From the political rom-com of our dreams to a murder mystery in Long Island to a city-wide scavenger hunt to celebrate the end of senior year, 2020 is bringing us an epic list of YA novels featuring Jewish protagonists. From the descriptions alone, these Jewish characters have already found their way into my heart, and I cannot wait to read each and every one of these titles. Take a look at all of this goodness and find your favorite Jewish read of 2020!
1. Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed (February)
Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate as long as he doesn’t have to speak to strangers (or, speak at all to almost anyone). Jamie’s a choke artist. He prefers staying behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Maya Rehman is having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is busy, her summer trip is canceled, and her parents are separating. Her mother thinks political canvassing with some awkward dude Maya hardly knows is the solution to her problems. As they go door to door together, the polls get closer – and so do Maya and Jamie.
2. Miss You Love You Hate You Bye by Abby Sher (February)
Zoe and Hank (short for Hannah) have been inseparable since elementary school. The leader, Zoe, is effortlessly popular, while Hank hides comfortably in her shadow. But when Zoe’s parents unexpectedly divorce, Zoe’s perfect facade cracks little by little. Sinking under the weight of her broken family, Zoe develops an eating disorder. Now she must rely on Hank for help. But Hank is used to agreeing, not leading. Can she help her best friend get better before it’s too late?
3. The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee (March)
In the sequel to The Fever King, Noam Álvaro seeks to end tyranny before he becomes a tyrant himself. We want to avoid spoilers for this fantastic series, so check out The Fever King first, in which 16-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed in the former United States and finds he is the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath.
4. What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter (April)
Halle likes everything about her online best friend, Nash. He’s a talented graphic novelist, and they can talk about anything… except who she really is. Because online, Halle isn’t Halle — she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of a book blog that pairs cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, tons of confidence, and Nash. That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, not-behind-a-screen Nash. If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him, though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle… Nash is in love with Kels.
5. Somebody Told Me by Mia Siegert (April)
After an assault, bigender Aleks/Alexis needs a fresh start ― so they voluntarily move in with their uncle, a Catholic priest. In their new bedroom, they can overhear parishioners in the church confessional. Moved by the struggles of these “sinners,” Aleks/Alexis decides to anonymously help them, finding solace in being a guardian angel instead of a victim. But then they overhear a confession of another priest admitting to sexually abusing a parishioner. As they try to uncover the priest’s identity before he hurts anyone again, Aleks/Alexis is also forced to confront their own abuser and come to terms with their past trauma.
6. Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me by Gae Polisner (April)
Fifteen-year-old JL used to spend days and nights giggling with her best friend Aubrey. Together, they were unstoppable. But they aren’t the friends they once were. With JL’s father gone on business, and her mother suffering from dissociative disorder, JL takes solace in the tropical butterflies she raises, and in her new, older boyfriend, Max. He’s rough on the outside but has the soul of a poet (something Aubrey doesn’t understand). Only, Max is about to graduate and hit the road — with or without JL. She can’t bear being left behind again. But devoting herself to Max means betraying her parents — and possibly losing the love of her best friend forever.
7. Camp by Lev A.C. Rosen (May)
Randy loves Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends and takes the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson — who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy exists. But this year will be different. Randy has reinvented himself as “Del” — buff, masculine, and on the market. Randy is determined to get Hudson to fall for him. But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself how much he’s willing to change for love. And is it really love if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?
8. Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Solomon (June)
It’s the last day of senior year. Rowan and Neil have been bitter rivals for all of high school, clashing on everything from test scores to student council elections. Rowan would love to beat him one last time. When Neil is named valedictorian, she has only one chance at victory: Howl, a senior class game that takes them all over Seattle. But after learning a group of seniors is out to get them, she and Neil reluctantly decide to team up until they’re the last players left — and then they’ll destroy each other. As Rowan spends more time with Neil, she realizes he’s much more than the linguistics nerd she’s sparred with for years. In fact, this boy she despises might actually be the boy of her dreams.
9. They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman (August)
Everything looks perfect in Gold Coast, Long Island, from the manicured beaches to the pressed uniforms of Jill Newman and her friends. But Jill knows nothing is as it seems. Freshman year her best friend, Shaila, was killed by her boyfriend. Graham confessed, and the case was closed. Jill tried to move on. Now, it’s senior year, and she’s determined to make it her best yet. She’s a Player — a member of Gold Coast Prep’s exclusive, not-so-secret secret society, with access to the best parties. But Jill starts getting texts proclaiming Graham’s innocence. If Graham didn’t kill Shaila, who did? Jill vows to find out, but digging deeper could mean putting her friendships, and her future, in jeopardy.
10. Recommended for You by Laura Silverman (September)
(Yes, this one was written by me, the author of this article.) Shoshanna loves working at Once Upon, her favorite bookstore. And with her moms fighting at home and her car teetering on the brink of death, the store has become a welcome escape. When her boss announces a bookselling bonus, Shoshanna sees an opportunity to at least fix her car. The only person standing in her way? New hire Jake Kaplan. He’s an affront to everything Shoshanna stands for. He doesn’t even read! But somehow his sales start to rival hers. Jake may be a cute, eligible Jewish single, but he’s also the enemy, and Shoshanna will take him down. But as the competition intensifies, the two grow closer and realize they might be more on the same page than either expects…
11. Liar’s Guide to the Night Sky by Brianna R. Shrum (November)
Hallie’s parents yank her to Colorado when her grandpa gets sick. She’s surrounded by ice, snow, and a thousand cousins she’s half-banned from hanging around with. On one family weekend in the tundra, Hallie sneaks off with those cousins to an abandoned ski slope. They get caught in a mudslide, and what started as a Secret Bonfire Party goes in a Potential Donner Party direction real fast. With several cousins in desperate need of medical attention, Hallie goes for help, and Jonah joins her. Jonah is her troubled cousin’s off-limits (absurdly hot) best friend. Facing freezing temperatures and sharp-toothed animals, Jonah and Hallie have no choice but to trust each other. Though that may be more impossible, even, than making it out alive.
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