Young Adult Book Recommendations
After Twilight the Young Adult book offerings at the bookstores quadrupled and then multiplied like bunnies. Now, they offer more Young Adult books than romance books -which just amazes me.
I appreciate a great book, and if that great book turns out to be a YA – I’m all over it. Now TJ has been a faithful YA reader for a long time, actually up until 2 years ago she read YA exclusively. So, she has many more favorite YA series than I do. We’ll be combining those in a separate blog post.
Let’s get started…
1 Ender’s Game (The Ender Quintet #1) by Orson Scott Card
I still remember how I came across this book. One of my former employers has a library full of science fiction novels, and the ONE and ONLY book he ever recommended to me was Ender’s Game. After reading Harry Potter, Ender’s Game reminded me quite a bit of HP – the age, the school, the dynamic between teachers and classmates. I devoured it in one sitting and even bought a hardcover edition for my bookshelf. And OMG the ending had one of the biggest WOW effects EVER!!!
Andrew “Ender” Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against an alien enemy seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast.
But Ender is not the only result of the experiment. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings, Peter and Valentine, are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. While Peter was too uncontrollably violent, Valentine very nearly lacks the capability for violence altogether. Neither was found suitable for the military’s purpose. But they are driven by their jealousy of Ender, and by their inbred drive for power. Peter seeks to control the political process, to become a ruler. Valentine’s abilities turn more toward the subtle control of the beliefs of commoner and elite alike, through powerfully convincing essays. Hiding their youth and identities behind the anonymity of the computer networks, these two begin working together to shape the destiny of Earth-an Earth that has no future at all if their brother Ender fails.
I read Rocket Boys in my ESL class and loved it!!!! It was touching, thought provoking but also incredibly captivating. What I loved the most about this book was Sonny’s ever interesting but also sometimes failed attempts at building home made rockets and how those rockets changed his life. Even better this book is a memoir – an amazing story about hardship but also about how hard work can get you out of the bleakest places to end up somewhere better. I absolutely loved it!!!!
“Until I began to build and launch rockets, I didn’t know my home town was at war with itself over its children, and that my parents were locked in a kind of bloodless combat over how my brother and I would live our lives. I didn’t know that if a girl broke your heart, another girl, virtuous at least in spirit, could mend it on the same night. And I didn’t know that the enthalpy decrease in a converging passage could be transformed into jet kinetic energy if a divergent passage was added. The other boys discovered their own truths when we built our rockets, but those were mine.”
So begins Homer “Sonny” Hickam Jr.’s extraordinary memoir of life in Coalwood, West Virginia – a hard-scrabble little mining company town where the only things that mattered were coal mining and high school football and where the future was regarded with more fear than hope.
Looking back after a distinguished NASA career, Hickam shares the story of his youth, taking readers into the life of the little mining town of Coalwood and the boys who would come to embody its dreams.
In 1957 a young man watched the Soviet satellite Sputnik shoot across the Appalachian sky and soon found his future in the stars. ‘Sonny’ and a handful of his friends, Roy Lee Cook, Sherman O’Dell and Quentin Wilson were inspired to start designing and launching the home-made rockets that would change their lives forever.
Step by step, with the help (and occasional hindrance) of a collection of unforgettable characters, the boys learn not only how to turn scrap into sophisticated rockets that fly miles into the sky, but how to sustain their dreams as they dared to imagine a life beyond its borders in a town that the postwar boom was passing by.
A powerful story of growing up and of getting out, of a mother’s love and a father’s fears, Homer Hickam’s memoir Rocket Boysproves, like Angela’s Ashes and Russell Baker’s Growing Up before it, that the right storyteller and the right story can touch readers’ hearts and enchant their souls.
A uniquely endearing book with universal themes of class, family, coming of age, and the thrill of discovery, Homer Hickam’s Rocket Boys is evocative, vivid storytelling at its most magical.
