Focus Librarian at Lisle Library District.

Round IV, Bracket I: Furia vs. You Should See Me in a Crown

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

Trigger Warning: Furia includes descriptions of abuse, misogyny, and violence.

Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez starts with a powerful proverb, “Lies have short legs.” It sets the tone for most of the book. Camila “La Furia” Hassan lies to her family in order to play the game she loves, soccer. I loved her dedication to the sport and what opportunities it would open up for her; La Furia is ready to help her team win at all costs. I loved that Camila fought for her dream and did not throw away her chance at playing soccer for love: she was smart enough to know she could have soccer and love. 

Mendez does a fantastic job of dropping the reader into Argentina. Her descriptions of the neighborhoods, the dynamic in the Hassan household, and the depiction of the soccer games is what draws the reader in. Even if you do not like soccer, you find yourself rooting for La Furia because of the energy Mendez writes with.

Non-Book Readalikes: If you enjoy soccer and the movie Bend it Like Beckham, Furia is for you!


You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her ​small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down… until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams—or make them come true?

Trigger Warning: You Should See Me in a Crown includes descriptions of racism, homophobia, and a public outing of a character.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson is a heartwarming story set in a town that cares about only one thing: Prom. Liz Lighty is a reluctant heroine; she decides to run for Prom Queen to earn the scholarship to pursue her dream of music. The only obstacles she needs to overcome are her fellow running mates and her belief in herself.

I loved the relationship Liz had with her grandparents who are raising her and her brother. The worst part of this book was the public outing of a character. I understand why it happened, but people should be able to choose when and if they are ready to come out. The best part of this book for me was Liz gaining confidence in who she was as a person. The qualities were always there, she just needed the chance to bloom. 

Johnson does a great job of dropping you back into senior year of high school. It made me nostalgic for Prom again. I am sure there are plenty of high school students who would love it if this high school were real and had a competition like this. 

Non-Book Readalikes: If you liked the movies Mean Girls or Another Cinderella Story, You Should See Me in a Crown would be for you!


Winner: Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

I enjoyed both books, but ultimately felt that Furia is the winner. You Should See Me in a Crown has a lot of positive notes about being yourself and overcoming obstacles, but I felt a more emotional connection in Furia. Leah Johnson’s book is a fun romp through a fantasy high school, while Yamile Saied Méndez takes you through a more realistic experience in Argentina. 


Melissa Cardone is a full time middle school math teacher and part time librarian at Shorewood Troy Library. She spends her free team reading books and coaching volleyball. 

Round III, Bracket IV: Belle Révolte vs. Grown

Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller

Emilie des Marais is more at home holding scalpels than embroidery needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots to serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a noble lady cannot perform such gruesome work.

Annette Boucher, overlooked and overworked by her family, wants more from life than her humble beginnings and is desperate to be trained in magic. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.

Emilie and Annette swap lives—Annette attends finishing school as a noble lady to be trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a physician’s assistant, using her natural magical talent to save lives.

But when their nation instigates a frivolous war, Emilie and Annette must work together to help the rebellion end a war that is based on lies.

Trigger Warning: Belle Révolte includes descriptions of violence.

Emilie des Marais and Annette Boucher come from different worlds: one is noble-born, while the other “ate dirt as a child.” One wishes to be a physician in a man’s world, while the other wishes to to study magic at whatever cost. Miller’s world is like a detailed quilt of fantasy tropes – a world of gendered magics, alchemy, magical schools, class struggles, switched identities, a simmering political uprising, and rebellious wealthy teens. This is not to say that some of her inventions aren’t unique and interesting, but much of the book relies heavily on familiar motifs to carry the story.

What makes much of Belle Révolte interesting is Miller’s exploration of gender, sexuality, and power. In the French-coded country of Demaine, magic is offered as a binary. The midnight arts, including the arts of scrying, divination, and alchemy, is traditionally considered women’s work; the noonday arts, where magic is channeled into medicine, is for men (coincidentally, the king is a noonday artist). Emilie wishes to escape her mother’s rigid ideas of what young womanhood should look like for a girl of noble birth and study the noonday arts, calling to mind similar themes in Makenzi Lee’s A Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. 

In addition to the gendered societal constraints, there is a burgeoning revolt among the country’s lower class citizens, inspired by the anonymous revolutionary Laurel, who broadcasts evidence of the crown’s corruption across Demaine. The wealthy feed off the poor, using them as “hacks” to channel their magic so as not to wear down their bodies. Annette, who is worried about spending her entire life in servitude to a wealthy artist, jumps at the chance to study at the finishing school Emilie is meant to attend. Emilie runs to the university while Annette takes her place, and soon, both girls become mired in the political goings-on at their respective schools, and eventually, in the oncoming war itself. 

