Whether you’re headed to the beach for a sun-soaked vacation, working a summer job or just stuck at your house, these stories are guaranteed to provide thrills, swoon-worthy romance and pure entertainment.
In the first pages of Happily and Madly, we learn that a fortuneteller once gave 17-year-old Maris Brown good and bad news: She will fall “happily and madly in love,” but she will probably be dead before her 18th birthday. As she approaches that fateful day, Maris loves “living fast, taking risks, and playing the odds for love,” but her risk-taking is finally catching up with her. After her second arrest, Maris is shipped across the country to spend the summer at the beach with her estranged father and his new family. After she rescues a mysterious, alluring boy who’s running for his life, Maris becomes entangled in an increasingly dangerous, complicated web involving lavish wealth, pharmaceutical deaths, undercover agents and sexy secret romance. In addition to superbly capturing the myriad difficulties facing teens in blended families, author Alexis Bass’ snappy writing will keep you turning pages until the bullet-riddled, jaw-dropping end.
When an act of violence by her mother’s live-in boyfriend results in the death of her beloved kitten, Selina Kyle drops out of school and takes to the streets of Gotham City in this graphic novel retelling of Catwoman’s backstory, Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale. Bestselling author Lauren Myracle brings a fresh vibe to the iconic tale with an adroitly crafted blend of emotional depth and superhero action. After a homeless kid welcomes Selina into his small gang and teaches her parkour, she transforms herself into Catgirl. Issac Goodhart’s moody black and blue illustrations make every moment count, capturing Selina’s journey from vulnerability and despair (which includes cutting) to self-reliance and empowerment. As Selina wrestles with decisions about whom to trust, readers will welcome the fact that there’s more to come. “After all, cats have nine lives. I’ve only just begun,” she teases.
A spring break trip to Kyoto, Japan, to meet her estranged grandparents turns into a romantic adventure for high school senior Kimi Nakamura in I Love You So Mochi, a sweet, fun novel that also features absorbing details about Japanese culture. The timing is perfect when Kimi’s grandfather unexpectedly sends her a plane ticket to Kyoto, as Kimi is at a crossroads. She’s been accepted into a prestigious art school, but her heart is in fashion design. But once she arrives in Kyoto, she meets a dreamy boy named Akira who is also torn between two worlds. He dreams of becoming a doctor, but he’s feeling pressured to help his uncle with his mochi stand. Together, the two teens tour the city as they fall in love and try to navigate the difficulties that arise when one’s dream doesn’t align with family expectations and needs. This easygoing romance goes down sweet.
In Jennifer Dugan’s sparkling summer romance, Hot Dog Girl, bisexual teen Elouise Parker wants the summer before her senior year of high school to be epic, but instead it “just feels like everything is changing all at once, in a bad way.” Elouise’s mother abandoned the family years ago, and Elouise and her supportive father are still finding their way without her. Elouise is thrilled to be working once again at Magic Castle Playland, the amusement park she loves, but she’s devastated to learn that it will soon be closing for good. As Elouise does her daily rounds dressed as a giant hot dog, she plots to keep the park open and schemes to win the heart of Nick, a pirate diver, without realizing that her best friend, Seeley, is in love with her. Dugan’s amusement-park setting is entertaining, as is her likable cast of characters.
“Being dumped feels like food poisoning,” says 17-year-old Frederica “Freddy” Riley, who has an on-again, off-again relationship with her captivating but cheating girlfriend, Laura Dean. Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, drags her to a psychic, who urges Freddy to get out of the relationship once and for all. Freddy struggles to follow this advice in Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, award-winning author Mariko Tamaki’s emotionally swirling graphic novel set in Berkeley, California. Freddy is so caught up in Laura Dean’s vortex that she nearly loses Doodle, who’s facing a terrible crisis of her own. Thankfully, Freddy writes to an advice columnist, who responds with wise words that will resonate with anyone stuck in a toxic relationship. Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s illustrations perfectly pair with this story of a diverse group of teens struggling with a wide range of issues, including pregnancy and sexual identity.