Books·Fall Book Preview

22 Canadian YA books to watch for in fall 2021

Here are the Canadian books for young adults we can't wait to read this season.

Here are the Canadian books for young adults we can't wait to read this season.

Wings of Shadow by Nicki Pau Preto

Wings of Shadow is a YA fantasy novel by Nicki Pau Preto. (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

Wings of Shadow is the final book of the Crown of Feathers trilogy about a teen girl who disguises herself as a boy to join a group of elite warriors who ride phoenixes.

The latest in the YA series continues the adventures of a war orphan named Veronyka who is on a quest to become a powerful Phoenix Rider. She becomes caught up in a web of destiny, lies and a violent conflict that will forever change the fate of their world of warrior queens. 

Wings of Shadow is for ages 13 and up.

When you can read it: July 13, 2021; the Crown of Feathers trilogy boxed set available on Nov. 2. 2021

Nicki Pau Preto is an Ontario graphic designer and YA author. She is the Canadian author of YA fantasy books including the debut book Crown of Feathers and sequel Heart of Flames.

Skyward by Susan White

Skyward is a YA novel by Susan White. (Acorn Press)

The YA novel Skyward is set in a dystopian world. It's the story of Emery and Augustus, two different people from different circumstances but who share a dream of hope and resistance. The pair plan an escape but the crumbling world around them threatens to destroy all they hold dear.

Skyward is for ages 14 and up.

When you can read it: Aug. 1, 2021

Susan White is a New Brunswick-born author of several of middle-grade novels, including the Ann Connor Brimer Award-winning book The Year Mrs. Montague Cried. Skyward is her debut YA novel.

The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad

The Wild Ones is the second YA novel by Nafiza Azad. (Jasdeep Deol, Margaret K. McElderry Books)

The Wild Ones is a YA novel featuring magic powers — and a team of girls who are forced to solve a mystery, challenge the patriarchy and save the day from dangerous forces. Paheli is a leader and original Wild One, someone who overcame abuse and reclaimed her power. She is now on a mission to help girls use their own special abilities to save others in need.

The Wild Ones is for ages 14 and up.

When you can read it: Aug. 3, 2021

Nafiza Azad is a Canadian YA novelist who was born in Fiji. Her previous YA novel, The Candle and the Flamewas shortlisted for the William C. Morris Award for debut YA fiction. Azad is a children's literature writer and identifies as Indo-Fijian Muslim Canadian. She is now based in B.C.

Growing Up Trans, edited by Dr. Lindsay Herriot and Kate Fry 

Growing Up Trans is a YA nonfiction book edited by Dr. Lindsay Herriot and Kate Fry. (Orca Book Publishers, Jae Levy)

Growing Up Trans is a nonfiction book for young readers that examines what is means to be young and transgender in today's world. Featuring stories, art, poetry and essays, the book is a toolkit for young people to learn more about identity, community and allyship.

Growing Up Trans is for ages 11 and up.

When you can read it: Aug. 17, 2021

Dr. Lindsay Herriot is a B.C.-based educator and author. 

Kate Fry is a writer and editor currently living as a white settler on the unceded lands of the Lekwungen Peoples.

Sink or Swim by Tash McAdam

Sink or Swim is a YA novel by Tash McAdam. (Orca Book Publishers, Emma Fierling)

Sink or Swim is a YA novel about a shy, awkward trans teen named Bass who skips school one day and sets off on a boat trip with his girlfriend Rosie. When a sudden storm hits and the pair are stranded on a desert island, Bass and Rosie must find shelter and a way back home before it's too late.

Sink or Swim is for ages 12 and up.

When you can read it: Aug. 17, 2021

Tash McAdam is a Vancouver-based Welsh Canadian author of several books for young people.

I Dare You by Jeff Ross

I Dare You is a YA novel by Jeff Ross. (Orca Book Publishers, Simon Bell)

I Dare You is a YA novel about a teen named Rainey. When the video he filmed of a fight at high school hits social media, Rainey is convinced by schoolmates to create a prank video about a suspicious figure in the nearby woods. But when rumours start to spread about a ghost and kids being kidnapped, Rainey realizes that he might have gone too far — and grapples with his guilty conscience about telling the truth.

I Dare You is for ages 12 and up.

When you can read it: Aug. 17, 2021

Jeff Ross is an Ottawa-based author of books for young adults. He currently teaches scriptwriting and English at Algonquin College.

