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July 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Best Books for Young Adults
The Best Books for Young Adults list is compiled annually by a committee of the Young Adult Library Services Association and comprises nonfiction and fiction appropriate for ages 12 to 18. Titles published in late 2006 are noted; all others were published in 2007. The committee’s top 10 choices are identified with a star (*). The list was announced January 15, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting.
*American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch; An Odyssey in the New China. By Matthew Polly. illus. Gotham, $26 (9781592402625).
On a quest to transform himself from a scrawny weakling into a kung-fu master, a young man drops out of Princeton and journeys to the legendary Shaolin Temple. A 2008 Alex Award winner.
Beowulf. By Gareth Hinds. Illus. by the author. Candlewick, $21.99 (9780763630225).
Hinds’ graphic novel captures the passion and violence of the original Anglo-Saxon saga through masterful illustrations and a respectfully adapted text. A 2008 Great Graphic Novel for Teens.
Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant. By Daniel Tammet. Free Press, $24 (9781416535072).
Recounting his long struggle to emotionally connect with others, Tammet vividly describes his childhood and adolescence as an autistic savant.
The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss. Ed. by Claire Nouvian. illus. Univ. of Chicago, $45(9780226595665).
Amazing photographs and essays by scientists introduce the strange, beautiful, and sometimes terrifying deep-sea creatures that live in the largest, most mysterious ecosystem on the planet.
E. E. Cummings: A Poet’s Life. By Catherine Reef. illus. 2006. Clarion, $21 (9780618568499).
This well-rounded portrait skillfully examines the culture in which poet e. e. cummings lived as he developed his craft.
The Great Adventure: Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of Modern America. By Albert Marrin. illus. Dutton, $30 (9780525476597).
Roosevelt rides to life in this intimate yet historically revealing book about the man who redefined the U.S. presidency.
Jane Addams: Champion of Democracy. By Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin. illus. 2006. Clarion, $21 (9780618504367).
An absorbing narrative and period photos reveal how, in a time when women had little control over their lives, Addams became a powerful force for good by helping the disadvantaged and fighting for peace.
The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family. By Martha Raddatz. Putnam, $24.95 (9780399153822).
Journalist Raddatz contrasts the physical brutality of the Iraq War with home-front stress when an American platoon is trapped in a firefight.
*A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. By Ishmael Beah. Farrar/Sarah Crichton, $22 (9780374105235).
A former child soldier in Sierra Leone recalls the heart-wrenching experiences that transformed him from an innocent 12-year-old into a cold-blooded killer. A 2008 Alex Award winner.
Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography. By Andrew Helfer. Illus. by Randy DuBurke. 2006. Hill & Wang, $15.95 (9780809095049).
The events and controversies of Malcolm X’s life, culminating in his assassination, are presented with unblinking realism in a bold graphic-novel format. A 2008 Great Graphic Novel for Teens.
Tough Boy Sonatas. By Curtis L. Crisler. Illus. by Floyd Cooper. Boyds Mills/Wordsong, $19.95 (9781932425772).
Poems about boys growing up poor and black in Gary, Indiana, vividly show the constant threats of their lives, as well as the positive relationships that help sustain them.
Town Boy. By Lat. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook/First Second, paper, $16.95 (9781596433311).
In this follow-up to Lat’s graphic novel Kampung Boy (2006), the move from a small village to a growing Malaysian town offers Lat a chance to experience the wider world.
The Wall: Growing Up behind the Iron Curtain. By Peter Sís. Illus. by the author. Farrar/Frances Foster, $18 (9780374347017).
Through spare text and bold, powerful illustrations, Sís tells of his life in Communist Czechoslovakia, especially his yearning for freedom, his attraction to Western pop culture, and his determination to embrace his creativity. The 2008 Sibert Award winner, a 2008 Caldecott Honor Book, a 2008 Great Graphic Novel for Teens, a 2008 Notable Children’s Book, and the 2007 Booklist Top of the List winner for Youth Nonfiction..
*The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian. By Sherman Alexie. Illus. by Ellen Forney. Little, Brown, $16.99 (9780316013680).
Junior leaves the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school, where the only other Native American is the school mascot. Is he choosing his own destiny or betraying his heritage?
Alabama Moon. By Watt Key. Farrar, $16 (9780374301842).
Moon, having been raised in isolation in Alabama’s deep woods until his father’s death, sets out for Alaska and discovers how little he knows about the outside world.
*The Arrival. By Shaun Tan. Illus. by the author. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $19.99 (9780439895293).
