7 books that celebrate diversity for young adults
by: Nic Sheff - (Philomel Books, 2014) 272 pages.
During a family visit to the beach, high school junior Miles experiences his first schizophrenic episode. It’s also the same day his little brother, Teddy, goes missing. Determined to find Teddy, Miles persists even as his visions and questionable actions suggest he is spiraling deeper into mental illness.
Perfect for: Teens grappling with ideas about mental illness and the darkened corners of our minds.
Find Schizo at your local library.
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces
by: Isabel Quintero - (Cinco Puntos Press, 2014) 208 pages.
High school senior Gabi Hernandez has a lot going on in her senior year, all captured in this let-no-issue-go-unexplored page-turner. From romance, religion, teen pregnancy, and drug-addicted parents to coming out, body shame, sexually aggressive boys, and the politics of feeling like an outsider in both your town and your family, the story offers a whirlwind tour of the interior of one young Latina via her own Spanglish-inflected diary.
Perfect for: Youth juggling school, peer, and parent pressure.
Find Gabi, a Girl in Pieces at your local library.
How It Went Down
by: Kekla Magoon - (Henry Holt and Co., 2014) 336 pages.
After the death of 16-year-old Tariq Johnson, the community is in uproar. Tariq was black, and his shooter was white. As the community struggles to figure out what went down, the book unfolds into a modern Rashomon tale that everyone living in America is now familiar with. No two accounts tell the same truth, and as new facts surface each day, uncovering what really happened grows increasingly elusive.
Perfect for: Understanding the racial issues that plague American communities today.
Find How It Went Down at your local library.
Girls Like Us
by: Gail Giles - (Candlewick, 2014) 224 pages.
Shortly after graduating from their high school’s special education program, brain-damaged Quincy and intellectually disabled Biddies are placed in a live-work arrangement where they share an apartment at the home of a wealthy widow. Despite being at odds, they bond, forming their own family after a life of abuse. In this heart-wrenching, fast-paced character study, Giles manages to spotlight the lives of teens who all too often remain invisible.
Perfect for: Readers intrigued by life experiences outside the mainstream.
Find Girls Like Us at your local library.
I’ll Give You the Sun
by: Jandy Nelson - (Dial Books, 2014) 384 pages.
Thirteen-year-old twins Jude and Noah are incredibly close. But once they hit puberty, Jude finds herself not only competing with her brother for their parent’s love and a spot at an exclusive art school, but for boys as well. When tragedy hits their family, the twins become further isolated from each other. Shifting voices from one twin to the other, the book uncovers the way each sibling has lost a part of their story by shutting the other out of their life. An exploration of sexuality, grief, and sibling rivalry.
Perfect for: Teens interested in the tensions of sibling struggles amidst coming out and coming-of-age.
Find I’ll Give You the Sun at your local library.
by: Susan Kuklin - (Candlewick, 2014) 192 pages.
This book profiles six real transgender teens — three female-to-male and three male-to-female — each telling their stories in their own voices. The teens come from a range of backgrounds — some very violent and troubled, others more conventional — but all must deal with the complications of shifting their identities in a world that is anything but understanding. Kuklin takes pains to portray these teens, in words and photographs, with respect and care.
Perfect for: Teens curious about gender identity issues.
Find Beyond Magenta at your local library.
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
by: Meg Medina - (Candlewick, 2013) 272 pages.
After the floor in her mother’s apartment collapses, Piddy Sanchez is forced to move to another part of Queens and start a new school. There, Piddy learns that a girl named Yaqui Delgado wants to beat her up. Though Piddy and Yaqui have never met, Yaqui doesn’t consider Piddy a fellow Latina: her grades are too good, her skin too light, and her accent not thick enough. Haunted by Yaqui and her gang, Piddy grows increasingly fearful, feeling like she’s prey to Yaqui’s predator. In this gritty, realistic novel, Medina explores coming-of-age in a tinderbox of racial stereotyping and bullying.
Perfect for: Dealing with bullies in a new school environment.
Find Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass at your local library.
by: Kathe Koja - (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003) 128 pages.
In this young adult novel, Jinsen is bullied because of his dragon T-shirts, shaved head, and his religious lifestyle. Justin becomes his partner in a class project and starts to see Jinsen differently. Standing up for Jinsen complicates Justin’s life and his position in the social hierarchy of high school.
Perfect for: Kids who like realistic stories with a message.
Find Buddha Boy at your local library.