Everybody likes to read a good book in front of the fire at Christmas time. Some people aren’t willing to read. That’s where these truly unique books come in. These ten young adult books have great writing and stories that are emotional, powerful, often romantic, and most of all, relatable. They’re great gifts for teens who are still looking for a book they love, or for those who already love contemporary YA. They also work for older people, so don’t forget that!
Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
We didn’t have YA blockbusters like we do now. Before that, there was Laurie Halse Anderson, who wrote this powerful book that was told by a girl who had been sexually assaulted herself. Melinda is shunned by her classmates because she called the police on the party where she was assaulted. She suffers in silence until she can no longer do so. This National Book Award Finalist is a must-read for anyone who likes realistic YA fiction or teen fiction in general. It’s also a good read for anyone who likes realistic YA fiction or teen fiction in general.
Every Day, by David Levithan
A wakes up every day in a new body and with a new life. Rhiannon is the only thing that stays the same. Rhiannon is A’s favorite person, no matter who A is. Rhiannon, whose boyfriend Justin’s body A takes over one day, only to find out that Justin doesn’t like her. Rhiannon is the person who gives A-as-Justin his first kiss in a while. Who does A fall for in a single afternoon? Rhiannon, whom he knows will not be wearing the body of her boyfriend tomorrow. Realism might not be the best word for this book, but the emotions this book makes you feel and how it talks about gender identity are all too real and important.
I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson
Nelson’s second book is about twins Jude and Noah, and it switches back and forth between the two at the ages of thirteen (from Noah’s point of view) and sixteen (from Jude’s). It’s a great story about the power of art, jealousy, pain, family, love, and loss. It’s written in a way that makes you want to read more. Because it isn’t realistic or not, it’s a great book for teenagers of any age in 2014.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Many people know Alexie for his great work in adult literature, but his first book for young adults is just as important. It tells the story of Junior, who is 14, when he goes to school for the first time outside of the Spokane reservation. It shows how he has to deal with both the struggles and prejudices of both his worlds. For younger readers, the illustrations by Ellen Forney (Junior is also a cartoonist) make the book even more appealing. It’s a good mix of important and fun.
A Little Something Different, by Sandy Hall
In this book, there are fourteen points of view and two college freshmen everyone can tell are “meant to be.” You get an utterly adorable book that could make anyone fall in love with contemporary romance. You might want to hug this book when you’re done with it because it’s so cute and creative. It’s also a book that you’ll want to read again and again when you need a pick-me-up.
I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak
When Ed Kennedy was 19, his life was pretty normal. He worked as a taxi driver and had a pretty normal job, too. After he gets the first card with addresses in his mailbox, Ed is given the job of being a messenger. He has to help strangers get their lives back on track. As for who sent him or why, he doesn’t know yet. The magic of this book is in how it makes you feel, not where you end up!
Since You’ve Been Gone, by Morgan Matson
As her best friend, Sloane was a wild child who loved to party. When Sloane goes away, Emily is heartbroken and feels like she’s lost her way. She isn’t Sloane. Who is she? Where is Sloane? Sloane left her a fun to-do list and Frank Porter. She spends her summer understanding her best friend with the help of these two people, which leads to the kind of novel that Matson is known for.
The Geography of You & Me, by Jennifer E. Smith
There was an all-city blackout in New York City when Lucy and Owen first met. A dark night leads to instantaneous chemistry that has made Smith a favorite of young people who like to read YA books. They are forced apart again when the power comes back on.
Love Letters to the Dead, by Ava Dellaira
She moves to a new school after losing her sister, but there’s no way to forget May. Laurel deals with her grief by writing letters to other dead people who mean a lot to her and/or May, like Kurt Cobain, Judy Garland, and Janis Joplin. At the same time, she forms close, much-needed new relationships with the living. It hurts to read this book, but it’s the most beautiful pain.
Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein
They were best friends during World War II, and this is the story of how powerful and beautiful it was. It’s one of the best-loved YA books about history. As soon as their plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France, Verity and Maddie set off on a journey that will push both of them to their limits and break your heart in the process, but they don’t even know it yet.
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Moment of truth: When everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s suicide falls apart because of one encrypted computer file.
How great is I Was Here? Gayle Forman said that I Was Here is like If I Stay, which is about a car accident, but not very much. This is the true heart of I Was Here. We try to understand the people we love and make peace with them and ourselves when we lose them or don’t know.