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Find more Booklist Editors' Choice
Selected by the Books for Youth editors, the following titles constitute the year’s best personal reading for teenagers among adult books published in 2015. More on each book’s content and suggested audience can be found in the full-length Booklist review.
Between the World and Me. By Ta-Nehisi Coates. Spiegel & Grau, $24 (9780812993547).
In this brief book in the form of a letter to the author’s teenage son, Coates comes to grips with what it means to be black in America today. In exceptional essays, furious, judicious Coates lays out awesome beauty, powerful prose, and vitally important truth on every page.
A House of My Own: Stories from My Life. By Sandra Cisneros. illus. Knopf, $28.95 (9780385351331).
Cisneros turns to nonfiction with a patchwork-quilt memoir resplendent with color photographs. With striking detail and impish wit, she chronicles her “American Mexican” youth, sexuality, and yearning for self-understanding as both a woman and a writer.
I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet. By Leora Tanenbaum. HarperPerennial, $15.99 (9780062282590).
In this up-to-date look at slut shaming, Tanenbaum shines a light on an all-too-common issue of contemporary life: the bewildering and devastating treatment of young women in our sexually conflicted society. A compelling, thoughtful investigation of young womanhood.
Plotted: A Literary Atlas. By Andrew DeGraff and Daniel Harmon. 2015. illus. Zest, $24.99 (9781936976867).
Illustrator DeGraff and editor Harmon offer exuberantly inventive, dazzlingly engrossing feats of literary cartography. Each of the 19 selected classics is summarized, then distilled into a map that tracks characters, places, and events. A superbly clever interpretation of classic tales.
The Soul of an Octopus: A Playful Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness. By Sy Montgomery. 2015. Atria, $26 (9781451697711).
Naturalist Montgomery chronicles the octopus’ phenomenal strength, dexterity, and lightning-quick shape-shifting and camouflage abilities. This uniquely intimate portrait of the elusive octopus profoundly recalibrates our perception of consciousness, communication, and community.
Armada. By Ernest Cline. Crown, $26 (9780804137256).
Cline’s follow-up to the massively popular Ready Player One (2011) is another geek-coming-of-age saga involving a conspiracy theory embedded inside popular sci-fi novels, movies, and video games. Does Zack’s skill at the gameArmada make him just the hero we need when real alien ships descend? A zesty, hard-charging, crowd-pleasing, adrenaline-pumping fanboy fantasy.
Boo. By Neil Smith. Vintage, $14.95 (9780804171366).
Boo awakens suddenly to find himself in a mysterious afterlife exclusively for 13-year-olds, called Town, and when he encounters Johnny, a boy from his school, they gradually piece together the mystery of deaths. Boo’s compelling, poignant matter-of-fact journal entries are the perfect vehicle for this unusual tale.
The Country of Ice Cream Star. By Sandra Newman. Ecco, $26.99 (9780062227096).
In a rich patois, Newman relates the story of Ice Cream Fifteen Star and her tribe, who wander a decimated future America scavenging old houses and avoiding posies, the disease that kills off adults. A suspenseful dystopian tale provocatively laced with elements of U.S. history, pop culture, and political allegory.
Disgruntled. By Asali Solomon. Farrar, $26 (9780374140342).
High-schooler Kenya navigates racial politics and the difficult, changing dynamics of her family, dealing with the volatile split of her parents, librarian Sheila and radical Johnbrown, in this bold and witty first novel.
Green on Blue. By Elliot Ackerman. Scribner, $25 (9781476778556).
Ackerman, who served five tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, writes with empathy, authority, and integrity about Aziz, who joins a U.S.-funded militia after his older brother is injured in a Taliban bombing. But the war Aziz finds is a “racket” all about profit, not the future good. A thorny, illuminating, memorable modern war novel.
In the Unlikely Event. By Judy Blume. Knopf, $27.95 (9781101875049).
Blume tells the story of three generations of women in the 1950s through the eyes of 15-year-old Miri. It all begins when, over a two-month period, three planes inexplicably fall out of the sky over their New Jersey town.
Kid Moses. By Mark R. Thornton. Arcade, $19.99 (9781628725711).
With the excitement of an archetypal perilous adventure, Thornton’s stark tale follows Tanzanian street orphans Moses and Kioso as they make their way to an old family farm. It’s the grinding detail of wandering through the bush, escaping abuse, scrapping for food, and more that gives this unflinching story such raw power.
Make Your Home among Strangers. By Jennine Capó Crucet. 2015. St. Martin’s, $25.99 (9781250059666).
In Miami’s Little Cuba, Lizet prepares to leave for college, confounding her family with her career aspirations. Crucet crafts Lizet’s character with such sympathy that watching her evolve is utterly compelling. Integrating topics of ethnicity, identity, change, familial obligation, and leaving home, this sumptuous tale will resonate with many teens.
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