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Especially compiled for Young Adults, this section is awash with wonderful worlds to escape to, great stories and characters you’ll love. Please note that some of these books have more adult content and are generally suitable for 16+ readers. The books in this section might also be given a secondary age range. Some are suitable for 13+ year olds reading above their age and looking for a challenging read. Please note, content & subject matter will be suitable for a 13 year old. Non-Fiction in this section is often fascinating and educational to a wider age range.
March 2021 Book of the Month | Co-written by Brendan Kiely and the always-exceptional Jason Reynolds, All American Boys is an immensely powerful, timely novel about police brutality against young Black men. Shining a stark light on white privilege and the racism implicit in not speaking out, it’s a punch-packing wake-up call for us all to stand up and plant ourselves on the right side of history. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong colour. It all goes wrong for Black sixteen-year-old Rashad when a cop jumps to the unfounded conclusion that he’s shoplifted a bag of chips. Rashad’s arrest is brutal and the cop, Paul, leaves him with internal bleeding and broken bones. There were witnesses though, among them Quinn, a rising basketball star from Rashad’s school who also happens to know Paul. In fact, Paul has been like a father to Quinn since his dad died on service in Afghanistan, which puts him in a tricky situation - speaking out against Paul would sever his friendship and support ties. But Quinn’s decision to keep quiet unravels when footage of the incident is picked up by the media, with everyone in town taking a side. As a powerful “Rashad is absent” school campaign gains momentum along with plans for a big protest march, Quinn realises that not speaking up is a form of racism, that as an “All-American” white boy he can walk away from anything. “Well, I was sick of it,” he decides. “I was sick of being a dick”. Aware that his dad had inspired Paul to become a cop to “make a difference in the world”, Quinn resolves to be like his dad too, but not in the sense of being loyal to his country and family, which is how people always frame his father’s heroism. Quinn means in the sense of standing up for what he believes in; being “someone who believed a better world was possible - someone who stood up for it.” Packed with plenty of moments that will make you melt and tear up (such as Rashad’s relationship with the hospital shop volunteer, and the bonds between him and his buddies and big brother), this is a smart, incisive, rousing read for our times.
March 2021 Book of the Month | Forna has taken her own experiences of sexism and racism that she experienced as a woman from Sierra Leone living in the US on which to base this novel. This has created a powerful depiction of the oppression and cruelty meted out to women who are different from a society’s accepted roles. Set in the patriarchal fantasy world of Otera, this is based in an ancient kingdom, where a woman’s worth is only as good as her proven purity. This purity is proven by the woman being made to bleed – in a brutal ceremony when they reach the age of 16. When Deka bleeds gold this is deemed the colour of impurity, and she is declared a demon. Not only is she thrust out of the home and society she has known since birth, but she is also subjected to unspeakable acts of brutality and violence by the ruling priesthood. The fact Deka does not die from all the brutality gives one hope she is different and may have some role in the future of Otera. This proves so – Deka is rescued and taken to a training ground for women where she finds a friendship and sisterhood amongst others also found to be impure. As they train the ‘impure’ girls are paired with soldiers from the Imperial jatu fighting force – and some form deep and lasting friendships with their partners. The characters here are hugely diverse with Black, Asian and Brown main, and minor characters, with a recognition of diverse sexuality too. The power of this novel is in the strong, horrifying but ultimately hopeful end of this story. There is much violence – in both punitive killing and re-killings of demons by the priests, but also in the violent backstories of some of the girls (including an instance of rape.) The book explores themes of feminist possibility whilst being based in a fantasy world taking inspiration from ancient West African culture. A powerful read, not for the faint-hearted but very definitely giving hope for the future, showing that there is a place to be whatever you wish to be – homemaker or fighter. This is a strong start to what promises to be a trilogy.
