Okay, book nerds. Are you ready to change the world?
Let’s be real: the world is really crazy right now. You know it, we know it, and sometimes it’s easy to feel tired, alone, or even helpless.
So, we’re crawling out of our book nooks today to talk about it. Reading can sometimes be an escape from the craziness of real life, but sometimes, books can be a catalyst for rising up, fighting back, and finding your voice. And honestly, guys? The year 2020 is going to be a big one for all of that. We’ve got a ton of amazing things on the horizon (and some classic faves) to help you find the activist in yourself. From a new Becky Albertalli book all about the power of resistance, to a guided journal from Queen Angie dedicated to helping you find your voice, these books have got you covered for a truly powerful 2020. Read on, book nerds!
New Year, New Activist You
11 BOOKS TO HELP YOU RISE UP IN 2020
1. Find Your Voice: A Guided Journal For Writing Your Truth by Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas is here to help you find your voice, make some noise, and write something *epic* next year.
Write fearlessly. Write what is true and real to you.
In this guided journal, #1 New York Times bestselling author Angie Thomas shares advice and best practices for developing a true-to-you writing project.
Includes step-by-step craft tips, writing prompts, and exercises for:
- Discovering story ideas
- Creating memorable characters
- Realizing your setting
- Shaping your story
- Writing your “zero draft”
- And more!
With 24 illustrated inspirational quotes from Angie’s acclaimed novels The Hate U Give and On the Come Up, and plenty of blank pages for your own words, Find Your Voice will ignite your creativity and help you bring your own unique stories to life.
2. On The Come Up Collector’s Edition by Angie Thomas
Our girl Bri is back and better than ever—and did we mention this edition has an EXCERPT FROM ANGIE’S NEW NOVEL?!
This collector’s edition of the acclaimed, bestselling novel contains a letter from the author, deleted scenes, a picture of the author as a teen rapper, an annotated playlist, Angie’s top 5 MCs, an annotated rap, illustrated quotes from the book, and an excerpt from Angie’s next novel.
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.
But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral . . . for all the wrong reasons.
Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.
3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
We said it once, we said it twice, we’ll say it again: already a classic, The Hate U Give CANNOT be missed.
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
4. Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed
This powerful (and adorable) book about resistance, local activism, and (of course) love needs to top your 2020 TBRs.
Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone) Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.
Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.
Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural crush of the century is another thing entirely.
5. Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell & Katie Cotugno
Main character Marin pens a feminist manifesto for. the. ages. and you won’t want to miss it.
It starts before you can even remember: You learn the rules for being a girl. . . .
Marin has always been good at navigating these unspoken guidelines. A star student and editor of the school paper, she dreams of getting into Brown University. Marin’s future seems bright—and her young, charismatic English teacher, Mr. Beckett, is always quick to admire her writing and talk books with her.
But when “Bex” takes things too far and comes on to Marin, she’s shocked and horrified. Had she somehow led him on? Was it her fault?
When Marin works up the courage to tell the administration what happened, no one believes her. She’s forced to face Bex in class every day. Except now, he has an ax to grind.
But Marin isn’t about to back down. She uses the school newspaper to fight back and she starts a feminist book club at school. She finds allies in the most unexpected people, like “slutty” Gray Kendall, who she’d always dismissed as just another lacrosse bro. As things heat up at school and in her personal life, Marin must figure out how to take back the power and write her own rules.
6. Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian
About this gorgeous book, we have only this to say: “A book for warriors, divas, artists, queens, individuals, activists, trend setters, and anyone searching for the courage to be themselves.”—Mackenzi Lee
It’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.
Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.
Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance…until she falls for Reza and they start dating.
Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.
As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart—and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known.
7. A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Tahereh is a master, and this powerful, politically charged novel is no exception.
It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.
Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.
But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.
8. Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
This book broke our hearts, and its message is (unfortunately) as timely as ever.
Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried.
When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.
As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?
9. This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura
In This Time Will Be Different, CJ finds out what it means to tell your own story—and the power that comes with it.
Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.
She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.
Then her mom decides to sell the shop—to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.
10. Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland
Y’all NEEEEED this sequel in your lives. Our girl Jane is as powerful as ever.
The sequel to the New York Times bestselling epic Dread Nation is an unforgettable journey of revenge and salvation across a divided America.
After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.
But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodemus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880s America.
What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears—as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.
But she won’t be in it alone.
Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by—and that Jane needs her too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.
Watching Jane’s back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it’s up to Katherine to keep hope alive—even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.
11. We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia
Viva la revolución, book nerds. This companion to We Set the Dark on Fire fantastical activism at its absolute finest.
Being a part of the resistance group La Voz is an act of devotion and desperation. On the other side of Medio’s border wall, the oppressed class fights for freedom and liberty, sacrificing what little they have to become defenders of the cause.
Carmen Santos is one of La Voz’s best soldiers. She spent years undercover, but now, with her identity exposed and the island on the brink of a civil war, Carmen returns to the only real home she’s ever known: La Voz’s headquarters.
There she must reckon with her beloved leader, who is under the influence of an aggressive new recruit, and with the devastating news that her true love might be the target of an assassination plot. Will Carmen break with her community and save the girl who stole her heart—or fully embrace the ruthless rebel she was always meant to be?
What other books do you turn to when trying to find your voice? Which are you looking forward to most? Let us know in the comments below!