Bee Hive favorites: young adult novels
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
After her first semester in New York City, Marin convinces administration to let her stay alone in her dorm over winter break. Although she won’t be alone for long, her best friend Mabel, who Marin hasn’t talked to since she left California, is coming to visit. It is in New York, with her best friend, that she contemplates and actually talks about what occurred over the final days of school, summer, and the complicated relationship between her and Mabel. This book is truly a masterpiece written by LaCour, with the way she makes the setting mimic Marin’s emotions, the way she creates characters who embody different processes of coping with grief, and her depiction of such a complex character as Marin. “We Are Okay” is truly a great read for anyone who wants to read a story about grief, hope, and the many ghosts we try to escape.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Madeline has a rare disease that has kept her from leaving her house for almost all of her eighteen years. Her only friends are her mother and her nurse, and she has largely accepted that she will be spending her life in a bubble. That changes when a charming boy moves in next-door and she quickly falls for him. Told through emails, charts, and drawings along with the text, this novel features a unique YA romance with daunting challenges to overcome and an unforgettable plot twist. Readers won’t want to put this lovely story down.
My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger
T.C., Augie, and Alé, three juniors in high school, are given a class assignment to write about their “most excellent year.” They each choose their freshman year, the most incredible and transformative year of all of their lives. The story is told from all three perspectives, through diary entries, emails, and online chats. Full of self-discovery, young love, and a bit of magic, this fun book is perfect for anyone who loves baseball, theatre, Mary Poppins, or meaningful relationships.
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Andie’s father is a politician, so she has plenty of rules to follow, including having her social media monitored and never being caught at a rowdy party. She also has self-imposed rules such as spending her summer doing an important internship and never dating anyone for more than three weeks. But one summer, all of the rules go out the window when her father has to step down from his job amid a scandal and Andie meets an amazing boy who makes her want to break her dating rule for the first time. This fun summer read features very real relationships (romantic, friendship, and familial) and a unique twist on the typical YA love story. It’s a feel-good, immersive, and touching read.
Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick
Nanette is a hard-working high school student and star of the soccer team, but she feels out of touch with almost everyone. When her favorite teacher gives her a copy of the out-of-print novel The Bubblegum Reaper, she is immediately obsessed. She befriends the much-older author who sets her up with a poet who seems like her perfect match. The novel inspires rebellion, which Nanette enjoys at first, but soon learns that rebellion often comes with major consequences. This latest book by The Silver Linings Playbook author Quick pulls readers into the emotional and insightful world of a teenager who is figuring herself out.
Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly
This classic book tells the story of a young girl’s first love in 1940s. Angie has just graduated from high school and has never even kissed a boy; she expects she’ll be much older before she ever falls in love. But that all changes when she meets Jack and they instantly have a connection. They fill the summer with romantic outings and fun nights with friends, and Angie feels more than she ever imagined. As fall and the beginning of college loom ever closer, Angie and Jack have to decide how to handle their parting. This light summer read features an innocent teenage romance that is a delightful departure from the love stories of today.
Two Summers by Aimee Friedman
Sixteen year-old Summer has been invited to France to spend time with her estranged artist father. Right before she boards her international flight, her phone rings. Her decision on whether or not to answer the call splits the story into two parallel worlds: one sends her on a romantic French adventure while the other keeps her at home for a seemingly ordinary summer. Both involve new love, friendship drama, and the discovery of family secrets. This charming and inventive story makes for a fun summer read.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Nimona is a young girl with impressive shapeshifting abilities and the desire to be a bad guy. She meets Lord Ballister Blackheart, a former knight turned villain, and pronounces herself his new sidekick. A few villainous acts later, the reader realizes that the good guys aren’t always good and superpowers aren’t as straightforward as they seem. This graphic novel is both heartfelt and funny and tells an epic tale of adventure and friendship.
The Haters by Jesse Andrews
Three high school jazz camp attendees escape to hit the road as a touring band. A crazy series of twists and turns lead to the trio running from the law while searching for somewhere to play the great show they all dream they are capable of. This hilarious novel has a unique style of storytelling and plenty of hijinks and romantic entanglements to go around. The Haters is perfect for anyone who has ever hated on a band or fantasized about joining one.
Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
Three complicated characters take turns narrating this compelling mystery. Wink’s mother reads her tea leaves and tells her Midnight, their new neighbor, will be the “start of her story.” Midnight is in love with Poppy, but Poppy is a self-obsessed bully, and Wink seems to be a breath of fresh air for him. With descriptive storytelling and exciting twists, Wink Poppy Midnight will keep you wondering just who can be trusted.
Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson
A brilliant and engaging account of the life of Dmitri Shostakovich. Anderson triumphantly interlaces detailed chronology of the transformation of power and leadership in Russia – from the revolt against Nicholas II, the last tsar, to the Communist Party under Joseph Stalin – with a personal examination of the making of one of the country’s greatest composers. Tying in accounts from those close to Shostakovich and detailing the challenges faced by the Russian people ravaged by war, Anderson shines light on the events that led to Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony and the role it played in history.
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
It’s 2575 and teenage exes Kady and Ezra are on companion ships fleeing the attacks of the rival megacorporation that just destroyed their whole compound. On their month-long trip, mysterious conspiracies are revealed amid a deadly outbreak of the plague. Kady and Ezra are forced to work together to find out who the real enemy is. Illuminae falls into its own distinctive sector of science fiction, drawing upon themes of dystopic rebellion and formatted in a compilation of military files, personal messages, diagrams and more. This book is highly unexpected and totally gripping.
The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Every October, 17-year-old Cara, Melanie (her mother), Alice (her sister), and Sam (her sort-of stepbrother) do their best to survive the accident season, when they all become uncannily prone to injuries and mishaps of all kinds. And this year, Cara’s best friend Bea, who’s a little bit of a witch, has predicted that the accident season is going to be especially treacherous. But is there some kind of curse on Cara’s family, or is there another reason for the accident season? Part coming-of-age tale, part love story, part ghost story, this book is full of mystery, magic, and secrets.
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Things in Mim Malone’s world are not OK. Her dad and new stepmom have moved her from Cleveland to Mississippi, a.k.a. “mosquitoland”; her dad’s convinced she’s inherited the family brand of crazy and insists she take medication; and she hasn’t heard from her mom in weeks. When she finds out her mother is sick, she steals her stepmom’s coffee can of cash, buys a bus ticket, and takes off for Cleveland. Along the way she finds friends, confronts enemies, falls in love, and, no matter how many detours are taken, follows through. Told partly in letters and entirely in Mim’s sharp, smart voice, this is a road-trip tale about friendship, family, and the exhilarating, difficult work of growing up in a world that both always is and never will be OK.
Like No Other by Una LaMarche
As a storm rages and babies cry their first screams, fate brings Devorah and Jaxon together in an elevator. Despite an immediate, powerful connection, they are from different worlds. Devorah’s Hasidic family has strict, traditional values from which she has never deviated. Jaxon, who is a nerd with a list of failed flirtation attempts, is black and working class. Even though they live a stone’s throw from each other, their bond is strictly forbidden. When they begin meeting in secret, the lies and deceit of their relationship amplify the tumult of first love. This modern Romeo and Juliet tosses love in the air, and watches as it falls in slow motion to the earth.
As Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins
Ry is on his way to summer camp when the first of a chain of strange events transpires. After being stranded in the middle of the desert, he meets Del, a man who solves everybody’s problems but seems to have a few of his own. The two set off on an adventure in search of family, answers to life’s greatest questions, and love. This quirky book is a series of lost connections filled with mishaps, kooky and endearing characters, and figuring out gravity.
The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
Prenna James’ home has been destroyed; a violent plague has humanity terrorized and on the verge of collapse. A community of people escapes to the past, ostensibly to rectify the future. But their new home is filled with rules: never reveal their origins, never interfere with history, and never fall in love with a time-native. Prenna diligently follows these orders until she meets Ethan Jarves. As they fall for each other, Prenna begins to wonder if the rules are more tools of control than preservation. Can Prenna and Ethan twist history to reshape the future and carve out a place where their love is allowed?
