Beginner's Guide to Young Adult Novels

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

Our staff members enjoy these young adult titles.

  • Radio Silence

    2017 by Oseman, Alice

    A quiet coming-of-age novel about two teenagers who are brought together by their love of a creative podcast. This book is a rare gem that focuses on friendship, rather than romance, and unveils the complexities of academics, family, identity, and growing up. It’s a down-to-earth story with diverse characters, which makes it a great read for those who love seeing themselves within the pages of a book. Suggested by Elise.

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  • The Strangers

    2019 by Haddix, Margaret Peterson

    Try out this mysterious series, especially if you’re a fan of Margaret Peterson Haddix’s other books, such as Found (The Missing series) or Among the Hidden (Shadow Children series). It follows the Greystone kids as their previously predictable lives change after three children are—children who just so happen to have the same first and middle names, ages, and birthdays as the Greystone kids. It has well defined characters, a quickly unfolding plot, and it’s a little chilling. Suggested by Bill.

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  • Monday's Not Coming

    2018 by Jackson, Tiffany D.

    When Claudia’s best friend, Monday Charles, stops showing up to school, it seems like no one cares. No matter how many questions Claudia seems to ask, no one will give her any answers. If you’re looking for an entertaining but deep thriller that will keep you up at night, choose this one. I thought the suspicious characters, unique timeline, and layers of suspense and plot twists made this a fully engaging read. Suggested by Amber H.

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  • Clap When You Land

    2020 by Acevedo, Elizabeth

    Camino and Yahaira, whose paths had not previously crossed, are brought together when their father dies in a plane crash. Although the pain from their father’s death is hard enough to bear, their grief is complicated by the unravelings of Papi’s secret double life and two unaware families. This is an emotional but beautiful read, which is complimented by Elizabeth Acevedo’s signature verse format. Suggested by Brenna.

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  • Fire Keeper's Daughter

    2021 by Boulley, Angeline

    Daunis Fontaine, a biracial and unenrolled tribal member, has never felt like she fits in. But things get more complicated after she witnesses a murder and becomes involved in a criminal investigation, which only leads to more questions. This stunning young adult mystery is an emotional read that deals with heavy topics, but Boulley’s powerful writing will stick with you long after finishing it. Suggested by Sharon.

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  • Go Ask Alice


    Written in diary format, this gritty book follows a 15-year-old girl and her struggles with drug abuse. As a kid, I remember checking out this book when the library employee exclaimed, “Oh, I love this book!” I was worried she would admonish me for reading something with such mature content, but instead she encouraged me! I was later disappointed to learn that the book was almost certainly not a true memoir, but a fictional story written by an adult (or possibly multiple adults) as a cautionary tale. Regardless, it’s a dark, captivating read that I read multiple times. Suggested by Brenna.

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  • The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

    2022 by Oh, Axie

    Take the plunge into the beautiful and perilous Spirit World. Fans of Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away will enjoy this fantastic spin on the classic Korean folktale of Shim Cheong. Lovely storytelling paired with charming characters makes for a compelling read. Suggested by Amber I.

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  • Anna Dressed in Blood

    2011 by Blake, Kendare

    For three years, 17-year-old Cas Lowood has carried on his father's work of dispatching the murderous dead, traveling with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat, but everything changes when he meets Anna, a girl unlike any ghost he has faced before. The spine-chilling horror of the more unsettling moments is balanced with some perfectly placed humor. Suggested by Lynnanne.

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  • To All the Boys I've Loved Before

    2014 by Han, Jenny

    Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. This charming romance explores teenage growth and the importance of family. Suggested by Amber H.

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  • Dumplin'

    2015 by Murphy, Julie

    About the only thing Clover City has going for it is its beauty pageant, the oldest in Texas. It’s run by Willowdean Dickson’s mother—a former winner—who has a hard time with the reality that Willowdean will never be a beauty queen. Featuring a protagonist whot always remains authentically herself, this title spotlights themes of self-acceptance, female solidarity, and the importance of approaching situations you are not knowledgeable about with kindness. Suggested by Lynnanne.

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  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone

    2020 by Taylor, Laini

    Seventeen-year-old Karou, a lovely, enigmatic art student in a Prague boarding school, carries a sketchbook of hideous, frightening monsters—the chimaerae who form the only family she has ever known. This fast-paced fantasy brilliantly combines typical contemporary teenage life with a fantastical world filled with otherworldly beings and a romance that is layered and endlessly entertaining. Suggested by Amber I.

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  • Sadie

    2018 by Summers, Courtney

    Told from the alternating perspectives of 19-year-old Sadie, who runs away from her isolated small Colorado town to find her younger sister's killer, and a true crime podcast exploring Sadie's disappearance. This thought-provoking title isn't an easy read, but the message is powerful and will stay with you long after finishing it. Suggested by Brenna.

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