Young Adult

Like Vanessa book cover

Like Vanessa

Tami Charles

jFICTION Charles Tami
Kids, Young Adult, Fiction, Historical Fiction

It is 1983 and Vanessa Martin, a thirteen-year-old African American girl in Newark's public housing, dreams of following in the footsteps of the first black Miss America, Vanessa Williams; but with a dysfunctional family (mother in jail, father withdrawn, drunken grandfather, gay cousin) the odds are against her--until a new teacher at school organizes a beauty pageant and encourages Vanessa to enter.

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Added by Morgan

Holding up the universe book cover

Holding up the universe

Jennifer Niven

Young Adult

"A boy with face blindness and a girl who struggles with weight fall in love"--

Meredith's picture

Writing book blurbs has to be tough. You want to draw people in so they’ll read the story, but you can’t give the big stuff away. I guess the book got some flack because of its blurb. I hope those people took the time to actually read the book. I, personally, loved Libby’s and Jack’s story. I don’t think the issues people had with it were plot points at all. I started the audiobook at 7:45 in a Saturday morning and finished it at 10:30 pm the same day. -Meredith

The Amulet of Samarkand book cover

The Amulet of Samarkand

Jonathan Stroud

Fantasy, Young Adult

Nathaniel, a magician's apprentice, summons up the djinni Bartimaeus and instructs him to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from the powerful magician Simon Lovelace.

Brent's picture

This trilogy is really good. More for older kids than the others in this list, but really good. I liked them enough to read the last one on my own. -Brent

The hate u give book cover

The hate u give

Angie Thomas

Young Adult

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.

Brian's picture

A lot of other staff have already added this to Staff Picks, and there's a good reason for that: It's essential reading. -Brian

American panda book cover

American panda

Gloria Chao

Young Adult

A freshman at MIT, seventeen-year-old Mei Lu tries to live up to her Taiwanese parents' expectations, but no amount of tradition, obligation, or guilt prevent her from hiding several truths--that she is a germaphobe who cannot become a doctor, she prefers dancing to biology, she decides to reconnect with her estranged older brother, and she is dating a Japanese boy.

Meredith's picture

My tweet about this book stands: I finished reading American Panda by @gloriacchao & WOW! People who poo-poo adults who read YA, pick up this book. A great look at a teen with her feet in two cultures, struggling to find her balance. Deeper than I was expecting. A beautiful story. But I’m off cheese for awhile. -Meredith

Emmy & Oliver book cover

Emmy & Oliver

Robin Benway

Young Adult

"Sheltered seventeen-year-old Emmy's childhood best friend Oliver reappears after disappearing with his father ten years ago"--

Meredith's picture

It took me a few chapters to get into this story, but then I was hooked! Great supporting characters/friends in Drew and Caro. -Meredith

We all looked up book cover

We all looked up

Tommy Wallach

Young Adult

The lives of four high school seniors intersect weeks before a meteor is set to pass through Earth's orbit, with a 66.6% chance of striking and destroying all life on the planet.

Brian's picture

This compelling and well-written YA novel explores what would happen if everyone knew the world was ending. -Brian

Beauty queens book cover

Beauty queens

Libba Bray

Fiction, Young Adult, Adventure

When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island's other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.

Amanda's picture

What happens when a plane full of teenage beauty queens crashes on a desert island? Instead of going full Lord of the Flies, they build a successful society! This book is hilarious and heartfelt, but it also is deeply satirical and intriguing. Plus, it has great diversity representation! -Amanda

Aftermath book cover


Kelley Armstrong

Young Adult

"Three years after losing her brother Luka in a school shooting, Skye Gilchrist is moving home. But there's no sympathy for Skye and her family because Luka wasn't a victim; he was a shooter. Jesse Mandal knows all too well that the scars of the past don't heal easily. The shooting cost Jesse his brother and his best friend--Skye. Ripped apart by tragedy, Jesse and Skye can't resist reopening the mysteries of their past. But old wounds hide darker secrets. And the closer Skye and Jesse get to the truth of what happened that day, the closer they get to a new killer." --

Meredith's picture

I couldn't put this book down. Every time I thought I had things figured out, there was a new twist. Kelly Armstrong does a great job of tackling an all-too-real event from a perspective we rarely think about. -Meredith

I'll give you the sun book cover

I'll give you the sun

Jandy Nelson

Young Adult

"A story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal told from different points in time, and in separate voices, by artists Jude and her twin brother Noah"--

Brian's picture

This achingly beautiful novel follows twin siblings as they experience loss and love. -Brian