7. Perks of Being a Wallflower
Mostly everyone has heard of this beautiful novel. Told in a series of letters to an anonymous person, Charlie shares his tragic coming-of-age tale. The book handles some pretty difficult themes such as abuse, suicide, and homophobia, but Charlie’s heartfelt and shy words help the reader find beauty in the ugly parts of the tale. Terrible things happen to truly good people, and navigating the dark parts of humanity as a teenager is life-changing and desolate, but through Charlie and his best friends Sam and Patrick, you can find healing and beauty in your own tragedy. This is a great YA book to read if you need a good cry or you’re struggling with finding the good in your life.
Chris Crutcher is an excellent YA writer that weaves sports into his stories. In this novel, Ben Wolf is a high school football player diagnosed with a rare and incurable blood disease. His doctor gives him one year to live, but Ben takes advantage of being 18 and decides that he won’t tell anyone. Instead of garnering sympathy and changing how everyone treats him, Ben decides to make a list of things he will accomplish before he dies. The result is a heartbreaking story about forgiveness, morality, and love. Ben learns the horrifying story of the town’s drunk, falls in love with a social pariah at school, and he understands what it means to truly live. Even though it of course has a sad ending, this is good YA book to read if you’re looking for a new outlook. You might be surprised at what you learn in this novel.
9. A Wreath for Emmett Till
This isn’t a traditional novel. Instead, this is a collection of sonnets and breathtaking artwork that serves as a eulogy of sorts to Emmett Till, an African American male that jump started the Civil Rights Movement when he was lynched for supposedly whistling at a white woman. This is a newer title that you probably didn’t see when you were younger, but this YA book should be read by adults. We need to understand the consequences of hatred, and we need to learn how to help push our society to a more hopeful and accepting future. This is a great YA book to read if you love poetry and need some education on civil rights.
10. The Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman is known for his spooky tales and otherworldly prose. In addition to the original novel with illustrations, Gaiman also published a graphic novel edition. Most of coming-of-age stories are about living and looking for the future, Nobody Owens comes of age among the dead. After his family is brutally murdered, the ghosts of the nearby graveyard raise him along with the neither dead nor living Silas. The book is intelligent, entertaining, and creepy, and it will surely be a refreshing break from the typical books you read.