2020 YA Poetry Releases

table overlay of flowers, a tea cup and open poetry books

If you didn't already know April is actually known as National Poetry Month.

I didn't know this until recently but apparently 2020 was the year for Poetry.

The young adult world just exploded with short verse/ poetry styled publishing's that I didn't know existed.

There was an insane amount of Poetry books published last year and I'm here to let you know about the trend you probably missed.

This list of poetry releases is probably the only good thing to come out of 2020.

 

Poetry Recomendations

The Black Flamingo, book cover

The Black Flamingo 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.

 

 

Punching the Air, book cover

Punching the Air Ibi Aanu Zoboi

The story that I thought
was my life
didn’t start on the day
I was born

Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white.

The story that I think
will be my life
starts today

Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it?
 

Clap When You Land, book cover

Clap When You Land Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

 

Being Toffee, book cover

Being Toffee Sarah Crossan

One is trying to forget. The other is trying to remember.

After running away from an abusive home, Allison finds herself taking shelter in a shed behind an abandoned house. But the house isn’t empty after all; an elderly woman named Marla, who suffers from dementia, lives there. And rather than turn her away, Marla welcomes her – she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past named Toffee.

Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be, so she decides to play along. But as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real companion, Allison begins to waver. They both deserve a home, a safe place, and a family – but at what cost?

 

Beauty Mark, book cover

Beauty Mark Carole Boston Weatherford

From the day she was born into a troubled home to her reigning days as a Hollywood icon, Marilyn Monroe (née Norma Jeane Mortenson) lived a life that was often defined by others. Revisiting Marilyn's often traumatic early life--foster homes, loneliness, sexual abuse, teen marriage--through a hard-won, meteoric rise to stardom that brought with it exploitation, pill dependency, and depression, the narrative continues through Marilyn's famous performance at JFK's birthday party, three months before her death.

 

Every Body Looking, book cover

Every Body Looking Candice Iloh

Every Body Looking is a heavily autobiographical novel of a young woman's struggle to carve a place for herself--for her black female body--in a world of deeply conflicting messages.

Told entirely in verse, Ada's story encompasses her earliest memories as a child, including her abuse at the hands of a young cousin, her mother's rejection and descent into addiction, and her father's attempts to create a home for his American daughter more like the one he knew in Nigeria.

The present-tense of the book is Ada's first year at Howard University in Washington D.C., where she must finally confront the fundamental conflict between who her family says she should be and what her body tells her she must be. 

 

I Am Here Now, book cover

I Am Here Now Barbara Bottner

You can’t trust Life to give you decent parents, or beautiful eyes, a fine French accent or an outstanding flair for fashion. No, Life does what it wants. It’s sneaky as a thief.

Maisie's first day of High school should be exciting, but all she wants is to escape.

Her world is lonely and chaotic, with an abusive mother and a father who’s rarely there to help.

So when Maisie, who finds refuge in her art, meets the spirited Rachel and her mother, a painter, she catches a glimpse of a very different world―one full of life, creativity, and love―and latches on.

But as she discovers her strengths through Rachel’s family, Maisie, increasingly desperate, finds herself risking new friendships, and the very future she's searching for. 

 

Junk Boy, book cover

Junk Boy Tony Abbot

Junk. That’s what the kids at school call Bobby Lang, mostly because his rundown house looks like a junkyard, but also because they want to put him down. Trying desperately to live under the radar at school—and at the home he shares with his angry, neglectful father—Bobby develops a sort of proud loneliness. The only buffer between him and the uncaring world is his love of the long, wooded trail between school and home.

Life grinds along quietly and hopelessly for Bobby until he meets Rachel. Rachel is an artist who sees him in a way no one ever has. Maybe it’s because she has her own kind of junk, and a parent who hates what Rachel is: gay. Together the two embark on journeys to clean up the messes that fill their lives, searching against all odds for hope and redemption.

Narrated in Bobby’s unique voice in arresting free verse, this novel will captivate readers right from its opening lines, urging them on page after page, all the way to its explosive conclusion.

 

Kent State, book cover

Kent State Deborah Wiles

May 4, 1970.
Kent State University.

As protestors roil the campus, National Guardsmen are called in. In the chaos of what happens next, shots are fired and four students are killed. To this day, there is still argument of what happened and why.

Told in multiple voices from a number of vantage points -- protestor, Guardsman, townie, student.

 

Turtle Under Ice, book cover

Turtle Under Ice Juleah Del Rosario

Rowena feels like her family is a frayed string of lights that someone needs to fix with electrical tape. After her mother died a few years ago, she and her sister, Ariana, drifted into their own corners of the world, each figuring out in their own separate ways how to exist in a world in which their mother is no longer alive.

But then Ariana disappears under the cover of night in the middle of a snowstorm, leaving no trace or tracks. When Row wakes up to a world of snow and her sister’s empty bedroom, she is left to piece together the mystery behind where Ariana went and why, realizing along the way that she might be part of the reason Ariana is gone.

Haunting and evocative—and told in dual perspectives—Turtle Under Ice examines two sisters frozen by grief as they search for a way to unthaw.

 

What Goes up, book cover

What Goes up Christine Heppermann

When Jorie wakes up in the loft bed of a college boy she doesn’t recognize, she’s instantly filled with regret. What happened the night before? What led her to this place? Was it her father’s infidelity? Her mother’s seemingly weak acceptance? Her recent breakup with Ian, the boy who loved her art and supported her through the hardest time of her life?

As Jorie tries to reconstruct the events that led her to this point, free verse poems lead the reader through the current morning, as well as flashbacks to her relationships with her parents, her friends, her boyfriend, and the previous night.

 

With A Star in My Hand, book cover

With A Star in My Hand Margarita Engle,

As a little boy, Rubén Darío loved to listen to his great uncle, a man who told tall tales in a booming, larger-than-life voice. Rubén quickly learned the magic of storytelling, and discovered the rapture and beauty of verse.

A restless and romantic soul, Rubén traveled across Central and South America seeking adventure and connection. As he discovered new places and new loves, he wrote poems to express his wild storm of feelings. But the traditional forms felt too restrictive. He began to improvise his own poetic forms so he could capture the entire world in his words. At the age of twenty-one, he published his first book Azul, which heralded a new literary movement called Modernismo that blended poetry and prose. 

 

Three Things I Know Are True, book cover

Three Things I Know Are True Betty Culley

The reminder is always there—a dent on the right side of Jonah’s forehead. The spot you’d press when you felt a headache coming on. The bullet tore away bone, the way dynamite blasts rock—leaving a soft crater.

Life changes forever for Liv when her older brother, Jonah, accidentally shoots himself with his best friend Clay’s father’s gun. Now Jonah needs round-the-clock care just to stay alive, and Liv seems to be the only person who can see that her brother is still there inside his broken body.

With Liv’s mom suing Clay’s family, there are divisions in the community that Liv knows she’s not supposed to cross. But Clay is her friend, too, and she refuses to turn away from him—just like she refuses to give up on Jonah.

 

Blog Category
Teens

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