Without a single word, Tan’s extraordinary images express the loneliness, sadness, anxiety, and wonder of the immigration experience. A 2008 Great Graphic Novel for Teens and a Notable Children’s Book.
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl. By Barry Lyga. 2006. Houghton, $16.95 (9780618723928).
Fanboy, a comic-book nerd and perennial target of the Jock Jerks, finally takes charge of his destiny (with a little help from Goth Girl).
*Before I Die. By Jenny Downham. Random/David Fickling, $15.99 (9780385751551).
Tessa, who has terminal cancer, creates a list of 10 things she wants to do in the months she has left to live. This fierce, devastating novel explores end-of-life realities with honesty and grace.
Beige. By Cecil Castellucci. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763630669).
Prim, proper Katy relaxes into a new identity when she is forced to live in L.A. with her punk-rocker father, a recovering addict. A 2008 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
Bloodsong. By Melvin Burgess. Simon Pulse, paper, $7.99 (9781416936169).
The heroic Sigurd slays a dragon, descends into the underworld, and rules over a tenuous peace in a postapocalyptic Britain peopled with genetic mutants.
Bone by Bone by Bone. By Tony Johnston. Roaring Brook/Deborah Brodie, $17.95 (9781596431133).
David’s interracial friendship with Malcolm is forbidden by David’s father, a small-town doctor who threatens to shoot any black person who enters their house.
Book of a Thousand Days. By Shannon Hale. Bloomsbury, $17.95 (9781599900513).
Themes of friendship and loyalty elevate this fairy-tale romance, in which sensible, loyal maid Dashti serves a harsh sentence alongside Lady Saren, who has refused an arranged marriage.
Boy Toy. By Barry Lyga. Houghton, $16.95 (9780618723935).
Josh’s middle-school teacher taught him more than history. Five years later, her release from jail forces him to confront the past in this frank depiction of sexual abuse.
Buried. By Robin Merrow MacCready. 2006. Dutton, $16.99 (9780525477242).
As her obsessive-compulsive disorder spirals out of control, Claudine finds herself buried under home and school duties after her alcoholic mother appears to have abandoned her.
Coal Black Horse. By Robert Olmstead. Algonquin, $23.95 (9781565125216).
Carried by a remarkable horse, 14-year-old Robey journeys to find his father in the grisly aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Converting Kate. By Beckie Weinheimer. Viking, $16.99 (9780670061525).
Kate has only known a world where her church is the ultimate authority, but after her father’s death, she begins to question her allegiance.
Derby Girl. By Shauna Cross. Holt, $16.95(9780805080230).
Bliss, a smart, athletic Texas teen, forges an identity apart from her beauty-pageant-obsessed mother by secretly joining a roller-derby team. A 2008 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
Dragon’s Keep. By Janet Lee Carey. Harcourt, $17 (9780152059262).
Princess Rosalind’s atrocity—a dragon’s claw where her finger should be—makes her beautiful to Lord Faul, the fierce dragon who enslaves her in exchange for her people’s safety.
Dramarama. By E. Lockhart. Hyperion, $15.99 (9780786838158).
While friends Demi and Sarah are attending theater camp, their bond is tested when Demi meets his dream man and Sarah discovers that she may have misjudged her talents.
Dreamquake: Book Two of the Dreamhunter Duet. By Elizabeth Knox. Farrar/Frances Foster, $19 (9780374318543).
Cousins Laura and Rose work to expose a government conspiracy involving powerful dreams, only to discover an even more sinister plot. A 2008 Printz Honor Book.
Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature. By Robin Brande. Knopf, $15.99 (9780375943492).
Explosive issues come to the fore when Mena, shunned by her church’s fundamentalist Christians, finds a kindred spirit in her quirky, brilliant lab partner.
Firestorm. By David Klass. 2006. Farrar/Frances Foster, $17 (9780374323073).
Everything Jack thinks he knows about his world is wrong in this riveting science fiction adventure, set in the present day.
Flight. By Sherman Alexie. Grove/Black Cat, paper, $13 (9780802170378).
Just as a cop’s bullet stops his wild shooting spree, Zits, an orphan who is half Native American, finds himself transported through space and time and into another body.
For Now. By Gayle Friesen. Kids Can, $16.95 (9781554531325).
Sarcastic Jes and her blended family are back, and their lives are shaken up again when Jes’ mother announces that she is pregnant. This companion to Losing Forever (2002) stands alone.
Freak Show. By James St. James. Dutton, $18.99 (9780525477990).
