Well, everyone, we did it. We survived 2020! I am very proud of all of us. With the year coming to a close, I thought it would be nice to look back on all 147 books that I read this year (as of this post) and spotlight my favorites! Picking favorite reads is always incredibly difficult, especially this year, but I wanted to make sure that I took a moment to appreciate all of the amazing books that helped me get through this year. When I was choosing my favorite books of the year, I also wanted to make sure that I chose books that were new to me and not include rereads. That being said, here are my favorite reads of 2020.
- ✼: ARC
- ✧ Debut
I have done my best to list all trigger warnings that I can think of from my own personal notes, other reviews, and from websites like Book Trigger Warnings and Trigger Warning Database. That being said, there may be things that I have forgotten and if so I apologize! If you’ve read any of these books and notice that I’m missing some triggers, please please let me know so that I can update the trigger lists!
✧ Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Emma Lord’s debut novel Tweet Cute is absolutely adorable! Right from the start I was hooked! Since I finished it, I’ve been recommending it to pretty much everyone I know. Tweet Cute is one of my favorite author debuts of the year and I highly recommend it to any romcom fan!
Trigger Warnings: Bullying, divorce, stealing, hospitalization of a grandparent
Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.
Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.
As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.
Break the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli
I have always loved the Olympics, and Gymnastics is my favorite Olympic sport. In fact, I watched the 2012 US Gymnastics events for months after the Olympics were over because I loved it so much. My love for gymnastics was what initially drew me to the book, and once I started it I couldn’t put it down. I was incredibly moved by this book and how well it handled the serious topic of abuse in the gymnastics world.
Trigger warnings: Discussions of sexual assault and grooming, injury
Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics.
A year ago, she could barely do a push up as she recovered from a spine surgery, one that could have paralyzed her. And now? She’s made the United States’ gymnastics team with her best friend, Emma, just like they both dreamed about since they were kids. She’s on top of the world.
The pressure for perfection is higher than ever when horrifying news rips the team apart. Audrey is desperate to advocate for her teammate who has been hurt by the one person they trusted most–but not all the gymnasts are as supportive.
With the team on the verge of collapse, the one bright spot in training is Leo, her new coach’s ridiculously cute son. And while Audrey probably (okay, definitely) shouldn’t date him until after the games, would it really be the end of the world?
Balancing the tenuous relationship between her teammates with unparalleled expectations, Audrey doesn’t need any more distractions. No matter what it takes, she’s not going to let anyone bring them down. But with painful revelations, incredible odds, and the very real possibility of falling at every turn, will Audrey’s determination be enough?
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Erin Morgenstern’s second novel, The Starless Sea is honestly one of the most magical and spellbinding books that I’ve ever read. Morgenstern’s world building is honestly unmatched. The Starless Sea is so beautifully written with fully developed characters and a story that will keep you hooked from the beginning.
Trigger Warnings: Alcohol, attempted murder, blood, bones, branding, death, depression (mentioned), fire, hallucinations, kidnapping, poisoning, pregnancy, skeletons, stalking, suicide, reference to animal death,, abduction, forced drug use, mention of suicide, mild blood and gore, reference to removal of tongue, skin branding, non-fatal droowning
Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.
A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
You know those books that you read and right from the start you know that you’re going to be obsessed with? The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was one of those books for me. I was utterly captivated with Evelyn and her story, once I started it I couldn’t put it down.
Trigger Warnings: Biphobia, car accident, cheating, death, divorce, physical abuse, suicide, sexual assault, rape, domestic abuse, homophobia, alcoholism, death of a parent, cancer
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life.
When she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
✧ You Should See Me In a Crown by Leah Johnson
I simply loved this book. I adored Liz, and thought she was a wonderful protagonist. I really admired her drive and her spirit. I also found her very inspirational, she had so many obstacles in her way and she never let it stop her from trying to achieve her goals. Liz and Mack were adorable together as well.
Trigger Warnings: Anxiety, bullying, death (parental), disease, cancer, chronic illness (family), forced outing, homophobia, hospitals, needles, racism, panic attacks
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?
✧ Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles
Where Dreams Descend was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020, and it definitely lived up to my expectations! It also meant so much to me to read a fantasy story where the main character was a woman of color who is strong in her convictions and stands up for what she believes in. You can read my full review here.
Trigger Warnings: alcohol and drinking, mind manipulation, controlling/possessive behavior, misogyny, mentions of blood and injury, missing persons, grief/loss.
In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.
As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.
The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost
The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told
The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide
Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.
✼ Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau (April 6, 2021)
France. Ballet. Degas. Vespas. Croissants. What more could you ask for? I absolutely loved this story! I read it practically in one setting and have been recommending it to people since I finished it. I loved the characterization and character growth that Mia went through during the book and loved reading about her journey. I’ll be posting a full review closer to the release date.
Trigger Warnings: Car accident, injury
As sweet as a macaron from Laduree, with writing as crisp as a freshly baked baguette, this romantic novel set in Paris about an American ballerina and a charming French boy is parfait for fans of American Royals and Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
Sixteen-year-old Mia, an American girl at an elite summer ballet program, has six weeks to achieve her dreams: to snag an audition with one of the world’s best ballet companies. But there’s more to Paris than ballet—especially when a charming French boy, Louis, wants to be her tour guide—and the pair discover the city has a few mysteries up its sleeve.
