Every year, the ABA’s Winter Institute hosts a panel of adult authors with spring debuts and a panel of middle grade and YA authors with spring debuts, with each panel selected by a group of independent booksellers. This year Michelle Malonzo of Changing Hands in Tempe, Ariz., headed the adult booksellers group, and Melanie Knight of Books Inc. in Berkeley, Calif., led the kids’ booksellers group. Because of the cancellation of the in-person Winter Institute event this year, the authors chosen will instead take part in a virtual “Indies Introduce” panel, to be held February 8 at 3:30 p.m. ET and moderated by ABA COO Joy Dallanegra-Sanger and program manager Jessica Stauffer. Below is a selection of this season’s authors and their books:

Adult Debuts


Blair Fell

The Sign for Home (Atria/Bestler, Apr. 5; $27; 100,000-copy announced first printing)

Why the buzz: “Blair Fell has been an ASL interpreter of the Deaf and DeafBlind for the past 25 years. He writes about this community with such tenderness and respect and humor that when you finally put the book down, you feel as if an entire world has just been taken from you, a world you barely knew was even there and a world that now feels like home.”—Emily Bestler, senior v-p, editor-in-chief, Emily Bestler Books

Opening: “Sniff. The stir of your room. The odor of sheet and blankets, hot summer dust, old technology equipment, an Old Spice deodorant stick worn to a nub.”

Xochitl Gonzalez

Olga Dies Dreaming (Flatiron, out now; $27.99)

Why the buzz: “It’s been such a thrill to see readers come to Olga Dies Dreaming for its reflection of the complexity of family and love in all its forms, and for its depiction of both New York City and Puerto Rico. The support of indie booksellers has been crucial in spreading the word!”—Megan Lynch, senior v-p and publisher, Flatiron

Opening: “The telltale sign that you are at the wedding of a rich person is the napkins.”

Silje Ulstein

Reptile Memoirs (Grove, Mar. 15; $27)

Why the buzz: ”I read this manuscript at a distracted time—October 2020, pre-election, pre-vaccine—and it held me absolutely hypnotized. It is addictive and thought-provoking, a literary thriller that comes from Norway but is far from typical Scandi noir, and you can tell that just by the title! It’s an utterly brilliant novel about the terrible things that can happen to a young woman—and the terrible things she can do as revenge. Oh, and there’s a Burmese python.”—Peter Blackstock, v-p, deputy publisher, Grove Atlantic

Opening: “That first time, his body was a paradox.”


Edgar Gomez

High-Risk Homosexual: A Memoir (Soft Skull, out now; $16.95 trade paper)

Why the buzz: “In his personal, self-deprecating writing, Edgar Gomez does what the best comedians do: he makes readers digest hard-to-swallow truths with the magic trick of surprise, so that we come to them with curiosity and openheartedness. He reveals such savviness and wisdom about how other people perceive him (the absurdity of being a ‘high-risk homosexual’), recognizing when he as an individual is being unfairly made to represent a larger group, while holding immense care and compassion for how his actions might affect other people; he beautifully leads by example with a voice and perspective that is deeply needed in this world.”—Sarah Lyn Rogers, associate editor, Soft Skull

Opening: “Moments after I was born at the Mount Sinai Medical Center of Greater Miami, my parents were handed a document, which I stumbled upon years later, curled and yellow at the edges, inside of a shoebox in a corner of my closet.”

Sasha taqwšәblu LaPointe

Red Paint: The Ancestral Autobiography of a Coast Salish Punk (Counterpoint, Mar. 8; $25)

Why the buzz: “Sasha’s debut work of nonfiction, Red Paint, is a revelation. Everyone at Counterpoint was immediately captivated by this Indigenous artist’s blend of punk rock and the traditional spiritual practices of the women in her lineage. A journey of self and of home—what could be more important during this time? We hope its message will reach readers everywhere—either virtually or in person.”—Dan Smetanka, editor-in-chief, Counterpoint

Opening: “We were a hunter-gatherer society.”

Silvia Vasquez-Lavado

In the Shadow of the Mountain: A Memoir of Courage (Holt, Feb. 1; $27.99)

Why the buzz: “Silvia’s aura is magnetic. Her poignant memoir is penned in her warm and genuine voice, accentuating life’s pivotal experiences—from a painful past, through the highs and lows of healing, to the present, where we’re with her, rooting her on, as she courageously climbs the tallest mountain in the world.”—Shannon Criss, editor, Henry Holt

Opening: “If I can count to one thousand, I can get through this.”

