Amy Clark of momadvice.com doesn't just hook US up with a good read, but she also keeps the young adults in our lives engaged with her weekly picks. Every week, our resident book guru shares some of her favorite titles which we've compiled for you below. Amy is also an expert in many other mom areas, so check out her website, join her book club on Facebook, or follow her on Instagram. Trust us, there's so much to love about Amy!
Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off. Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist. (recommended for ages 14 and up).
Starr Chase has a double life at a mostly white prep school while living in a poor neighborhood. On the way home from a party, her friend is pulled over and fatally shot by a white officer. The death becomes a national headline and Starr has to decide where her loyalty lies, especially when it means risking her safety and the safety of her family. (recommended for ages 13 and up).
Sourdough by Robin Sloan
Not labeled as YA, but this is a perfect book to share with your young reader. The story centers around a woman who works in the tech field, specializing in robotics, and ends up being gifted a sourdough starter…even though she has never made bread before! Lois begins exploring the world of bread making and begins cooking beautiful loaves of sourdough bread, thanks to this magical starter. What she doesn’t know is how much this new creative outlet is going to change the path of her entire life.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Sixteen-year-old Simon is gay, but hasn’t told anyone yet. He has found love though through an email correspondence with another guy that has helped him talk out some of his feelings. If only he knew whose heart he had captured…When these emails get in the wrong hands though, he has to step out of his comfort zone and share about who he really is with those he loves. (recommended for ages 13 and up).
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
Penny and Sam both have complex relationships with their mothers and have had their own share of struggles in love. It is when Sam is having a panic attack over the news that his ex-girlfriend is pregnant that Penny enters his life and goes from becoming an acquaintance to his, "emergency contact." The two begin texting and it is through these texts that their relationship grows and blossoms. (recommended for ages 14 and up).
Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
Beatrice and her group of friends all have been devastated by the death of Beatrice's boyfriend, Jim. Beatrice has been estranged from her friends, but receives an invitation to celebrate a birthday with them all. After a strained night and a near-miss car crash, they receive a visitor who calls himself, "The Keeper." He says they are actually stuck between the worlds of life and death and that in order for them to move on, they must all take a vote and unanimously choose one of themselves to save. Given the dynamics, the reader knows that they will be in for a bumpy ride. (recommended for ages 13 and up).
Rooms by Lauren Oliver
Ghosts inhabit a home and observe a family in mourning as they prepare for a funeral for their father & husband. As each character tries to deal with the death, ghosts of their own are uncovered and secrets are revealed. This is a well-built story and as it builds you will discover just why these ghosts cannot leave this home behind. (Advised for ages 14 and up).
Weightless by Sarah Bannan
An incredible book on bullying today and the ramifications of what can happen when a child is pushed too far. Bannan sheds light on how bullying happens now that kids have access to social media and creatively utilizes an undisclosed narrator who acts as an observer and participant in the bullying of a new girl at their school. Well-written and unflinching, it would be a great read for your older teen or for parents who want to see how bullying occurs today. (Advised for ages 16 and up).
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
This is the story of a teenager named Jessie, the loss of her incredible mom, and the abrupt new marriage of her father that relocates them to Los Angeles. When her father meets a woman from his support group, the two elope and with father and daughter moving into the wealthy woman’s home, switching Jessie into the wealthy prep school that her new stepbrother attends. Of course, Jessie doesn’t fit in at all. When she starts receiving emails from SN (shortened from Somebody Nobody) offering her help and support in these uncharted waters, a relationship blooms and becomes a huge support for Jessie. The reader gets to read this beautiful, hilarious, and always sweet exchange. (Advised for ages 13 and up).
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
A small town is filled with gaps where the world looks different and even the corn has a voice. When a kidnapping happens and the only witness can’t give descriptions of what the kidnapper looked like, the town’s whispers taint his reputation. He is determined to redeem himself (and the taken girl) and sets out on an adventure to get her back. He must fall into these mystical gaps to find her and the truth is revealed on why he could never fully see her captor. (Advised for ages 14 and up).
Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
This YA historical fiction novel sheds light on a little known time in history, examining the Tulsa race riot of 1921 and what it might have looked like for the town's residents. I had never heard of these race riots, but it is horrific to learn that historians put the death toll at around 300 black lives lost to white rioters. The author notes that some people refer to this as the, "black holocaust," because of this. Since it is a YA book though, I thought Latham did a great job of giving you an eye-opening amount of violence and dialogue, while staying true to her genre. (Advised for ages 14 and up).
The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight
The Outliers is the first book in a YA trilogy that begins with a single text, "Please, Wylie, I need your help." When Wylie's estranged best friend goes missing, she is led on a wild goose chase, with Cassie's boyfriend, to bring Cassie to safety. The duo has no idea where they are going and the reader is led through over the half of the book to a surprising adventure that bends the genre from thriller to science fiction. Read the book before you see the film because this one has been optioned by Reese Witherspoon's production team! (Advised for ages 13 and up).
A Million Junes by Emily Henry
This YA read, is a sweetly satisfying retelling of the old Romeo & Juliet story with a fresh magical spin. When June runs into Saul Angert (quite literally), she is immediately attracted to him, despite her family's only rule that she never ever spend any time with an Angert. Each family has its own reasons for their anger, but June and Saul find that they just can't stay away from each other, no matter how hard they try. As Saul becomes more and more connected with June's world, they discover that there is a way to actually see and reflect back on the past of each of their families. They are surprised to discover just how layered so many of these stories are and what they really mean for each of them. (Advised for ages 13 and up).
