Favorite books for young adults
by: Rainbow Rowell - (St. Martin's Griffin, 2013) 448 pages.
Fangirl draws you into Cath’s collegiate coming-of-age tale in a slice-of-life with a twist. Plagued by high anxiety, Cath shrinks at the thought of new people and situations. But just as she gets to college, her twin (and BFF) abandons her. Luckily her relationship with fictional Harry Potter-like character Simon Snow has made her the most popular fanfic writer online. Cath can handle Simon, but can she handle two real boys, a bipolar father, an absentee mother, and a sister who has embraced college life with gusto and perhaps ouzo?
Perfect for: Teens who love a character-driven story and seeing how people adjust to change and challenges.
Find Fangirl at your local library.
The Book Thief
by: Markus Zusak - (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2006) 560 pages.
This is an unusual novel about the power of words. The Book Thief takes on the seemingly impossible setting of Nazi Germany and the improbability of Death as narrator and weaves together one of the most compelling stories of the year. Winner of the American Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Fiction, the author has created what can only be called an instant classic.
Want to see the movie? Check out the faithful 2013 adaptation starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson, though parents should note the film contains some violence and intense themes.
Perfect for: Teens who like historical fiction.
Find The Book Thief at your local library.
by: Veronica Roth - (Katherine Tegen Books, 2011)
In this tale, a war-ravaged world divides people based on personality and aptitude in order to guarantee peace. But rumblings of a power struggle have already begun. Just as our young protagonist transitions into adulthood, she learns she doesn’t quite fit any of the five factions. She’s “divergent,” a fact she must keep quiet about if she is to avoid becoming the target of the establishment. As Tris becomes embroiled in the war, she finds herself grappling with politics, loyalty, forgiveness, as well as love and her own identity.
Want to see the movie? Check out the 2014 adaptation starring Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet, though parents should note the film contains some violence and intense themes.
Perfect for those who like strong female characters, dystopian world stories, and action.
Find our Divergent at your local library.
The Fellowship of the Ring
by: J.R.R. Tolkien - (Houghton Mifflin, 1954)
An epic work of meticulously wrought fantasy, the first of Tolkien’s three-part series is first and foremost a great and gripping adventure about fellowship, and about a boy who finds strength deep inside himself. While the movies stay fairly faithful to the spirit of the original, they can’t begin to convey the rich texture, careful plotting, and underlying morality that Tolkien brings to each page.
Perfect for: Any tween or teen ready to delve into a magical, incomparably complex world.
Find The Fellowship of the Ring at your local library.
CHERUB: Divine Madness
by: Robert Muchamore - (Simon Pulse, 2013) 400 pages.
Formed during WWII, CHERUB is an elite, secret sector of the British Security Service that employs minors aged 9 to 17 — mostly orphans — as intelligence officers. The 12 books in the first series are stay-up-late page-turners. Savvy, capable heroes and heroines infiltrate gangs, take down terrorists, and investigate international arms dealers, all while maintaining covers as “normal” teenagers.
Perfect for: Your high-flying daredevil, problem-solving genius of a middle-schooler.
Find Divine Madness at your local library.
The Clan of the Cave Bear
by: Jean M. Auel - (Crown Publishers, 1980) 495 pages.
Thanks to Auel’s meticulous research of the Ice Age period in this six-book series, the reader is vividly transported back to primeval times some 35,000 years ago. Ayla, a five-year-old Cro-Magnon girl is adopted by a Neanderthal medicine woman, much to the objection of her Neanderthal tribe: the Clan of the Cave Bear. Though often terrifying and brutal, the books’ psychological drama make Ayla’s story from childhood to adulthood an emotionally gripping odyssey of a courageous heroine.
Perfect for: Teens curious to taste life in the (very) olden days.
Find The Clan of the Cave Bear at your local library.
by: Catherine Gilbert Murdock - (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2007) 274 pages.
This book, and its sequels, follow the high school passions and perils of D.J., a teen who has all the drama of a 90210 socialite — just swap out star-spotting in glitzy LA for football games and farm life in rural Wisconsin. You see, Darlene Joyce, who goes by D.J., has been picking up the slack around her family’s dairy farm ever since her dad got hurt and her football-star brothers left to play college ball. Now, life includes a daily five a.m. wake-up call to milk their 32 cows. A little on the husky side, D.J. is also a major football fan. When she decides to become a player, there’s drama, dissent, and a little dalliance with the rival team’s quarterback.
Perfect for: hardworking, athletic girls who love their families, their sports, and their lives — even when they don’t all come wrapped in a pretty package.
Find Dairy Queen at your local library.
by: Lois Lowry - (Houghton Mifflin, 1993)
The award-winning book The Giver is actually the first of a quartet of books set in the same place and basic time. Set in a world so different, so intriguing, so shocking, the series explores a society with no pain or war. But this has been achieved at the cost of individuality, feelings, and memories — only one person has memories and knowledge of the past. That person alone understands pain, pleasure, beauty, and color. Chosen as the new holder of memories, 12-year-old Jonas gradually sees the costs of this utopia. The books are loosely linked with the third and fourth reintroducing characters from books one and two. It’s a wonderful book (and series) for older kids on the cusp of grappling with the big issues such as conformity, risk, and courage.
Want to see the movie? The 2014 film mostly sticks to the book’s plot but ages Jonas from a tween to a teen.
Perfect for: Kids who like dystopian world stories, suspense, rebels with a cause.
Find The Giver at your local library.