Cultures collide when teen drag queen Billy moves from the Northeast to a staid Florida community, where he is determined to disrupt the status quo.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. By J. K. Rowling. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $34.99 (9780545010221).
Harry battles Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters in the conclusion to this hugely popular series. A 2008 Children’s Notable Book.
Hero. By Perry Moore. Hyperion, $16.99 (9781423101956).
Thom is keeping two very big secrets from his father—that he is a superhero in training and that he is gay.
How It Happened in Peach Hill. By Marthe Jocelyn. Random/Wendy Lamb, $15.99 (9780375837012).
Annie gathers information for her mother’s séances by playing the village idiot. But when she meets Sammy, she defies her mother to become a normal girl.
I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter. By Lynn Cullen. Bloomsbury, $16.95 (9781599900469).
Cornelia, illegitimate daughter of the great artist Rembrandt, strives to escape her life of poverty and her low social status.
I Love You, Beth Cooper. By Larry Doyle. Illus. by Evan Dorkin. HarperCollins/Ecco, $19.95 (9780061236174).
In this offbeat, bawdy romance, Denis declares his love for a high-school cheerleader in his valedictory speech—and lives with the consequences.
*The Invention of Hugo Cabret. By Brian Selznick. Illus. by the author. Scholastic, $22.99 (9780439813785).
Combining words and black-and-white pictures inspired by silent films, Selznick reveals the connections between a Parisian orphan and an elderly toymaker. The 2008 Caldecott Medal winner and a 2008 Notable Children’s Book.
Leonardo’s Shadow; or, My Astonishing Life as Leonardo da Vinci’s Servant. By Christopher Grey. 2006. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, $16.95 (9781416905431).
Young Giacomo, servant to Leonardo da Vinci, seeks to understand his past while caring for and contending with the brilliant, cantankerous artist in fifteenth-century Milan.
Looking for JJ. By Anne Cassidy. Harcourt, $17 (9780152061906).
Recently released murderer JJ, a British teen whose childhood crime stirred a media frenzy, fears that her past will be discovered despite her new identity.
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. By Gabrielle Zevin. Farrar, $17 (9780374349462).
After falling down some steps, Naomi can’t remember the past four years of her life. Now she must discover who she really is.
Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller. By Sarah Miller. Atheneum, $16.99 (9781416925422).
New teacher Annie Sullivan struggles to unlock the mind of Helen Keller, a deaf and blind six-year-old whose family is desperate to control her violent tantrums.
*Mister Pip. By Lloyd Jones. Dial, $24 (9780385341066).
In the midst of guerrilla warfare, 13-year-old Matilda attends school to hear Mr. Watts, the only white inhabitant on her Pacific island, read from Dickens’ Great Expectations. A 2008 Alex Award winner.
Mistik Lake. By Martha Brooks. Farrar/Melanie Kroupa, $16 (9780374349851).
Seventeen-year-old Odella, an Icelandic Canadian, confronts the secrets behind her mother’s abandonment in this lyrical coming-of-age novel.
My Mother the Cheerleader. By Robert Sharenow. HarperCollins/Laura Geringer, $16.99 (9780061148965).
Thirteen-year-old Louise is thrust into an ugly confrontation due to her mother’s activism against the 1960s integration of New Orleans schools.
My Swordhand Is Singing. By Marcus Sedgwick. Random/Wendy Lamb, $15.99 (9780375846892).
When the dead of Chust begin to rise from their graves, Peter and his father, Tomas, must face a soulless enemy and a terrifying destiny.
The New Policeman. By Kate Thompson. Greenwillow, $16.99 (9780061174278).
In search of the perfect gift for his mother, J. J., an Irish 15-year-old, must save the inhabitants of another world and solve an ancient mystery. A 2008 Notable Children’s Book.
Notes for a War Story. By Gipi. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook/First Second, paper, $16.95 (9781596432611).
Three young men struggle to survive the aftermath of war. The senseless violence of their underground crime ring comes through powerfully in this graphic novel’s nonlinear story line and dark, gritty images. A 2008 Great Graphic Novel for Teens.
Notes from the Midnight Driver. By Jordan Sonnenblick. 2006. Scholastic, $16.99 (9780439757799).
Alex’s drunken joyride in his mother’s car lands him with 100 hours of community service mentoring a cantankerous, elderly man.
The Off Season. By Catherine Gilbert Murdock. Houghton, $16 (9780618686957).