If all of this sounds complicated, it’s because it is. Miller’s book could have used a lot more editing than it received – while the story becomes increasingly enjoyable as time goes on, the first third of the book is almost painfully slow. The political plotline is convoluted and dense, and I often had to repeat passages or reference early parts of the book to understand what was going on. That being said, Miller’s prose is lovely, and despite her use of tried-and-true fantasy tropes, her strengths lie in her characters and their relationships. Both the story’s main characters and its supporting players are well-rounded and complex; many of these characters also fall somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, and their storylines are treated with nuance and care. Though some readers will certainly be turned off by the book’s slow start, teens who enjoy political intrigue, magic, light romance, and books with multiple perspectives will be entertained by this.

Adaptions: Belle Révolte would be best suited as a film. The cinematic plot and interesting magic system would make for great visuals.


Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

Korey Fields is dead. 

When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom.

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight.

Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields? 

All signs point to Enchanted. 

Trigger Warning: Grown includes descriptions of abuse, sexual assault, and a toxic relationship.

Grown is not a horror story, but it is terrifying; Jackson wrote a heavy, brutal book. The story is difficult to look at straight on, but it’s also impossible to look away from. The book begins with a gruesome scene: Enchanted Jones wakes up in a room filled with blood and a dead man on a bed, a knife between them. She doesn’t know what happened, only that she’s glad he’s dead. But this isn’t the most horrifying part of the book.

Almost immediately, the reader is ripped backwards through time to the beginning of Enchanted’s story. When Enchanted meets Korey Fields, she is excited and hopeful; finally, this professional in the industry sees something in her and thinks she can make it. But Enchanted recognizes too late the manipulation and abuse that Korey is capable of, and while she comes to understand that she’s been groomed and ensnared in Korey’s web, she has no idea how to free herself.  

When Enchanted comes forward with the truth of what happened to her at the hands of Korey Fields, she is painted as the liar and manipulator. The public cannot believe that this beloved musician would do something so horrifying; therefore, it must be Enchanted at fault. This speaks to the deification of celebrities and other public figures, which leaves victims vulnerable to victim blaming and additional abuse. Think of the responses to films Surviving R. Kelly and Leaving Neverland. As Enchanted railed against the justice system that was failing her, I couldn’t help but think of the cases of Cyntoia Brown and Chrystul Kizer, both of whom were imprisoned for killing their traffickers in self-defense as teenagers. 

What Jackson does particularly well in this book is the delicate nuance of character. She does not condescend to her characters – some authors may have painted Enchanted like a naive fool, others as a helpless victim. But Jackson so frighteningly and accurately portrays how abusers pull their victims in before they even have a chance to realize that something is wrong. Enchanted is strong, and she is smart, but she is a kid. And that is what makes this book so important. Grown so deftly mirrors recent current events and is a vital addition to the bevy of #MeToo literature that has sprung up in the last few years. It shows how Black women especially are maligned and ignored and blamed at every turn when violence is committed against them, and how frequently Black girls are denied their very childhoods.
Grown asks us to question not only how truth is defined and decided in our justice system, but also the ease with which young girls are left vulnerable by a system that functions on technicalities and laws that uphold white supremacy. As Ms. Jackson states clearly in her author’s note, “…this book was inspired by a case…but this book is not about R. Kelly.” It is about abuse and abuse of power, about the systems we uphold that leave young girls vulnerable and without hope. The novel’s final chilling revelations do nothing to assuage the fear and discomfort this story inspires, which feels very intentional on Jackson’s part. It is not an easy book, but it is an important one.

Adaptions: Grown would be best suited by a TV show – the book’s heavy content would be difficult to sit through as a film, but with the story’s various subplots and flashbacks, it would make for a great mini-series.


Winner: Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

This was an incredibly easy choice. While I enjoyed both books, Belle Révolte is fun but feels ultimately inconsequential next to Grown. Of course, these books are also quite different in every way, so they won’t necessarily appeal to the same readers. But when given the choice, Grown is the clear frontrunner. Jackson’s book is a monumentally difficult one to read, but I’m so glad that it’s in the world. Teens who feel they can handle the heavy content will love Enchanted’s strong voice, the book’s pacing, and the tight spiral of action that leads to the final, frightening moments.


Mariel Fechik is a Teen Services Advisor at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library. She is a musician, a poet, and a lover of YA lit. 

Round III, Bracket III: Cemetery Boys vs. Legendborn

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

Trigger Warning: Cemetery Boys includes descriptions of transphobia and violence.

First off, that cover! Stunning. 

