I love YA books because they tend to have very tight writing, excellent plotting, and, above all, a story line that draws me in and won’t let me go until the last page.
These six are some of my very favorites, books I recommend over and over again (and read again and again):
If I Stay by Gayle Forman – Mia and her family are in a terrible car accident, and suddenly all the questions she’s been wrestling with about her future, college, music career, and boyfriend all seem trivial in comparison with the enormous decisions she now faces. I’ve read this three times and I’ve cried every single time (Bonus: the sequel, Where She Went, is also stellar).
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – A foster girl in WWII Germany fights back against the Nazis in the only way she knows how – by stealing books. This book is unexpected, heart-wrenching, and it’s narrated, unconventionally, by Death. (Bonus: the movie version just came out!)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – I’m not much of a fantasy reader (Harry Potter is about as fantasy as I go), but this book almost changed my mind about the whole genre. Blue-haired art student Karou is trying to live a normal life in Prague despite having been raised by a Chimera (part human, part other animals), but all semblance of normalcy disappears after she is almost killed by an angel and realizes that this is no isolated incident, but instead part of a bigger war. This was one of those of books that made me think, “I wish I’d written this.” (Bonus: the audio versions of these books are amazing).
Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray – This modern-day take on the classic story of Hamlet is really cleverly done and was the first time I really felt BAD for Hamlet. It does exactly what I want a retelling to do: stay true to the original, while putting a new, fascinating spin on the story. (Bonus: Read this and the original Hamlet text back-to-back for extra credit)
Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher – Just when you think there can’t be any new WWII stories, this one comes along and knocks your socks off, about 15-year-old Ruby who takes a job as a taxi dancer, where she spends the evenings dancing (and warding off unwelcome advances) with soldiers. Of course, she gets in deeper than she means to, both in a relationship and with the Chicago mobsters. (Bonus: If you want another surprising YA book about WWII, try the unbelievably good Code Name Verity).
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart – Possibly my all-time favorite YA book, about a girl at a prestigious boarding school who discovers that her boyfriend is part of an all-male secret society on campus. Frankie wants to be part of it. And no one, certainly no teenage boy, is going to stop her. (Bonus: E. Lockhart has another YA book coming out in the spring. I’m dying to read it).
What are you currently reading?
Janssen loves books, chocolate, and living places with fake winters (she currently lives in North Carolina with her husband and two little girls). In her pre-child life, she was a school librarian; now she resorts to maxing out her library card – and her toddler’s card – to make sure there’s never a shortage of reading material at home. On her blog, Everyday Reading, she writes about books, shares her favorite recipes, and documents her evolving style.