Introducing Oak Park’s Best of 2021, a librarian-curated selection of titles, featuring some of the titles most requested and checked out by Oak Parkers! See our teen fiction favorites on this page or browse more using the links below.
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
Why you should try it: "I didn't think I would like a book ostensibly about basketball, but just like its creator, I became invested in the stories of the players, as well as Yang's own journey towards fulfilling his destiny."—Genevieve, Children's Services Librarian
Description: Gene doesn't get sports. But at Bishop O'Dowd High School, it's all anyone can talk about. The men's varsity basketball team, the Dragons, is having a phenomenal season that's been decades in the making. Each victory brings them closer to their ultimate goal: the California State Championships. Once Gene gets to know these young all-stars, he realizes that their story is just as thrilling as anything he's seen on a comic book page. What he doesn't know yet is that this season is not only going to change the Dragons' lives but his own life as well.
Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley
Why you should try it: "This debut is a stunning thriller, rich with Ojibwe culture."—Jenna, Collection Management Librarian
Description: Daunis, who is part Ojibwe, defers attending the University of Michigan to care for her mother and reluctantly becomes involved in the investigation of a series of drug-related deaths.
Fresh by Margot Wood
Why you should try it: "Inspired by Emma (my favorite Austen book), I loved how realistically messy the heroine is. Bonus points for being set in college and having a queer lead!"—Jenna, Collection Management Librarian
Description: Elliot McHugh enters her first year of college not knowing what to expect but after parties, new friends, and tough tests, she begins to learn a lot about herself and what is important.
Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon
Why you should try it: "I'm a sucker for some magical realism and teenagers working out their emotions!"—Genevieve, Children's Services Librarian
Description: After picking up a book from the library, Yvette—who has given up on love—gains the ability to see how other people's romantic relationships will end.
The Project by Courtney Summers
Why you should try it: "For fans of Sharp Objects, Courtney Summers mixes terror into family life."—Beronica, Children's Services Librarian
Description: Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo's sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there's more to the group than meets the eye.
Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen
Why you should try it: "This story is of a young, Black mermaid who defies her gods to do what she knows is the right thing. Natasha Bowen incorporates West African folklore in a beautiful and enchanting way. Word of caution: you will have to take a step back and breathe a few times, but you will go back wanting to know more."—Beronica, Children's Services Librarian
Description: Transformed by the goddess Yemoja into a Mami Wati, an African mermaid charged with collecting the souls of those who die at sea, Simi goes against the gods to save a living boy, Kola, from drowning.
So Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix by Bethany C. Morrow
Why you should try it: "I grew up reading Little Women, and this is a golden age for retellings! This is one of my favorites, as the author chose to stay close to the spirit of the story and characters, without directly transplanting the originals. There's a great balance of familiar and new here, and the whole thing is just wonderful and complex."—Shelley, Children's Services Librarian
Description: At the Freedman's Colony of Roanoke Island, a haven for the recently emancipated, the four March sisters—Meg, Joanna, Bethlehem, and Amethyst—come into their own as independent young Black women together facing love, sickness, heartbreak, and new horizons.
White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson
Why you should try it: "This haunted house story was such a thrilling read for spooky season!"—Jenna, Collection Management Librarian
Description: Marigold's mom has accepted a new job with the Sterling Foundation, in the embattled Midwestern city of Cedarville, that comes with a free house, one that Mari now has to share with her bratty 10-year-old stepsister, Piper. The renovated picture-perfect home on Maple Street, sitting between dilapidated houses, surrounded by wary neighbors has its...secrets. That's only half the problem: household items vanish, doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows walk past rooms, voices can be heard in the walls, and there's a foul smell seeping through the vents only Mari seems to notice. Worse: Piper keeps talking about a friend who wants Mari gone.