In this standalone sequel to Dairy Queen (2006), female linebacker D. J. struggles to balance school, romance, and family responsibilities as she starts her junior year.
One Good Punch. By Rich Wallace. Knopf, $15.99 (9780375813528).
Seemingly straitlaced Mike has never been in trouble—until police find four joints in his locker, forcing him to choose whether or not to betray a childhood friend.
One Whole and Perfect Day. By Judith Clarke. Front Street, $16.95 (9781932425956).
Sensible Lily, who longs to fit in with her classmates even while belittling their shallow interests, grapples with her first crush and tries to keep the peace in her quirky Australian family. A 2008 Printz Honor Book.
Peak. By Roland Smith. Harcourt, $17 (9780152024178).
Peak, an aptly named 14-year-old, unexpectedly gets the chance to summit Mount Everest. But is this avid climber ready to fulfill his father’s dream? A 2008 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
Red Glass. By Laura Resau. Delacorte, $15.99 (9780385734660).
Fear has ruled the life of 16-year-old Sophie until dehydrated, speechless Pablo, a six-year-old survivor of an illegal border crossing, is brought to her home.
Red Spikes. By Margo Lanagan. Knopf, $16.99 (9780375843204).
In this collection of 10 unsettling stories, a bogeyman, an angelic budgie, and souls in limbo are just some of the elements that will leave readers startled and intrigued.
Re-Gifters. By Mike Carey. Illus. by Sonny Liew and Mark Hempel. DC/Minx, paper, $9.99 (9781401203719).
Panels that explode with martial-arts power energize this graphic novel about Dixie, who almost lets her killer crush on a boy in her hapkido studio ruin her shot at tournament glory. A 2008 Great Graphic Novel for Teens.
Repossessed. By A. M. Jenkins. HarperTeen, $15.99 (9780060835682).
Even after escaping from hell, adolescence is a wild ride for this demon! A 2008 Printz Honor Book.
The Restless Dead: Ten Original Stories of the Supernatural. Ed. by Deborah Noyes. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763629069).
These original short stories feature a celebrated cast of young adult authors and invite readers to question whether the dead really do rest in peace.
Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party. By Ying Chang Compestine. Holt, $16.95 (9780805082074).
China’s Cultural Revolution drastically alters the lives of Ling and her family as political oppression and violence sweep away their comfortable, middle-class existence. A 2008 Notable Children’s Book.
Romeo and Juliet. By William Shakespeare. Ed. by Richard Appignanesi. Illus. by Sonia Leong. Abrams/Amulet, paper, $9.95 (9780810993259).
Manga meets the Bard! The classic, doomed love story gets a fresh look (and a Japanese setting) in this contemporary retelling, part of the Manga Shakespeare series. A 2008 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
* Skulduggery Pleasant. By Derek Landy. HarperCollins, $17.99 (9780061231155).
When Stephanie inherits her uncle’s estate, she also inherits his best friend: a walking, talking, crime-fighting skeleton.
Slam. By Nick Hornby. Putnam, $19.99 (9780399250484).
Stunned by his girlfriend’s pregnancy, Sam seeks direction from his (possibly) imagined conversations with skater idol Tony Hawk.
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You. By Peter Cameron. Farrar/Frances Foster, $16 (9780374309893).
Jaded, aloof James is tired of almost everything in his life. His perspective shifts when he attempts to connect with a coworker and makes a grave error in judgment.
Spanking Shakespeare. By Jake Wizner. Random, $15.99 (9780375840869).
With humor and pathos, Shakespeare Shapiro chronicles the absurd events of his senior year and his obsession with sex.
Story of a Girl. By Sara Zarr. Little, Brown, $16.99 (9780316014533).
When Deanna’s dad catches her having sex with an older guy, the consequences are greater than she ever could have imagined. A 2008 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
Strays. By Ron Koertge. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763627058).
Trapped in the unwelcoming world of foster care, Ted relies upon his strong connection with animals as he struggles to determine his life’s direction. A 2008 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
Such a Pretty Girl. By Laura Wiess. MTV, paper, $12 (9781416521839).
Having lost all faith in the justice system, Meredith tries to save herself and others from her father, a child molester recently released from prison. A 2008 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
A Swift Pure Cry. By Siobhan Dowd. Random/David Fickling, $16.99 (9780385751087).
Coolbar is an Irish village full of secrets, and Shell is not about to reveal hers until suspicion falls on the wrong person.
*Tamar. By Mal Peet. Candlewick, $17.99 (9780763634889).