3 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Book Thief was a little gem that had me glued to my car radio for much longer than I ever expected. When I picked up this audiobook from he library I didn’t really know what was coming. And now the voice of Liesel Meminger will always stay with me. The German colloquialism mixed into this book made me smile but also shake my head – so very old fashioned but also very fitting for the time. I was astonished by the authors skill to write such an amazing story about such an ugly time. BRAVO!!
A story about, among other things: A girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
Wonder was recommended to me by a friend and I fell in love with it immediately. I think I must have texted her back maybe a chapter into the book to tell her how much I loved it. I would have totally missed it if she wouldn’t have made me read it – and that’s pretty much what she did. And that’s what I will tell anyone that is willing to listen – READ IT!!!!! You won’t regret it. It’s incredibly sweet, touching, and really emotional in a good way.
I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
I just read this book two weeks ago and fell in love with the authors writing and characters immediately. I’m not kidding when I say that Simon opened his mouth and I smiled. 😀 That’s an amazing feat right there. This story was a true delight. A coming of age and a coming out story all wrapped in one – with an equally delightful cast. But the writing – OMG the writing was superb!!!! I already have her other novels on my tbr and can’t wait to read them.
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
6 The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This book!!!!!! I hope soon it will be on every school’s required reading list. A true MUST READ!
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
7 When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
When Dimple Met Rishi is quick paced, witty, engaging, and one of the sweetest YA rom-coms I’ve read this year! Sandhya Menon did her culture proud! I loved reading about Dimple and Rishi’s warring thoughts on the customs and traditions of their parents and society. It’s an honest look at their cultural beliefs and customs and I enjoyed it immensely.
Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?
Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.
The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?
Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.
8 A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
In this debut gothic novel mysterious visions, dark family secrets and a long-lost diary thrust Gemma and her classmates back into the horrors that followed her from India. (Ages 12+)
It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?
A celebration of nonconformity; a tense, emotional tale about the fleeting, cruel nature of popularity–and the thrill and inspiration of first love. Ages 12+
Leo Borlock follows the unspoken rule at Mica Area High School: don’t stand out–under any circumstances! Then Stargirl arrives at Mica High and everything changes–for Leo and for the entire school. After 15 years of home schooling, Stargirl bursts into tenth grade in an explosion of color and a clatter of ukulele music, enchanting the Mica student body.
But the delicate scales of popularity suddenly shift, and Stargirl is shunned for everything that makes her different. Somewhere in the midst of Stargirl’s arrival and rise and fall, normal Leo Borlock has tumbled into love with her.
In a celebration of nonconformity, Jerry Spinelli weaves a tense, emotional tale about the fleeting, cruel nature of popularity–and the thrill and inspiration of first love.
10 Trust by Kylie Scott
I fell in love with this book in a quiet but nevertheless meaningful way. The way the book started – with such a BANG – that’s pretty much how my heart felt. I was floored by how realistic the characters felt to me. I could totally relate. The author wrote down-to-earth, mature but also very regular kind of characters. It was fascinating to see how both characters changed so drastically and so very differently after the event that bonded them forever. This book spoke to me in a way I didn’t expect and was all the more enamored by it.
Being young is all about the experiences: the first time you skip school, the first time you fall in love…the first time someone holds a gun to your head.
After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen-year-old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers.
While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight—getting to class on time, and thinking about the future.
An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first—losing her virginity—their friendship gets complicated.
Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose—each other.
11 Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
OMG – I’m still reading Autoboyography, I’m 3/4 through, but already now that it has to be on this list.
Another coming out novel that broke my heart.
A half jewish, half mormon bisexual boy falling in love with his mormon writing TA, son of a mormon bishop. This situation couldn’t have been more complex and layered. I’m amazed by the authors writing, the deeply emotional plot, and her fascinating way of throwing these two characters into a whirling plot that’s thoughtful as well as intriguing.
Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.
Please leave a comment if I you have a YA novel that I might enjoy reading. I love a good recommendation especially in a genre I’m not as deeply involved with.