10 books like The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be

By Shannon Gibney,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Space Between Worlds

By Micaiah Johnson,

Book cover of The Space Between Worlds

I love adult sci-fi, but as a mostly contemporary reader, sometimes I can find the language and length a little daunting. I picked up this book intrigued by the premise—multiverse travel is finally possible, but you can’t visit a world in which your counterpart is still alive. Our main character, Cara, is a skilled traveler with the ability to visit hundreds of worlds because so many of her parallel selves are dead. But when one of her last remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, Cara is tasked with uncovering what happened in this high-stakes, action-packed page-turner. Steeped with searing class commentary and characters that leap off the page, this book made me want to live in any world Micaiah Johnson creates.

The Space Between Worlds

By Micaiah Johnson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Space Between Worlds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Sunday Times bestseller. Winner of the Kitschies Golden Tentacle award.

A stunning science fiction debut, The Space Between Worlds is both a cross-dimensional adventure and a powerful examination of identity, privilege, and belonging.

'My mother used to say I was born reaching, which is true. She also used to say it would get me killed, which it hasn't. Not yet, anyway.'

Born in the dirt of the wasteland, Cara has fought her entire life just to survive. Now she has done the impossible, and landed herself a comfortable life on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley…


In the Key of Us

By Mariama J. Lockington,

Book cover of In the Key of Us

I love books that make me feel like a teenager again. That makes me remember the swoon of first love and how vulnerable it can be figuring out who you are. In the Key of Us not only accomplishes this once, but twice through the dual-POV narration of Andi and Zora, two of the only Black girls at a summer music camp. This middle grade novel tackles topics such as death and anxiety and mental health with such delicacy and warmth. This book felt like a crackling bonfire, lighting up young aches that I’d forgotten were there.

In the Key of Us

By Mariama J. Lockington,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked In the Key of Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Andi is grappling with grief following the death of her mother. Zora is exhausted by trying to please her success-oriented parents. Both feel very much alone. Until a summer music camp brings them together.

The only two Black girls at camp in a sea of white children, Andi and Zora slowly begin to connect and reveal their deepest fears and dreams. While Andi is a natural on trumpet, Zora doesn't know if she wants to be a floutist since she also loves to dance.

As Andi and Zora struggle to figure out who they really are,…


Deep in Providence

By Riss M. Neilson,

Book cover of Deep in Providence

I was first captivated by the stunning cover, but stayed because I love stories about groups of friends and the emotions and connections that bind them for better or worse. Deep in Providence showcases this beautifully through the lenses of Miliani, Inez, and Natalie, three girls whose lives are shattered when their friend Jasmine is killed by a drunk driver. The girls turn to Filipino spells and folklore in an attempt to bring Jasmine back from the dead. Desperation and yearning bleed through these pages, and by the end, I was sobbing. This book is a beautiful exploration of grief, told in the tenderest way.

Deep in Providence

By Riss M. Neilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Deep in Providence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Haunting, intimate, and beautifully told: a magical debut novel from a writer to watch.” —Emily M. Danforth, national bestselling and award-winning author of The Miseducation of Cameron Post

A spellbinding young adult fantasy debut following three best friends who turn to magic when they're haunted by a friend's death...and perhaps her spirit, combining the atmospheric thrills of The Hazel Wood with the nuanced realism of Erika L. Sanchez.

For best friends Miliani, Inez, Natalie and Jasmine, Providence, Rhode Island has a magic of its own. From the bodegas and late-night food trucks on Broad Street to The Hill that watches…


The Weight of the Stars

By K. Ancrum,

Book cover of The Weight of the Stars

I try to limit the amount of physical books I purchase because my apartment is already overflowing with them. But there are some books so good, I need a copy of my ownThe Weight of the Stars is one of those. Told in short, micro-fiction style chapters is the story of Ryann, a girl who dreams of traveling to space but doesn’t see a way out her trailer park on the “wrong” side of town. But then she meets Alexandria, a mysterious loner who is angry at the world because her own mother is an astronaut who volunteered for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system. Lush and heartbreaking, this queer, big-hearted book cemented Ancrum as one of my must-read authors.

The Weight of the Stars

By K. Ancrum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Weight of the Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ryann Bird dreams of travelling across the stars. But she settles for acting out and skipping school.

Until she meets Alexandria, a furious loner. After a horrific accident leaves Alexandria with a broken arm, the girls are brought together despite themselves - and Ryann learns Alexandria's secret: Her mother is an astronaut on a one-way trip past the edge of the solar system.

Every night, Alexandria waits for radio signals from her mother. And now Ryann lifts Alexandria onto the roof day after day, until the silence between them grows into friendship . . . . and eventually something more.


Whale Talk

By Chris Crutcher,

Book cover of Whale Talk

I once traveled in a compact car across Michigan with Crutcher, my wife, and daughter. His conversation was as magnificent as his prose. Whale Talk brings together a group of high school misfits that comprise their school's swim team. Guess what? The school doesn't have a pool, which is fine because only one of them can swim anyway. Read and enjoy a master at work in Crutcher.

Whale Talk

By Chris Crutcher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Whale Talk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A truly exceptional book."-Washington Post

There's bad news and good news about the Cutter High School swim team. The bad news is that they don't have a pool. The good news is that only one of them can swim anyway. Bestselling author Chris Crutcher's controversial and acclaimed novel follows a group of outcasts as they take on inequality and injustice in their high school.