Blood Donor by Karen Bass

Blood Donor is a YA novel by Karen Bass. (Orca Book Publishers, Kirsten Bass)

Blood Donor is a YA novel about a teen girl named Jo who is locked out of her home one night after being late for curfew. Now wandering the cold streets with no money or place to stay, Jo unwittingly becomes a target for a kidnapper. She finds herself being held prisoner with other teens by captors who drug them and extract their blood. Jo must find a way out before her time runs out. 

Blood Donor is for ages 12 and up.

When you can read it: Aug. 17, 2021

Karen Bass is an Ontario author. Her previous books include Graffiti Knight, The Hill and Two Times a Traitor.

Both Sides Now by Peyton Thomas

Both Sides Now is a debut YA novel by Peyton Thomas. (Penguin Teen Canada)

Both Sides Now is the debut YA novel by Canadian author Peyton Thomas. It's about Finch Kelly, a teen who is on the high school debate team and dreams of a career as the first trans congressman. But when the annual national speech and debate tournament rolls around, Finch is worried about his odds of winning — all while having feelings for Jonah, his debate partner who happens to be gay and is already in a relationship. 

Both Sides Now is for ages 14 and up.

When you can read it: Aug. 24, 2021

Thomas is an author and freelance journalist from Toronto. His work can be seen in Pitchfork, Billboard and Vanity Fair. He was a 2016 Lambda Literary Fellow. 

Our Rock and Our Salvation by Hugh MacDonald

Our Rock and Our Salvation is a YA novel by Hugh MacDonald. (Acorn Press )

Our Rock and Our Salvation is a YA novel that is the final book in Hugh MacDonald's trilogy. In a dystopian world, 15-year-old Adam lives in relative peace in accordance with the teachings of First Nations peoples that guide his community. But when children are kidnapped in neighbouring communities, Adam and his friends are forced to confront the fact that there is something out in the woods that might change their lives forever. 

Our Rock and Our Salvation is for ages 12 and up.

When you can read it: Sept. 1, 2021

Hugh MacDonald is a poet, editor, author and the former poet laureate for P.E.I. He has received several awards including the L.M. Montgomery Children's Literature Award for children's book Chung Lee Loves Lobsters.

The Bones of Ruin by Sarah Raughley

The Bones of Ruin is a YA novel by Sarah Raughley. (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

The Bones of Ruin is the latest fantasy YA novel by Ontario author Sarah Raughley. It's a tale set in 1880s London, featuring an immortal African tightrope walker named Iris who's caught up in a secret society's deadly gladiatorial tournament. Iris must learn more about her past, her identity and her power in order to survive her circumstances. But when she learns of a potentially world-ending threat, Iris needs to decide if learning her identity is worth the cost involved.

The Bones of Ruin is for ages 14 and up.

When you can read it: Sept. 7, 2021

Sarah Raughley is a fantasy novelist from Southern Ontario. Raughley's YA Effigies series, which includes Fate of Flames, Siege of Shadows and Legacy of Light, drops readers into a world where four young women are imbued with the powers of the four elements — fire, water, air and earth — and tasked with protecting the world from the evil Phantoms. 

Hello (From Here) by Chandler Baker and Wesley King

Hello (From Here) is a YA novel by Chandler Baker and Wesley King. (Dial Books, Eryn Chandler)

This co-authored YA novel explores romance, mental health, class and privilege. Hello (From Here) is the story of Jonah and Maxine, two teens who meet at the grocery store just as the COVID-19 lockdown hits. Maxine and Jonah must navigate their growing feelings for each other by way of socially distanced playground hangs and FaceTime dates. But when the situation starts to weigh on their emotional and mental health, the teens have to figure out if they are compatible and should try to make an unconventional relationship work. 

Hello (From Here) is for ages 12 and up.

When you can read it: Sept. 7, 2021

Chandler Baker is a Texas-born author of several YA novels and her adult debut, Whisper Network.

Wesley King is a Nova Scotia children's writer whose books include middle-grade novels The Vindico, Sara and the Search for Normal, A World Below and OCDaniel.

Names in a Jar by Jennifer Gold

Names in a Jar is a YA novel by Jennifer Gold. (Second Story Press)

Set during the Second World War, Names in a Jar is a YA novel about hope, understanding and courage. Anna is a young girl living in the Warsaw Ghetto with her sister Lina and her father. Life is hard during wartime and people are often hungry and sick. When Anna finds herself in charge of an orphan baby, they go into hiding and change their names and identity to survive. Lina is sent to the infamous Treblinka Camp and the sisters have to find their way back to each other. 

