Hate U Give author Angie Thomas follows up her acclaimed debut, and there are tales of racism, mystery and magic in the latest crop of young adult fiction

Angie Thomas returns to the world of her award-winning debut The Hate U Give in one of the most awaited books of 2021. Set 17 years earlier, Concrete Rose (Walker) is the story of Maverick Carter, father of protagonist Starr and pillar of the community in the first book, here the son of a drug lord battling pressure to join a gang and the shock of teen parenthood. Thomas smashes stereotypes at every turn in the lives of her raw, complex and unforgettable characters, her writing underpinned by immense humanity. A powerful and important novel.

Another author whose characters always feel achingly real is Lisa Williamson. First Day of My Life (David Fickling) is set at a pivotal time for teenagers: GCSE results day. The local news reports that a baby has been stolen and Frankie discovers that her best friend, Jojo, is missing. With ex-boyfriend Rab, Frankie sets out in search of Jojo and the truth. Various perspectives lend depth and nuance to a gripping mystery that frames friendship, love and new beginnings.

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