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Find more Best Fiction for Young Adults
The Best Fiction for Young Adults list is compiled annually by a committee of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and comprises fiction appropriate for ages 12 to 18. The committee’s top 10 choices are identified with a star (*).
American Girls. By Alison Umminger. Flatiron, $17.99 (9781250075000).
After “borrowing” her mother-in-law’s credit card to escape some trouble in Atlanta, Anna lands in Los Angeles, where she spends the summer with her sister, an aspiring actress trying to shake her B-movie status. Anna, meanwhile, researches the Charles Manson family and hangs out on the Disneyesque Chips Ahoy television-show set.
Ashes. By Laurie Halse Anderson. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, $16.99 (9781416961468).
Isabel thought that freeing her sister from a South Carolina plantation would be the hard part, but as they surreptitiously make their way north, she sees more clearly that neither the Redcoats nor the Patriots sees value in freedom for people of color.
Ask Me How I Got Here. By Christine Heppermann. Greenwillow, $17.99 (9780062387950).
Over the course of a year, Addie falls in love, quits the track team, falls out of love, processes guilt and forgiveness, and gives herself permission to make the choices that seem best for her.
Asking for It. By Louise O’Neill. Quercus, $16.99 (9781681445373).
A popular Irish mean girl gets raped by her peers and fights to bring them to justice, even as her friends, family, and community turn their backs on her. A 2017 Printz Honor Book.
The Bitter Side of Sweet. By Tara Sullivan. Putnam, $17.99 (9780399173073).
Amadou and Seydou have been tricked into slavery on the Ivory Coast, cutting down cacao pods day after day. They’re resigned to their fate until Khadija, the first girl brought to the farm, immediately attempts an escape that changes everything and risks all of their lives. A 2017 Notable Children’s Book.
Booked. By Kwame Alexander. HMH, $16.99 (9780544570986).
Nick, an eighth-grade soccer star, would like to concentrate on an upcoming tournament, but life gets in the way. Can he handle changing family dynamics, a first crush, bullying, a sidelining injury, and being forced to read a dictionary? Find out how he manages in this verse novel. A 2017 Notable Children’s Book.
* Burn Baby Burn. By Meg Medina. Candlewick, $17.99 (9780763674670).
Nora López graduates from her Queens, New York, high school in the summer of 1977—a summer marked by a heat wave, arson, and the Son of Sam murders. But there are things to fear at home, too, as her family disintegrates amid the overwhelming power of her brother’s violent streak. A 2017 Top 10 Amelia Bloomer Project Book.
The Call. By Peadar O’Guilin. David Fickling, $18.99 (9781338045611).
Every Irish teenager gets “the Call”: without warning, they’re transported to the nightmarish Grey Lands for one day, trying to survive while the vengeful Sidhe faeries hunt them for sport. Nessa trains hard so she’ll survive when her time comes, but with her disability, the odds aren’t good.
Character, Driven. By David Lubar. Tor Teen, $17.99 (9780765316332).
Cliff is almost out of high school, and he’s never had much luck with girls—or anything else. But when Jillian moves to town, he determines to have the girlfriend of his dreams and figure out what to do with his messed-up life.
Drag Teen. By Jeffery Self. Scholastic/Push, $17.99 (9780545829939).
JT, his boyfriend, and his best friend set off on a road trip from Florida to New York to compete in the Drag Teen competition, finding unlikely help and inspiration along the way.
Every Exquisite Thing. By Matthew Quick. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316379595).
Nanette has a nice, normal life—friends, high school, soccer. But after she discovers a cult-classic novel, “nice and normal” become instantly unappealing. Ditching everyday life for the book’s reclusive author and another obsessive teenage fan, Nanette explores her rebellious nonconformist side—and the risks that come with it.
* The Female of the Species. By Mindy McGinnis. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062320896).
The social hierarchy of a small-town high school is revealed through the voices of Alex, Jack, and Peekay, who are still haunted by the brutal rape and murder of Alex’s sister years ago. Alex, however, is on a quest for vengeance.
