Let's Talk Books: Young Adult Books aren't just for teens!

by Beth

Publishers market Young Adult (YA) books to kids from 12-18, but that doesn't mean they're the only ones who read them. Young adult books appeal to adult readers too. Common themes of YA books include coming of age, family conflicts, individualism, loss, and self discovery to name a few. They can be realistic or heavily into fantasy or anywhere in between.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the "Let's Talk Books: Young Adult Books aren't just for teens" discussion. If you missed it, not a problem! Here's the list of the books we talked about.

To find the upcoming Let's Talk Books events check out https://www.icpl.org/events/ages/adults

Firekeeper's daughter

Boulley, Angeline, author.


Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, either in her hometown or on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. She dreams of college, but when her family is struck by tragedy she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, a new recruit on her brother Levi's hockey team. When Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, she reluctantly agrees to go undercover, drawing on her knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine to track down the source of a new drug. How far will she go to protect her community, if it threatens to tear apart the only world she's ever known? -- adapted from jacket

Instructions for dancing

Yoon, Nicola, author.


"Evie Thomas doesn't believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began... and how it will end. Afterall, event the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually. As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is all that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything-- including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he only just met. Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it's that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around toward each other, Evie is forced to question all that she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?"--

Clap when you land

Acevedo, Elizabeth, author.

YOUNG ADULT FICTION Acevedo, Elizabeth

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people ... In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal's office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance -- and Papi's secrets -- the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they've lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Last night at the Telegraph Club

Lo, Malinda, author.


"Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can't remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father--despite his hard-won citizenship--Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day"--

The book thief

Zusak, Markus.


Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel--a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

The hate u give

Thomas, Angie, author.


After witnessing her friend's death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter's life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.

We were liars

Lockhart, E.


Spending the summers on her family's private island off the coast of Massachusetts with her cousins and a special boy named Gat, teenaged Cadence struggles to remember what happened during her fifteenth summer.

Perfect on paper

Gonzales, S., 1992- author.


When Alexander Brougham catches Darcy Phillips in the act of collecting letters from locker 89 -- out of which she has been running her questionably legal, anonymous online relationship advice service -- he blackmails her into becoming his personal dating coach. He'll even pay a generous hourly rate, if she can help him win his ex-girlfriend, Brooke, back. If word gets out that Darcy is behind the locker, some things she's not proud of will come to light, and there's a good chance Brooke will never speak to her again. What could go wrong? -- adapted from jacket

When we were magic

Gailey, Sarah, author.


When Alexis accidentally kills a classmate on prom night using magic, her best friends Roya, Iris, Paulie, Marcelina, and Maryam join in using their powers to try to set things right.

Truly Devious

Johnson, Maureen, 1973- author.


When Stevie Bell, an amateur detective, begins her first year at a famous private school in Vermont, she sets a plan to solve the cold case involving the kidnapping of the founder's wife and daughter shortly after the school opened.

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Truly Devious is book one of the four part series, including The Vanishing Stair, The Hand on the Wall, and The Box in the Woods.
- Beth

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Riggs, Ransom, author.


After a family tragedy, Jacob feels compelled to explore an abandoned orphanage on an island off the coast of Wales, discovering disturbing facts about the children who were kept there. A mix of fiction and photography.

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This is book 1 in the six part Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs. Other books in this series include: Hollow City; Library of Souls; A Map of Days: The Conference of the Birds; and The Desolations of Devil's Acre.
- Beth

Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe

Sáenz, Benjamin Alire.


Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.

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A sequel - Aristotle and Dante Discover the Waters of the World - was released in 2021.
- Beth

A winter's promise

Dabos, Christelle, 1980- author.


"Plain-spoken, headstrong Ophelia cares little about appearances. Her ability to read the past of objects is unmatched in all of Anima and, what's more, she possesses the ability to travel through mirrors, a skill passed down to her from previous generations. Her idyllic life is disrupted, however, when she is promised in marriage to Thorn, a taciturn and influential member of a distant clan. Ophelia must leave all she knows behind and follow her fiancé to Citaceleste, the capital of a cold, icy ark known as the Pole, where danger lurks around every corner and nobody can be trusted. There, in the presence of her inscrutable future husband, Ophelia slowly realizes that she is a pawn in a political game that will have far-reaching ramifications not only for her but for her entire world."

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A Winter's Promise is book 1 of The Mirror Visitor quartet, followed by The Missing of Clairdelune; The Memory of Babel; and The Storm of Echoes.
- Beth

A curse so dark and lonely

Kemmerer, Brigid, author.


