From anti-Semitism in 1950s Atlanta to girls taking over Silicon Valley to a page-turning dystopian thriller, there is an incredible list of Jewish YA books coming out this year. As a Jewish teen, I rarely saw myself reflected in the stories I read, which is the main reason I write Jewish characters in my books now. And I couldn’t be more thrilled to see that a more diverse range of Jewish novels is hitting shelves in 2019. Check out all of these amazing titles to find your next favorite Jewish read!
1. In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton
Publication Date: April 9
Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta — the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s identity into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.
2. Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Publication Date: January 15
Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, and secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. But she can’t help wonder if, after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.
3. Color Me In by Natasha Díaz
Publication Date: August 20
Who is Nevaeh Levitz? Growing up in an affluent suburb of New York City, 16-year-old Nevaeh never thought much about her biracial roots. When her Black mom and Jewish dad split up, she relocates to her mom’s family home in Harlem and is forced to confront her identity for the first time.
4. Screen Queens by Lori Goldstein
Publication Date: June 11
Three thousand applicants. An acceptance rate of two percent. A dream internship for the winning team. ValleyStart is the most prestigious high school tech incubator competition in the country. Lucy Katz, Maddie Li, and Delia Meyer have secured their spots. And they’ve come to win. But when the competition kicks off, they realize just how challenging the next five weeks will be. As if there wasn’t enough pressure already, the girls learn that they would be the only all-female team to come out on top. Add in one first love, a two-faced mentor, and an ex-boyfriend turned nemesis and things get… complicated.
5. The Fever King by Victoria Lee
Publication Date: March 1
In the former United States, 16-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia. The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks — refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But when he meets the minister’s son — cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful — the way forward becomes less clear.
6. You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman
Publication Date: March 5
Okay, you caught me, I wrote this one. Senior Ariel Stone has spent his life cultivating the perfect college résumé: first chair violinist, dedicated volunteer, active synagogue congregant, and expected valedictorian. He barely has time to think about a social life, let alone a relationship… until a failed calculus quiz puts his future on the line, forcing Ariel to enlist his classmate Amir as a tutor. As the two spend more time together, Ariel discovers he may not like calculus, but he does like Amir. But adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push Ariel past his limit.
6. Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum
Publication Date: May 7
Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, except that her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes. Abbi was captured in what became an iconic photograph: In the picture, Abbi (aka “Baby Hope”) wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing. Now, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her 17th birthday incognito as a counselor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan.
8. Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz
Publication Date: November 5
Jewish and chronically ill advice columnist Isabel breaks her no-dating rule for a sick boy at the hospital and must choose between breaking his heart or staying with him when a devastating family secret threatens their new love.
9. It’s a Whole Spiel by Katherine Locke and Laura Silverman
Publication Date: September 17
This is an anthology of Jewish stories I co-edited with Katherine Locke, with an introduction by Mayim Bialik. From stories of confronting their relationships with Judaism to rom-coms with a side of bagels and lox, It’s a Whole Spiel features one story after another that says yes, we are Jewish, but we are also queer, and disabled, and creative, and political, and adventurous, and anything we want to be.
10. The Truth About Leaving by Natalie Blitt
Publication Date: March 5
Lucy Green thought she had her senior year in the bag. Cute boyfriend? Check. College plan? Check. But when her boyfriend dumps her the week before school starts and she literally stumbles into Dov, the new Israeli transfer student, on her first day of school, Lucy’s carefully mapped-out future crumbles.
11. Meet Me in Outer Space by Melinda Grace
Publication Date: March 12
Edie Kits has a learning disability. Well, not a learning disability exactly, but a disability that impacts her learning. It isn’t visible, it isn’t obvious, and it isn’t something she likes to advertise. And for three semesters of college, her hard work and perseverance have carried her through. Edie thinks she has her disability under control until she meets her match with a French 102 course and a professor unwilling to help her out. Edie finds herself caught between getting the help she needs and convincing her professor that she isn’t looking for an easy out.
12. The Survival List by Courtney Sheinmel
Publication Date: September 17
The only thing connecting Sloane to her older sister Talley is a list of random places, unfamiliar names, and a phone number that she doesn’t recognize. Ever since Talley died, Sloane has been completely fixated on it: Maybe understanding how the items on the list connect is the key to understanding why Talley took her own life. Except the clues on the list seem to be pointing her to California, and Talley had never even been there, right? Turns out the list of things Sloane didn’t know about her sister is much longer than she realized.
Be sure to also keep an eye out for these upcoming Jewish YA titles: Crying Laughing by Lance Rubin and The Assignment by Liza M. Wiemer.