Names in a Jar is for ages 13 and up.

When you can read it: Sept 14, 2021

Jennifer Gold is an author of several books for young adults including Soldier Doll and On the Spectrum. A lawyer and mom of two kids and two cats, she lives with her family in Toronto.

Walking in Two Worlds by Wab Kinew

Walking in Two Worlds is a YA novel by Wab Kinew. (Penguin Teen, Rachael King)

A shy Indigenous teen girl named Bugz finds comfort and belonging through multiplayer video games and virtual worlds in this YA novel. When a teen boy named Feng moves to the rez where Bugz lives, the two discover they have a lot in common, both in real life and online. Their virtual adventures draw them closer — but events in the real world, including family challenges and community trauma, threaten to harm the friendship the two have built. 

Walking in Two Worlds is for ages 12 and up.

When you can read it: Sept. 14, 2021

Wab Kinew is the leader of Manitoba's New Democratic Party. Prior to his career in politics, he was a hip-hop musician, broadcaster and host of the 2015 Canada Reads. As a panellist on CBC's battle of the books, Kinew won the 2014 edition for his defence of Joseph Boyden's The Orenda.

Kinew is the author of two books: The Reason You Walk, a memoir about mending his relationship with his father before his death, and Go Show the World, a children's picture book about Indigenous heroes throughout history. Go Show the World was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustrated books. Kinew lives in Winnipeg.

Caring for Critters by Nicholas Read

Caring for Critters is a nonfiction book for young readers by Nicholas Read. (Heritage House)

Caring for Critters is a nonfiction book for young readers. It's a look at Critter Care, a B.C.-based wildlife rehabilitation centre that has rescued and cared for more than 50,000 sick, injured, and orphaned animals over the decades. Author and journalist Nicholas Read spent one year volunteering at Critter Care and documents his time there and explores the power of compassion and social awareness when caring for these special animals. 

Caring for Critters is for ages 12 and up.

When you can read it: Sept. 21, 2021

Nicholas Read is a B.C.-based retired journalist, instructor and author who previously worked at the Vancouver Sun.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

East Asian woman in cow onesie. Illustrated book cover of East Asian woman standing in front of red and orange feathers.
Iron Widow is a YA novel by Xiran Jay Zhao. (Penguin Teen)

Iron Widow is a YA fantasy novel featuring aliens, giant robots and a quest to battle evil. In the world of Huaxia, boys pair up with girls to operate transforming robots named Chrysalises, but the girls often die from the mental strain of it all. When a teen girl named Zetian takes on the mantle of an Iron Widow and is paired up with a male pilot named Li Shimin, the story becomes one of power, vengeance and gender equality. 

Iron Widow is for ages 14 and up.

When you can read it: Sept. 21, 2021

Xiran Jay Zhao is a Vancouver-based science fiction and fantasy writer who is also training to become a biochemist. She is a first generation Chinese immigrant with an interest in Chinese history, cosplay and anime.

I'm Good and Other Lies by Bev Katz Rosenbaum 

I'm Good and Other Lies is a YA novel by Bev Katz Rosenbaum. (DCB)

I'm Good and Other Lies is a YA novel about Kelsey Kendler, a teen who is just trying to find a boyfriend and also save up enough money for university working part-time at the ice cream shop. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hits, Kelsey is forced to spend time in lockdown at home all day with her dysfunctional parents. When she finds herself falling into the same addictive habits as her family, Kelsey must figure out a way to break the cycle. 

I'm Good and Other Lies is for ages 13 and up.

When you can read it: Sept. 25, 2021

Bev Katz Rosenbaum is Toronto-based author. Her previous work includes the I Was a Teenage Popsicle series of books for young readers.

A Sure Cure for Witchcraft by Laura Best 

A Sure Cure for Witchcraft is YA novel by Laura Best. (Nimbus)

The world of 18th century Württemberg, in what is now Germany, features magic, witches and time travel. A young girl named Lilli knows all about witches and also knows that her wise teacher, Alisz, just wants to help others. But Lilli's father hates witches and witchcraft and moves the family to the New World. Alisz and Lilli pledge to be soul friends, no matter the time — and it is in present day Nova Scotia where the two are fated to meet again once more. 

