TEEN READS: Looking back on the best reads of 2021

Here are two of the YA books that made 2021 for one Park Rapids library bookworm.

"Legendborn" by Tracy Deonn and "The Forest of Stolen Girls" by June Hur are a couple of the YA novels that made 2021.
Contributed / Mary Schwartz
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It’s a new year, and one of my favorite ways to celebrate is by reflecting on the best parts of the old year. Let’s take a look back at two of my favorite books of 2021!

“The Forest of Stolen Girls” by June Hur is young adult historical fiction.

Five years before the start of this book, a missing girl’s body was found in the forest. Hwani Min and her sister Maewol were discovered unconscious near the girl’s body. While Hwani has no recollection of what happened, Maewol reported seeing a man with a white mask over his face.

Afterwards, Hwani and their father, Detective Min, moved away from the area, while Maewol went to live and train with the local shaman. In the years since that day, 13 girls have gone missing in the woods.

Detective Min has been haunted by this case, the one case he was unable to solve. Determined to discover the person responsible, he returns to continue his investigation. Soon Hwani is notified that her father is missing and presumed dead. Unable to accept his death, Hwani travels back to conduct her own investigation.


As she searches for her father, Hwani realizes that she too will need to look into the case her father was working on. To do this, she must reconnect with her sister, who has information Hwani does not.

As she reconnects with Maewol, Hwani realizes that their childhood was not as carefree as she remembers, and that their father was human, as complicated as Maewol herself.

Another favorite is “Legendborn” by Tracy Deonn. It was the final book I read last year, and it was one of the best. It is a young adult fantasy with a bit of a mystery at its core.

Bree Matthews’ mother died in a tragic accident. To make it worse, Bree and her mother argued right before her mother left their home for the last time. Struggling with grief, Bree jumps at the opportunity to escape to a program for bright high school students in the same city where her mother attended college.

On her first night in this city, Bree witnesses a magical attack. When a Merlin attempts to wipe Bree’s memory, her own magic is revealed. A memory is released and Bree realizes that a Merlin was at the hospital the night her mother died.

Determined to find out what happened, Bree decides to infiltrate the secret society that the Merlin belongs to. She recruits the help of Nick, a fallen-away member of that society, to help her.

From her therapist, Bree learns of her ancestors’ lives, including her mother. And with the help of her therapist and Nick, Bree discovers more about herself than she ever dreamed possible.

“Legendborn” interweaves African-American spiritual traditions and history with western legends, resulting in an engaging and enlightening read.


I hope you enjoyed this look back at my year in reading. Here’s hoping 2022 is just as good.

Related Topics: BOOKS
Mary Schwartz works in the Park Rapids Area Library’s young adult section, ordering books and creating programming. On the Literary Mary channel on YouTube, her videos explore books, STEM, creativity and family history research. She also enjoys hiking and exploring the woods with her camera and her husband, Kevin.
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