This sweeping thriller moves between World War II and the present day as 15-year-old Tamar uncovers her grandfather’s hidden past as a spy in the Netherlands.
Thirteen Reasons Why. By Jay Asher. Penguin/Razorbill, $16.99 (9781595141712).
When Clay receives cassette tapes that explain a classmate’s suicide, he is forced to consider how his own actions, and those of others, may have contributed to her decision. A 2008 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
This Is What I Did. By Ann Dee Ellis. Little, Brown, $16.99 (9780316013635).
Logan, whose family has moved to a new neighborhood where he is bullied, won’t talk about a disturbing incident from his past until encouraged by a counselor.
A Thousand Splendid Suns. By Khaled Hosseini. Riverhead, $25.95 (9781594489501).
Two women born a generation apart witness the destruction of home and family in wartorn Kabul, testing the limits of their strength and courage.
Touching Snow. By M. Sindy Felin. Atheneum, $16.99 (9781416917953).
Thirteen-year-old Karina, a member of a large immigrant family from Haiti, deals with growing up in an abusive and dysfunctional home dominated by her horrifying stepfather.
Twisted. By Laurie Halse Anderson. Viking, $16.99 (9780670061013).
Tyler begins his senior year transformed on the outside, going from geeky video gamer to buff hottie, but he still struggles internally with problems at home. A 2008 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
Un Lun Dun. By China Mieville. Del Rey, $17.95 (9780345495167).
When it turns out her friend isn’t the Chosen One after all, 12-year-old Deeba steps in to save Un Lun Dun—a bizarre and fantastical alternate London.
Unwind. By Neal Shusterman. Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (9781416912040).
Welcome to a future world where teens are “unwound,” their body parts harvested for use by others. Conor, Risa, and Lev will go to extreme lengths to avoid this fate. A 2008 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
The Wednesday Wars. By Gary D. Schmidt. Clarion, $16 (9780618724833).
Overseen by his seventh-grade English teacher, Holling Hoodhood spends Wednesday afternoons reading Shakespeare, hunting rats, and learning the consequences of the Vietnam War. A 2008 Newbery Honor Book and a Children’s Notable Book.
What the Moon Saw. By Laura Resau. Delacorte, $15.95 (9780385733434).
Fourteen-year-old Clara spends the summer in a tiny Mexican village with grandparents she has never met, discovering a sense of belonging previously unknown to her.
What They Found: Love on 145th Street. By Walter Dean Myers. Random/Wendy Lamb, $15.99 (9780385321389).
From beauty shops and meat pies to war, drugs, and love between dying dogs, these 15 interconnected stories explore life in Harlem with humor and sensitivity. A 2008 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
The White Darkness. By Geraldine McCaughrean. HarperTeen, $16.99 (9780060890353).
Battling an inscrutable villain in the frozen South Pole, Symone learns survival skills from her imaginary companion, the long-dead explorer Titus Oates. The 2008 Printz Award winner.
Wildwood Dancing. By Juliet Marillier. Knopf, $16.99 (9780375833649).
Jena combats dark forces to protect all she holds dear, including her beloved Other Kingdom, in this magical novel steeped in fairy-tale lore.
*Your Own, Sylvia. By Stephanie Hemphill. Knopf, $15.99 (9780375837999).
Most people know little about Plath’s biography apart from its tragic ending. Appropriately, this powerful title uses verse to shed light on the life of the gifted poet. A 2008 Printz Honor Book.
Best Books for Young Adults, 2008, committee members: Holly Koelling, chair, King County Library System, Issaquah (WA).; Angelina Benedetti, King County Library System, Issaquah (WA).; Teresa Brantley, Salem Middle School, Apex (NC); Amy Chow, New York Public Library; Ashley Flaherty, Columbus (OH) Metropolitan Library; Jacqueline Gropman, Fairfax County (VA) Public Library System; Summer Hayes, King County Library System, Foster Library, Tukwila (WA); Andy Howe, Albuquerque (NM) Academy Library; Caroline Kienzle, Apalachicola (FL).; Connie Mitchell, Carmel (IN) High School; Diane Roberts, St. Thomas High School Library, Houston (TX); Elsworth Rockefeller, Ocean County Library, Point Pleasant Boro (NJ); Karyn N. Silverman, Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin High School (NY); Ed Spicer, Allegan (MI); Rollie Welch, Cleveland (OH) Public Library; Jennifer Mattson, consultant, Booklist, Chicago (IL); and Rick Orsillo, administrative assistant, King County Library System, Shoreline (WA).
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