If you loved the Hunger Games series, as much as I did, you may need to grab a cup of coffee and sit down. According to Ridgefield, New Jersey High School Reading and Literature teacher, Judith Silver, The Hunger Games and Twilight series are out. Our teens have moved on. Rest assured, many new young adult novels have emerged that challenge both the heart and mind, while helping our teens expand their views on society.
Here are some up and coming YA books that may have already caught your teen’s attention or at the very least, encouraged them to switch off Netflix, at least for a few nights:
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Eight New Young Adult Novels
Boy21 by Matthew Quick, who also wrote Sorta Like a Rock Star, begins our list. If your teen wants to read about redemption, hope and a rise from the ashes story with more than a touch of sports, this is a wonderful read. How Finley overcomes a tragic beginning, while also dealing with racism and navigating the priorities of interpersonal relationships all contribute to his struggle. Yet in this novel, it is the story of friendship that takes center stage, a refreshing move in YA fiction, which tends to focus on the romantic.
If your teen is more interested in the Elite Academy/Prep School setting, Tradition, by Brendan Kiely, may be more their speed. Kiely touches upon very tough topics, such as sexism, safe sex, rape culture and teen love. Teens, Jules Devereux and Jamie Baxter, latch on to each other for survival within the walls of an institution that seems to place more emphasis on tradition, than doing the right thing. While this novel does not include a neat little ending tied up in a bow, this YA novel is worth its weight in gold when it comes to asking ourselves the toughest of questions.
The Future of Us, by Jay Asher, is a great read if your teen might enjoy reading a more humorous, less intense novel. Take a ride back to the 90’s, where neighbors, Josh and Emma take a peek at their future, fifteen years later by Facebook. It is predictable, yet fun and light, and perhaps the perfect read for a rainy Saturday or summer evening.
Split, by Swati Avasthi is a wonderful book that handles the difficult issues of physical and emotional abuse from a family member. Jace Witherspoon’s healing and the rebuilding of relationships provide a lifeline in this very powerful, emotionally driven YA novel.
The Hate List, by Jennifer Brown, speaks to the aftermath of a school shooting. This novel address tough question of responsibility of school shootings. Following Valerie through her senior year, when her boyfriend opens fire on the school cafeteria takes the reader beyond the black and white issue of whether a person is all good or all bad. It is about coming to grips with our humanity in the aftermath of tragedy, in order to keep on living on.
It is The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas that is all the rage. Starr Carter struggles with finding balance between her home, the poor neighborhood, and the wealthy prep school she attends. Inspired by the #blacklivesmatter movement, this is a story about a sixteen year old, who witnesses the shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Will Starr be able to find her voice or remain silent? And at what price? This novel is an inspiration to teen girls, while also touching upon a political statement on what is happening in America today.
While The Fault in Our Stars caught everyone’s attention back in 2012, John Green’s Looking for Alaska, published six years earlier is still a favorite among YA readers. Life at Culver Creek Boarding School becomes anything but safe, when Alaska Young, a floor mate, pulls Miles “Pudge” Halterinto her world, ultimately stealing his heart and turning his life upside down. Can one person change the path of your life? If your teen has never switched off Netflix, and switched on John Green, then it is time.
In Vanished, Meg Cabot, exceeds our expectation once again. This is a lighter novel about a girl, Jess Mastrianai, who is struck by lightning, only to discover she now has a gift of locating missing children. This book speaks to the power of the mind, and how our gifts can feel like a curse when others – the media, the FBI – interfere. Of course, there is attraction with a boy, senior Rob, with whom Jess soon learns that he too, is lost, and may not want to be found.
Reading along with your teen can be a powerful bonding experience, especially when those hard to talk about topics seem to leap from the pages of a YA novel. What may have been a taboo topic, can suddenly come center stage at the dinner table, when given the impetus of a fictionalized story, proving just enough distance to discuss sensitive issues facing many teens today. At the very least, joining your teen in reading a YA novel, can help you as a parent keep up to speed on what may be happening in your teen’s world. We could all use time away from our screens with a good book, so why not take a crack at a YA novel for your next reading adventure.