12 must-read August YA book releases to close out your summer

The Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman. Image Courtesy Penguin Random House
The Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman. Image Courtesy Penguin Random House /
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Traitor – Amanda McCrina

Historical fiction is truly a rare breed of YA novel these days – and admittedly, I’m as guilty of gobbling up high fantasy trilogies as the next girl – but Amanda McCrina’s Traitor aims to change that. A World War II-set story about friendship, loyalty, and tough choices in unbearably difficult circumstances, this book is unlike anything else on our list.

Traitor follows the story of seventeen-year-old Tolya, a half-Polish/half-Ukrainian sniper in the Soviet Army and Aleksey, a young Ukrainian nationalist whose father was a celebrated freedom fighter. The perspective jumps between Tolya in 1944 following the Soviet Union’s liberation of Lwów and Aleksey three years earlier, immediately prior to the German invasion.

Thanks to a series of twists, the two eventually cross paths in 1944 and subsequent events involve everything from loss and betrayal to loyalty and friendship.

The official synopsis provides a bit more detail about what to expect.

"Poland, 1944. After the Soviet liberation of Lwów from Germany, the city remains a battleground between resistance fighters and insurgent armies, its loyalties torn between Poland and Ukraine. Seventeen-year-old Tolya Korolenko is half Ukrainian, half Polish, and he joined the Soviet Red Army to keep himself alive and fed. When he not-quite-accidentally shoots his unit’s political officer in the street, he’s rescued by a squad of Ukrainian freedom fighters. They might have saved him, but Tolya doesn’t trust them. He especially doesn’t trust Solovey, the squad’s war-scarred young leader, who has plenty of secrets of his own. Then a betrayal sends them both on the run. And in a city where loyalty comes second to self-preservation, a traitor can be an enemy or a savior—or sometimes both."

Traitor is available on August 25.