The Best Summer Books for Kids
From picture books to teen literature, The Horn Book provides its list of the best books for kids of all ages to read over summer break.
The Horn Book's Family Reading blog is devoted to offering children's book recommendations and advice on getting the whole family interested in reading. Here's their list of the best summer reading books on offer for kids and teens of all ages.
The Little Guys by Vera Brosgol (Roaring Brook)
The “strongest guys in the whole forest” are the Little Guys — small pastel-colored creatures with acorn-cap hats and stick arms and legs. This presumed root-for-the-underdog story takes a humorously unexpected turn as close observation shows the Little Guys obnoxiously stealing from the other forest animals (“None for you! All for us!”). Brosgol’s jewel-toned mixed-media illustrations are imbued with humor both subtle and exaggerated, enhancing and extending the spare text. 40 pages.
The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke; illus. by Van Thanh Rudd (Candlewick)
A child in an unnamed village “where we live inside our mud-for-walls home” describes the diversions of daily life, including zooming about with “my crazy brothers” on a “patchwork bike” built of scrap. Clarke’s spare, mellifluous language is hand-lettered on Rudd’s rough, tactile paintings composed of heavy acrylic paint on recycled cardboard. The illustration choices reflect the book’s theme — exposing the harsh reality of life while acknowledging the resilience that comes from homemade joy. 40 pages.
Water Land: Land and Water Forms Around the World by Christy Hale (Porter/Roaring Brook)
Die-cuts serve useful and playful purpose in this blue- and beige-colored introduction to Earth’s various meetings of water and landforms. A boy fishes on a lake while a girl plays ashore; turn the page, and the lake becomes an island where the girl is (temporarily) stranded. The cleverness continues as a bay becomes a cape, a strait an isthmus, etc., with funny little human dramas to encourage close examination. 32 pages.
Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora (Little, Brown)
Caldecott Honor, Steptoe Illustrator Winner
The “scrumptious scent” of grandmotherly Omu’s thick red stew wafts out from her apartment; a little boy inquires after the delicious smell, followed by a peckish police officer and more until Omu’s generosity means that she has no stew left for dinner. But everyone returns, this time to share with Omu. Mixed-media layers give the collage illustrations depth. Mora times her story perfectly, and repetition will encourage group participation. 32 pages.
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales (Porter/Holiday)
Belpré Illustrator Winner
Two “migrantes,” a mother and her infant son, arrive on “the other side.” Here they meet cultural challenges (customs, language) that are resolved at the San Francisco Public Library, with its “unimaginable” wealth of books that offer paths to literacy, community, even a career. Occasional Spanish words enrich the succinct, gently poetic text, illustrated with rich and vibrant pen-and-ink, acrylic, and collage art. Back matter sets the narrative in personal and historical context. Concurrently published in Spanish as Soñadores. 40 pages.
My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero; illus. by Zeke Peña (Kokila/Penguin)
When Papi gets home from work, young Daisy grabs their motorcycle helmets, eager to zoom through their neighborhood before the sun goes down. Joyous digital and hand-painted watercolor illustrations capture the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and colors. The text’s nuanced alliteration, its use of Spanglish, and the realistic linguistic mix in the illustrations (even the cat says both meow and miau) mark the specificity shaping Daisy’s memory-making. Concurrently published in Spanish as Mi papi tiene una moto. 40 pages.
¡Vamos!: Let’s Go to the Market by Raúl the Third; color by Elaine Bay (Versify/Houghton)
Little Lobo and his dog Bernabé deliver goods to their friends in the Mercado de Cuauhtémoc. Detailed comics-style illustrations feature anthropomorphic creatures, objects, and places; colors are largely muted so they don’t compete with the many items on riotously bustling and crowded pages. Most objects are labeled in Spanish, like a visual dictionary, and cultural references (a cinema called Buñuel; Cantinflas and Frida Kahlo puppets) are interspersed throughout. Glos. 40 pages.