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
Weylyn is an orphan and has been raised by a pack of wolves which is just one of many reasons why he can't seem to fit in with others. When he finds that he can single-handedly stop a tornado, with his own powers, he realizes just how different he really is. Weylyn finds a sweet friendship with a girl named Mary and her devotion has never ended, even as they have gotten older. This beautiful relationship is followed as Weylyn brings magic into everything he does, even as an adult trying to hold down a regular job. This one isn't labeled for teens, but it is a clean and beautiful story that I think you will love to share with your teen. (Advised for ages 13 and up).
Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
This YA coming-of-age story is a great one to hand to a teen to help illustrate the struggles of our different social classes and also illustrate some of the hot-button topics that are happening right now in politics. In this story, Mike struggles to keep steady employment after a short stint working as a lawn boy for a landscaping company. His family struggles financially and they rely upon Mike to help provide for their family. Despite living hand to mouth, Mike is determined to pull himself out of the hole no matter what. Unfortunately, he faces hurdle after hurdle after hurdle to just get a good job. This is such an honest portrait of what it is like to be poor and how every time you get ahead, you find yourself behind again. (Advised for ages 15 and up).
Losing Brave by Bailee Madison
A haunting YA novel about a year-old mystery surrounding the disappearance of Payton's twin sister, Dylan. Payton was there when Dylan disappeared, but has holes in her memory about what has happened. Although the case is still open, she knows that she might be the one to hold the key to uncovering Dylan's reasoning for her absence in their family. This mystery is well-paced and kept me guessing throughout. Madison builds believable motives and adds a real rawness to Payton's character. Better yet, the story takes some really shocking twists that I don't think you will see coming at all... at least, I didn't. (Advised for ages 14 and up).
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi. When she finds out her mother is sick though, she runs away and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to return and be by her side. This thousand-mile journey, however, takes a few turns she could never see coming and she must confront her own demons, redefine her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane. (Advised for ages 14 and up).
All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Niven sheds light on a topic rarely discussed in YA literature sharing the true struggles of bipolar disorder through one fictional teen boy’s journey. The stigma attached to mental illness, including the reaction of peers, make it a compelling read for any teen in understanding what it would be like to live with mental illness and how to be a friend to someone who is struggling. (Advised for ages 14 and up).
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
When two broken people find each other it is often a rocky road. This beautiful book takes you on an incredible journey as two sweet kids, bearing unfathomable burdens, find each other and discover that being broken doesn’t mean you can no longer experience joy or be loved. This book is perfect from start to finish and gets bonus points for the perfect last words spoken in a book! (Advised for ages 14 and up).
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Set in 1945, Sepetys explores the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. This ship had promised safety to over 10,000 people, even more than the well-known Titanic. Uniquely told through the voices of four characters, all with different ethnic backgrounds, she explores a hidden time in history in a beautiful and heartbreaking way. This is, perhaps, one of the most researched books I have read as the author traveled to over a half dozen countries to take accounts from passengers, their families, and even deep-sea divers to round out her story. (Advised for ages 13 and up).
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Described as, Orange Is the New Black meets Walter Dean Myer’s Monster, this story is about a teen who had been accused of killing a baby when she was just nine-years-old….allegedly. The story unfolds for the reader through newspaper and book clippings of speculations and through Mary’s own eyes as she slowly shares about her heartbreaking childhood and her mentally ill mother. Get ready for a twisty ride, readers! (Advised for ages 14 and up).
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
I love YA books about friendships and this one is about three unlikely friends growing up in the rural South that are all fighting demons of their own. These three unlikely people bond together and end up facing a struggle none of them could have ever predicted. This friendship is beautifully woven with humor and heart. I could not put this book down and read it in a single day. Want another fun fact? Jeff wrote this entire book on his iPhone on his morning commute! (Advised for ages 14 and up).
Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
This is the story of two friends, Rachel & Henry, that ended up growing apart for two reasons- Rachel moved and she left a love letter to Henry that never received a response. Rachel moves back though and has hard feelings against Henry for never responding to her letter. She also is battling a personal battle that no one in town knows about. As luck would have it, she ends up getting a job at the local bookshop, owned and run by Henry’s family. It is here, amid the books, that secrets are revealed between the pages as Rachel & Henry find friendship and love again in one another. (Advised for ages 12 and up).
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
This YA novel packs a coming-of-age punch as it examines the story of a rape and the aftermath for its victim. This story focuses more on not being a victim and allowing this horrible situation to continue to define your life. Heavier than a typical YA read and filled with a supportive cast of characters, Johnston deserves all the accolades she has received for this one, including being listed as a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize. (Advised for ages 15 and up).
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
How about a satisfyingly sweet love story that encourages girls to pursue computer programming? Sign my daughter up! Dimple is interested in programming and NOT interested in pursuing a husband, much to her family’s disappointment. When she enrolls in a web developer’s summer program though, she discovers that there is a boy enrolled that has been the arranged marriage prospect that her family has secretly been plotting. Hello, plot twist! (Advised for ages 13 and up).
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