The first thing that strikes you about this book is the fascinating, colourful effects on every page. This book is presented as a personal journal – one that is packed with artwork, collage and beautiful, striking full colour and line illustrations. The mix makes this a book that students will want to pick up and browse even before they get involved in the story. Asphyxia is a deaf artist, writer and public speaker and is a well-known Australian activist for deaf people, as well as writing previous junior fiction titles. Set in the near future in a Melbourne on the edge of disaster we live with Piper, a 16-year-old deaf student, who’s Mum wants her to appear normal - so Piper struggles to cope with hearing aids at school and uses ‘normal’ speech, so she fits in. She meets the son of a deaf mother, Matthew, who is a CODA – Child of a Deaf Adult – and realises that a whole world of communication is available to her in sign language. With this revelation comes a new world opening up that takes Piper into groups and friendships she has not seen before – away from the usual world of reconstituted food with created flavours into a whole way of life growing wild food and learning how to cook it. This theme of the sustainability of our world is such a hot topic – and the detail, illustration and information here is fascinating. I would recommend reading it for that alone, but what I found the most fascinating was being almost inside Piper’s thoughts as she discovered and learned Auslan (Australian Sign language). Having attended several Deaf Awareness training sessions in my working life I just wish someone had given me this book instead – it seems to place you inside a deaf person’s mind, so you can really grasp the difficulties and joys of being deaf, and the hearing world’s reaction to that. This book should be in every secondary school – it gives such a vivid picture of life for a deaf person, whilst the presentation is so beautiful it draws the reader in. Do read it!
15-year-old Yūki Hara Jones is only ¼ Japanese, but she has a deep bond with the country and her beloved grandpa there. Suffering badly from anxiety she feels she will be helped by a visit to see him. Her grandpa, a renowned Manga artist, feels she can be helped by rediscovering the small girl who loved to draw, but just as they are opening her old albums, the earthquake hits and although she survives he does not. Trying to recuperate back in England she can still feel there is unfinished business in Japan and is determined to try to understand it. Helped by her friend Taka, who has also lost everything in the disaster and has his own demons to follow, they take their quest illegally back into the disaster zone. This is an incredibly intense and atmospheric read- the prose descriptions of the disaster and its aftermath are breathtakingly powerful. But it is also a story suffused with Japanese legend and modern-day ghost stories. Manga is an important theme throughout the book - Yūki’s recovery is bound up with the creation of her own manga story and manga is so important to the character of her grandpa and her own love of Japan and so it is entirely appropriate that manga is used to tell the story. The superb drawings seamlessly reveal the other worldly and spiritual nature of Yūki and Taka’s story and the multi-layered whole becomes a truly immersive and compulsive reading experience that will linger long in a reader’s thoughts. Highly recommended.
Ash is used to taking hits on the field for his high school football team – until he takes one that doesn’t just impact his body, but his whole reality. It starts with one small shift, but with every game, every hit, Ash finds himself pushed through a succession of universes almost-but-not-really like his own, until the small shifts in reality become significant shifts in Ash’s own identity. As Ash experiences life from other perspectives, he starts to question the world he thought he knew, as well as the ones he finds himself catapulted into. For better or worse, the one thing Ash knows is that he’s got to find a way to put things back.
March 2021 Debut of the Month | Selected for The Book Box by LoveReading4Kids | Fuelled by feminism, this formidable speculative thriller tackles traditional gender roles and the dynamics of power head on. In fact, it flips the status quo on its head to create an absolute page-turner that’s both gripping and inventive, with shades of an alternate The Handmaid’s Tale running through its pounding heart. Jude Grant lives in a post-war matriarchal society in which women hold all the power as a result of men messing-up the world (“Your lot – you men – you destroyed it all”). As a boy, he was born into a life of servitude, raised in the company of Nurse Fathers in the Surrogacy. Now nearing his seventeenth birthday, this is the final year he’s eligible to be presented at the Auction. His final chance to become the Ward of a wealthy Tower-residing woman, and the sense of time running out is potently palpable. In Jude’s world, gender roles are the reverse of those in ours. Here at the Auction, boys must smile nicely for the assembled all-powerful women who will determine their fates. Boys who have never seen a woman unmasked because “men can’t control themselves, we’re told; to look at a woman is to lose our innocence.” In Jude’s world, it’s boys who are subjected to objectification, sexual assault and abuses of power: “A grab here. A grope there. Small belittling moments we’re meant to endure, because it’s girls being girls. Shouldn’t we be grateful? Flattered? And when they don’t even know they did anything wrong, what? We’re meant to apologise?” If Jude’s not selected, he’ll be sent to the mines where most boys don’t survive a year. Waiting anxiously, he worries that he’s too old, too short, too fat. Sound familiar? This is powerful stuff, both in the context of Jude’s experiences, and its resonance with the treatment of girls and women in our world. But in Jude’s case there’s even more at stake, more reason to be picked to be the Chancellor’s Ward, for she killed his best friend Vik, and he’s set on revenge. What an impactful, provocative, pacey feat this is, from the author’s dexterous unveiling of the brutal world Jude and Vik were born into, to her accomplished translation of a powerful high concept into an edge-of-your-seat thriller.
Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2019, Jason Reynolds’s original Long Way Down novel-in-verse (stunningly illustrated by Chris Priestley) has here been adapted into a glorious graphic novel. The story is as gripping and moving as ever, its atmosphere perhaps even more poignant courtesy of Danica Novgorodoff’s impactful watercolour illustrations. It’s an incredibly poignant story about breaking the cycles of brutal gang culture that will surely now find an even bigger audience. Two days ago fifteen-year-old Will witnessed the fatal shooting of his big brother. The initial smart of his grief is evoked with characteristic cut-to-the-point lyricism, hauntingly portrayed in a murky, lilac-hued street scene: “When bad things happen, we can usually look up and see the moon, big and bright, shining over us. But when Shawn died, the moon was off.” Tragically, Will knows the drill in these situations - no crying, no snitching, take revenge. “The Rules weren’t meant to be broken. They were meant for the broken to follow,” so Will gets his brother’s gun and heads into the elevator to exact revenge on Shawn’s murderer. But at each level Will encounters figures from his past, among them his friend Buck who died last year, Dani who was shot in a playground, his Uncle Mark, his father. So many lives lost to violence, and their reappearance causes Will to think; to question his plans and question the rules.
From New York Times bestselling author Mary H.K. Choi comes a funny and emotional story about two estranged sisters and how far they'll go to save one of their lives - even if it means swapping identities. Jayne and June Baek are nothing alike. June's three years older, a classic first-born, know-it-all narc with a problematic finance job and an equally soulless apartment (according to Jayne). Jayne is an emotionally stunted, self-obsessed basket case who lives in squalor, has egregious taste in men, and needs to get to class and stop wasting Mom and Dad's money (if you ask June). Once thick as thieves, these sisters who moved from Seoul to San Antonio to New York together now don't want anything to do with each other. That is, until June gets cancer. And Jayne becomes the only one who can help her. Flung together by circumstance, housing woes, and family secrets, will the sisters learn more about each other than they're willing to confront? And what if while helping June, Jayne has to confront the fact that maybe she's sick, too?
Fifteen year old Sander wishes he was like everyone else. But he has Silver-Russell syndrome, a condition that affects one in a hundred thousand. It means he is smaller than all the other kids in school, a place where the biggest and the loudest get all the attention. Like Niklas. Everyone thinks Niklas is cool and good-looking - except Sander. He doesn't like the way Niklas brags, behaves like a jerk and lies. Niklas is one of life's tall people and next to him, Sander always ends up feeling small. But Sander is different in more ways than one. He notices things other people miss, and he's noticed something about Niklas...
Alex is a rebel with a purple fauxhawk and biker boots. St Mary's Catholic School is the strict boarding school where she's currently trapped. Despite trying everything she can to get expelled, she's still stuck with the nuns, the prudish attitude and the sexism. So Alex decides to take matters into her own hands. She's going to stage the school's first ever production of The Vagina Monologues . . . Trouble is, no one else at St Mary's can even bear to say the word 'vagina' out loud!