Another by Christian Robinson (Atheneum)
Robinson offers a smart, sly, and imaginative wordless story about a girl and her cat embarking on a fantastical adventure. The girl follows the cat through a portal into another dimension — and another and another, each time prompting readers to turn the book. After encountering her own double, the girl (plus cat) finally makes it back home. A subtle visual punch line at book’s end will reward careful viewers. 56 pages.
Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons by Laura Purdie Salas; illus. by Mercè López (Millbrook)
Salas explores the seasons through poetry — with a twist. Divided into sections by season, each “riddle-ku” poem uses innovative language to represent something traditionally associated with that season. (For a summertime fireworks display: “you gasp as I roar, / my mane EXPLODING, sizzling— / lion of the sky!”) In addition to helping readers solve the puzzles, López’s acrylic and digital illustrations capture movement and texture through strong lines and seasonal hues. 32 pages.
Dogs in Space by Vix Southgate; illus. by Iris Deppe (Kane Miller)
Soviet dogs Belka and Strelka became, in 1960, among the first animals to return, alive, from orbital flight. Southgate and Deppe tell and show their story with suspense, enthusiasm, and little anthropomorphism. The automatically appealing narrative is bolstered by useful scientific facts (“Strelka’s puppies prove spaceflight is not harmful”). With a zip equal to the story, the pictures use well-outlined, simple forms in depicting the dogs in various visual configurations. Timeline. 32 pages.
Detective Paw of the Law: The Case of Piggy’s Bank and The Case of the Stolen Drumsticks [Time to Read] by Dosh Archer (Whitman)
In each of these lively beginning-chapter-book whodunits, Detective Paw, a Hercule Poirot–esque canine, and Patrol Officer Prickles, an action-oriented porcupine employing crime-fighting gadgets, follow the same procedural pattern to solve a robbery (Bank) and a band instrument theft (Drumsticks). Given the illustrations’ visual hints, young readers may well guess the straightforward outcomes, but in doing so they’re also working each case and learning that reading is an active process. 48 pages.
I Am Hermes!: Mischief-Making Messenger of the Gods by Mordicai Gerstein (Holiday House)
Following I Am Pan!, here comes Pan’s father, Hermes, the messenger god, eager to tell his own story. This Hermes is handsome, insouciant, impulsive, and bursting with self-esteem (his first word: “Gimme!”). These are bright, noisy, fast-moving adventures, and Gerstein proves himself a genius of the comics form, especially of the speech balloon, as he creates layered conversations, rich with interior monologue, gossip, and prevarication. 72 pages.
The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog: And Other How-To Poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko; illus. by Richard Jones (Candlewick)
The poems in this collection range from the whimsical to the very practical. Each is genuine poetry rather than a didactic lesson, employing rhythm, expression, and evocative phrases. Jones’s digitally edited paintings capture the tone and feeling of each piece while still being unified overall with color choices, soft edges, and keen observations of nature. 48 pages.
My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder by Nie Jun; trans. by Edward Gauvin (Graphic Universe/Lerner)
This graphic novel for young readers begins with Yu’er, a Chinese girl who dreams of swimming in the Special Olympics. When her swim-class application is rejected because of her disability, Grampa has an ingenious solution. Heartwarming relationships, moments of levity, and magical elements also mark the remaining three vignettes. The earth-toned watercolor illustrations seem quiet at first glance, but dynamic perspectives and compositions provide lively energy. 128 pages.
See Pip Flap [Ready-to-Read: Adventures of Otto] by David Milgrim (Simon Spotlight)
After watching bird Tweet fly, mouse Pip becomes inspired to try it. Several page-turns (and much fruitless flapping) later, robot friend Otto comes up with a clever remote-control drone solution that allows Pip’s dreams to take flight. This series entry’s extremely limited vocabulary provides effective new-reader support, the comic timing is spot-on in the repetition and pacing, and the clean illustrations are both understated and hilarious. 32 pages.
Inky’s Amazing Escape: How a Very Smart Octopus Found His Way Home by Sy Montgomery; illus. by Amy Schimler-Safford (Wiseman/Simon)
Octopus Inky was caught in a Pacific Ocean lobster trap and transferred to a seemingly blissful life at a New Zealand aquarium. Yet when the opportunity arises, Inky squeezes himself through the gap created by a loose tank cover, into a drainpipe, and out into the Pacific, where he (presumably) lives today. Montgomery weaves detailed science into Inky’s true story. Schimler-Safford’s brightly colored illustrations effectively hint at Inky’s intelligence. Reading list. 32 pages.