Free Verse. By Sarah Dooley. Putnam, $16.99 (9780399165030).
An orphaned middle-schooler struggles with anxiety after her older brother tragically dies, finally finding hope in a newfound family and poetry.
* Ghost. By Jason Reynolds. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, $16.99 (9781481450157).
His dad shot a gun at him, and “Ghost” Crenshaw has been running ever since. When Ghost challenges a runner to a race, he ends up on the team himself. But it’s one step forward and two steps back as Ghost channels his anger to become part of the team. A 2017 Notable Children’s Book.
The Girl from Everywhere. By Heidi Heilig. Greenwillow, $17.99 (9780062380753).
Nix, her drug-addicted father, and a ragtag crew travel through time on a pirate ship and become entangled in a plot to steal the king’s gold in nineteenth-century Hawaii.
Girl in Pieces. By Kathleen Glasgow. Delacorte, $18.99 (9781101934715).
Charlie, a cutter and an artist, lands in Tucson after she has to leave rehab. Alone, insecure, and scared, she gets a job where she finds both supportive and destructive relationships. In spite of bad decisions, disappointments, and backsliding, she doggedly struggles to find herself and her place.
Girl in the Blue Coat. By Monica Hesse. Little, Brown, $17.99 (9780316260602).
In 1943 Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, Hanneke helps her family survive by procuring and distributing black-market goods for customers, one of whom is hiding a Jewish girl. When the girl vanishes mysteriously, Hanneke takes up the case, unwittingly joining the Resistance as her eyes are opened to the war’s horrors.
Girl Mans Up. By M-E Girard. HarperTeen, $17.99 (9780062404176).
Pen (don’t call her Penelope) has always been more comfortable wearing her brother’s clothes, playing video games, and hanging out with guys. She knows what kind of girl she wants to be, but now that she’s 16, why are so many other people having a problem with that?
The Great American Whatever. By Tim Federle. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (9781481404099).
Quinn hasn’t left his room in six months since the death of his sister and filmmaking partner. After reluctantly going out with his best friend, Geoff, Quinn falls in love, uncovers secrets, and come to terms with his sister’s death.
Heartless. By Marissa Meyer. Feiwel and Friends, $19.99 (9781250044655).
In this faithful-to-the-original prequel to Alice in Wonderland, the one-day Queen of Hearts is just Cath, a talented and creative young baker with dreams of opening up her own shop. This heartbreaking love story explains how sweet Cath becomes the ruthless queen.
Highly Illogical Behavior. By John Corey Whaley. Dial, $17.99 (9780525428183).
Agoraphobic Solomon has not stepped outside his home for three years. Then Lisa decides to write a scholarship essay on her experience with mental illness and makes “curing” Sol her project, dragging boyfriend Clark into the plot. Gradually, her plan takes a backseat to the real friendships that develop.
If I Was Your Girl. By Meredith Russo. Flatiron, $17.99 (9781250078407).
After a harrowing incident following gender-reassignment surgery, Amanda moves to another state to live with her father and finish high school. Here Amanda searches for the friends and acceptance for which she has longed her entire life. A 2017 Stonewall Book Award winner and a 2017 Top 10 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
Kids of Appetite. By David Arnold. Viking, $18.99 (9780451470782).
Vic’s father died two years ago. Unable to accept his mother’s new relationship, he flees with his father’s urn. An unlikely gang of misfits bring Vic into their fold, helping him fulfill his dad’s final instructions regarding disposal of the ashes. A triumphant celebration of the many kinds of family.
Labyrinth Lost. By Zoraida Córdova. Sourcebooks/Fire, $17.99 (9781492620945).
Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation—and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, she performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But her whole family gets transported into Los Lagos instead. Now she must travel to the in-between land with a brujo to rescue them.
The Last True Love Story. By Brendan Kiely. Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry, $17.99 (9781481429887).
Teddy and Corrina team up to take “Gpa,“ his grandfather, on a road trip from L.A. to Ithaca to help him anchor down the memories of his wife before he loses them to Alzheimer’s. Along the way, music, old and new, builds bridges between generations, between past and possible loves.
