Book Recommendations for Teens
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy? A universally acclaimed Edgar Award winner, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Marin hasn't spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she's tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that's been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Felix Love has never been in love--and, yes, he's painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it's like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What's worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he's one marginalization too many--Black, queer, and transgender--to ever get his own happily-ever-after.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages--after publicly posting Felix's deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned--Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn't count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi-love triangle....
But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.
Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.
Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes
Sixteen-year-old Yamilet Flores prefers to be known for her killer eyeliner, not for being one of the only Mexican kids at her new, mostly white, very rich Catholic school. But at least here no one knows she's gay, and Yami intends to keep it that way.
After being outed by her crush and ex-best friend before transferring to Slayton Catholic, Yami has new priorities: keep her brother out of trouble, make her mom proud, and, most importantly, don't fall in love. Granted, she's never been great at any of those things, but that's a problem for Future Yami.
The thing is, it's hard to fake being straight when Bo, the only openly queer girl at school, is so annoyingly perfect. And smart. And talented. And cute. So cute. Either way, Yami isn't going to make the same mistake again. If word got back to her mom, she could face a lot worse than rejection. So she'll have to start asking, WWSGD: What would a straight girl do?
Told in a captivating voice that is by turns hilarious, vulnerable, and searingly honest, The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School explores the joys and heartaches of living your full truth out loud.
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can't escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.
Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it's Justyce who is under attack.
Naruto by Masahi Kishimoto
Naruto is a young shinobi with an incorrigible knack for mischief. He’s got a wild sense of humor, but Naruto is completely serious about his mission to be the world’s greatest ninja!
Twelve years ago the Village Hidden in the Leaves was attacked by a fearsome threat. A nine-tailed fox spirit claimed the life of the village leader, the Hokage, and many others. Today, the village is at peace and a troublemaking kid named Naruto is struggling to graduate from Ninja Academy. His goal may be to become the next Hokage, but his true destiny will be much more complicated.
Our Dreams at Dusk by Yuhki Kamatani
Not only is high schooler Tasuku Kaname the new kid in town, he is also terrified that he has been outed as gay. Just as he’s contemplating doing the unthinkable, Tasuku meets a mysterious woman who leads him to a group of people dealing with problems not so different from his own. In this realistic, heartfelt depiction of LGBT+ characters from different backgrounds finding their place in the world, a search for inner peace proves to be the most universal experience of all.
Komi Can’t Communicate by Tomohito Oda
Socially anxious high school student Shoko Komi’s greatest dream is to make some friends, but everyone at school mistakes her crippling social anxiety for cool reserve! With the whole student body keeping their distance and Komi unable to utter a single word, friendship might be forever beyond her reach.
Timid Tadano is a total wallflower, and that’s just the way he likes it. But all that changes when he finds himself alone in a classroom on the first day of high school with the legendary Komi. He quickly realizes she isn’t aloof—she’s just super awkward. Now he’s made it his mission to help her on her quest to make 100 friends!
Spy x Family by Tatsuya Endo
Master spy Twilight is unparalleled when it comes to going undercover on dangerous missions for the betterment of the world. But when he receives the ultimate assignment—to get married and have a kid—he may finally be in over his head!
Not one to depend on others, Twilight has his work cut out for him procuring both a wife and a child for his mission to infiltrate an elite private school. What he doesn’t know is that the wife he’s chosen is an assassin and the child he’s adopted is a telepath!
A Sign of Affection by Suu Morishita
Yuki, who’s always been deaf, is used to communicating with sign language and her phone. But she’s not used to English, so when a tourist from overseas asks for directions, she nearly panics…until a handsome stranger steps in to help. His name is Itsuomi, and it turns out he’s a friend of a friend. A charismatic globetrotter, Itsuomi speaks three languages, but he’s never had a deaf friend. The two feel drawn to each other and plan a date on a romantic winter’s night…but Yuki’s friend is afraid that she might be setting herself up to get hurt. Could this be something real? Or will these feelings melt away with the snow?
This Place: 150 Years Retold by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm et al.
- Explore the past 150 years in what is now Canada through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are a wild ride through magic realism, serial killings, psychic battles and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki
Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley's dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There's just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend. Reeling from her latest break up, Freddy's best friend, Doodle, introduces her to the Seek-Her, a mysterious medium, who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: break up with her. But Laura Dean keeps coming back, and as their relationship spirals further out of her control, Freddy has to wonder if it's really Laura Dean that's the problem. Maybe it's Freddy, who is rapidly losing her friends, including Doodle, who needs her now more than ever. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnists like Anna Vice to help her through being a teenager in love. Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O'Connell bring to life a sweet and spirited tale of young love that asks us to consider what happens when we ditch the toxic relationships we crave to embrace the healthy ones we need.
