Best of 2023: Teen fiction & nonfiction

Oak Park’s Best of 2023 is back! Our annual librarian-curated selection of titles features some of the titles most requested and checked out by Oak Parkers.

See our teen fiction and nonfiction favorites on this page or browse more using the links below.

Adult fiction: General | Adult fiction: Romance, lives & relationships | Adult fiction: Mystery, thriller, sci-fi & fantasyAdult nonfictionTeen fiction | Teen nonfiction | Kids booksPicture books | TV shows | Movies | Music

Teen fiction

The Adventure Zone 5: The Eleventh Hour by Clint McElroy

Why you should try it: "This series is a reinterpretation of one of my favorite podcasts of the same name where three brothers play D&D with their dad. I enjoy its colorful art, witty banter between characters, and alternate takes on pop-culture themes (this one is very Groundhog Day)."—Joey, Children's Services Library Assistant

Description: A small mining town called Refuge has been locked away behind an arcane bubble, and somewhere inside it the Temporal Chalice is causing unknown mayhem. Taako, Magnus, and Merle are launched into their investigation, but they've barely had a chance to get their feet under them before the situation literally falls apart. When the town clocktower strikes noon, Refuge and its citizens are destroyed in a sudden chaos of flame and ruin, and our heroes' relic hunting—along with their lives—comes to an abrupt end. But woah, what's this? It's 11 am, they're alive again, and Refuge definitely hasn't just been exploded? Looks like a classic time loop, friends. This town is trapped in its final hour, and so are the three of them.

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Beholder by Ryan La Sala

Why you should try it: "So creepy and scary! You won't look in a mirror the same way ever again."—Jenna, Collection Management Librarian

Description: Athanasios "Athan" Bakirtzis has made it far in life relying on his charm and good looks, even securing an invitation to a mysterious penthouse soiree for New York City's artsy elite. But when he sneaks off to the bathroom, he hears a slam, followed by a scream. Athan peers outside, only to be pushed back in by a boy his age. The boy gravely tells him not to open the door, then closes Athan in. Outside the door, the party descends into chaos. Through hours of howls, laughter, and sobs, Athan stays hidden. When he finally emerges, he discovers a massacre where the corpses appear to have arranged themselves into a disturbingly elegant sculpture—and Athan's mysterious savior is nowhere to be found. Athan—the only known survivor—is now the primary suspect. In a race to prove his innocence, Athan is swept up in a supernatural mystery, one of secret occult societies and deadly eldritch horrors with rather distinctive taste.

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The Davenports by Krystal Marquis

Why you should try it: "I loved all the characters in this book set in 1910 Chicago. I can't wait for more in the series!"—Jenna, Collection Management Librarian

Description: The Davenports are one of the few Black families of immense wealth and status in 1910 Chicago, and the two daughters, Olivia and Helen, are finding their way and finding love—even where they are not supposed to.

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Eight Nights of Flirting by Hannah Reynolds

Why you should try it: "I loved Shira and her friends and family. Her relationship with neighbor Tyler developed beautifully. This book brought me a lot of joy!"—Shelley, Children's Services Librarian

Description: 16-year-old Shira is on a mission to find the perfect boyfriend over Hanukkah, but after getting snowed in on Nantucket with her nemesis-slash-former-crush her plans begin to go off the rails.

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Highly Suspicious & Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert

Why you should try it: "This rom-com was really sweet, took place mostly in nature, and tackled some larger issues that added depth to the overall plot." —Rose, Health & Senior Services Librarian

Description: Bradley Graeme is pretty much perfect: He's a star football player, manages his OCD well (enough), and comes out on top in all his classes...except the ones he shares with Celine Bangura. They used to be best friend, until Brad decided he was too cool for conspiracy-theory-obsessed Celine and literally abandoned her for the popular kids' table. (At least, that's how Celine sees it.) These days, there's nothing between them but insults and academic rivalry. So when Celine signs up for a two-part survival course in the woods, the last thing she expects is to find Brad right beside her.