From the author of Black Heart Blue and Gloves Off - both LoveReading favourites - Wrecked is a breathtakingly affecting novel-in-verse that sees teenager Joe stand trial for causing a fatal car crash. Exploring thought-provoking themes around toxic relationships, self-preservation, truth and betrayal in an ultra-accessible, engagingly authentic style, this comes highly recommended for reluctant readers. Framed within the context of Joe’s excruciatingly tense trial at which he pleads not guilty to a charge of causing death by reckless driving, his narrative slips back and forth through key moments in his life, most crucially how he got together with Imogen, his girlfriend of many years, who was with him when the crash happened. When the police arrived at the scene, Joe was said to be the driver. “The truth is in hiding, it’s scared, it’s weak/ You see, I’ve been waiting so long for my chance to speak” - so goes Joe’s internal monologue before we hear evidence that tears his character apart. But someone is lying and, little by little, we learn more about Imogen, how she “lifted my shell and prodded deep underneath at flesh unprotected, she bit with sharp teeth - she stole chunks of my certainty.” Alongside the unfolding of past events and the present-day trial, additional devastation is unravelling in Joe’s family. Wrecked is an exceptional addition to the canon of contemporary novels-in-verse for young adult readers (see also Punching the Air, The Poet X, Clap When You Land, Rebound, Black Flamingo, Gut Feelings and the work of Sarah Crossan), and mention must be made of the book’s layout too – words and letters stutter, tumble, slip and fall across and along the pages, stirringly reverberating Joe’s state of mind.
Winner of the Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing 2020 | Winner of the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards for Non-Fiction | Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2020 | Longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize 2020 | Diary of a Young Naturalist recounts a year in the life of an autistic and highly gifted 15 year old, struggling with school, bullies, moving house and fearing the decline of the natural world whilst rejoicing in it. Dara McAnulty is clearly an extraordinary person and a beautiful and mature writer. His descriptions of his adventures in nature are inspiring for children, but also sure to brighten the souls of many an adult too. The intensity with which nature presents itself to the author is overwhelming, and his ability to share this with the reader is enthralling. It’s a rollercoaster ride being in the head of this young man, but the book has the magic to open our eyes and ears to what beauty is around us each and every day - if only we looked! McAnulty's knowledge of wildlife and nature is simply extraordinary. His autism is a burden but also a super-power, providing him with piercing insight to a world that simply cannot be ignored with all its truth, tragedy and hope pouring out of every hedgerow, pond and dry stone wall. This is a diary which highlights our essential connection with the natural world, the landscape and our history embedded within it - but more importantly, it is also about our futures. Dara McAnulty is on a mission, and if the quality of this book is anything to go by, he will have a huge impact. For many children, this book will be the beginning of a wondrous journey. ~ Greg Hackett Greg Hackett is the Founder & Director of the London Mountain Film Festival
Trust no witch . . . Iraya Adair has spent her life in a cell. Heir of an overthrown and magically-gifted dynasty, she was exiled from her home on the island nation of Aiyca when she was just a child. But every day brings her closer to freedom - and vengeance. Jazmyne Cariot grew up dressed in gold, with stolen magic at her fingertips. Daughter of the self-crowned doyenne, her existence is a threat to her mother's rule. But unlike her sister, Jazmyne has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother's power. Sworn enemies, the two witches enter a deadly alliance to take down the woman who threatens both their worlds. But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain - except the lengths Iraya and Jazmyne will go to win this game. Two witches. One motive. And a very untrustworthy alliance.
A thrilling prequel story to the bestselling, award-winning A Good Girl's Guide to Murder! A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER IS THE WINNER OF THE BRITISH BOOK AWARDS' CHILDREN'S BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020 AND WAS SHORTLISTED FOR THE WATERSTONES CHILDREN'S BOOK PRIZE 2020 Pippa Fitz-Amobi is not in the mood for her friend’s murder mystery party. Especially one that involves 1920’s fancy dress and pretending that their town, Little Kilton, is an island called Joy. But when the game begins, Pip finds herself drawn into the make-believe world of intrigue, deception and murder. But as Pip plays detective, teasing out the identity of the killer clue-by-clue, the murder of the fictional Reginald Remy isn’t the only case on her mind … Find out where it all began for Pip in this prequel to the best-selling A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and Good Girl, Bad Blood.
