YA Wednesday: Best Books of February

Dreamland200February's Best YA of the Month spotlight pick is a historical novel I can't stop recommending--Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham.  The narrative alternates between two teenagers, William Tillman in the days leading up to the Tulsa, Oklahoma race riots of 1921, and Rowan Chase, living in modern day Tulsa.

  When construction workers uncover a skeleton in the back house of Rowan's family home she finds herself investigating a murder and learning for the first time a lot of less-than-pleasant facts about what happened in her town long before she was born.  Will's perspective is harrowing and visceral, and both young people come to difficult realizations about racism, justice, and what role they, as individuals, will play in it all.  An incredibly powerful read that I hope to see again when next year's award season rolls around...

Here are the other  books that made our list of the Best YA of February:

 

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The Cruelty by S. Bergstrom
The premise of this sounds like it could be really great or horribly hokey. Bergstrom makes it great. When Gwendolyn Bloom's father goes missing she discovers he's been leading a secret life.  And in order to find him Gwen must enter a very dangerous underworld of criminals and spies. Exotic locales, bad-ass women, and bit of The Bourne Identity feel.
 

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Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Garber paints a fantastical picture of two sisters and a legendary performance called Caraval.  The young women soon learn that this magical production also carries extremely high stakes for those chosen to attend because all are not merely guests but active participants.  The novel reminded me a bit of The Night Circus (which I loved) and would make a perfect weekend read.
 

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Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Hruby Powell
Don't make any assumptions about this one just because it's told in verse--it's incredibly moving and flows beautifully. The story of two teenagers, one black and one white, who had nothing special going for them but managed to change history by their willingness to fight for everyone's right to marry who they love. Very timely.
 

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Wires and Nerve: Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer, illustrated by Douglas Holgate
Marissa Meyer brings her storytelling talents to the graphic novel format and revisits the android character Iko from her Cinder series. A really cool new direction for Meyer and I like that this isn't just a graphic novel adaptation of an existing book, but an original story that gives more to look forward to.
 

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The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
The daughter of a Celtic king has looked forward to the day she comes of age and can become a warrior, only her father wants to marry her off instead.  But when she is captured by Julius Cesar's men, she will enter the fight--as a female gladiator. High action, good love story, and historical setting.  If you liked The Winners Curse I think you'll like this one, too.
   

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