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Hockey Girl Loves Drama Boy by Faith Erin Hicks

Why you should try it: "Sure, it's pretty Canadian, but this graphic novel will have you hopeful for young love and the opportunity to be understood by someone unexpected."—Genevieve, Children's Services Supervising Librarian

Description: It should have been a night of triumph for Alix's hockey team. But her mean teammate Lindsay decided to start up with her usual rude comments and today Alix, who usually tries to control her anger, let it finally run free. Alix lashes out and before she knows it, her coach is dragging her off Lindsay, and the invitation to the Canada National Women's U18 Team's summer camp is on the line. She needs to learn how to control this anger, and she is sure Ezra, the popular and poised theater kid from her grade is the answer. So she asks for his help. But as they hang out and start getting closer, Alix learns that there is more to Ezra than the cool front he puts on. And that maybe this friendship could become something more.

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The Last Girls Standing by Jennifer Dugan

Why you should try it: "This was terrifying and disorienting and steeped in all the ways teens experience everything all at once. I wanted to put it down—because I'm a scaredy-cat—but I couldn't."—Dontaná, Collection Management Librarian

Description: As the only two survivors of a summer camp massacre, Sloan and her girlfriend Cherry form a seemingly unbreakable bond, but as Sloan discovers more about the attack she begins to suspect Cherry may be more than just a survivor.

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Other Ever Afters: New Queer Fairy Tales by Melanie Gillman

Why you should try it: "I was drawn to this book by the cover art and title and was not disappointed—It was delightful!"—Janet, Patron Services Library Assistant

Description: In this new feminist, queer fairy tale collection, the princesses, mermaids, barmaids, children, and wise old women who have been forced to sit on the sidelines in classic stories take center stage to fulfill their own dreams and find the love, power, and happiness they deserve.

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Sing Me to Sleep by Gabi Burton

Why you should try it: "I was totally swept up in this dark fantasy about a morally gray siren."—Jenna, Collection Management Librarian

Description: Saoirse Sorkova survives on lies. As a soldier-in-training at the most prestigious barracks in the kingdom, she lies about being a siren to avoid execution. At night, working as an assassin for a dangerous group of mercenaries, Saoirse lies about her true identity. And to her family, Saoirse tells the biggest lie of all: that she can control her siren powers and doesn't struggle constantly against an impulse to kill. But when a mysterious blackmailer threatens her sister, Saoirse takes a dangerous job that will help her investigate: she becomes a personal bodyguard to the crown prince. Saoirse should hate Prince Hayes. After all, his father is the one who enforces the kingdom's brutal creature segregation laws. But when Hayes turns out to be kind, thoughtful, and charming, Saoirse finds herself increasingly drawn to him—especially when they're forced to work together to stop a deadly killer who's plaguing the city. There's only one problem: Saoirse is that deadly killer.

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Wonder Cat Kyuu-chan: Volume 1 by Sasami Nitori

Why you should try it: "This series just ended in 2023. It's a nice slice-of-life series where there is no drama. Just the love between a person and their cute cat."—Andrea, Collection Management Librarian

Description: There's more to this kitty than meets the eye! Kyuu-chan loves snacks, cuddles, and bow ties, but most of all loves Hinata, the young professional who adopted this mischievous wonder cat into his home. As the two adjust to life together, they discover that they have a lot to learn from each other.

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Teen nonfiction

Family Style: Memories of an American From Vietnam by Thien Pham

Why you should try it: "Impactful illustrations and a wonderful story about a boy and his family adjusting to life in the U.S. after living in Vietnam."—Andrea, Collection Management Librarian

Description: Thien's first memory isn't a sight or a sound. It's the sweetness of watermelon and the saltiness of fish. It's the taste of the foods he ate while adrift at sea as his family fled Vietnam. After the Pham family arrives at a refugee camp in Thailand, they struggle to survive. Things don't get much easier once they resettle in California. And through each chapter of their lives, food takes on a new meaning.

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