The no-nonsense guide to being trans and/or non-binary for teens | What’s the T? is street talk for ‘tell me the truth’ and this is exactly what Juno Dawson sets out to do. This Book is Gay by the same author became a staple purchase for school libraries and this new title absolutely deserves the same treatment and indeed should be purchased for the staff shelf too. This reader is paranoid about the correct language and terminology and I feel far more confident in my understanding now. The excellent glossary is worth the purchase price alone. Although it sets out to answer all the possible questions that anyone feeling body dysmorphia or anybody supporting a friend or family member with similar anxieties, could come up with, my strongest impression was one of moral rectitude. Without being strident or patronising and in her warm, witty and friendly way, the author makes very clear the right of every human being to define themselves and to be able to live their lives without fear. Many misconceptions (often generated by ill-informed or blatantly hateful messages in mainstream and social media) are firmly laid to rest. Notably what is and is not actually possible in terms of treatment for young people under 18. The information and advice given does not sugar coat anything. Nobody could be left in any doubt of the difficulties and the time that it would take to make any sort of transition, nor that there is one simple answer or one simple journey. The fascinating look at the history of transgender in different cultures and the witness statements from trans and non-binary people across the globe, give those of us in our cisgender privilege a salutary wake-up call, which is why this book has value for any sociology, politics or philosophy students too. An essential purchase for secondary schools and a recommended addition to any young person's bookshelf. For more books visit our LGBTQI Literature Collection.
A profound, powerful and moving collection of 100 letters from around the world responding to the climate crisis, introduced by Emma Thompson and lovingly illustrated by CILIP award winner Jackie Morris.
Shortlisted for the Excelsior Award Black 16+ KS5 | Three teenagers discover an unearthly creature with incredible powers who needs prey to survive - but as they try to use his powers for good, it may be these humans who pose the greatest threat to the world. Eisner Award-nominated writer Simon Spurrier (Sandman Universe, Coda) and acclaimed artist Chris Wildgoose (Batman: Nightwalker) present a subversive coming-of-age story about changing the world - and the lines we'll cross to get everything we want in it.
From the author of Just Another Lie, Eve Ainsworth’s Magpie is an honest, poignant story of a family who flee a mother’s abusive partner, all told through the eyes of Alice, a heroine whose experiences and outlook touch the heart and soul. Her wish “to be able to fly… to be truly free” and “never feel trapped again” will have readers truly rooting for her from tense opening to hopeful conclusion. New home, new school, new start - all good. But old fears resurface when Alice spots a hooded figure skulking near her new house and she’s terrified her mum’s abusive partner, Ross, has tracked them down. This was supposed to be them embarking on a new life, away from his violent, manipulative behaviour, away from her mum looking “defeated, like a mouse that had just been caught by a cat.” Despite Alice’s efforts to shrug off her apprehension, the fear lingers and she’s worried Mum has done what she always ends up doing - giving in to Ross. At least she has a couple of great friends for support, though - football ace Alfie and arty Ben. They make an unlikely bunch (as the best friendship groups often do), but they’re close as anything, and will do anything for each other. Written with clarity and heart, I was moved and gripped as Alice discovers the truth of the skulking stranger, all the while navigating the nasty girls at school who mock her unfashionable clothes, worrying about Mum, and feeling the thrill of first love and new connections.
February 2021 Book of the Month | Renée Watson is one of my favourite contemporary YA writers and her latest novel, Love is a Revolution, embodies everything that makes her stories shine - it’s honest, relatable, driven by an inspiring Black girl, and sparkles with a self-empowerment vibe. Nala’s summer plans are sent reeling when she goes to an open mic night for her “cousin-sister-friend” Imani’s birthday, an event organised by the Harlem Inspire community project Imani is heavily involved with. Here Nala fall head-over-heels for committed activist Tye and finds herself telling little white lies to impress him - that she’s vegan, that she’s running a big project at her Jamaican Grandma’s Senior Living residence. Talking of Grandma, I especially loved the book’s beautiful portrayal of inter-generational relationships - the shared wisdom, the compassion and kindness, the sense of family and community, and Nala’s body positive exuberance is uplifting too. Her disorientation and self-doubt derive from elsewhere, like not knowing what she wants to do with her life, and feeling she’s not good enough, not quite worthy of Tye’s love. Though fireworks explode when Nala’s fibs are found out, after taking Grandma’s advice on-board to the empowering soundtrack of her favourite musician, she discovers that self-love and self-care are forms of revolution - they’re her route to transformative self-acceptance through embracing who she really is.