"Crutcher's superior gifts as a storyteller and his background as a working therapist combine to make magic in Whale Talk. The thread of truth in his fiction reminds us that heroes can come in any shape,…


Memorial Drive

By Natasha Trethewey,

Book cover of Memorial Drive: A Daughter's Memoir

This exquisite memoir contains a chilling account of Tretheway’s mother’s murder at the hands of Tretheway’s abusive stepfather. Delving into the past, she unearths her mother’s history and recaptures the days leading up to her death, even providing police reports of the conversations prior to the murder. And while her mother’s poor choices had a tragic ripple effect on Tretheway’s life, as I fully understand from my own mother-daughter experiences, her compassion never wavers and the result is an illuminating work of art and an example of the heart’s resilience. 

Memorial Drive

By Natasha Trethewey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Memorial Drive as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A meditation on race, and class, and grief ... Uplifting, but just wrenching' BARACK OBAMA ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S BEST BOOKS OF 2020 AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR WINNER OF THE ANISFIELD-WOLF BOOK AWARD SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2021 CARNEGIE MEDAL IN NON-FICTION 'This will be read for many, many years to come as a classic not just of the memoir genre but of contemporary writing' Simon Schama 'Astonishing' Thandiwe Newton 'As gripping as any thriller' Mail on Sunday 'A masterpiece' Elizabeth Gilbert 'Powerful' The Times At age nineteen, Natasha Trethewey had…


The Dragon Warrior

By Katie Zhao,

Book cover of The Dragon Warrior

Katie Zhao’s Dragon Warrior series features characters from Chinese mythology and incorporates them into our contemporary world in a fun, humorous adventure. Think Percy Jackson meets Journey to the West. You might recognize some of the same characters from Girl Giant and the Monkey King because Vietnamese and Chinese cultures have lots of similarities! I learned so much while reading this book, was delighted by the crossover characters that showed up in both our stories, and was so inspired, I wish there were more books like it.

The Dragon Warrior

By Katie Zhao,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dragon Warrior as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"An exhilarating tale. . . Readers will be enthralled." --J.C. Cervantes, New York Times bestselling author of The Storm Runner

A debut novel inspired by Chinese mythology, this middle-grade fantasy follows an outcast as she embarks on a quest to save the world from demons--perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and The Serpent's Secret.

As a member of the Jade Society, twelve-year-old Faryn Liu dreams of honoring her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. But the Society has shunned Faryn and her brother Alex ever since their father disappeared years ago, forcing them…


The Keeper of Night

By Kylie Lee Baker,

Book cover of The Keeper of Night

The Keeper of Night’s protagonist Ren Scarborough is the epitome of a character trapped between two worlds. Half-British Reaper, half-Japanese Shinigami, Ren starts off the book living in London but never quite feels like she belongs there. When she travels to Japan for the first time, she finds out that Japan isn’t quite as she expected it and ends up getting tangled in the affairs of Yomi, the Japanese underworld. Although a bit on the darker side, this is a fantastic book for anyone interested in Japanese mythology, anyone who likes their fantasy a little on the dark side, and anyone who’s felt the frustration of never quite fitting in anywhere. 

The Keeper of Night

By Kylie Lee Baker,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Keeper of Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Sharp and seductive…a fantasy with teeth.” —Julie C. Dao, author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

A girl of two worlds, accepted by none… A half Reaper, half Shinigami soul collector seeks her destiny in this haunting and compulsively readable dark fantasy duology set in 1890s Japan.

Death is her destiny.

Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.

When her failure to control her Shinigami…


Everything, Everything

By Nicola Yoon,

Book cover of Everything, Everything

Maddy (a biracial black Asian teen) suffers from a rare illness that has made her allergic to literally everything! A modern-day “bubble girl,” the illness has kept her confined in her house for 15 years, her only company being her mom and her nurse. But when hot new neighbour Olly moves in across the street everything changes. Maddy falls in love and vows to leave the house and sneak away with Olly…cue the huge plot twist! No spoilers from me, but you will want to race to the end. Oh, and beware of the movie version, classic example of “the book was better.”

Everything, Everything

By Nicola Yoon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everything, Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Everything, Everything is now a major motion picture starring Amanda Stenberg from The Hunger Games and Love Simon's Nick Robinson.

A #1 New York Times Bestseller!

'Loved this book!'- Zoella

Maddy is allergic to the world; stepping outside the sterile sanctuary of her home could kill her. But then Olly moves in next door. And just like that, Maddy realizes there's more to life than just being alive. You only get one chance at first love. And Maddy is ready to risk everything, everything to see where it leads.

'Powerful, lovely, heart-wrenching, and so absorbing I devoured it in one…


In the Country of Women

By Susan Straight,

Book cover of In the Country of Women

Novelist as genealogist, genealogist as novelist. A fiercely loyal portrait of a range of amazing women whose lives feel as if they were fictional, but they were and are not. A tender portrait of several generations of smart and loving mothers, wives, and daughters whose California is not the place of wealth and glamor but rather of making do, getting by, and loving your people and landscapes.

In the Country of Women

By Susan Straight,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked In the Country of Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of NPR's Best Books of the Year

“Straight’s memoir is a lyric social history of her multiracial clan in Riverside that explores the bonds of love and survival that bind them, with a particular emphasis on the women’s stories . . . The aftereffect of all these disparate stories juxtaposed in a single epic is remarkable. Its resonance lingers for days after reading.” —San Francisco Chronicle

In the Country of Women is a valuable social history and a personal narrative that reads like a love song to America and indomitable women. In inland Southern California, near the desert and…


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