Let ‘Er Buck!: George Fletcher, the People’s Champion by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson; illus. by Gordon C. James (Carolrhoda)
Nelson and James present an engrossing picture-book biography of African American cowboy and bronc buster George Fletcher (1890–1973). Folksy language (“Ranching fit George like made-to-measure boots”) brings readers right into the era, and James’s bold brushstrokes give the illustrations a dynamic feel suitable for the subject. Extensive back matter includes source notes and further information. Glos. 40 pages.
Good Boy by Sergio Ruzzier (Atheneum)
The text begins with familiar commands: “Sit”; “Stay.” Gradually, they become more elaborate and unlikely until, as the white backgrounds explode with gorgeous color, the dog constructs a spaceship (“Build”) and accompanies his boy on a trip to the moon (“Go”). An original premise, a bare-bones text, perfect pacing, and deliciously transparent watercolors combine for an emotional punch by story’s end. 40 pages.
Harold & Hog Pretend for Real! [Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!] by Dan Santat with additional illustrations by Mo Willems (Hyperion)
In this metafictional easy reader, pachyderm Harold suggests to his porcine friend Hog that they pretend to be Gerald and Piggie. He pops an over-snout pig nose on Hog while he tries to act like Gerald—the joke being that exuberant Harold is as un-Gerald-like as they come, and that skeptical Hog is nothing like Piggie. Amidst the riotousness are welcome messages about appearances, behavior, relationships, and expectations. 64 pages.
Charlie & Mouse Even Better by Laurel Snyder; illus. by Emily Hughes (Chronicle)
This third Charlie & Mouse picture book/easy reader hybrid shines the spotlight on Mom’s approaching birthday. The first chapter sets the scene, with the siblings “helping” her make pancakes. In chapter two, Dad and the kids go shopping for the perfect present (“Does Mom like tape?” “Everyone likes tape”). Hughes’s graphite and Photoshop illustrations convey lots of affection for this relatable family, including its everyday harried moments. 48 pages.
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier (Amulet/Abrams)
Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner
When child chimney sweep Nan Sparrow gets stuck in a flue and nearly dies, she is saved by a “soot golem.” Nan and the kind, gentle “Charlie” escape from her cruel master and make a home in an abandoned mansion. Weaving together strands of Jewish folklore, Blake’s poetry, Frankenstein, child-labor reform, and magical realism, Auxier crafts a beautiful, hopeful story from the ugly realities of nineteenth-century British life. 358 pages.
Wildheart: The Daring Adventures of John Muir by Julie Bertagna; illus. by William Goldsmith (Yosemite Conservancy)
This creatively rendered biography-in-comics, with Muir’s imagined voice as narrator, is filled with the naturalist’s adventures, from his childhood in Scotland to his pioneering conservation work and formation of America’s National Parks. Illustrator Goldsmith’s Muir is a feisty character, portrayed in loose pencil sketches with one or two accent colors. Vibrant spreads in the chapter transitions and interludes capture the stunning landscapes in which Muir found his purpose. Timeline. Glos. 128 pages.
Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick)
Louisiana Elefante’s flighty, unstable grandmother abandons her at a motel, leaving behind a letter revealing that Louisiana is a foundling whom she rescued and raised. Louisiana (Raymie Nightingale) is a resilient and sympathetic character, and the juxtaposition of her down-to-earth observations with Granny’s capriciousness lightens the narrative and allows for a good deal of humor. Overarching themes addressing forgiveness, love, friendship, acceptance, home, and family ring honest and true. 230 pages.
Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott; illus. by Geneva B (Random House)
Jax meets his estranged grandmother-figure, Ma — who has just received a package containing three dragons. The dragons cannot stay in Brooklyn (“They came from one world, and they’re on their way to another”), and the pair’s quest to return the creatures takes several unexpected turns involving time travel and magic. A suspenseful middle-grade fantasy starring a memorable cast of vividly portrayed, predominately Black characters. 154 pages.