* The Lie Tree. By Frances Hardinge. Abrams/Amulet, $17.95 (9781419718953).
In 1868, Faith’s father is providing expertise at an archaeological dig, and when his body is found, most assume suicide amid the allegations of falsified discoveries. Only Faith suspects murder—and her determination to find his killer leads her to dark secrets about her father and his priceless Mendacity Tree. A Top 10 Amelia Bloomer Project Book and a 2017 Notable Children’s Book.
Lily and Dunkin. By Donna Gephart. Delacorte, $16.99 (9780553536744).
Tim and Norbert are both starting eighth grade and prefer to be known as “Lily and Dunkin.” Lily knows that she is really a girl, despite having boy parts. Dunkin just wants to fit in, despite his struggle with bipolar disorder.
Lucy and Linh. By Alice Pung. Knopf, $17.99 (9780399550485).
Lucy, a Chinese Australian teen from a poor suburb, must navigate the cutthroat, very rich, and very white world of private school when she is offered a scholarship to Laurinda.
The Memory of Light. By Francisco X. Stork. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $17.99 (9780545474320).
After attempting suicide, Vicky joins Mona, Gabriel, E. M., and their therapist at Lakeview Hospital. There she develops deep friendships, works to understand her depression, and discovers unrealized strengths. Will the moments of hope and light be enough to help her through her return home and the crises her friends face?
Merrow. By Ananda Braxton-Smith. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763679248).
Living on the isolated Irish coastland with her aunt has always been a harsh existence for Neen. But when a stranger washes ashore, she renews her quest to discover if her mother abandoned her for a different life in a new town or rejoined her mermaid family in the sea.
My Lady Jane. By Cynthia Hand and others. HarperTeen, $17.99 (9780062391742).
The historical version of the story of the teenage Lady Jane Grey, England’s queen for nine days, is given a fantastical twist and a much happier ending for all involved.
My Sister Rosa. By Justine Larbalestier. Soho Teen, $18.99 (9781616956745).
Che and his 10-year-old sister, Rosa, are nearly inseparable. Is that because they move frequently with their parents? Or is it because Che is convinced Rosa is a psychopath and is terrified of what she will do if he isn’t watching?
Not If I See You First. By Eric Lindstrom. Little, Brown/Poppy, $18 (9780316259859).
Sixteen-year-old Parker Grant, blinded when she was seven in the car accident that killed her mother and reeling from her father’s recent death, questions past decisions, current friendships, and her own self-centeredness as she finds that the greater strength is in letting go, reaching out, and allowing others in.
On the Edge of Gone. By Corinne Duyvis. Abrams/Amulet, $17.95 (9781419719035).
A biracial teen with autism living in Amsterdam prepares for an incoming comet that threatens to destroy all human life on earth by vying to get her family on a spaceship destined to leave the planet.
Outrun the Moon. By Stacey Lee. Putnam, $17.99 (9780399175411).
Mercy Wong is ambitious and determined to get into an exclusive school in order to break free from the poverty of her native Chinatown. But this is 1906 San Francisco, and one of the world’s deadliest earthquakes is about to throw Mercy’s world into chaos.
* The Passion of Dolssa. By Julie Berry. Viking, $17.99 (9780451469922).
In thirteenth-century Provence, Dolssa, branded a heretic after claiming to speak with God, flees her hometown. She’s rescued by Botille, a matchmaker who runs a tavern with her sisters. Their lives become inexorably linked when Dolssa’s gifts as a healer and miracle worker bring the church’s wrath to the village.
Playing for the Devil’s Fire. By Phillippe Diederich. Cinco Puntos, $16.95 (9781941026298).
Flashy drug runners bring brutal deaths into Boli’s quiet Mexican village. When Boli’s parents disappear without a trace, the 13-year-old enlists the help of an unlikely hero—a washed-up luchador in town for a traveling show—and together they come face-to-face with the horrors of today’s narco wars.
Railhead. By Philip Reeve. Capstone/Switch, $16.95 (9781630790486).
