Growing up is tough. There are so many firsts, so many lessons, so many disappointments to endure on our way to figuring out who we are.
Luckily for us, though, we never have to do it alone. With so many wonderful titles in young adult fiction—from Judy Blume classics to John Green mega hits—there are plenty of bittersweet aids to keep us smiling through our growing pains.
Best Novels for Teens
Whether you’re a young adult, young at heart, or just looking for some great reads for the teens in your life, this list of ten fresh young adult novels will not disappoint.
1. Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds
In his debut novel, Justin Reynolds introduces readers to Jack and Kate, two teens who meet at a party and form an instant bond. Jack begins to fall hard and fast for Kate—but then Kate dies.
Her death literally sends Jack back to the moment they first met. He’s not sure if he’s lost his mind, but he might have a chance to prevent her death, even if it means believing in time travel. Filled with heartfelt moments and witty banter, this novel is perfect for any teen who’s ever dreamed of a do-over.
2. Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
In this follow-up to her best-selling novel One of Us is Lying, Karen McManus brings readers a new thriller full of twists. Ellery has just moved to a small town to live with her grandmother, but she soon discovers that her new home is full of secrets surrounding a deadly homecoming that took place five years earlier.
Fans of Pretty Little Liars won’t be able to put down this YA thriller.
3. The Boy Who Hit Back by Peter Wood
Matthew used to be the perfect, popular high school kid—until his parents’ marriage fell apart and his brother and father both disappeared. That’s when Matthew began acting out by stealing, fighting, and skipping school.
After running away to Greenwich Village and befriending a mysterious panhandler, Matthew must use his newfound cunning in order to survive and save his new friend. Fans of The Book Thief and Angela’s Ashes will especially love this coming-of-age tale.
4. We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
Daniela Vargas is a star student at the Medio School for Girls, an elite academy that trains young women to be perfect homemakers and mothers.
But when Daniela is approached by a resistance group with the opportunity to act as a spy and bring greater equality to the school, she is faced with a difficult choice: should she stand up for what she believes, even if it means jeopardizing a family secret?
This novel is especially perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale, as well as any young readers who love a story about love, rebellion, and change.
5. Slayer by Kiersten White
Set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this is the story of Nina, a student at the Watcher’s Academy who prefers healing over the violent work of Slayers.
But when she learns she has been chosen to act as the last Slayer ever, Nina must learn to fight in order to protect the ones she loves most. This is a gripping read for fans of the Buffy series or anyone who loves a great supernatural thriller.
6. Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan
Lou Parker is determined to have an epic summer. Unfortunately, there are a few things standing in her way, like the fact that her new job requires her to dress as a hot dog at an amusement park while her crush’s girlfriend is literally the princess of the park.
While Lou dreams of finding her own fairytale, she also schemes to stop the park’s imminent closure and set up her best friend, Seeley, with the perfect girl—but both efforts are met with resistance. This coming-of-age novel captures all the beauty and pain of growing up, from awkward first loves to humiliating first jobs.
7. Peter Green and the Unliving Academy by Angelina Allsop
14-year-old Peter Green can’t remember how he died. But he’s somehow ended up at Mrs. Battisworth’s Academy and Haven for Unliving Boys and Girls, a school for orphans like Peter.
Peter fits in quite well with his new schoolmates and even begins to enjoy life after death—but he has feeling that he’s left something (or someone) behind in the land of the living.
Fans of Harry Potter and The Nightmare Before Christmas will love reading about Peter’s fun-filled afterlife adventures.
8. Hope and Other Punch Lines by Julie Buxbaum
Abbi Hope Goldstein became accidentally famous thanks to an iconic photo that was taken of her as a child on 9/11. Dubbed “Baby Hope,” Abbi has lived most of her life in the shadow of that fateful day. Fifteen years later, she’s desperately searching for anonymity as a camp counselor.
It just so happens that Noah Stern, whose life was also changed forever by that day, will also be in attendance. Noah believes that meeting Baby Hope is fate, but she disagrees. Nevertheless, the two team up to answer some difficult questions about the history behind that infamous photo.
9. Girl Gone Viral by Arvin Ahmadi
17-year-old Opal Hopper is a coding wiz. But she couldn’t figure out what happened to her father, who disappeared suddenly after 10th birthday, leaving only a cryptic note.
Opal tried to move on by enrolling in a boarding school for technical prodigies, but when she comes across an opportunity to meet a close friend of her father, Opal’s hacking gets out of control. More lies, hacks, and manipulation ensue as Opal continues to dig for the answers she’s wanted for years.
10. Screen Queens by Lori Goldstein
Lucy Katz, Maddie Li, and Delia Meyer have secured their spots in a prestigious tech competition that promises the winning team a summer internship with a Silicon Valley startup. As the girls realize just how difficult the five-week competition will be, they also face a series of personal obstacles, from first loves to two-faced mentors and scheming exes.
Filled with love, humor, and lots of girl power, Screen Queens is as inspirational for young readers as it is entertaining.
What was one of your favorite books to read as a teen? Feel free to share in the comments below!
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