In the vein of romances like Love and Gelato, this is the perfect summer adventure for anyone looking to get swept away in the City of Love.
✧ These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
I definitely have not shut up about These Violent Delights since it’s release in November (let’s be real, I hadn’t shut up about it before it was released either) and I’m sure no one is surprised to see this on my Favorite Reads of 2020 list. Chloe Gong’s debut novel is masterful and I am blown away by the writing and characterization. I’m still thrown by the ending and I cannot wait for the sequel. You can read my full review here.
Trigger Warnings: Mentions and descriptions of blood, violence, gore, character deaths, transphobia, explicit description of gouging self (not of their own volition), murder, weapon use, insects, alcohol consumption, parental abuse.
The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.
A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.
✼ You Have a Match by Emma Lord (January 12, 2021)
You Have a Match really has it all. A literal found family, a coming of age story, friends to lovers, expertly written characters and a story that will make you feel all of the feels. What more could you ask for? This book was everything I wanted it to be and more. You can read my full review here.
Trigger Warnings: Grief, anxiety, injury (mild), death of a family member, adoption/transracial adoption, parental conflict
When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie…although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.
But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister.
When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents ― especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself.
The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby’s growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.
But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because sometimes, the hardest things can also be the best ones.
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
The Gilded Wolves is full of rich and fully fleshed out, complex, sometimes morally grey characters and I absolutely love it. The story grabs you from the first page and doesn’t let go until you’ve read every last page. If you’re interested in reading The Gilded Wolves, you can check out Mary’s review here.
Trigger Warnings: Ableism, antisemitism (violent, mentioned), anxiety, bullying, character death, child abuse, homophobia, loss of a loved one, physical abuse, racism, spiders, torture, violence
No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.
It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.
Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.
The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi
Just like The Gilded Wolves, The Silvered Serpents was utterly captivating and had me hooked right from the beginning. The Silvered Serpents had all of the same intrigue, beautiful imagery and nail-biting action as The Gilded Wolves did and then some! I’m still shocked over the ending and cannot wait for the release of the third book.
Trigger Warnings: Antisemitism, blood, body mutilation, child abuse, fire, infertility (mentioned), kidnapping (past), poisoning, racism, sexual content (brief), suicide (mentioned), violence
They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.
Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost — one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumored to grant its possessor the power of God.
Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into the icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.
As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.
A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.
Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao
This is the first of Gloria Chao’s books that I have read, and I will definitely be checking out her already released works and works she releases in the future. Rent a Boyfriend is PERFECT for fans of the fake dating trope and I absolutely loved reading a book about a Taiwanese character where that is not her entire identity. If you’re interested in reading Rent a Boyfriend (or have already ready it) I highly recommend reading Cossette’s review that she posted last week!
Trigger Warnings: Fatphobia, Cancer (parent with cancer), misogyny, slut shaming, racism, xenophobia, family estrangement, homophobia, manipulation, deceit
Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.
Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.
When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.
But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?
I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn
The imagery and writing style of I Love You So Mochi really brought the book to life for me. I loved all the characters, especially Kimi and her grandparents. This book also made me want to travel to Japan even more than I already did. You can read my full review here.
Trigger Warnings: Family estrangement, mentions of Japanese internment camps (chapters 8 & 15), racism (chapter 12), mention of cancer (chapter 15)
Kimi Nakamura loves a good fashion statement.
She’s obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother disapproves, and when they get into an explosive fight, Kimi’s entire future seems on the verge of falling apart. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi’s estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life.
When she arrives in Japan, she’s met with a culture both familiar and completely foreign to her. She loses herself in the city’s outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival – and meets Akira, a cute aspiring med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. And what begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.
In I Love You So Mochi, author Sarah Kuhn has penned a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel that will make you squee at the cute, cringe at the awkward, and show that sometimes you have to lose yourself in something you love to find your Ultimate self.
With The Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing is utterly captivating, raw and real. With The Fire on High is no exception. I really admired Emoni and her work ethic. I loved that she didn’t let anything stop her from pursuing her goals. While I have not experienced any of the things that Eomi has, I felt very connected to her which I think is a testament to Acevedo’s writing and the emotion that she pours into everything she writes.
Trigger Warnings: Death (family, past), parental abandonment, teen pregnancy, racism, shooting (mentioned), vomiting
With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.
✼ Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson (February 2, 2021)
I absolutely loved Yesterday is History! I found Andre to be such a likeable character and I really felt for him and everything that he was going through. Once I started the book and couldn’t put it down, once I had finished it all I could say was, “I loved this book”.
Trigger Warnings: Cancer, death of a sibling
Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant.
He’s ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael.
And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect—the ability to time travel. And they’ve tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift.
Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre’s donor, keeps him at arm’s length despite their obvious attraction to each other.
Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs—and more importantly who he wants to be—before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.