Monster by Guy A. Sims
Sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I'll call it what the lady who is the prosecutor called me.
Monster is a multi-award-winning, provocative coming-of-age story about Steve Harmon, a teenager awaiting trial for a murder and robbery. As Steve acclimates to juvenile detention and goes to trial, he envisions how his ordeal would play out on the big screen.
The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor by Shaenon Garrity
One dark and stormy night, Haley sees a stranger drowning in the river. Since her greatest passion is Gothic romance novels, she knows her moment has come. But when Haley leaps into the water to rescue the stranger, she awakens in Willowweep. It certainly looks like the setting of one of her favorite books: A stately manor. A sinister housekeeper. Three brooding brothers. There’s even a ghost.
Except Willowweep is not what it seems. Its romantic exterior hides the workings of a pocket universe—the only protection our world has against a great force of penultimate evil, and its defenses are crumbling. Could cruel fate make Haley the heroine that Willowweep needs?
The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
Tien and his mother may come from different cultures--she's an immigrant from Vietnam still struggling with English; he's been raised in America--but through the fairy tales he checks out from the local library, those differences are erased.
But as much as Tien's mother's English continues to improve as he reads her tales of love, loss, and travel across distant shores, there's one conversation that still eludes him--how to come out to her and his father. Is there even a way to explain what he's going through in Vietnamese? And without a way to reveal his hidden self, how will his parents ever accept him?
This beautifully illustrated graphic novel speaks to the complexity of family and how stories can bring us together even when we don't know the words.
Ambushed! by Gail Jarrow
James Abram Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, was assassinated when he was shot by Charles Guiteau in July 1881, less than four months after he was elected president. But Garfield didn't actually die until 80 days later. In this page-turner, award-winning author Gail Jarrow delves into the fascinating story of the relationship between Garfield and Guiteau, and relates the gruesome details of Garfield's slow and agonizing death. She reveals medical mistakes made in the aftermath of Garfield's assassination, including the faulty diagnoses and outdated treatments that led to the president's demise. This gripping blend of science, history, and mystery—the latest title in the Medical Fiascoes series—is nonfiction at its best: exciting and relevant and packed with plenty of villains and horrifying facts.
For Every One by Jason Reynolds
For Every One is exactly that: for every one. For every one person. For every one who has a dream. But especially for every kid. The kids who dream of being better than they are. Kids who dream of doing more than they almost dare to imagine. Kids who are like Jason Reynolds, a self-professed dreamer. Jason does not claim to know how to make dreams come true; he has, in fact, been fighting on the front line of his own battle to make his own dreams a reality. He expected to make it when he was sixteen. Then eighteen. Then twenty-five. Now, some of those expectations have been realized. But others, the most important ones, lay ahead, and a lot of them involve kids, how to inspire them All the kids who are scared to dream, or don't know how to dream, or don't dare to dream because they've NEVER seen a dream come true. Jason wants kids to know that dreams take time. They involve countless struggles. But no matter how many times a dreamer gets beat down, the drive and the passion and the hope never fully extinguishes--because simply having the dream is the start you need, or you won't get anywhere anyway, and that is when you have to take a leap of faith.
The Anxiety Workbook for Teens by Lisa Schab
The Anxiety Workbook for Teens is the go-to resource for teen anxiety, recommended by therapists worldwide. This fully revised and updated second edition offers new activities to address the specific anxiety triggers today's teens are facing--from social media stress to global warming to pandemics. Teen readers will also find the most up-to-date strategies for managing fear, anxiety, and worry, so they can take charge of their lives and reach their goals.
Black Birds in the Sky by Brandy Colbert
In the early morning of June 1, 1921, a white mob marched across the train tracks in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and into its predominantly Black Greenwood District--a thriving, affluent neighborhood known as America's Black Wall Street. They brought with them firearms, gasoline, and explosives. In a few short hours, they'd razed thirty-five square blocks to the ground, leaving hundreds dead. The Tulsa Race Massacre is one of the most devastating acts of racial violence in US history. But how did it come to pass? What exactly happened? And why are the events unknown to so many of us today?
These are the questions that award-winning author Brandy Colbert seeks to answer in this unflinching nonfiction account of the Tulsa Race Massacre. In examining the tension that was brought to a boil by many factors--white resentment of Black economic and political advancement, the resurgence of white supremacist groups, the tone and perspective of the media, and more--a portrait is drawn of an event singular in its devastation, but not in its kind. It is part of a legacy of white violence that can be traced from our country's earliest days through Reconstruction, the Civil Rights movement in the mid-twentieth century, and the fight for justice and accountability Black Americans still face today.
