The Young Adulting 2021 Year in Review

Book pages folded in the shape of a heart, with Christmas lights shining in the background.

Today will pass, and then tomorrow — and just like that, 2021 will be over. It’s been a strange year for a lot of us, with inconveniences, disruptions, and frustrations. For some of us, there have been even greater losses: of stability, jobs, dreams, loved ones. That’s true of every year, of course, but not every year is a year of pandemic.

I am not a kid living through this pandemic, but I was a kid living through unsettling, unhappy circumstances. The place I always returned to was writing: the books whose worlds I could escape in, the books in my head whose worlds had yet to be imagined. And as 2021 wore on — a year in which I experienced more personal upheaval than I had in a long time — I found myself reading and writing more than ever. The books I read helped me stay grounded, helped me forget what I needed to forget, and to understand what I needed to remember. It was a return to a way of reading I hadn’t lived since I was a kid.

I know that many of the books published for kids and teens this year, some of which I got to read myself and some of which I got to experience through working with our reviewers, provided the same safety, challenge, and escape that the books I read as a kid did for me. It was a privilege to get to share them with you, our readers, and with the rest of the world. Thank you for reading — let’s hope for a better world in 2022.

Young Adulting’s Most Read Reviews of 2021

Picture Books

  1. Maya’s Big Scene by Isabelle Arsenault, reviewed by Logaine Navascués
  2. Ten Little Dumplings by Larissa Fan, illustrated by Cindy Wume, reviewed by Logaine Navascués
  3. Tough Like Mum by Lana Button, illustrated by Carmen Mok, reviewed by Logaine Navascués
  4. Simon and Chester: Super Detectives! by Cale Atkinson, reviewed by Jocelyne Gregory
  5. Flying Paintings: The Zhou Brothers: A Story of Revolution and Art by Amy Alznauer, illustrated by ShanZuo Zhou and DaHuang Zhou, reviewed by Claudine Yip

Middle Grade/Young Adult

  1. The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book by Bill Watterson, reviewed by Micah Killjoy
  2. Shine by Jessica Jung, reviewed by Katie Gaston
  3. Stranded by Jocelyn Shipley, reviewed by Hira Peracha
  4. This Book Betrays My Brother by Kagiso Lesego Molope, reviewed by Shyamala Parthasarathy
  5. The (Other) F Word edited by Angie Manfredi, reviewed by Shyamala Parthasarathy

Young Adulting’s Most Read Interview of 2021

5 Questions for Jaclyn Desforges, interview by Jieun Lee:

Believe people when they share their experiences of the world. Believe people when they share their experiences of embodied consciousness. Not everybody sees the world the same way you do. Not everybody experiences that house party, that perfume, that quality of light, the way you do. When somebody tells you that something has hurt them, emotionally or physically, believe them. Don’t try to argue people out of their sense of reality. Another person experiencing the world differently from you, encountering challenges you’ve never imagined before, is not a slight against you. Because we all have different experiences, different histories, different ways of being in the world, it’s very easy to hurt each other. And when we find out that we have hurt somebody, it’s hard to acknowledge that. It feels easier, maybe, to say You’re too sensitive than it is to say You’re right, I hurt you. I’m sorry. I will do the work to fix this. To choose the latter option takes strength – inner strength. And it takes practice. 

Jaclyn Desforges

Once again, thank you to all who wrote, read, and thought with us this year. Have a great New Year, and we’ll see you very soon in 2022!

Take care, and happy reading, 

The Young Adulting Editors 

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