©2020 Clare Lund, Librarian on the Loose. I receive no compensation for reviews.

For Teens & Young Adults

 

The Poet X 

by Elizabeth Acevedo

Realistic fiction, novel in verse
Ages 14 and up

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists do the talking. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

by Becky Albertalli

Realistic fiction
Ages 14 and up

Simon Spier has a big secret that he's afraid to even tell his parents or best friends: he's gay. Simon thinks he has plenty of time to figure things out, but then a sensitive email from his online pen pal falls into wrong hands, and Simon finds himself being blackmailed.

Solo

by Kwame Alexander

Realisic fiction, novel in verse
Ages 12 and up

Blade is the son of a washed-up rock star and drug addict with delusions of a comeback. When his dad (literally) crashes his high school graduation, Blade's had enough. But he's not expecting the revelation that comes next: a family secret that compels him to travel to Ghana in search of the truth.

Far from the Tree

by Robin Benway

Realistic fiction

Ages 14 and up

The story of siblings who reconnect in their teens after being given up by their birth mother. Joaquin has been in and out of foster homes his entire life... Grace was adopted by loving parents, but is tormented by a secret... Maya was taken in by a family, but always wondered if she really belonged.

Wolf by Wolf

by Ryan Graudin

Alternate history sci-fi thriller
Ages 12 and up

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their victory, they host an annual motorcycle race. Yael, a former death camp prisoner, is given a mission by the resistance: disguise herself, win the race and kill Hitler.

The Last True Love Story

by Brendan Kiely

Realistic fiction
Ages 14 and up

After Gma dies and Gpa is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, 17-year-old Hendrix makes his grandfather a promise: he’ll get him across the country back to the hill where he first kissed his wife before he loses all memories of her completely.

Still Life with Tornado

by A.S. King

Magical realism
Ages 14 and up

16-year-old Sarah is going through a crisis at home, watching her parents' marriage fall apart. Luckily she has people to talk to: her 10-year-old, 23-year-old, and 40-year-old selves. These different versions of Sarah keep showing up in her life, trying to get her to wrap her head around the truth.

All the Bright Places

by Jennifer Niven

Realistic fiction
Ages 14 and up

Violet is having trouble coping after her sister's accident, and Finch has always been obsessed with death. When they meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom, but the two quickly find solace in each other. (Content warning: depression and self-harm)

Every Hidden Thing

by Kenneth Oppel

Historical fiction
Ages 14 and up

Indiana Jones meets Romeo & Juliet... taking place in the late 1800s in the Badlands, 17-year-old Samuel Bolt and his archaeologist father are hunting the elusive dinosaur that will make them famous. But Rachel Cartland and her father, also an archaeologist, are searching for the same fossil.

They Both Die at the End

by Adam Silvera

Science fiction
Ages 14 and up

In a future where Death-Cast predicts the day you die, Mateo and Rufus both receive the dreaded phone call shortly after midnight. The two have never met, but they connect on an app called Last Friend, and vow to help each other cross items off their lists with the short time they have left.

The 57 Bus

by Dashka Slater

Nonfiction
Ages 14 and up

When an agender teen falls asleep on an Oakland city bus, 16-year-old Richard and his friends set Sasha's skirt on fire. What started as a reckless "joke" caused left Sasha with third degree burns, and Richard to be charged with a hate crime. All affected parties have a voice in this eye-opening story.

Dear Martin

by Nic Stone

Realistic fiction
Ages 14 and up

Justyce McAllister is heading to an ivy league university in a few months, but that doesn't prevent him from ending up in handcuffs due to a misunderstanding. He looks to the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. for guidance, and begins writing as a way to cope with the world.

The Nowhere Girls

by Amy Reed

Realistic fiction
Ages 16 and up

I should start by warning that this book contains extremely mature content - but its message is inspiring, timely, and necessary. Three high school girls come together to avenge the rape of a classmate, and realize that sexual assault is an epidemic in their community. The girls support each other and organize to enact a change in their school culture.

Long Way Down

by Jason Reynolds

Realistic fiction, novel in verse
Ages 12 and up

15-year-old Will is determined to get revenge against the person who killed his older brother. But as Will gets on the elevator of his apartment building with a gun tucked in his waistband, the doors open on each floor, revealing ghosts connected to his brother who each give Will advice. What a powerful message about ending the cycle of violence.

Some other incredible stories by Jason Reynolds for this age group: The Boy in the Black Suit and When I Was the Greatest

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

by Erika Sánchez

Realistic fiction
Ages 14 and up

When her "perfect" sister Olga is suddenly killed in a tragic accident, Julia is left behind to pick up the pieces of her family. As she struggles to deal with her parents' expectations and cultural pressures, Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as pure as everyone thought.

Scythe

by Neal Shusterman

Science fiction
Ages 12 and up

A world with no hunger, disease, or war; humanity has conquered it all. Scythes are the only ones who can end life — and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control. Citra and Rowan are chosen as apprentices, and they must master the “art” of taking life.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

by Laini Taylor

Fantasy

Ages 14 and up

The pages of this book completely immerse you in a world of dark and forbidden magic. Karou travels the world on mysterious errands for a demon, until one day when a fateful meeting with a fallen angel in Marrakesh changes everything.

The Hate U Give

by Angie Thomas

Realistic fiction
Ages 14 and up

Starr often feels torn between two words: the poor neighborhood where she lives, and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. One day she witnesses the shooting of an unarmed friend by a police officer, and her life is turned upside down.

White Rose

by Kip Wilson

Historical fiction, novel in verse
Ages 12 and up

Disillusioned by the propaganda of Nazi Germany, Sophie Scholl, her brother, and his fellow soldiers formed the White Rose, a group that wrote and distributed anonymous letters criticizing the Nazi regime and calling for action from their fellow German citizens. Based on a true story.

The Serpent King
by Jeff Zentner

Realistic fiction
Ages 14 and up

Dill's father was a minister who ends up disgraced and in prison, but according to his family, it's all Dill's fault. He's bullied for it at school, but at least he has his friends Travis and Lydia to help him through. But as senior year comes to an end, what will he do when they all head off in different directions?