Children’s Debuts

Middle Grade

T.P. Jagger

Hide and Geek (Random House, out now; $16.99; ages 8–12)

Why the buzz: “I am thrilled to introduce you to T.P. Jagger and the GEEKs—Gina, Edgar, Elena, and Kevin—four best friends whose skills are put to the test in a treasure hunt that could save their friendship. Hide and Geek is mystery adventure at its best, with puzzles to solve, quirky small-town characters to meet, and a fast-paced, twisty plot that will keep you guessing until the very end. Get ready to GEEK out!”—Diane Landolf, senior editor, Random House BFYR

Opening: “Okay, by now I’m sure you’ve heard about everything going on in the tiny town of Elmwood, New Hampshire, tucked away in the scenic Fair Valley.”

Nancy Tandon

The Way I Say It (Charlesbridge, out now; $16.99; 40,000-copy announced first printing; ages 10–up)

Why the buzz: “Nancy Tandon is an exciting new voice in middle grade lit. She has an ear for the authentic voices, thoughts, and feelings of her audience. Rory is a character that will live with readers for a long time: he’s funny, wears his heart on his sleeve, and is flawed in very familiar ways. He not only shows us that forgiveness is possible, but that making mistakes is okay.”—Donna Spurlock, director of marketing, Charlesbridge

Opening: “I can’t say my name.”


Ann Fraistat

What We Harvest (Delacorte, Mar. 22; $18.99; 50,000-copy announced first printing; ages 12–up)

Why the buzz: “Ann Fraistat’s debut is action-packed, it’s terrifying, and it’s ultimately comforting. In this work of speculative fiction, Ann tells a story of a girl who finds agency against the onslaught of an unraveling world, and somehow it makes our own world feel more manageable. It’s a brilliant, un-put-downable read that will totally consume you.”—Krista Marino, v-p, senior executive editor, Delacorte

Opening: “So, it had finally come to kill us, too.”

Ebony LaDelle

Love Radio (S&S, May 31; $19.99; 500,000-copy announced first printing; ages 12–up)

Why the buzz: “I’m thrilled for Love Radio because it is a book that truly embodies a universal love story celebrating everyday romance—one where teens have the ability to find grandeur moments and passion in their own lives, no matter where they are in the world. Witty, charismatic, and romantic, Ebony LaDelle spins a relatable young adult love story that beautifully celebrates setting and character.”—Morgan Maple, publicist, S&S Children’s Publishing

Opening: “I’ve never met a person more drunk on love than my mom.”

Judy I. Lin

A Magic Steeped in Poison (Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends, Mar. 22; $18.99; 75,000-copy announced first printing; ages 13–18)

Why the buzz: “From the first line, we were hooked. Judy has crafted a vibrant fantasy full of magic and danger—where a cup of tea can unlock a soul’s deepest secrets, or conjure intoxicating illusions, or perhaps even save—or destroy—a kingdom. With utterly unique magic, a relatably flawed heroine, and danger around every corner of the palace, A Magic Steeped in Poison is an example of YA fantasy at its absolute best.”—Emily Settle, associate editor, Feiwel and Friends and Swoon Reads

Opening: “They say you can spot a true shénnóng-shıˉ by their hands—palms colored by the stain of the earth, fingertips scarred from thorns, a permanent crust of soil and blood darkening the crescents of their nails.”

Erica Martin

And We Rise (Viking BFYR, Feb. 1; $17.99; 35,000-copy announced first printing; ages 12–17)

Why the buzz: “I knew the moment And We Rise first crossed my desk that I was reading something not only important, but uniquely impactful. To me, this poetry collection is not only an account of where we, as a country, have been, but a statement of where we have yet to—and must still—go. Erica’s skillfully chosen words, along with her use of space and formatting, bring the emotional turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement to life in a way that history books do not, and I am so grateful for, and in awe of, Erica’s courage and talent in doing so.”— Liza Kaplan, senior editor, Viking BFYR

Opening: “It’s 1877 when/ Jim Crow laws say it’s/ acceptable/ legal/ lawful."

Andrew Joseph White

Hell Followed with Us (Peachtree Teen, June 7; $18.99; 25,000-copy announced first printing; ages 14–up)

Why the buzz: “Six months ahead of publication, there is already a frenzy of buzz surrounding Andrew Joseph White’s debut novel, Hell Followed with Us. Part of Peachtree Teen’s debut lineup, the book perfectly encapsulates the imprint’s mission to publish fresh stories for forward thinkers. Peachtree Teen is thrilled for booksellers to engage virtually with this exciting new author!”—Michelle Montague, executive director, marketing, Holiday House

Opening: “Here’s the thing about being raised an Angel: You don’t process grief.”