In the distant future, sentient trains carry passengers across the universe on the Great Network, and Zen Starling, a petty thief and “railhead,” darts from planet to planet in search of his next score until the mysterious Raven enlists his help for a mysterious mission.
Rani Patel In Full Effect. By Sonia Patel. Cinco Puntos, $16.95 (9781941026496).
After her Gujarati Indian family’s move to a remote Hawaiian island suspends them in cultural isolation, 16-year-old Rani Patel uses rap to forge an identity amid family drama, cultural restrictions, and abuse. Soon Rani gets involved in a relationship with an older man with addiction issues. A 2017 Morris Award finalist.
* The Reader. By Traci Chee. Putnam, $19.99 (9780399176777).
With overlapping stories of swashbuckling pirates and merciless assassins, this stunning series opener introduces a world where reading is unheard of and a young orphan struggles to discover her family’s secrets.
* Salt to the Sea. By Ruta Sepetys. Philomel, $18.99 (9780399160301).
It’s near the end of WWII, and four refugees travel on foot during January to board the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship bound for safety. This is the story of the lesser-known tragedy of the doomed ship.
* Scythe. By Neal Shusterman. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (9781442472426).
In a distant future in which humanity has practically conquered death, the population is controlled by Scythes, the only beings capable of causing death—and teens Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch have just been chosen as Scythe apprentices. A 2017 Printz Honor Book.
* The Serpent King. By Jeff Zentner. Crown, $17.99 (9780553524024).
One is the son of a snake-handling preacher serving time in prison. One is a fashionista with New York dreams. One escapes an abusive life in fantasy novels. These high-school seniors in a small Tennessee town consider the options for their future. The 2017 William C. Morris Award winner.
Spontaneous. By Aaron Starmer. Dutton, $17.99 (9780525429746).
Members of the senior class at Covington High School suddenly begin to spontaneously explode. Who will be next? Why is it happening? And can the bloody mayhem be stopped? Mara and her friends think they’re onto an answer.
The Square Root of Summer. By Harriet Reuter Hapgood. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (9781626723733).
Margot shifts through space-time as she grieves the loss of her grandfather, the heartbreak over a first love, and the tenuous relationships with her best friends, all while using quantum physics and scientific method to determine what triggers the wormholes and how to remain in real time.
The Steep and Thorny Way. By Cat Winters. Abrams/Amulet, $17.95 (9781419719158).
Hanalee is a biracial girl living in dangerous times. Oregon in the 1920s isn’t a safe place for anyone who is different, and now the ghost of Hanalee’s father is telling her he was murdered. With nods to Hamlet, Hanalee must find answers so he can rest in peace.
Steeplejack. By A. J. Hartley. Tor Teen, $17.99 (9780765383426).
When the magnificent Beacon is stolen, white politicians seek the services of the best steeplejack in Bar-Selehm to shed light on the heist—and 17-year-old Ang Sutonga is drawn into intrigue, mired in cultural and racial tension, that goes far beyond the theft.
Still Life with Tornado. By A. S. King. Dutton, $17.99 (9781101994887).
Philly teen-artist Sarah has lost her will to create ever since an incident occurred at school. As she is visited by younger and older versions of herself, Sarah begins to piece together why her family and her creative life have become so fractured.
A Study in Charlotte. By Brittany Cavallaro. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $17.99 (9780062398901).
In this reimagining of Sherlock Holmes, Charlotte Holmes is a distant relative of Sherlock and a high-school student in America. James Watson, a distant relative of Dr. John Watson, is a student at the same school, and Watson and Holmes eventually meet up to solve a murder.
Summer Days and Summer Nights. Ed. by Stephanie Perkins. St. Martin’s/Griffin, $19.99 (9781250079121).
In turns humorous, touching, and atmospheric, this collection of short stories by 12 prominent, popular, and up-and-coming young adult authors offers diverse tales of love and summertime in genres ranging from science fiction and fantasy to realistic fiction.
* The Sun Is Also a Star. By Nicola Yoon. Delacorte, $18.99 (9780553496680).
