Hey, hey, it’s that time of year again, time for my annual 5 favorite YA books of 2023! As this year draws to a close, I’m excited to not only share these books with you all, but also give away a copy of one book to a lucky winner! Please read on to see how you can enter to win.
Is it just me, or did 2023 only last, like, two and a quarter months? Seriously, it went by so fast. I remember the years seeming to last forever when I was a kid, but even my 16 y/o said 2023 was the fastest year ever. So weird.
Anyhow, I managed to read 24 books (probably 26 by the actual last day of 2023 because I’m finishing up two as we speak!). Over half of these books were young adult. Most were published, but a few were beta reads of unpublished works. Unfortunately, I don’t include beta reads into my list of faves because you all aren’t privy to read them just yet. However, when they’re published, watch out!
This year, I also DNF’d (that’s ‘did not finish’) more books than usual, which was bothersome. I really do like to finish a book once I start it, but my time is also valuable and I want to spend it reading books I actually *want* to read.
But let’s go ahead and get to it, shall we?
In no particular order, here are my 5 FAVORITE YA BOOKS of 2023:
You and Me at the End of the Earth by Brianna Bourne
Brianna was in my 2021 debut group, so this book has been on my radar since before it came out. A dystopian-flavored romance? Yes, please! When I found the audiobook on sale on Chirp (my favorite audiobook app), I snatched it up! Here’s the blurb:
This is no ordinary apocalypse…
Hannah Ashton wakes up to silence. The entire city around her is empty, except for one other person: Leo Sterling. Leo might be the hottest boy ever (and not just because he’s the only one left), but he’s also too charming, too selfish, and too much of a disaster for his own good, let alone Hannah’s.
Stuck with only each other, they explore a world with no parents, no friends, and no school and realize that they can be themselves instead of playing the parts everyone expects of them. Hannah doesn’t have to be just an overachieving, music-box-perfect ballerina, and Leo can be more than a slacker, 80s-glam-metal-obsessed guitarist. Leo is a burst of honesty and fun that draws Hannah out, and Hannah’s got Leo thinking about someone other than himself for the first time.
Together, they search for answers amid crushing isolation. But while their empty world may appear harmless . . . it’s not. Because nothing is quite as it seems, and if Hannah and Leo don’t figure out what’s going on, they might just be torn apart forever.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez
This is another book that had been on my radar for a while, and when I saw it sitting on my sister-in-law’s counter, I asked if I could borrow it. Let me just say that it was not what I expected, but in the very best way. The voice. The humor. The grief. I was here for it all.
Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.
But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.
Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.
But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?
A Face for Picasso: Coming of Age with Crouzon Syndrome by Ariel Henley
This is yet another one from my 2021 debut group. I also tend to read a lot of non-fiction, including memoirs, and when I saw this book on the shelf at a new local bookstore (shout out to Rivendell Books & Baubles in BA!) last winter, I decided to purchase it. I found it interesting, enlightening, and full of an emotional rawness you don’t often see, even in memoirs.
Here’s the blurb:
I am ugly. There’s a mathematical equation to prove it.
At only eight months old, identical twin sisters Ariel and Zan were diagnosed with Crouzon syndrome — a rare condition where the bones in the head fuse prematurely. They were the first twins known to survive it.
Growing up, Ariel and her sister endured numerous appearance-altering procedures. Surgeons would break the bones in their heads and faces to make room for their growing organs. While the physical aspect of their condition was painful, it was nothing compared to the emotional toll of navigating life with a facial disfigurement.
Ariel explores beauty and identity in her young-adult memoir about resilience, sisterhood, and the strength it takes to put your life, and yourself, back together time and time again.
See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon
I’ll read pretty much anything by Rachel Lynn Solomon, but this is by far my favorite book of hers. I loved the main character, Barrett, as well as the humor! I was pretty much cackling at every page. The premise was also a fun spin on the Groundhog Day trope.
Here’s the blurb:
Barrett Bloom is hoping college will be a fresh start after a messy high school experience. But when school begins on September 21st, everything goes wrong. She’s humiliated by the know-it-all in her physics class, she botches her interview for the college paper, and at a party that night, she accidentally sets a frat on fire. She panics and flees, and when she realizes her roommate locked her out of their dorm, she falls asleep in the common room.
The next morning, Barrett’s perplexed to find herself back in her dorm room bed, no longer smelling of ashes and crushed dreams. It’s September 21st. Again. And after a confrontation with Miles, the guy from Physics 101, she learns she’s not alone—he’s been trapped for months.
When her attempts to fix her timeline fail, she agrees to work with Miles to find a way out. Soon they’re exploring the mysterious underbelly of the university and going on wild, romantic adventures. As they start falling for each other, they face the universe’s biggest unanswered question yet: what happens to their relationship if they finally make it to tomorrow?
The Rise of Camelot: A Modern-Day True Tale of Horses, Dragons, and a Girl with a Dream by Michelle Guerrero
As you may know, I’m now doing some editing/proofreading on the side, and I was honored to be the proofreader for this book! The author, Michelle, has been an online writing friend of mine since the old Pitchwars days, and as a fellow horsewoman, we’ve shared a special connection. It’s not often that I would include a book that I’ve edited on this list, but this true life story is just that special! The Rise of Camelot released this past fall, and I bought a copy for myself (which my husband instantly read!).
Here’s the blurb:
When a childhood illness landed Eileen Szychowski (“sha-huski”) with a life-changing disability and “you can’t” became an all too familiar phrase, she began to believe that her horse dreams were no more than that: dreams. But then she met Josef, a mysterious man who lived in the redwood forest and saw obstacles as dragons. There are uncanny parallels between Eileen, the girl who raised Camelot in the Sonoran Desert, and Arthur, the boy who founded the medieval kingdom of Camelot in England. Both heroes fought for justice. They lived their lives with chivalry. And they had a mystical mentor who always seemed to be at least two steps ahead of everyone else.
Eileen blazed trails through the Grand Canyon, bringing disability awareness to the National Park Service, before starting the first therapeutic riding center in Arizona. But before she could fulfill her destiny, there were dragons to slay…
Note: 100% of proceeds from sales of this book will benefit Camelot Therapeutic Horsemanship.
And now it’s time for the book giveaway! To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below (on this blog post), telling me one of your favorite books of 2023, as well as which of my 5 faves you’d most like to read! Exciting news: I’m opening this giveaway up to readers worldwide, so everyone is eligible to enter! This contest ends on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2024, and I will notify a winner that day.
Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a book from one of the links above, I will make a small percentage from that sale.