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
In the kingdom of Goredd, the tenuous peace between humans and dragons has shattered; factions of both sides demand blood. Now that Seraphina’s half-dragon identity is exposed, Queen Glissenda and Prince Lucian Kiggs are sending her on a mission to rally her brethren and harness their uniquely magical abilities. Once considered abominations, ityasaari may be the key to preventing total destruction. Journeying across the lands, Seraphina faces challenges from all sides, including a fellow ityasaari bent on taking over other people’s minds. As she encounters ambiguous morals, Seraphina’s allegiances are tested, and she must negotiate just how powerful she wants to become. This long anticipated sequel will have fans roaring with approval.
I’ll Give you the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Fraternal twins Jude and Noah Sweetwine couldn’t have been closer, or more different. Noah was a quiet, prolific artist, while Jude was a bold, sassy daredevil. When tragedy hits, their love for each other mutates into intense anger, and their old identities are displaced by unrecognizable selves. They each have their own story of loss, love, and longing to tell – Noah‘s at age 13, Jude’s at age 16. Their timelines twist and turn, and eventually intersect in an exquisite celebration of love, art, and redemption. Deeply mournful and radiantly joyful, this literary coming of age opus will rip open your heart, then repair it with golden thread. The 2015 recipient of the Printz Award, this book deserves all the acclaim.
We Were Liars by e. lockhart
All Cady Sinclair Eastman knew before was luxury and happiness. She spent summers on her wealthy family’s island with her cousins, and Gat, a boy she was falling for. But something terrible happened, and Cady can’t remember what. Two summers later, her reality is fraught with trying to recover her love with Gat, piercing migraines, the feeling of unexplained tragedy, and the politics of her family’s money. A fairytale-like quality ties together the family’s secrets, lies, and deceit, as Cady struggles to reclaim the truth. Finally, the lies begin to unravel, and conclude in a beautifully tragic ending that will bring you to your knees.
His Dark Materials Series by Philip Pullman
This trilogy is a great modern fantasy classic based in an alternate universe to our own where human souls exist externally in the form of animal spiritual beings. These beings aid, comfort and accompany humans. The series follows Lyra as she becomes wrapped up in a world of magic, power struggles, danger, science experiments, and adventure. This is a fabulous choice for boys or girls. The plot twists are exciting, the vocabulary is expansive, and you will love the characters.
The Bright Young Things Series by Anna Godbersen
I felt like I was reading the CW show Gossip Girl set in the roaring 1920s. The series follows three young ladies, Astrid, Cornelia, and Letty as they move between the manicured lawns of Long Island Estates and the glittering life of New York City. The novels are embroiled with wealth, gossip, flappers, limousines, parties, socialites, fashion, romance, and scandal. The dialogue is witty and flirtatious and you may just find yourself staying up all night to read this. Ages 12+
Lockdown by Walter Dan Myers
This is a National Book Award Finalist and a page turning read. The book follows teenager Reese who is at Progress, a juvenile detention center for selling prescription drugs. He doesn’t mean to keep messing up but it is not so easy. The characters are so real it is haunting. The author opens up a conversation about the criminal justice system and non-violent change and how our youth navigates growing up in it all. Ages 12+
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
In a world where Love is a disease and the only cure is surgery…or death. This is Lena’s world and she, like most others in her world, happily anticipates the safety that having the “cure” brings. Until she meets Alex and finds her world view shattered; discovering that everything she has been taught is a lie. A powerful and gripping second novel by Lauren Oliver, the author of “Before I Fall.”
Winger by Andrew Smith
This book is real. A story about social typing and personal barriers, it is a true and strong account of ‘growing up’ in the most unsappy way (a dark turn at the end will hit you hard!). Winger earns the respect of his peers and gets the girl he loves, but the importance of the book is in the narrative: how Winger changes, what he thinks, and the painful event he has to live through. A powerful book truly worth reading.
