by Tabrizia Jones
The Teenage/Young Adult genre doesn’t always have the best reputation but over the past few years, the genre has produced revolutionary writing and amazing talent that is just as entertaining and intriguing as Adult fiction. In my time as a YA librarian, I have noticed that most YA books are capable of conveying as much emotion, empathy and entertainment as Adult Fiction, if not more so. Now, more than ever, YA fiction writers are creating stories that approach poignant and relevant issues which general fiction has not begun to address. So if you are willing to begin that journey into the world of YA fiction and you don’t know where to start, here are some exciting book recommendations that will leave you enthralled and want to read more books in the YA genre:
Anna and her mother have moved miles away from her home to Scotland to escape her past. New name…check. Social media profiles…deleted. Anna is on her way to starting a new life. But the past has a tricky way of finding you. The whispers and stares start up again. Anna tries to ignore them by immersing herself in a story about Maggie, a 17th-century witch who was accused of witchcraft and finds unsettling parallels with her life. Anna then begins to learn that women being silenced and shamed is not a thing of the past. Bates adapted relevant issues and turned them into a modern-day witch hunt, something that many girls and women go through every day. As soon as you start reading this novel you’ll have a hard time putting it down.
In this retelling of a fairytale classic, fifteen-year-old Gaia is a mermaid who dreams of breaking from the sea to go to the surface and see the human world. But how much is she willing to sacrifice to get her wish? It makes anyone look at Disney’s The Little Mermaid in a whole new light. Be forewarned, this is a feminist telling of the classic tale and it is clearly shown in the social commentary that is rampant in this YA novel. Readers receive a lot of opinions on the patriarchal society, society’s standards of beauty and a whole lot of issues women might have to endure. Not only is O’Neill insightful, but she is also an amazing writer, and her lyrical prose managed to keep me hooked to the very last page.
Agatha has an important job in her Scottish clan, to be a hawk. But a dangerous mistake lands her in trouble with the Elders and she is stripped of her title. Jamie is an Angler, a young man who hates the sea (vital part in the role) and dreading his upcoming arranged marriage. But their whole life changes when enemies invade their village, forcing Agatha and Jamie to embark on a dangerous journey to save their family and all they’ve ever known. With the help of new allies and a mad queen, Agatha and Jamie learn that they are capable of anything in this powerful YA historical fantasy that focuses on the power of friendship and courage.
Here we meet Frankie, a lover of physics and astronomy. During her first sexual experience with high school cutie, Benjamin, Frankie gets her period. They decide not to make a big deal about it: it is only blood. But when a disgusting and gruesome meme goes viral, Frankie’s world and sense of security implode with a click of a smartphone. Who can she confide in? Harriet’s own social media debacle and Frankie’s response to it caused a rift in their friendship and Frankie is sure Benjamin is responsible for the meme. As Frankie’s online shaming takes complete control of her life, Frankie starts to wonder if her reputation and her life would ever recover. This amazing novel in verse is the conversation starter that our society needs.
Caddy and Rosie have always been so close but Suzanne, the exciting newcomer with a mysterious past, threatens to put a rift in the girls’ friendship. There are different forms of love and this YA novel explores the one that sometimes get overlooked: female friendship. It touches all the necessary points that make a great story: realistic characters, a compelling plot, beautifully written and contained in a relevant and important topic. Older readers will wish a book like this existed during their teenage years. Barnard took an important issue and told the hard truths about it, no sugar coating like some authors do.
A thought-provoking and emotional novel in verse about a young boy coming to terms with his identity as a gay mixed-raced teen. He is finally able to find his wings when he goes to college…and becomes a drag queen. A bold interpretation of embracing your uniqueness. Dean Atta created a beautiful story that conveyed so much emotion and passion that any reader will be able to identify with it. Even though it was written in verse, I found it perfectly written.
Eve is the first and only girl to be born in fifty years. She is kept sheltered and protected from the ruined world until she is ready to renew the human race. However, when the time comes to meet a “potential” suitor, she starts to see the cracks in the fake facade in the world that was created for her. She begins to question all the things that she was told throughout her life. Then it becomes a battle for not only finding the truth but also fighting for her freedom. I do not read a lot of science fiction but with this one I found myself so intrigued and excited to read the story that I couldn’t put it down!
Sarah Crossan is notable for writing moving and poetic novels in verse and Toffee is no different. This is a heart wrenching but uplifting novel in verse that will both move you and leave you breathless. We find Allison running away from home. With nowhere to go, Allison finds herself in a shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. Marla, an elderly woman, lives there. She is lonely and mostly confused and she mistakes Allison for someone named “Toffee”. But as she starts to connect with Marla more, she begins to realize how much Marla needs her…and how much Allison needs Marla.
Deena starts receiving letters from her sister Mandy, the same sister who has supposedly committed suicide, talking about a curse that has blighted their family for generations. Deena goes on a journey across the country to find her sister and discover the hidden secrets of her family’s past. In this breathtaking and magical novel, Fowley-Doyle took an important issue incorporating realistic and magical themes and created such a terrific story.
When Amber runs, it is the only time she feels happy and free, especially from her claustrophobic life. She must deal with family obligations, particularly from her father. Her father wants her to be the “dutiful daughter”, like accepting an arranged marriage, just like her sister. So running is Amber’s form of a rebellion. But now, Amber wants more. She wants more for her mother, her sister and herself. It is time for a revolution. But as always, freedom comes at a price. This innovative novel, which is filled with rhythm and heart, will make you fall in love with the “novel-in-verse” genre.
When his brother, Al, takes his own life, fifteen-year-old Nathan’s world was torn apart. He is baffled as to why he would do this. Al was special, talented and full of passion and light. Why would he commit suicide? Al must have been in trouble. That’s the only possible truth behind this tragic event. To discover the truth, Nathan starts to retrace his brother’s steps. Along the way, he meets a former classmate of Al, Megan, who burns with the same emotion as Al did and wants to keep Al’s memory alive. But when Nathan discovers the devastating truth behind Al’s suicide, his eyes are opened to the impacts of social media. This is a great and emotional book if you are looking for a conversation starter on important topics like mental health, grief and the effects of social media.
Hello fellow book lovers! My name is Tabrizia and I am calling from New York City in the good old of USA. Apart from books being part of my professional life, books are also part of my personal life. There is nothing more than I love talking about books and recommending good reads to people.
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