The Last Last-Day-of-Summer by Lamar Giles; illus. by Dapo Adeola (Versify/Houghton)
African American cousins Otto and Sheed Alston are local legends in their small Virginia town for their daring exploits (including getting rid of ghosts). Like many kids, they wish for one more day of summer vacation. They get their wish when they accidentally freeze time and find their town visited by denizens from the “interdimensional community.” Giles presents a page-turning magical fantasy adventure with broad appeal. 289 pages.
The Dragon Slayer: Folktales from Latin America by Jaime Hernandez (TOON)
Three amusing and enlightening folktales full of action, magic tricks, and fantasy are presented in a spirited and lively comic-book format (simultaneously published in Spanish as La Matadragones: Cuentos de Latinoamérica, translated from the English by María E. Santana). The (mostly) six-panel pages feature expressive characters and colorful tones that add to the stories’ playfulness. An introduction places the tales in the context of the folktale traditions of the Americas; comprehensive back matter provides primary sources. Bib. 48 pages.
The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon (Lamb/Random House)
CSK Author Honor
Narrator Caleb and older brother Bobby Gene meet Styx Malone, a mysterious, lanky, smooth-talking teenager who adds excitement to their otherwise humdrum summer in small-town Indiana. The boys embark on a journey that encompasses rule-breaking, laugh-out-loud humor, and nail-biting adventure, while exploring the importance of family ties and deep friendships. Spending time with Styx, Caleb, and Bobby Gene is an experience no reader will soon forget. 298 pages.
No More Poems!: A Book in Verse That Just Gets Worse by Rhett Miller; illus. by Dan Santat (Tingley/Little, Brown)
This collection of twenty-three irreverent, kid-pleasing poems by Miller, singer/songwriter of alt-country band Old 97’s, covers familiar subjects — a case for staying home “sick” from school, a humorously tyrannical Little League coach/dad, sibling rivalry. With expressive caricatures and varied compositions, Santat’s boisterous illustrations amp up the absurdity and enhance the subversion. A solid offering of mostly relatable, occasionally thought-provoking, and always entertaining reflections. 48 pages.
The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty (Levine/Scholastic)
In this highly engrossing, brilliantly plotted fantasy, orphaned ten-year-old Bronte must embark alone on a multi-kingdom visit to her many aunts, a trip minutely scripted by the terms of her parents’ will. Due to Moriarty’s storytelling aplomb, humor, and imagination, and the tale’s many twists and turns, readers will want to begin rereading this spellbinder just as soon as they finish it, to find all the clues and connections and coincidences dropped throughout. 380 pages.
Max & the Midknights by Lincoln Peirce (Crown)
In this humorous, action-packed, comics/novel hybrid, troubadour’s apprentice Max longs to become a knight — but girls aren’t allowed to. Then Max discovers she’s prophesied to save the kingdom. With help from new friends (who dub themselves “the Midknights”), she sets off on a hero’s journey. Peirce’s accessible, enlightening narrative flows seamlessly between regular text and speech bubbles in the black-and-white comic panels. 280 pages.
The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M. T. Anderson; illus. by Eugene Yelchin (Candlewick)
Historian and diplomat (and spy) Brangwain Spurge has been sent from Elfland to the neighboring goblin kingdom. He befriends his host, goblin archivist Werfel. Unbeknownst to them both, however, their nations are preparing for war. Pen-and-ink illustrations resembling medieval lithographs represent Spurge’s not-always-reliable spy reports; with touches of humor, whimsy, irony, and menace, they’re well suited to both the acerbic wit and the affecting tenderness of Anderson’s prose. 530 pages.
Best Babysitters Ever by Caroline Cala (Houghton)
A trio of not-particularly-capable sitters appropriates the central business model of Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club books. Much of the humor in this over-the-top send-up of lesson-laden kids’ pop culture comes via the hyperbolic traits of its sometimes misguided characters. Believable friendship dynamics and motivations balance out the silliness. The source material serves as a jumping-off point, so familiarity with Martin’s series isn’t necessary. 246 pages.
