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Find more 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 2016. More on each book’s content and suggested audience can be found in the full-length Booklist review.
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders. By Joshua Foer and others. Workman, $35 (9780761169086).
This sophisticated, unusual atlas takes readers to fabulously interesting corners of the globe, all packed with enthralling oddities of nature, architecture, and culture. Gorgeously produced and written in engrossing prose, this enchanting volume reveals a dizzying array of fascinating, wanderlust-provoking curiosities.
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. By Trevor Noah. Spiegel & Grau, $28 (9780399588174).
Noah’s coming-of-age during apartheid in South Africa vividly comes to life in this incisive, funny, and fresh memoir, which candidly addresses the complexities of race, gender, and class, as well as South Africa’s emergence from apartheid, and sparkles with moments of epic teen awkwardness and nervy entrepreneurial success.
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. By Margot Lee Shetterly. Morrow, $27.99 (9780062363596).
Shetterly relates the incredible story and invaluable contributions of the African American women employed by NASA as “computers,” due to their mathematical prowess. Spanning WWII through the space race, this book weaves their stories into the saga of NASA’s history while keeping an eye on the ongoing battle for civil rights.
Saving Alex: When I Was Fifteen I Told My Mormon Parents I Was Gay, and That’s When My Nightmare Began. By Alex Cooper and Joanna Brooks. Harper, $24.99 (9780062374608).
When 15-year-old Alex comes out, her devout Mormon parents send her to an unlicensed residential facility that promises to “cure” her but instead subjects her to abuse. Eventually, supportive friends and an attorney help Alex win legal protection to live as an openly gay teenager. Her harrowing yet eloquently told story is an inspiration.
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman. By Lindy West. Hachette, $26 (9780316348409).
In this uproariously funny debut, West, GQ writer and fat-acceptance activist, blends memoir, social commentary, and ribald comedy in a biting manifesto. Sure to be a boon for anyone who has struggled with body image, this triumphant, absorbing book lays new groundwork for the way we talk about the taboo of being large.
All the Birds in the Sky. By Charlie Jane Anders. Tor, $25.99 (9780765379948).
Two socially inept tweens—gifted scientist Laurence and burgeoning magic-wielder Patricia—are thrust into a whirlpool of world-ending change and join forces in this knock-your-socks-off blend of science and magic, which follows the pair over decades, as they grow from friends to enemies to potential lovers.
Another Brooklyn. By Jacqueline Woodson. Harper, $22.99 (9780062359988).
This slim, evocative novel centers around August’s reminiscences of her childhood and adolescence in 1970s Brooklyn. In poetic prose, Woodson not only shows us backward-glancing August attempting to stave off growing up but also wondering how we dream of a life parallel to the one we’re living.
Bite. By K. S. Merbeth. Orbit, $9.99 (9780316308700).
In a postnuclear, apocalyptic world, Kid, a teenage girl, falls in with a gang and embarks on a Mad Max–style adventure through a hostile landscape in which cannibalism is a real survival option. Filled with dark humor and wit, this story puts the idea of “good guys” to the test.
The Book of Harlan. By Bernice J. McFadden. Akashic, $29.95 (9781617754456).
Daredevils. By Shawn Vestal. Penguin, $26.95 (9781101979891).
Longing to experience a glamorous life outside of her Mormon community, feisty 15-year-old Loretta decides that Evel Knievel–worshipping Jason will help her do just that. Armed with life skills gleaned from the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and Knievel himself, Loretta, Jason, and a friend embark on a wild ride to meet their destiny.
Dodgers. By Bill Beverly. Crown, $26 (9781101903735).
East, a 15-year-old gang member in L.A., joins in with his younger brother and a cadre of other gang members on a road trip to Wisconsin on a job for their boss. Confronting crime, race, and coming-of-age, this searing crime-fiction debut features rich, multidimensional characters and remarkable prose.
Everything Is Teeth. By Evie Wyld. Illus. by Joe Sumner. Pantheon, $24.95 (9781101870815).
Evie is both terrified of and utterly obsessed with sharks. They occupy her mind during her summer in Australia, visually echoed by near-photorealistic images of the creatures looming behind her at almost every turn. This mesmerizing graphic novel stirringly evokes childhood fears and fascination with the macabre.
How to Set a Fire and Why. By Jesse Ball. Pantheon, $24.95 (9781101870570).
Effectively orphaned Lucia lives with her penniless aunt and cherishes her father’s Zippo lighter. Is there anyone more primed to join the secret Arson Club? In a sharp, deadpan voice, witty, valiant Lucia recounts her misadventures setting fires in a Robin Hood–like protest against the ruling class.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism. By Grady Hendrix. Quirk, $19.99 (9781594748622).
Abby knows something is terribly, demonically wrong with her best friend, Gretchen, but as her behavior becomes more erratic, Abby is the only one who notices. With spot-on 1980s references, Hendrix perfectly captures the angst of teenage friendships and the stagnant air of suburbia in this comic horror novel.
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