✼ That Way Madness Lies: 15 of Shakespeare’s Most Notable Works Reimagined Edited by Dahlia Adler (March 16, 2021)
The second I heard about this collection of stories I needed to read it. I love Shakespeare and I love retellings, so this is right up my alley. I loved how all of the authors were able to take the source material and create something new. Many of the short stories I would love to see published as full length novels. I’ll be posting a full review closer to the release date.
Trigger Warnings: Mentions of tornados, mentions of a car crash, blood, recreational drug use, racsm, transphobia, kidnapping, anti-semitism, white supremacy, sexist languagee, homophobic language, mentioned parental abuse (including mental/emotional abuse), death (ncluding mentoned shooting and stabbing, parental death), murder, fire, witchcraft, cult, gangs, severe injury (coma), illusions to rape, mentions of drowning, teen prgnancy, miscarriage, grief
In That Way Madness Lies, fifteen acclaimed YA writers put their modern spin on William Shakespeare’s celebrated classics!
West Side Story. 10 Things I Hate About You. Kiss Me, Kate. Contemporary audiences have always craved reimaginings of Shakespeare’s most beloved works. Now, some of today’s best writers for teens take on the Bard in these 15 whip-smart and original retellings!
Contributors include Dahlia Adler (reimagining The Merchant of Venice), Kayla Ancrum (The Taming of the Shrew), Lily Anderson (All’s Well That Ends Well), Melissa Bashardoust (A Winter’s Tale), Patrice Caldwell (Hamlet), Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy (Much Ado About Nothing), Brittany Cavallaro (Sonnet 147), Joy McCullough (King Lear), Anna-Marie McLemore (Midsummer Night’s Dream), Samantha Mabry (Macbeth), Tochi Onyebuchi (Coriolanus), Mark Oshiro (Twelfth Night), Lindsay Smith (Julius Caesar), Kiersten White (Romeo and Juliet), and Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (The Tempest).
The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley
You know me, if theatre is involved I am going to read it. I’d been looking forward to The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre all year, and it definitely lived up to expectations for me! It simply bought me so much joy reading about stage managing and theatre. I’ll be posting a full review of the book next week.
Trigger Warnings: Mentions of fire, mentions of minor injuries, mentions of blood, mentions of homophobia, injury (broken leg), slut shaming
Melody McIntyre, stage manager extraordinaire, has a plan for everything.
What she doesn’t have? Success with love. Every time she falls for someone during a school performance, both the romance and the show end in catastrophe. So, Mel swears off any entanglements until their upcoming production of Les Mis is over.
Of course, Mel didn’t count on Odile Rose, rising star in the acting world, auditioning for the spring performance. And she definitely didn’t expect Odile to be sweet and funny, and care as much about the play’s success as Mel.
Which means that Melody McIntyre’s only plan now is trying desperately not to fall in love.
✧✼ Turning Pointe: How a New Generation of Dancers is Saving Ballet from Itself by Chloe Angyal (May 4, 2021)
Truthfully, I don’t read much non-fiction and when I do it needs to be something that I’m really interested in to keep my attention. I love to dance and choreograph, and while I’m not a ballerina myself, I love watching ballet and know basic steps and terms. When I saw the cover for Turning Pointe I knew right away that I needed to read it. Thanks to NetGalley, I was able to get an ARC, and once I started it I could not put it down. I won’t go into too much detail here as I will be posting a review closer to the release date, but I will say that I believe it is required reading for anyone who loves dance or is a dancer.
Trigger Warnings: Racism, mentions and specific detail of sexual assuult, abuse (mental, emotioonal and physical), injury, sexism, mentions of depression and suicide, mentions of death, mentions of COVID-19
A reckoning with one of our most beloved art forms, whose past and present are shaped by gender, racial, and class inequities — and a look inside the fight for its future.
Every day, in dance studios all across America, millions of little girls line up at the barre and take ballet class. Their time in the studio shapes their lives, instilling lessons about gender, power, the value of their bodies and minds, and their place in the world both in and outside of dance.
In Turning Pointe, journalist Chloe Angyal captures the intense love for ballet that so many dancers feel, while also grappling with its devastating shortcomings: the power imbalance of an art form performed mostly by women, but dominated by male choreographers and ballet masters, the impossible standards of beauty and thinness, and the racism that keeps so many people out of ballet.
A new generation of dancers is confronting these issues head on. If ballet is going to survive the 21st century and forge a path into a more socially just future, this reckoning is essential.
✧ Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
If you have not read Cemetery Boys please do so as soon as you possibly can. I will admit that it took me a little while to get to it (which is a long story that basically comes down to my copy taking forever to arrive and then getting distracted by other books) but now that I have read it, I know that I’ll be obsessing over it for a very long time. Cossette wrote a beautiful review a few months ago, that you should absolutely check out.
Trigger warnings: death (including mentions of a parental death), transphobia, misgendering, allusions to deadnaming, depictions of gender dysphoria, blood, non-violent mentions of blood magic, mentions of a car accident
A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas’s paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as “groundbreaking.”
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
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.