Backyard Bears: Conservation, Habitat Changes, and the Rise of Urban Wildlife [Scientists in the Field] by Amy Cherrix (Houghton)
Humans are encroaching on black bears’ natural habitat in and around Asheville, North Carolina. In this encouraging case study, Cherrix emphasizes how conservationists are looking for sustainable ways to allow humans and wild animals to coexist. Photographs capture the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain environment and the care scientists take in collecting data to manage the bear population. A chapter on wild animals in other communities emphasizes the problem’s global nature. Websites. Bib., glos., ind. 73 pages.
We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices edited by Cheryl Willis Hudson and Wade Hudson (Crown)
This timely and powerful anthology was created to help young people cope with the hate currently being unleashed against, among others, people of color, people with disabilities, and those of different faiths. More than thirty essays, poems, and letters (by fifty-two contributors in all) are presented on beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully designed double-page spreads. The accessible presentation will pull kids in; the wisdom inside will keep them engaged — and, hopefully, motivated. Ind. 88 pages.
Where the Heart Is by Jo Knowles (Candlewick)
Thirteen-year-old Rachel feels the pressure of several issues at once: her parents’ money troubles; her best friend Micah’s romantic feelings (though she’s told him she doesn’t think she likes boys); her job tending her dilettante “farmer” neighbors’ menagerie. The novel keeps a tight focus on time and place — all the action happens within the range of a bike ride, in the first few weeks of summer — magnifying the intensity of Rachel’s circumstances and her emotional response. 294 pages.
All Summer Long by Hope Larson (Farrar)
In this sensitive coming-of-age graphic novel, Bina’s BFF/next-door neighbor Austin is away at soccer camp (and ignoring her texts) the summer before eighth grade. Bored, impressionable, guitar-playing Bina starts hanging out with Austin’s older sister, who shares her love of music, and she’s pushed outside her comfort zone (e.g., babysitting, boys). A monochromatic palette with sunny oranges plus unobtrusive panels and lettering allow Larson’s believable dialogue to shine. 172 pages.
Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee (Riordan/Disney-Hyperion)
Thirteen-year-old Min has a powerful secret: she’s a gumiho, a fox spirit disguised as a human, who can shape-shift and alter others’ perceptions. She enthusiastically wields these powers when she ditches her “dismal life” on the barren planet Jinju to track down her brother Jun, who’s gone AWOL. Lee’s richly detailed, cohesive, original vision is a lively mash-up of outer-space sci-fi and Korean culture and folklore. 312 pages.
Love to Everyone by Hilary McKay (McElderry)
This companion to Binny in Secret follows Clarry, her brother Peter, and their beloved cousin Rupert, who has enlisted during WWI. When Rupert is declared MIA, “presumed dead,” Clarry bravely sets off from London to find him. This exceptional novel is both broad and deep, sketching the scope of the Western Front but drawing us into Clarry’s heart and mind as she valiantly grows up. Bib. 330 pages.
Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina (Candlewick)
Cuban American girl Merci’s life in south Florida consists of spending time with her extended family (including her abuelo, Lolo, who no longer seems like himself) and attending elite Seaward Pines Academy, where she does community service to pay for her tuition. Medina brings depth, warmth, and heart to her characters, never shying away from portraying this family’s flaws. Accurate, natural use of Spanish builds authenticity. 361 pages.
The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away by Ronald L. Smith (Clarion)
Twelve-year-old Simon believes aliens have made regular contact with humans. When this belief is terrifyingly confirmed, the truth seems too much to bear. Escaping into computer games and his own fantasy writing, Simon finds some comfort but no resolution to his increasingly frequent abductions by aliens. Simon’s first-person narration sustains the story’s strong forward momentum toward a climax that will chill readers straight to the bone. 211 pages.
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo (HarperTeen)
High school senior Emoni Santiago, an aspiring chef, and her two-year-old daughter live with Emoni’s abuela. Emoni signs up for a culinary arts class that culminates in a trip to Spain — and she begins to see a path forward, if only she dares follow it. Acevedo (The Poet X) creates beautifully realized characters with complex lives. A few recipes (such as “When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Verbena Tembleque”) are interspersed. 392 pages.
