2023 YA Releases i want to read this year (and why)

Do you read YA books? I certainly do! I’ve never been one of those readers who eschews young adult fiction as an adult. And if you’re an educator, I think it can be even more important to stay in touch with our students through the lense of their literature. Plus, it’s just fun! With that in mind, I scoured 2023 YA releases to see what I should add to my TBR list for this year.

Keeping with my reading goals for this year, I tried to choose books with more variety than I would normally choose. It’s not all fantasy fiction this year! You can find more in depth summaries and reviews of these books elsewhere, but I thought I would share the 2023 YA releases that caught my eye and why they ended up on my TBR list.

2023 YA REleases i want to read this year (and why)

Mysteries & Thrillers

Invisible Son by Kim Johnson, Promise Boys by Nick Brooks, and The Black Queen by Jumata Emill

I love a good mystery and thriller (check out 2022’s reads for proof!). But, most of my mystery reading centers around 1800s-early 1900s Brits, like Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. To broaden my horizons a bit, I chose these three YA mystery/thrillers because they feature Black leads. Additionally, Invisible Son and Promise Boys feature male black leads who are working against discriminatory systems to clear their names. As an SLP, my caseload for 9 years was made up of predominantly Black males, and it was my experiences working with these young men that fundamentally changed my understanding of race. When I saw these books, I knew I had to add them to my TBR list.

The Island by Natasha Preston

The Island reminds me a bit of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, only featuring teenage, super wealthy influencers. Like most of us, I’m fascinated by influencer culture, so this premise intrigued me from the start!


Snow & Poison by Melissa de la Cruz

Myth and fairy tale retellings are always so much fun! For the last few years, I’ve mostly read retellings of ancient myths. When I saw this retelling of Snow White, my first impression was to keep scrolling. The whole thing “Disney princess” thing isn’t really my thing, so a retelling didn’t capture my attention. But, on second look, I thought that adding something different to my TBR list would be fun, and I liked the idea of looking beyond the classic Disney princess vibe.

Unseelie by Ivelisse Housman

As a fantasy-obsessed SLP, a story that combines a main character with Autism and magical powers is a win! I’m really interested to see if this book avoids some of the pitfalls of characters with Autism that I’ve experienced in the past.

We Are All So Good at Smiling by Amber McBride

I was intrigued as soon as I read the title of this book, with absolutely no idea what it was about. There’s something about the language that just appeals—it feels mysterious and intriguing as it rolls off the tongue. And the summary confirmed my intrigue! The synopsis actually reminds me a little bit of In the Woods by Tana French, only this time with magic. And since I was a little disappointed with In the Woods, I’m hoping for some redemption to the idea.

Rebel of Fire and Light

The story of a girl “who flees her home in a stolen hot air balloon to escape life in an arranged marriage…” What’s not to be intrigued by? And then add magic, which looks to be built around a well-developed culture and world.

Photo of bookshelf with several YA books to represent 2023 YA releases.

Period Drama

The Davenports by Krystal Marquis

Okay, I’m an absolute sucker for Downton Abbey (I’m rewatching now and already sad that it’s nearly over… again). And Julian Fellowes’s newest period drama TV show, The Gilded Age, while maybe not as beautiful as Downton, is a lovely, wonderful show about aristrocrats in the early 1900s in New York. One of the best characters to me is Peggy Scott, a Black woman who constantly surprises and impresses the wealthy white women she finds herself living alongside. With that in mind, The Davenports, a story about one of the few wealthy Black families in the early 1900s in New York was a no brainer!


6 Times We Almost Kissed (and One Time We Did) by Tess Sharpe

Okay, so I’m really not a romance reader by nature. I like a good romance story, but I typically enjoy them when they’re embedded in a story that’s sole focus isn’t the romance. But, I found the title of this book intriguing, and I wanted to read something this year from a LGBTQ+ perspective. And I think the framework—looking at the girls’s stories in the present and the past—sounds interesting. This is the biggest departure from my normal reading habits, so we’ll see!

how these 2023 YA releases match my reading goals

You might notice that I chose YA releases that are told largely from a perspective that’s different than my own. This is very much on purpose! One of my reading goals for this year is to read three fiction books told from a diffrent perspective. So, if I read even three of these books this year, I’ll have met my goal!

So tell me, do you read YA books? If so, what 2023 YA releases are you looking forward to this year? And what are some of your favorite YA releases from recent years? Do share!

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