As schools, conventions, concerts, and everything else gets cancelled due to COVID-19, it can be difficult to stay busy when schedules are suddenly opening up. Reading can be a great way to pass the time while you’re stuck at home, so we’ve compiled a list of page-turning books to help take your mind off things for awhile.
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus
Audre, a 16-year-old living in Trinidad, is being sent away to America to live with her father, after her religious mother catches Audre with her girlfriend. Devastated and heart-broken, Audre’s grandmother, Queenie, tries to help Audre find the sliver-lining, but she’s still not convinced. Meanwhile in Minneapolis, 16-year-old Mabel is trying to work through her own confusing feelings when she learns that her father’s best friend will be joining them for dinner with his daughter, who just arrived from Trinidad. As Mabel and Audre grow closer, they learn how to care for and love each other even when everything feels impossible.
The Stars and the Blackness Between Them is a beautiful debut from Petrus. She brings unique voices to Audre and Mabel, creating more personable characters who are entirely their own. Petrus handles Mabel’s eventual situation with grace, further highlighting the caring nature of both girls, as well as the love they have for each other. Petrus goes into this story with an open mind. It’s full of sadness, joy, and a lesson on empathy. This is a book that’s not to be missed.
Jackpot by Nic Stone
Rico Danger (that’s DON-gur, thank you very much) has never been rich a day in her life. Every day she goes to school, her job at the gas station, and then rushes home to take care of her little brother. One day at work, however, she sells a winning lottery ticket that goes unclaimed. With the help of her wildly rich classmate Zan, Rico decides to track down the winner and maybe, finally gain a small fortune for herself and her family.
In Jackpot, Nic Stone creates two vastly different characters who complement each other well and make the book all the more compelling. Stone does a brilliant job making you fully believe you know exactly how everything will play out, perfectly setting up the story’s twist (which I LOVE. I couldn’t believe what I was reading). Instead of telling the story entirely from Rico’s POV, Stone also includes chapters told from the perspective of inanimate objects to keep things interesting. Jackpot is a joy to read from beginning to end.
Infinity Son by Adam Silvera
Infinity Son is a grounded fantasy that takes place in modern-day New York. It follows Emil and Brighton Rey, brothers who grew up admiring celestials (people born with magic), especially a vigilante group known as Spell Walkers who dedicate their lives to fighting specters, those who forcefully take powers from magical creatures. After Emil discovers he has powers, he and Brighton are pulled into the middle of the conflict between Spell Walkers and specters. They must quickly learn what it means to be heroes, as their brotherhood is tested.
Infinity Son is the perfect book to read if you need a little fantasy, a little contemporary, and something fast-paced. Silvera and his magical cast of characters offer something for everyone, and Emil and Brighton shine. Silvera also isn’t shy in writing in elements that mirror reality, offering important reminders about society. You can read more about our thoughts on Infinity Son here.
Reverie by Ryan La Sala
After causing an accident, all Kane Montgomery can remember is that he was found half-dead by police, and reality feels different, but Kane doesn’t know why. When three of his classmates claim to be his friends and the only ones who can help him recover his memory, Kane is pulled into entire worlds that materialize out of thin air. Soon Kane realizes none of this was coincidence, and he must fight to protect his world and reality from unraveling completely.
In Reverie, Ryan La Sala brings magical worlds to life in a vibrant and creative way. It’s easy to visualize how these worlds would manifest if they were real. La Sala keeps you on your toes, throwing you back into the action just when you think you’ve had a moment to recover. I love the different worlds he introduces and how he eventually brings them together in a heart-pounding, action-packed finale. Reverie is a brilliant debut from La Sala, and I look forward to what he cooks up next.
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
After high schooler Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as non-binary, they’re thrown out of the house and forced to move in with their estranged sister Hannah and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never met until now. Struggling to cope with the anxiety and shock of being rejected by their parents, Ben hides who they are except from Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist, all while trying to adjust to a new home and a new school.
One thing that really stood out to me about this book is how it surrounds a situation that should seem hopeless but is riddled with hope. Despite all odds, Ben pushes through, even when they felt hopeless at times. They found a friend, Nathan, they came to trust, and learned how to become more accepting of who they are. Deaver created two wonderful, lovable characters with Ben and Nathan. They wrote a compelling and delightful story that is certain to stick with you long after you finish reading.
Stay tuned for more of our bingeworthy lists featuring more books, streaming services, and more. Read our other bingeworthy lists here.