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
The sequel to Graceling and companion to Fire. You don’t need to have read the aforementioned titles to enjoy this wonderful adventure. The strong female protagonist Bitterblue became queen at ten years old, now eighteen she feels that her advisors are overprotecting her. She sneaks out of the castle at night only to discover the reality she knew has been sheltered and her empire is suffering under her advisors. She befriends Teddy and Saf, civilians, although can she trust her feelings for Saf? Bitterblue is on an adventure to heal her kingdom, assert her own political agency and survive the court intrigues that threaten to be her end. Ages 12+
A Legend Novel, Prodigy by Marie Lu
A great sequel to the dystopian sci-fi fantasy Legend. The action packed book begins with an assassination attempt and you find your-self rooting for the success of street criminal Day and political insider June, and unlikely duo. Between the plane crashes, explosions and mutual attraction of the main characters readers get it all- cinematic action, suspense and adventure. Both language and intimacy are age 12+.
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Josh and Emma are in high school in 1996 when they discover Facebook, a web site that gives them glimpses of themselves fifteen years in the future. They soon discover everything that they do in the present sends out ripples that will affect their lives forever. Sweet and insightful, you’ll never look at status updates the same way again.
Looking for Alaska by John Greene
A beautiful novel. Not just a tragedy, not just a coming-of-age story, not just a powerful tour de force that draws you in and ties you into knots. This book is all of the above, and more: as Miles says, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. John Green creates an entirely absorbing, believable, and real world centered around Miles’ life at his boarding school, but the book is truly about the fiery and troubled heroine who unifies and inspires Miles’ group of friends right until the end. An ode to humanity and forgiveness; a testament to grief and its terrible power. Everyone—adults as well as young adult boys and girls– will find something in this book.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
By the author of Eleanor and Park! Cath’s close relationship with her twin and her love of writing fanfiction have formed her world so far. Going to college changes everything: challenges loom in the form of teachers, a roommate, and the loss of her twin’s company. In all of this, Cath unexpectedly finds solace where least expected. A sweet love story and coming-of-age story. The author does a fantastic job of sharing the reality of first-year college experience, including all the nuances of young adult interactions.
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
What do you get when you combine the raging hormones of a sixteen year old, history obsessed boy who is confused about his sexual orientation with the cataclysmic unleashing of a giant praying mantis army that is equally obsessed with its own hunger? Welcome to Grasshopper Jungle. A history, a chronicle, a post-apocalyptic tale, a boy on the verge of manhood…Austin records his story of being in love with both his girlfriend and his gay best friend Robby while living in a small Midwestern town, attending private school and dealing with the human-devouring mantis population. If you are a fan of cheesy sci-fi, you’ll devour this book!
Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
Strange, lyrical, thought-provoking, deliciously unsettling, mordantly funny: there are not enough adjectives and adverbs in the world to describe how awesome this short story collection is. Each story has its own personality: some are creepy, some are zany, while others are kind of wistful and sad. Each, though, is woven around Link’s totally original voice and sensibility, which make you want to lean in and listen, whether she’s describing a murderous hat, a magical purse or a pretentious ex-boyfriend. Worth reading more than once, Pretty Monsters will change the way you think about the fantastic and the mundane. Highly, highly recommended for readers ages 14+.
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Sepetys’ second novel (after the award-winning, spectacular Between Shades of Grey) features Josie, daughter of a New Orleans prostitute, who just wants to get out of the French Quarter. When she befriends a girl from back east in the little bookshop where she lives and works, Josie begins to dream of attending college there. But at every turn she gets tangled in a web of crime that her mother won’t seem to let her escape. Painting a rich picture of The Big Easy in the 50s, Sepetys creates a headstrong female protagonist in the tradition of David Copperfield. Wonderful and unforgettable, this novel is highly recommended for readers 14+.