Lovely War by Julie Berry (Viking)
After Greek god Hephaestus catches his wife Aphrodite, goddess of love, in an affair with his brother Ares, Aphrodite defends her actions by showing the two gods what real love looks like. With pathos and wit, Aphrodite relates two intertwined love stories involving mortals swept up in WWI. This poignant novel will make readers laugh, cry, and swoon. Extensive historical notes on WWI are appended. Bib. 471 pages.
Soaring Earth by Margarita Engle (Atheneum)
This companion verse memoir to Enchanted Air provides a glimpse into Engle’s teen years in Los Angeles and her early adulthood. Engle addresses head-on the effects of the Vietnam War; the injustices prevalent in society at the time; the resistance of students and workers; and Black and Brown solidarity. The poems display Engle’s customary sincerity and reflect the parallels and divergences between her Cuban and U.S. American heritages. 160 pages.
The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg (Levine/Scholastic)
Jordan, helped by classmate Max, tries his hand at the food truck business with his late father’s old truck, Coq Au Vinny. Despite their differences, the two boys develop a friendship that quickly blossoms into a romance; they work together on the truck in the boiling summer heat of Mesa, Arizona, and date each other in the evenings. Konigsberg portrays gay teen relationships in a way that is consistently authentic, compassionate, hopeful, and empowering. 346 pages.
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee (Tegen/HarperCollins)
Monty’s sister Felicity (The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue) dreams of becoming a doctor, but she’s been rejected by every hospital board (this being eighteenth-century Britain). In a last-ditch effort, she hitches a ride to the Continent with pirates to plead her case with her medical idol. Amidst occasional fantasy elements, Lee keenly observes unsavory realities of the times while naturally incorporating casual diversity and a strong feminist credo. 450 pages.
Grand Theft Horse by G. Neri; illus. by Corban Wilkin (Tu/Lee & Low)
Neri’s comics-format “second-hand memoir” is about his cousin Gail Ruffu, a former horse trainer who horse-napped thoroughbred Urgent Envoy to rescue him from racing on a fractured leg. Expressive, dynamic brown-and-white ink panels bring immediacy to the emotional and financial turmoil Ruffu endured. The intense, candid story underscores the risks and rewards of uncompromised activism. 229 pages.
Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera (Simon)
Nalah, a.k.a. Chief Rocka, is the leader of the all-girl gang Las Mal Criadas. Worn out from fighting, she dreams of a different path. Rivera weaves a story of self-discovery, blood relations and chosen families, substance addiction, and race into her sci-fi tale, including details from Afro and Indigenous Caribbean culture and history. A dystopian mixtape of boldness, sisterhood, and questioning the status quo. 328 pages.
Monsters [Reckoner] by David A. Robertson (HighWater)
Even though high-schooler Cole (whose blood has healing properties) stopped a serial killer in Strangers, he still feels unwelcome in his (fictional) Cree community. Now, a murderous supernatural being is roaming the forest, while guards from a nearby laboratory have locked down the community’s health clinic. The story is mysterious enough to generate plenty of momentum, and Robertson’s depiction of the community relationships provides a strong underpinning. 248 pages.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins)
Sixteen-year-old Bri attends a public arts high school and dreams of being a rapper like her late father. After winning a rap battle in her neighborhood, doors start to open—but at a price Bri isn’t sure she’s willing to pay. Thomas’s sharp, even piercing, characterization includes a remarkably well-rounded cast. A richly woven love letter to hip-hop, with Bri’s lyrics and her thought process behind them included throughout. 453 pages.
On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden (First Second/Roaring Brook)
This serial webcomic turned epic graphic novel follows two alternating, far-future timelines, each initially distinguished by a different limited palette. In the first, eighteen-year-old Mia seeks her place among the tight-knit crewmates of a spacecraft; five years earlier, at an intergalactic boarding school, Mia falls in love with new arrival Grace. Walden immerses readers in a uniquely imagined, compelling universe with a cast that’s matter-of-factly female-centric, orientation-inclusive, and racially diverse. 537 pages.