YA Feminist Must Reads 2020

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When it comes to young adult books in 2020, there’s no shortage of stories that highlight a feminist angle, but some of our absolute favorites broaden the idea of what feminism is deep down: equality for everyone.

At the core of all these books is a strong female lead who doesn’t need someone else to justify who she is, but is simply strong on her own. This female doesn’t need a hero in her story because, in her story, she is her own hero.

 These are only a few of Glitter’s faves when it comes to feminist YA must-reads, all books we wish we had when we were fifteen. With most of the country shut down, we encourage you to read these over and over again. Also, let us know what are some of your faves. We know you have them! Let us know in the comments section below.

Crush by Tracy Wolff (Entangled Teen; September 29, 2020)—We loved Grace from the moment we met her in New York Times bestselling author Tracy Wolff’s first novel in this series, Crave. We fell further in love with her and everything she stands for in this second novel. Grace proves time and time again that she doesn’t need anyone to save her. In fact, she might be the only one who can save them all. While this book is on the longish side (it’s over 700 pages), it’s one we promise you won’t put down. We read it in a day and challenge you to do the same!

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust (Flatiron Books; July 7, 2020)—Inspired by traditional Persian fairy tales, Bashardoust’s fantasy is not only beautifully written but also an intriguing LGBTQIA novel about accepting your flaws, which might be what makes you powerful and strong, a message everyone needs to hear from time to time. Her lyrical and poetic novel has a few twists and turns that keep the reader flipping the pages, eagerly awaiting the princess’s fate. Simply refreshing!


Crier’s War by Nina Varela (Quill Tree Books; October 1, 2019)—If you’re a fan of Westworld or a lover of fantasies similar to Sarah J. Maas, then this #ownvoices LGBTQIA epic fantasy is for you. At the core, it’s a richly captivating story about a love between a woman and machine and their struggle to simply love each other just the way they are. This well-paced fantasy will leave you wanting more as their love might just spark a revolution. Readers are in luck as the second book in the duology comes out on September 8. September can’t get here fast enough! In the meantime, if you haven’t read Crier’s War yet, the ebook version is only $1.99. 

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling (Razorbill; May 28, 2019)—Sterling’s debut novel is a perfect blend of fantasy and reality that has something for everyone. It’s filled with perfect LGBTQIA representation. It’s completely engaging, suspenseful, thrilling, and an overall enjoyable read. We’re excited that there’s a second book as well, so hurry and finish this one and pick up This Coven Won’t Break stat!

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson (Viking Books for Young Readers; March 12, 2019)—Laurie Halse Anderson is the queen of prose, and while this book has released decades after Speak, it still holds the same powerful punch that Speak still has to this day. Shout will make you feel. It will suck you in and it won’t let go. A powerful memoir about reclaiming your body and your life, this novel should be on everyone’s must-read list if it isn’t already!


On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray; February 5, 2019)—This compelling second novel from #1 NY Times bestselling author and Morris Award-winning author, Angie Thomas, is both brilliant and relatable. It’s grounded in what’s happening right now and discusses both family and economic disparity in a relatable and captivating way that will have readers following Bri’s story until the bitter end. It’s a novel not only about surviving but also about knowing exactly who you are. Another phenomenal read from a mastermind of modern writing!


The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (Quill Tree Books; March 6, 2018)—This beautifully moving and completely honest novel from the NY Times bestselling author, Elizabeth Acevedo, is nothing short of a masterpiece. Since its release in 2018, the novel has won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and the Walter Award. Written in verse, it is a powerful examination of self-expression that will have your heart breaking in multiple places when reading it, but it’s one we wish we had when we were younger and one that we encourage everyone to read now!


We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Anchor; 2015 edition)—This powerful book may be short (it’s only 64 pages), but it packs a punch. It’s an insightful read on feminism in the twenty-first century, which is all about inclusion, not exclusion. It’s one we read over and over again.

To all our fellow bookworms, get to reading because these are some books you won’t want to put down.