Cemetery Boys is everything a reader could want in a book; it truly lived up to the hype it’s received. It’s full of excitement, emotions, romance, and wonderful characters (even the side characters are well fleshed out). Teens will love the atmosphere that Aiden Thomas has created and will enjoy learning about another culture or seeing their culture represented. The only weakness I felt the book had was the pacing was a tad off at times, but was still easy to follow.

I’d recommend this book to teens who are wanting to read something spooky that still has romance involved. 

Adaptions: The cover of Cemetery Boys highly affects my decision to believe that this would be an incredible animated series. 


Legendborn by Tracey Deonn

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.
A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.
And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.

She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.

Legendborn was a refreshing urban fantasy inspired by King Arthur legends. The main character, Bree, is a strong female lead that is well-developed and is the highlight of the book. Tracy Deonn does an excellent job at creating an exciting new world and connecting real-world issues; however, it was a bit information-heavy. Including a glossary or hierarchy chart would help readers understand a bit better. The love triangle is a trope that is a bit overdone, and the length of the book can be daunting to readers. 

I’d recommend this book to teens who are already fans of fantasy books, but are looking for something more modern.

Adaptions: I think a TV series for Legendborn would be a great way to dive deeper into the magic system.


Winner: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

It was a hard decision to choose between the two. Legendborn is a fabulous book, but I feel Cemetery Boys is a perfect read and has a broader teen appeal. The characters were well-written, the romance was exciting, and the story flowed nicely. Since Legendborn can be challenging for some readers, I think Cemetery Boys is the true winner.


Sonya Hill(she/her) is the Teen Librarian at the Ela Area Public Library. When not in the library, she can be found with her three cats and three snails listening to music or out on a motorcycle exploring (not with the cats or snails, sadly).

Round III, Bracket II: You Should See Me in a Crown vs. The Black Flamingo

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her ​small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down… until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams—or make them come true?

Trigger Warning: You Should See Me in a Crown includes descriptions of racism, homophobia, and a public outing of a character.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson is a heartfelt and adorable contemporary romance novel. Teens will enjoy the well developed and relatable characters, and the romance is well-written and fans of the genre will enjoy how Liz and Erin’s relationship grows. Liz’s friendships are a strong part of the novel, which can draw in readers who enjoy reading about other relationships in addition to romance. Leah Johnson has crafted a novel that teens can really relate to, and characters they can see themselves in; readers will be excited for their achievements and feel empathy for their struggles.  The quality of Johnson’s writing is excellent and the pacing is good.

I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy rom-coms and realistic fiction. This book has the qualities of a rom-com; for example, there is a meet-cute and a happily ever after. It also contains the struggles of a queer teenager of color as she comes out in a conservative community. The intersectionality of the protagonists adds a level of realism which balances out the fluffier aspects of the novel.

Adaptions: You Should See Me in a Crown would be a great movie.


The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Michael is a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London. All his life, he’s navigated what it means to be Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican—but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough.

As he gets older, Michael’s coming out is only the start of learning who he is and where he fits in. When he discovers the Drag Society, he finally finds where he belongs—and the Black Flamingo is born.

Told with raw honesty, insight, and lyricism, this debut explores the layers of identity that make us who we are—and allow us to shine.

Trigger Warning: The Black Flamingo includes descriptions of homophobia and racism.

Black Flamingo by Dean Atta is a touching coming-of-age story written in verse. Teens will relate as Michael struggles to find his place in the world, while also navigating high school and college. Michael is a very relatable character, and teens will enjoy seeing the world through his lyrical perspective. The relationships he gains and loses throughout the novel, as well as his perseverance, will keep readers of all ages engaged, though younger teens may have difficulty relating to Michael as he navigates college. However, older teens will enjoy glimpsing Michael begin to become an adult.

I would recommend this book to older teens who enjoy realistic fiction. Older teens may be better able to relate to the characters, since the book covers Michael’s high school years as well as the beginning of college. I also think this book could be a good choice for reluctant readers since it is written in verse. Teens will be able to make progress through the book quickly as it is very engaging.

Adaptions: The Black Flamingo would make a fantastic graphic novel.


Winner: You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

I chose You Should See Me in a Crown as the winner because I think it appeals to a broader audience of teens. It has many aspects, such romance, friendship, and family struggles, that can and will really engage readers. While both books encourage teens to be true to themselves, I found You Should See Me in a Crown to be more relatable. Additionally, You Should See Me in a Crown has a wide range of popular read-alikes. Overall, I recommend both books but think You Should See Me in a Crown will be more engaging for teens.


Caitlin Atkinson is studying Library and Information Sciences at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. She currently works at Hinsdale Public Library as a Youth and Young Adult Library Assistant. When not in school or working, Caitlin can be found with a pile of books, playing video games, or hanging out with her cat. 

