Cup of Tea’s Best Books of 2021: Teen and Young Adult Books

Welcome to the Cup of Tea’s Best Books of the Year, where I list the best of the best books I read this year.

Unfortunately, I didn’t read as many YA titles as I would have liked to this year. However, I lucked out. I immediately loved the few YA titles I picked up, so I was not in danger of reading a title that didn’t deserve my time and attention. As a YA librarian, I should say that I read many teen/young adult books. Still, I am very picky about YA books and only recommend great titles that all readers will enjoy. So just like last year, I encountered emotional and impactful books that will stay with me always. So when I say they are the best of the best, you shouldn’t worry about engaging unfavorable titles. Now onto the best Teen/Young Adult titles of 2021:


The Crossing by Manjeet Mann

Manjeet Mann has delivered another emotional juggernaut that will stay with readers for many years to come. I sat in awe and amazement after I finished the book. With spiritualism filled with hope and realism, I don’t think I have enough words to explain how truly amazing this book is. I also loved how Mann told such a powerful story in two perspectives…in verse! I’ve never seen that done before and really demonstrated how Sammy’s and Nat’s story, although different, intertwined. If I  could give this 10 stars, I would. 

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

This “haters to lovers” romance not only caught my eye and heart but I also fell in love with this coming of age story and the relevant issues of racism and homophobia was just so well done that made me consider to be one of the best YA contemporary romances I’ve read in awhile.

Ferryman by Claire McFall

I am not always a big fan of YA fantasy books but this one is completely different. Honest and compelling writing, excellent character development, excellent world-building…the list could go on and on how this under the radar YA fantasy needs to be readers TBR pile. Ferryman by Claire McFall is unlike any book series readers will encounter, and they need to give this one a chance. I’m so glad this is part of a series, and I can’t wait to read more of this exciting story.

Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson

BLOWN…AWAY! Jackson has brought readers another exciting and thrilling mystery that leaves the audience enthralled from beginning to end. Pip is my new favorite teen detective. She is talented at deductions but she has empathy and relatable, not characteristics you find in detectives. Not many YA authors can write a great sequel to already popular book and Jackson really shined here with creativity and compelling writing that will definitely make me read the next one! Which leads me to my next favorite book…

As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson

It’s rare for an author to not only have two titles on the best of the year but also have two books released one after another but as always, Holly Jackson manages to surprise her readers! What I love (and will miss) about this series is that Jackson has created a detective that feels realistic to any age reader who is fortunate enough to pick up this series. Such a thrilling conclusion for such an amazing series!

The Girl Who Became a Tree by Joseph Coelho

My love for novels in verse continues with another book that is both heartbreaking and inspirational that really touches the human soul. Partnered with breathtaking illustrations that are both haunting and enchanting, this CILIP Carnegie Longlisted book (and I’m not surprised why it was nominated) brings out the really hard truths of the grieving process and the feelings a person may have during it is so realistic that the reader will have a hard time not feeling what the main character is going through. I also love the tie in with mythology, that was a very nice touch and actually added a deeper meaning to legend. Such a beautiful and profound book did with innovation and cleverness but keeping true to a compelling story. 

The Broken Raven by Joseph Elliott

Another series that keeps getting better with every new book, The Broken Raven is another fantasy read that manages to grip you and connect you with both relatable and exciting characters that you never want them to leave your side as the book ends. I’m so excited (and sad) that the final book comes out next month. However, I am thrilled that I will talk one on one with the author about this thrilling and exciting series!

Destination Anywhere by Sara Barnard

I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again, I wish I had Sara Barnard’s books when I was a teenager. They really speak to the realistic emotions, feelings that  I definitely had when I was a teen. This book isnno different! I had a hard time putting this one down! I was just so engrossed in the compelling writing that I found myself to be actually with Peyton. Peyton is also such a well-developed character, someone that anyone, particularly teen readers, would identify with. I kept telling myself, “I exactly felt that way!” with every internal thought she had. This is a must read for anyone. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel inspired and uplifted after you read the last sentence.

Heartstopper Vol. 4 by Alice Oseman

I debated whether or not to put this title in the best graphic novel category but I decided to put in this category because the theme of mental health that it touches is so important for the young audience to read. Apart from that, this wonderful series gives reasons why I love reading book so much! Even in it’s 4th volume, it has not lost it’s steam in proving how adorable, relevant and amazing this one of kind comic truly is!

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé 

This one was one strong and surprising debut! A YA thriller that has such a great combination of suspense and social commentary. After you finished reading this, you just can’t get it out of your mind, which is the whole point of reading this innovative, mysterious thriller!

Burden Falls by Kat Ellis

The town of Burden Falls drips with superstition, from rumors of its cursed waterfall to Dead-Eyed Sadie, the disturbing specter who haunts it. Ava Thorn grew up right beside the falls, and since a horrific accident killed her parents a year ago, she’s been plagued by nightmares in which Sadie comes calling–nightmares so chilling, Ava feels as if she’ll never wake up. But when someone close to Ava is brutally murdered and she’s the primary suspect, she begins to wonder if the stories might be more than legends–and if the ghost haunting her dreams might be terrifyingly real. Whatever secrets Burden Falls is hiding, there’s a killer on the loose . . . with a vendetta against the Thorns. (Credit: Dial Books)



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