The YA novels below are ones that gripped me in special ways … gripped me and wouldn’t let me go. They’ve stayed with me. I highly recommend them to Young Adults of all ages. :-)

The Book Thief by Mark Zusak

The one book that opened our eyes to the wonder of YA.

Will we ever forget the haunting voice of Death? It’s time for me to reread this novel.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Buxbaum writes with wit and heart — and there is no better combination. This book woke me from a no-reading stupor. Some books are morning books, some books are nighttime books, and others become go-everywhere day-and-night books, just because you can’t wait to jump back into the story at any opportunity.

This, for me, was a go-everywhere book.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Tremendously moving, but never without humour.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This novel has gotten a lot of attention, and for good reason. It opens our eyes to the realities of violent racism, but not without heart. No one is free of guilt.

(Hint: the audible edition is outstanding.)

Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

(Not, this is not the Shades of Grey you’re thinking.)

This many-awards winning novel by Ruta Sepetys is a very realistic WWII story about the deportation of Lithuanians and the genocide of Baltic people. She decided to frame it as a YA because in interviewing the survivors, she discovered that as teenagers, they had had a stronger will to survive.

An amazing story.


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

A very honest, gentle and touching portrayal of a friendship turned to love between two boys.

The Agony of Bun O’Keefe by Heather Smith

This novel is my newest enthusiasm. It kept me up far too late at night. I will never forget young Bun O’Keefe and the wonderful gang that become a her caring family.

Wit in abundance, but also gut-wrenching moments. Unforgettable.

36 Questions that Changed My Mind About You by Vicki Grant is another novel that kept me up far too late at night. Clever, charming, dramatic and satisfying. I absolutely adored it.

So there you have it!

Note that I’m not including the books that meant so much to me when I was a Young Adult: Nancy Drew, of course, in my pre-teen years, and then novels by the inimitable Judy Blume … from which I seemed to have leapt directly into the French existentialists.

I do vividly remember one YA novel, a story of young lovers in Europe during WWII. The girl is raped by the enemy, gets VD, and decides to get her revenge by sleeping with the enemy. Heavy-hitting, indeed. I remember it still (and would love to track it down).

Was there truly not much in-between in the 50s and 60s? I think a number of the books I’ve listed above would have meant a lot to me then.