Round III, Bracket I: Furia vs. When You Were Everything

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

Trigger Warning: Furia includes descriptions of abuse, misogyny, and violence.

This heart-pounding sports book takes on first love, toxic masculinity, pursuing your dreams, the impact of a culture of violence, and more, and manages to do so in under 400 pages. Set in Argentina, readers are quickly immersed in several cultures all at once–the culture of Camila’s family, her neighborhood, her country, and the culture of fútbol that she’s grown up in. The expectations surrounding her from all these cultures can feel smothering, but Furia keeps an intense, quick moving pace that keeps readers involved, but not overwhelmed. 

You know how I can tell Méndez is an amazing author? I have never been a huge fútbol fan, but there were moments on the field where I nearly dropped the book and cheered. While Camila has been living in the shadow of her brother’s sports career, her love interest’s sports career, and her father’s sexist expectations for her, when she is on the field as Furia, it melts away to leave a strong, fierce, talented girl who readers will absolutely fall in love with. 

The experiences in this book are so specific. We’re given so many ways to see how Camila’s world has been shaped by the history of violence against women in her culture, and how her own struggles fit into the larger flow of the struggle for justice. While soccer is her way of fighting back against toxic masculinity, so is her intelligence and her relationships with others. But despite this very specific character and these very specific cultures, Méndez gives readers the tools to find themselves in this story, to find things that look like their own world or neighborhoods, their own triumphs and troubles.

The storytelling in Furia is cinematic, making it a great read for teens who like sports but also one for a reader who may get bored with books fairly easily. The plot is straightforward, but the narrative is complex, and the running threads of tension will keep a lot of readers fully engaged.

Adaptions: Furia would make an excellent feature film or graphic novel.


When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk

It’s been twenty-seven days since Cleo and Layla’s friendship imploded.

Nearly a month since Cleo realized they’ll never be besties again.

Now Cleo wants to erase every memory, good or bad, that tethers her to her ex-best friend. But pretending Layla doesn’t exist isn’t as easy as Cleo hoped, especially after she’s assigned to be Layla’s tutor. Despite budding friendships with other classmates–and a raging crush on a gorgeous boy named Dom–Cleo’s turbulent past with Layla comes back to haunt them both.

When We Were Everything is a slow burn, character driven contemporary that focuses on friendship rather than romance, which makes for a refreshing change of pace. Watching a friendship fall apart from the aftermath, then diving back into the why was so engaging and so heartbreaking. 

Cleo, our lead character, is a really authentic and well-developed voice. She’s deeply flawed and at points she is clearly aware of her flaws, but can’t help falling into old habits. While readers watch her push people away at the slightest hint that they may have other priorities outside of Cleo, she never becomes so toxic that you stop wanting to read her narrative. Other characters she interacts with, Layla especially, have these same sorts of flaws–you can see the cracks that make them human, but no one is irredeemable. You feel like you really know everyone in this book, and you can feel the other stories happening just off the edge of the page. 

Friendship break-ups are a very real part of life, especially when you’re a teen, and they often feel as messy and awful as a romantic break-up; often they feel worse. This book does a masterful job of exploring those feelings in a way that doesn’t lay blame on anyone, but doesn’t pull punches. Woodfolk captures the messiness of real friendship in such a tangible way, I think most teen readers would find many elements of the story that look like their life.

While this book will appeal to most readers who enjoy character driven contemporary novels, it will especially appeal to readers who like messy friendships and who want characters to feel real. There’s plenty of humor in this quiet book, but also plenty of angst for the teen who really wants a book to break their heart.

Adaptions: When You Were Everything would make a great Netflix mini-series, a la Dash and Lily.


Winner: Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Both of these books are phenomenal; honestly, either of them would be great for a teen reader and they are both show-stopper books, so it’s hard to choose between them. When You Were Everything certainly feels like it has a broader appeal–after all, not every teen plays sports, but who hasn’t had a messy friend break up?  But while Furia feels more specific and less relatable to some readers, it is also a narrative we’re sorely lacking in YA spaces. It fully immerses readers in a time, a place, a family, and a moment. The stakes are high because that specificity lets the stakes be high in a way that a book with broader appeal may not quite hit.

I could think of other books I could give a reader if I didn’t have When You Were Everything on hand that may hit their interests or needs, but if Furia was the right book for a reader, it would be harder to find an alternative. Because of that uniqueness, my winner has to be Furia.


Maisie Iven is a teen librarian for the Naperville Public Library. Outside of work, they spend most of their time talking about fat cats, going on hikes, and obsessing over all things ukulele.