A Sure Cure for Witchcraft is for ages 12 and up

When you can read it: Sept. 30, 2021

Laura Best is a Nova Scotia author of middle grade and YA novels. Her first YA book, Bitter, Sweet, was shortlisted for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People.

Urchin by Kate Story

Urchin is a YA novel by Kate Story. (Running the Goat)

Urchin is a YA novel set in 1900s St. John's and is about a potential family curse that threatens the life of a teen girl named Dor. When she disguises herself as a boy and gets involved in a secret mission involving brand-new radio technology, Dor's family is put in danger and her mother is kidnapped. Dor must find the strength and courage to save her mother and solve an old mystery.

Urchin is for ages 14 and up.

When you can read it: Oct. 1, 2021

Kate Story is an Ontario-based writer and theatre artist who was born and raised in St. John's.

Under the Iron Bridge by Kathy Kacer

Under the Iron Bridge is a YA novel by Kathy Kacer. (Second Story Press)

This YA novel is set in Germany in the late 1930s and a teen named Paul is being pressured into joining the Hitler Youth. He really doesn't want to be a part of the group and finds a potential way out when he meets a group of teens working to undermine the rising threat of the Nazis. When violence in his town escalates, Paul must make a decision about the type of person he needs to be to survive.

Under the Iron Bridge is for ages 12 and up.

When you can read it: Oct. 12, 2021

Kathy Kacer is a prolific Toronto-based author whose parents were both survivors of the Holocaust. Her books, including Hiding Edith and Masters of Silence explore the lives of young Jewish people who lived during that time.

Hunting by Stars by Cherie Dimaline

Hunting by Stars by Cherie Dimaline. Book cover shows an illustrated starry night. Portrait of the author.
Hunting by Stars is a follow-up to Cherie Dimaline's YA novel The Marrow Thieves. (, Penguin Teen)

Hunting by Stars takes place in the world of The Marrow Thieves, a post-apocalyptic North America where only Indigenous people have the ability to dream. Residential schools are re-established to capture and hold Indigenous people, and search for the secrets to dreaming in their bones. Hunting by Stars picks up on 17-year-old French, who wakes up in a pitch-black room. In The Marrow Thieves, French lost his family to the residential schools and found a new family to travel with, while dodging the "Recruiters."

Hunting by Stars is for ages 12 and up.

When you can read it: Oct. 19, 2021

Cherie Dimaline is a Métis author and editor whose award-winning fiction has been published and anthologized internationally. Her first book, Red Rooms, was published in 2007, and her novel The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy was released in 2013. In 2014, she was named the Emerging Artist of the Year at the Ontario Premier's Award for Excellence in the Arts, and became the first Aboriginal Writer in Residence for the Toronto Public Library. Her book A Gentle Habit was published in August 2016.

In 2017, The Marrow Thieves won the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text and the Kirkus Prize for young readers' literature. It is currently being adapted for television.

The Marrow Thieves was defended by Jully Black on Canada Reads 2018.

The Delusionist by Don Calame

The Delusionist is a YA novel by Don Calame. (Candlewick)

The Delusionist is about a boy named Quinn who wants to be the best magician he can be. When he tries to earn a place at the Masters of Magic Fantasy Camp, Quinn encounters stiff competition — and an attractive rival named Dani. The Delusionist is a humourous YA novel about scams, secret magic tricks, complicated friendships and the lengths one goes to be all that they can be. 

The Delusionist is for ages 14 and up.

When you can read it: Oct. 21, 2021

Don Calame is a Vancouver-based author of the young adult novels Swim the Fly, Beat the Band, Call the Shots and Dan Versus Nature.

The Devil's Music by Nathan Page and Drew Shannon 

The Devil's Music is a YA novel by Nathan Page and Drew Shannon. (Knopf Books for Young Readers, Mike Pereira)

The second book in The Montague Twins series of YA novels features detectives, witches and rock and roll. Magical teen detectives Alastair, Pete, Charlie and Rachel are also members of a local rock band. When a big-time rock star named Gideon rolls into their coastal town of Port Howl, a magical mystery follows as well. The Devil's Music is a story about magical music, hypnotic spells and how the Montague Twins have to solve the mystery before all is lost. 

The Devil's Music is for ages 12 and up.

When you can read it: Dec. 7, 2021

Nathan Page is an Ontario therapist and author.

Drew Shannon is a Toronto-based illustrator born in London, Ont.

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