Remixed Classics for Teens

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

If you tried and could not get into the classics you were assigned to read in school, try these modern adaptations, inspirations, reimaginings, and retellings that address problematic aspects and rework the original stories to put marginal groups in the spotlight, all while staying faithful to the classic's themes.

  • One for All

    2022 by Lainoff, Lillie

    A feminist and engrossing retelling of Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers that places disabled and LGBTQ+ women in the starring roles. This book is packed with adventure, affirmation, girl power, intrigue, self-love, and sisterhood without resorting to harmful disability tropes. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • M Is for Monster

    2022 by Dutton, Talia

    This debut science fiction graphic novel is inspired by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and skillfully explores grief, sisterhood, and identity. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • My Fine Fellow

    2022 by Cohen, Jennieke

    This gender-bent retelling of My Fair Lady (which is an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion) has an inclusive cast, centers a cooking competition in 1830s London, and tackles issues such as prejudice and Anti-Semitism. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Darling

    2021 by Ancrum, K.

    Ancrum pulls the most sinister threads from J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan and artfully weaves them into a contemporary, fast-paced thriller set over one escalating night in Chicago, while still retaining the original story's sense of adventure and the importance of found family. Many characters are diverse in ethnicity and sexual identities. The problematic and stereotypical Tiger Lily of the original story is replaced with a fully realized character, Ominotago, who is Ojibwe, Irish, and bisexual. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • So Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix

    2021 by Morrow, Bethany C.

    More than a classic retelling of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, So Many Beginnings skillfully addresses the fragile nature of freedom and the constraints of race, sex, and class from the lens of four distinguished women. Despite the hardships, the March sisters are resilient, fierce, and hopeful. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • She's Too Pretty to Burn

    2021 by Heard, Wendy

    A romantic, fast-paced thriller that is inspired by Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. Unlike Wilde's highly censored masterpiece, this thriller puts its queer characters in the center of the action while exploring the classic's themes of art, danger, and obsession. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Dark and Deepest Red

    2020 by McLemore, Anna-Marie

    Anna-Marie McLemore weaves history with contemporary life and retells the Hans Christian Andersen tale The Red Shoes, in which characters learn about generational secrets and perceptions of evil and otherness. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Legendborn

    2020 by Deonn, Tracy

    Tracy Deonn's suspenseful debut features a world of magic with roots in Arthurian legend and traditions of the African American South. The main character Bree Matthews has to carve a space for herself in two worlds that do not want her. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Girl, Serpent, Thorn

    2020 by Bashardoust, Melissa

    Combining Persian mythology, Zoroastrianism, and the framework of Sleeping Beauty, Melissa Bashardoust has created a feminist, queer fairy tale retelling of her own. Her mesmerizing world building is steeped in Persian culture. The focus of the story is on Soraya's personal growth and her morally complex quest for identity, asking what she wants of herself rather than what society wants of her. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Where the Rhythm Takes You

    2021 by Dass, Sarah

    Inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, Sarah Dass has written a story of self discovery and a sweet, second-chance contemporary romance that features music and the culture of Tobogo. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • These Violent Delights

    2020 by Gong, Chloe

    An engrossing, fierce, and inclusive adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet set against the political backdrop of 1920's Shanghai. In this adaptation, many characters are racially diverse or part of the LGBTQ+ community, and a lot of them have a significant role in the story. Gong keeps the beats of the original play while crafting a wholly original story and manages successful twists that even the die-hard Shakespearean fans will not anticipate. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Within These Wicked Walls

    2021 by Blackwood, Lauren

    Lauren Blackwood's Ethiopian-inspired debut fantasy reimagines Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre and features exorcists, malevolent negative energy that brings misfortune, a haunted house, and an intense romance. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Never Look Back

    2020 by Rivera, Lilliam

    Lilliam Rivera's award-winning novel is a modern retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice Greek myth featuring Afro-Latinx teens. Not only does this book seamlessly and expertly blend Caribbean and Greek myth into a contemporary story, it also explores Afro-Latinx culture, identity, joy, mental health, and romance. Unlike in the original myth, Eury is given agency and a voice. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Anna K: A Love Story

    2020 by Lee, Jenny

    Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina gets a glitzy, drama-filled Gossip Girl–infused reboot in Jenny Lee's debut young adult novel. This modern imagining embraces the original novel's large cast of characters, many of whom are now diverse, including Anna and Steven, who are biracial (Korean and white), and the elevated drama of the elite. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • The Last True Poets of the Sea

    2019 by Drake, Julia

    Julia Drake's debut realistic fiction novel is a character-driven novel that is loosely inspired by Shakespeare's gender-bending comedy play Twelfth Night and invokes many emotions about family, friendship, mental health, and self discovery. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • A Curse So Dark and Lonely

    2019 by Kemmerer, Brigid

    Brigid Kemmerer has written a refreshing, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a slow-burn romance and a modern, realistic, spirited heroine. Harper has cerebral palsy, but she does not let her disability define her. Suggested by Rummanah.

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