Daniel decides to let fate dictate his life, and Natasha doesn’t believe in fate. But today, Natasha will believe in anything if it allows her to avoid deportation. Either by fate or coincidence, Daniel and Natasha meet and fall in love in a single day—but will it all end if Natasha has to go back to Jamaica? A 2017 Printz Honor Book and the 2017 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award winner.
Symptoms of Being Human. By Jeff Garvin. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $17.99 (9780062382863).
Riley Cavanaugh is struggling to balance a new school, new relationships, and a father who’s running for reelection in a conservative congressional district, all while wrestling with being a gender-fluid teen. When Riley’s blog becomes a national sensation, an Internet stalker threatens to expose Riley’s secret to the world. A 2017 Top 10 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.
This Is the Part Where You Laugh. By Peter Brown Hoffmeister. Knopf, $17.99 (9780553538106).
Travis’ decisions often have grave consequences. With a dying grandmother, a homeless and heroin-addicted mom, a beautiful new neighbor, and a best friend who’s a poet on and off the basketball court, this summer promises to be one that has the potential to change everything for Travis.
Unbecoming. By Jenny Downham. Scholastic, $17.99 (9780545907170).
Three generations of women—a grandmother, a mother, and a daughter, all of whom are dealing with issues of family, femininity, and identity—try to understand each other and their own pasts while also trying to better understand themselves. A 2017 Stonewall Honor Book.
Vassa in the Night. By Sarah Porter. Tor Teen, $17.99 (9780765380548).
Porter tells the Russian fairy tale “Vasilisa the Beautiful” by resetting it as an urban fantasy situated in a dark, working-class Brooklyn.
Watched. By Marina Budhos. Random/Wendy Lamb, $17.99 (9780553534184).
In trouble with the law, 18-year-old Naeem goes to work as an informer for the NYPD, all the while grappling with his Islamic roots, his loyalties and sympathies, and inner conflict over ratting on a friend.
We Are the Ants. By Shaun David Hutchinson. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse, $17.99 (9781481449632).
Henry’s struggling to come to terms with his boyfriend’s suicide, his loser brother’s impending fatherhood, and his grandmother’s Alzheimer’s while trying to find love and determining if this world is worth saving from the alien sluggers who deem him worthy to decide earth’s fate. A 2017 Top 10 Rainbow List selection.
When the Moon Was Ours. By Anna-Marie McLemore. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $18.99 (9781250058669).
Lush magic realism is a backdrop for this exploration of sexual identity. Samir and Miel, best friends as children and now lovers, both carry their own secrets and guilt. Meanwhile, the four Bonner sisters plan to sacrifice the teens to control the magic of the roses that mysteriously grow from Miel’s wrist. A 2017 Stonewall Honor Book and a 2017 Top 10 Rainbow List selection.
When We Collided. By Emery Lord. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (9781619638457).
Jonah Daniels and Vivi Alexander fall in love despite his grief at his father’s death and her struggles with mental illness in this tear- and swoon-inducing romance. A 2017 Schneider Family Book Award winner.
Where You’ll Find Me. By Natasha Friend. Farrar, $16.99 (9780374302306).
After her mother’s recent suicide attempt, Anna moves in with her father, his new wife, and their new baby. Meanwhile, her BFF, Dani, has dumped her for the popular crowd. Anna must learn to navigate middle-school drama while coping with her mother’s bipolar disorder and her new family.
Whisper to Me. By Nick Lake. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (9781619634565).
Cassie is trying to explain it all in a letter: about the heartbreak, the betrayal, the secrecy, and especially about the voice she hears in her head telling her to do awful things. Will it be enough to win back the boy she loves?
You Know Me Well. By Nina LaCour and David Levithan. St. Martin’s/Griffin, $18.99 (9781250098641).
During Pride Week in San Francisco, Kate and Mark come together after their respective original plans are derailed, and they begin to navigate both the week and the world. Their unexpected friendship deepens as they travel through new experiences, tears and laughter, and a sudden burst of media fame.
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