Niftily navigating the tricky tightrope between exploring big issues (divorce, toxic masculinity, turning to alcohol when the going gets tough) and delivering a humorous, heartfelt story, Andy Robb’s Smashed achieves what YA fiction does best. It’s thought-provoking, informative and never talks down, with a relatable main character readers will root for. After The Night Everything Went Weird (when his dad hit his mum and moved out), fifteen-year-old Jamie discovers that the “Weight of Manhood” is a heavy burden to bear. He does all he can to keep his little sister happy, and gives Mum lots of valuable advice too, even stepping in as a mediator when things turn nasty between her and Dad. But, behind closed doors, Jamie “longs to be alone and far away from everything. Somewhere where I don’t have to make other people happy or solve their problems. Somewhere where I don’t have to pretend to be a father-figure.” Stifled by notions of how “Real Men” are supposed to behave - no tears, no talking about problems, “we’re supposed to be the silent heroes” - Jamie finds a feeling of carefree invincibility through drinking, until he regains a sense of himself and finds the strength to lighten his load. At once bold and tender, tear-jerking and funny, Andy Robb has certainly smashed it with Smashed.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2019 | Empathetic, insightful and buzzing with drama, the brilliant Jenny Downham has done it again in this vital, true-to-life treasure about a young woman’s struggle to stand up to her bully-boy stepfather.“She threw things and slammed things and swore. She was clumsy and rude and had no friends. Her teachers thought her dim-witted. Her family despaired.” On the verge of turning sixteen, Lexi is a firework of frustration. Her furious outbursts are getting worse now John, her soon-to-be-stepdad, has taken over their family home, and his son – Lexi’s best friend (and long-time crush…) – has moved away to uni. On top of that, her younger half-sister is John’s favoured child, while she’s blamed for everything that goes wrong, including - most viciously of all - what happened to her beloved granddad. It’s no coincidence that the intensification of Lexi’s rage coincides with John’s increasingly coercive behaviour. Thanks to his constant criticism and angry desire to have everything exactly how he likes it, Lexi can see that her mum has become a shadow of herself. Trapped in this unbearable situation – one in which no one listens or believes her - what else can Lexi do but kick out?Interwoven with fairy tale motifs that combine to create a satisfying whole at the novel’s heartrending climax, this is a brilliantly exacting exposé of coercive control and emotional abuse, and a powerful portrayal of a young woman’s refusal to give in. Lexy is a dazzlingly-created character that readers will root for and empathise with. Her battle to break the abuse elicits much compassion and sympathetic fury, while her irrepressible wit provokes plenty of laughs.
Necropolis is a Young Adult dystopian fiction with a thrilling concept. In a time where society is becoming more restrictive and segregated, Wyn embarks on a perilous quest to prove the gender divide imposed by her society wrong, as she goes undercover in the army. Will the challenges she faces as a recruit on top of her fight to remain undercover derail her ambitions before she’s had time to achieve her goal? With mention of ‘The Breakdown’ and the illusive nature of the Necropolis, you are immediately drawn in to a different world. As I read I was keen to learn more about this world and Wyn’s journey. The plotline progresses quickly and this is a story that you could enjoy easily over a weekend. In a society that is quite this strict about the gender divide, I think that there could have been a bit more tension built as Wyn enquired about joining up, and I found Mrs Clay’s critical outbursts in History and eagerness to help Wyn a little bit overzealous and at odds with my expectations of a restricted society within a dystopian novel. Regardless of this I found the plotline enjoyable and Wyn very endearing. This is an interesting story.
The teenage years are such a vibrant and vivid time in your life. Adventure, friendships, self-discovery are all there in spades, but there’s frustration too, impatience and a strong desire to be understood.
This section of fantastic books for teens and young adult readers is filled with stories that reflect all of these feelings in settings that will give flight to your imagination. Be inspired by tales of self-discovery, run the rocky road of first romance, battle big issues in mysterious worlds, beat the bleak future of dystopian regimes, or laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of it all. There’s something here for all tastes and moods from half-god heroes to horseback holidays and literally everything in between.
You can download a free Opening Extract of each book, usually about the first chapter. Read it on your screen, or print it off and enjoy anywhere. We give you enough of a book to see whether it’s your sort of thing.
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