The Mary Sue Book Club, September 2022: The Month Where Almost Everything Comes Out on the 13th
We are nine months into the year, and it feels like half of the most interesting young adult novels with a 2022 release date are coming out in September. From certified gold writers like Tiffany D. Jackson to a dozen newcomers, there are lots of interesting novels coming out of this category (not a genre, because it’s not a genre!) right now. This, plus the stack of adult titles I looked through to keep this list under eight picks was a lot.
Also, there were three books that I’d been looking forward to the whole year, and then I’d find out about a literary giant who was a favorite of Toni Morrison (I’m talking about Gayl Jones) dropping her first book in about two decades, or a debut author with who is using so many puns in a heist story featuring ace leads, so how could I not include them both?
The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson
When Springville residents–at least the ones still alive–are questioned about what happened on prom night, they all have the same explanation . . . Maddy did it.
An outcast at her small-town Georgia high school, Madison Washington has always been a teasing target for bullies. And she’s dealt with it because she has more pressing problems to manage. Until the morning a surprise rainstorm reveals her most closely kept secret: Maddy is biracial. She has been passing for white her entire life at the behest of her fanatical white father, Thomas Washington.
After a viral bullying video pulls back the curtain on Springville High’s racist roots, student leaders come up with a plan to change their image: host the school’s first integrated prom as a show of unity. The popular white class president convinces her Black superstar quarterback boyfriend to ask Maddy to be his date, leaving Maddy wondering if it’s possible to have a normal life.
But some of her classmates aren’t done with her just yet. And what they don’t know is that Maddy still has another secret . . . one that will cost them all their lives.
The Weight of Blood releases on September 6.
Monsters Born and Made by Tanvi Berwah
Sixteen-year-old Koral and her older brother Emrik risk their lives each day to capture the monstrous maristags that live in the black seas around their island. They have to, or else their family will starve.
In an oceanic world swarming with vicious beasts, the Landers–the ruling elite, have indentured Koral’s family to provide the maristags for the Glory Race, a deadly chariot tournament reserved for the upper class. The winning contender receives gold and glory. The others–if they’re lucky–survive.
When the last maristag of the year escapes and Koral has no new maristag to sell, her family’s financial situation takes a turn for the worse and they can’t afford medicine for her chronically ill little sister. Koral’s only choice is to do what no one in the world has ever dared: cheat her way into the Glory Race.
But every step of the way is unpredictable as Koral races against competitors–including her ex-boyfriend–who have trained for this their whole lives and who have no intention of letting a low-caste girl steal their glory. As a rebellion rises and rogues attack Koral to try and force her to drop out, she must choose–her life or her sister’s–before the whole island burns.
Monsters Born and Made releases on September 6.
As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katough
Salama Kassab was a pharmacy student when the cries for freedom broke out in Syria. She still had her parents and her big brother; she still had her home. She had a normal teenager’s life.
Now Salama volunteers at a hospital in Homs, helping the wounded who flood through the doors daily. Secretly, though, she is desperate to find a way out of her beloved country before her sister-in-law, Layla, gives birth. So desperate, that she has manifested a physical embodiment of her fear in the form of her imagined companion, Khawf, who haunts her every move in an effort to keep her safe.
But even with Khawf pressing her to leave, Salama is torn between her loyalty to her country and her conviction to survive. Salama must contend with bullets and bombs, military assaults, and her shifting sense of morality before she might finally breathe free. And when she crosses paths with the boy she was supposed to meet one fateful day, she starts to doubt her resolve in leaving home at all.
Soon, Salama must learn to see the events around her for what they truly are–not a war, but a revolution–and decide how she, too, will cry for Syria’s freedom.
As Long as the Lemon Trees Grows releases on September 13.
Ace Wild: A Heist by Amanda DeWitt
Some people join chess club, some people play football. Jack Shannon runs a secret blackjack ring in his private school’s basement. What else is the son of a Las Vegas casino mogul supposed to do?
Everything starts falling apart when Jack’s mom is arrested for their family’s ties to organized crime. His sister Beth thinks this is the Shannon family’s chance to finally go straight, but Jack knows that something’s not right. His mom was sold out, and he knows by who. Peter Carlevaro: rival casino owner and jilted lover. Gross.Jack hatches a plan to find out what Carlevaro’s holding over his mom’s head, but he can’t do it alone. He recruits his closest friends–the asexual support group he met through fandom forums. Now all he has to do is infiltrate a high-stakes gambling club and dodge dark family secrets, while hopelessly navigating what it means to be in love while asexual. Easy, right?
Aces Wild: A Heist releases on September 13.
The Birdcatcher by Gayl Jones
Set primarily on the island of Ibiza, the story is narrated by the writer Amanda Wordlaw, whose closest friend, a gifted sculptor named Catherine Shuger, is repeatedly institutionalized for trying to kill a husband who never leaves her. The three form a quirky triangle on the white-washed island.
A study in Black women’s creative expression, and the intensity of their relationships, this work from Jones shows off her range and insight into the vicissitudes of all human nature – rewarding longtime fans and bringing her talent to a new generation of readers.
The Birdcatcher releases on September 13.
People Person by Candice Carty-Williams
If you could choose your family…you wouldn’t choose the Penningtons.Dimple Pennington knows of her half siblings, but she doesn’t really know them. Five people who don’t have anything in common except for faint memories of being driven through Brixton in their dad’s gold jeep, and some pretty complex abandonment issues. Dimple has bigger things to think about.
She’s thirty, and her life isn’t really going anywhere. An aspiring lifestyle influencer with a terrible and wayward boyfriend, Dimple’s life has shrunk to the size of a phone screen. And despite a small but loyal following, she’s never felt more alone in her life. That is, until a dramatic event brings her half siblings Nikisha, Danny, Lizzie, and Prynce crashing back into her life. And when they’re all forced to reconnect with Cyril Pennington, the absent father they never really knew, things get even more complicated.
People Person releases on September 13.
The Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang
It’s an old, familiar story: a young person hears the voice of an angel saying they have been chosen as a warrior to lead their people to victory in a holy war.
But Misery Nomaki (she/they) knows they are a fraud.
Raised on a remote moon colony, they don’t believe in any kind of god. Their angel is a delusion, brought on by hereditary space exposure. Yet their survival banks on mastering the holy mech they are supposedly destined for, and convincing the Emperor of the Faithful that they are the real deal.
The deeper they get into their charade, however, the more they start to doubt their convictions. What if this, all of it, is real?
A reimagining of Joan of Arc’s story given a space opera, giant robot twist, the Nullvoid Chronicles is a story about the nature of truth, the power of belief, and the interplay of both in the stories we tell ourselves.
The Genesis of Misery releases on September 27.
Which of these are you most excited to check out? Let us know in the comments if we missed a book you’ve been waiting for!
(featured image: Peachtree Teen, Little Brown Books for Young Readers, and Tor Books)
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