All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
This quote from Noor kind of sums it up: “I think about the s$%t we've read in school. Those books all about one problem. A kid who's bullied. A kid who's beaten. A kid who's poor. And I think of us and how we've won the s$%t-luck lottery. We have all the problems.” Noor and Salahudin do have all the problems (and then some), which makes this a brutal read – but it’s also such an incredibly good book that you just keep rooting for them no matter how bleak and bad things get. Amazing!
Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
I liked the diversity of characters in this story, the blended family, and the LA setting. I especially appreciated the way in which this books deals honestly and realistically with the topics of mental health, sexuality, and family.
With winning characters, particularly the delicious love interest, Jack, a focus on art, and San Francisco in the background, this is my favorite YA romance read of 2016 (so far).
The magical realism and the Romeo and Juliet romance are a winning combination. I also enjoyed how the book takes place in an imaginary central valley town but names other nearby real places (hello Hanford!).