The Tulsa Race Massacre has long failed to fit into the story Americans like to tell themselves about the history of their country. This book, ambitious and intimate in turn, explores the ways in which the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre is the story of America--and by showing us who we are, points to a way forward.
The Pride Guide by Jo Langford
The Pride Guide is written explicitly for the almost ten percent of teenagers who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, or any of the unique identities that are not heterosexual/ cisgendered. It explores sex, dating, relationships, puberty, and both physical and online safety in one resource.
With real-world information presented in a factual and humorous way, this book teaches queer youth to (and how to) protect themselves, to find resources, to explore who they are, and to interact with the world around them while being true to themselves and respectful of others.
Written with these issues in mind, The Pride Guide covers universal topics that apply to everyone, such as values clarification, digital citizenship, responsibility, information regarding abstinence as well as indulgence, and an understanding of the consequences and results of both action and inaction. For LGBTQ youth, this is a resource containing information on the unique issues queer youth face regarding what puberty looks like (particularly for trans youth), dating skills and violence, activism, personal safety, and above all, pride.
Messy Roots by Laura Gao
After spending her early years in Wuhan, China, riding water buffalos and devouring stinky tofu, Laura immigrates to Texas, where her hometown is as foreign as Mars--at least until 2020, when COVID-19 makes Wuhan a household name.
In Messy Roots, Laura illustrates her coming-of-age as the girl who simply wants to make the basketball team, escape Chinese school, and figure out why girls make her heart flutter.
Insightful, original, and hilarious, toggling seamlessly between past and present, China and America, Gao's debut is a tour de force of graphic storytelling.
How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra Uwiringyimana
This profoundly moving memoir is the remarkable and inspiring true story of Sandra Uwiringiyimana, a girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who tells the tale of how she survived a massacre, immigrated to America, and overcame her trauma through art and activism.
Sandra was just ten years old when she found herself with a gun pointed at her head. She had watched as rebels gunned down her mother and six-year-old sister in a refugee camp. Remarkably, the rebel didn’t pull the trigger, and Sandra escaped.
Thus began a new life for her and her surviving family members. With no home and no money, they struggled to stay alive. Eventually, through a United Nations refugee program, they moved to America, only to face yet another ethnic disconnect. Sandra may have crossed an ocean, but there was now a much wider divide she had to overcome. And it started with middle school in New York.
In this memoir, Sandra tells the story of her survival, of finding her place in a new country, of her hope for the future, and how she found a way to give voice to her people.
Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
Maia's intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.
Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity--what it means and how to think about it--for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.
They Called Us Enemy by George Takai
In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten relocation centers, hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.
They Called Us Enemy is Takei's firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother's hard choices, his father's faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.
What does it mean to be American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do?
Redbone by Christian Staebler and Sonia Paoloni
Brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas were talented Native American rock musicians that took the 1960s Sunset Strip by storm. They influenced The Doors and jammed with Jimmy Hendrix before he was Jimi, and the idea of a band made up of all Native Americans soon followed. Determined to control their creative vision and maintain their cultural identity, they eventually signed a deal with Epic Records in 1969. But as the American Indian Movement gained momentum the band took a stand, choosing pride in their ancestry over continued commercial reward.
Created in cooperation of the Vegas family, authors Christian Staebler and Sonia Paoloni with artist Thibault Balahy take painstaking steps to ensure the historical accuracy of this important and often overlooked story of America's past. Part biography and part research journalism, Redbone tells a vivid story about this neglected chapter of American history.
Abuela, Don’t Forget Me by Rex Ogle
Rex Ogle's companion to Free Lunch and Punching Bag weaves humor, heartbreak, and hope into life-affirming poems that honor his grandmother's legacy. Rex captures and celebrates the powerful presence a woman he could always count on-to give him warm hugs and ear kisses, to teach him precious words in Spanish, to bring him to the library where he could take out as many books as he wanted, and to offer safety when darkness closed in. Throughout a coming of age marked by violence and dysfunction, Abuela's red-brick house in Abilene, Texas, offered Rex the possibility of home, and Abuela herself the possibility for a better life. Abuela, Don't Forget Me is a lyrical portrait of the transformative and towering woman who believed in Rex even when he didn't yet know how to believe in himself
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people...
In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal's office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.
Separated by distance--and Papi's secrets--the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.
And then, when it seems like they've lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee
Henry "Monty" Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven't been able to curb any of his roguish passions-not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family's estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.
Still, it isn't in Monty's nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty's reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.
Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the academy would touch . . .
A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass tech whiz with the galaxy's biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger-management issues
A tomboy pilot who's totally not into him, in case you were wondering
And Ty's squad isn't even his biggest problem--that'd be Aurora Jie-Lin O'Malley, the girl he's just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler's squad of losers, discipline cases, and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy. There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.