Eighteen for the three hundred twenty-seventh time, Prince Rhen despairs of breaking the curse that turns him into a beast at the end of each day until feisty Harper enters his life.

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A Curse So Dark and Lonely is book one in The Cursebreaker Series, followed by A Heart So Fierce and Broken and A Vow So Bold and Deadly.
- Beth

Under the whispering door

Klune, TJ, author.


"A Man Called Ove meets The Good Place in Under the Whispering Door, a delightful queer love story from TJ Klune, author of the New York Times and USA Today bestseller The House in the Cerulean Sea. When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead. And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he's definitely dead. But even in death he's not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days. Hilarious, haunting, and kind, Under the Whispering Door is an uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home"--

Cloud cuckoo land : a novel

Doerr, Anthony, 1973- author.

FICTION Doerr Anthony

Constantinople, 1453: Anna lives in a convent where women toil all day embroidering the robes of priests. She learns the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to the paradise of Cloud Cuckoo Land, a better world, and reads it to her sister as the walls of Constantinople are bombarded by armies of Saracens. Lakeport, Idaho, 2020: Seymour, an activist bent on saving the earth, sits in the public library with two homemade bombs in pressure cookers. Upstairs, eighty-five-year old Zeno, a former prisoner-of-war, and an amateur translator, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon's adventures. The future: On an interstellar ark called The Argos, Konstance, alone in a vault with access to all the information in the world, knows Aethon's story through her father, who has sequestered her to protect her. All are dreamers, misfits on the cusp of adulthood in a world the grown-ups have broken. -- adapted from publisher info

I am not your perfect Mexican daughter

Sánchez, Erika L., author.


Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents' house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family. But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga's role. Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.


Erskine, Kathryn.

jFICTION Erskine, Kathryn

Ten-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger's Syndrome, struggles to understand emotions, show empathy, and make friends at school, while at home she seeks closure by working on a project with her father.

Fighting words

Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker, author.

jFICTION Bradley Kimberly

"Ten-year-old Della can rely on her older sister, Suki, for anything, but when Suki attempts suicide, Della must seek help and speak out about the sexual abuse they've both suffered at the hands of their mother's boyfriend"-- Provided by publisher.

Six of crows

Bardugo, Leigh.


"Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction--if they don't kill each other first"--

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Six of Crows is one of the middle books in The Shadow and Bones series. The books, in order are: Shadow and Bones; Siege and Storm; Ruin and Rising; Six of Crows; Crooked Kingdom; King of Scars; and Rule of Wolves
- Beth


Anderson, Laurie Halse.

YOUNG ADULT FICTION Anderson, Laurie Halse

A traumatic event near the end of the summer has a devastating effect of Melinda's freshman year in high school.

The red pyramid

Riordan, Rick.


After their father's research experiment at the British Museum unleashes the Egyptian god Set, Carter and Sadie Kane embark on a dangerous journey across the globe--a quest which brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

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The Red Pyramid is book one in the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan. Other books in the series include: The Throne of Fire; and The Serpent’s Shadow.
- Beth

The dark tide

Jasinska, Alicia, author.


Every year on St. Walpurga's Eve, Caldella's Witch Queen lures a boy back to her palace. An innocent life to be sacrificed on the full moon to keep the island city from sinking. Lina Kirk is convinced her brother is going to be taken this year. To save him, she enlists the help of Thomas Lin, the boy she secretly loves, and the only person to ever escape from the palace. But they draw the queen's attention, and Thomas is chosen as the sacrifice. When Lina offers herself to the queen in exchange for Thomas's freedom, the two girls await the full moon together. But Lina is not at all what Eva expected, and the queen is nothing like Lina envisioned. Against their will, they find themselves falling for each other. As water floods Caldella's streets and the dark tide demands its sacrifice, they must choose who to save: themselves, each other, or the island city relying on them both.

Today tonight tomorrow

Solomon, Rachel Lynn, author.


It's the last day of senior year. Rowan Roth and Neil McNair, both overachievers, have been bitter rivals for all of high school. When Neil is named valedictorian, Rowan has only one chance at victory: Howl, a senior class game that takes them all over Seattle, a farewell tour of the city she loves. Learning that a group of seniors is out to get them, the two reluctantly decide to team up. They'll play until they are the last players left-- and then destroy each other. -- adapted from jacket