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Clay gets home from school to find an anonymous package full of cassette tapes. On them, he hears the voice of Hannah, his longtime crush who recently took her own life. The tapes explain her reasons for her action, naming all the people who hurt her without knowing or caring. An indictment of high school bullying and malicious gossip, this novel has inspired many teens to re-examine the consequences of their actions, and to understand that, when it comes to the victimization of others, there are no innocent bystanders. Currently in development as a movie starring Selena Gomez as Hannah.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Musical prodigy and court musician Seraphina Dombegh must tread very carefully in the kingdom of Goredd. The uneasy truce between Dragons and Humans is at risk after the mysterious assassination of the king. Seraphina must keep her own dangerous secret while assisting the prince’s investigation of his father’s killing, but her wayward heart threatens to reveal all despite the cool calculation of her intellect. As suppressed memories surface, can she keep peace in her inner world? This fascinating, psychologically complex first novel has captured all of our imaginations. We can hardly wait for Rachel Hartman’s next book!
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Karou is a seventeen-year-old art student with an unusual background. From his desk in a dusty, otherworldly shop, her mysterious, monstrous father sends her on errands across the globe, collecting teeth for a shadowy purpose. On one such errand, Karou encounters an angel, and soon the mysteries of her life and her family are unraveled–with consequences both beautiful and dreadful. National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor has created a lushly imaginative, fully realized world in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The story overflows with dark and delightful magic, star-crossed love, and difficult choices with heartbreaking repercussions. Readers of all ages will be utterly enchanted. You won’t be able to put it down.
There is No Long Distance Now by Naomi Shihab Nye
“It was so strange how news traveled these days. You could kick a stone on a sidewalk and find a little message to yourself tucked under it.” This is a beautifully-written collection of forty stories, each 1,000 words or less, from acclaimed poet and novelist, Naomi Shihab Nye. Set in a variety of places and cultures, each one is narrated by a young person and rich with well-observed details as they negotiate family, pets, teachers, friendship, loss, and transitions, growing in our globalized world.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Like Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief, this novel is a moving, incredibly well-writtten look at the lives of some young people during World War II. Code Name Verity is very much its own book, however: it follows the deepening friendship of two girls, one a pilot and the other a spy, as they are drawn further into dangerous and morally fraught wartime situations. Careful readers will enjoy the way Wein plays with perspective and unreliable narration, puzzling out of the truth of what occurs only by combining the two girls’ perceptions and experiences.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
In this hard-hitting coming-of-age novel, Charlie begins high school friendless after losing his best friend to suicide at the end of middle school. Through his beautifully voiced, at times dark, and deeply personal letters, we join him in finding true community and coming to terms with the trauma in his past. Thoroughly affecting and affirming, this modern classic is a highly recommended read for high-schoolers and high school survivors.
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
The much awaited finale of the Infernal Devices trilogy. Tessa is preparing for her wedding day when a new demon appears linked to the evil Mortmain, who has other plans for her. Set in Victorian England, this gripping series conclusion is ripe with danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment, and a tangled web of love and loss. Ages 12+
Matched by Allie Condie
Cassia’s Matching ceremony is everything she dreamed, and when she is Matched with her childhood friend, Xander, it is better than she could have even hoped. But when her microcard reveals the face of her Match, it’s not Xander. The Society wants Cassia to believe this is a glitch, but when she begins falling in love with Ky, her faith in the Society’s way of life is shaken. A thrilling love triangle that will have you throttling through the plot (and toward the second book Crossed)!
The Diviners by Libba Bray
A work of historical fiction set in the Roaring Twenties, part chilling murder mystery and ghost story, and with the supernatural woven throughout, Libba Bray beautifully and masterfully …weaves a tapestry of story-lines with a vivid ensemble cast. Evie is a flapper full of spunk who can’t seem to stay out of trouble, a thoroughly loveable protagonist, she bears a mysterious gift: she can read people’s secrets by holding one of their objects in her hand. Memphis is an aspiring poet with a miraculous ability to heal. Evie’s uncle, Will, is the resident expert and curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult. When a series of murders rocks New York City, everyone must use their secret knowledge and power to try and stop this terrifying dark force.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Wry, candid, compelling, and deeply affecting, this is the diary of Junior, chronicling his experiences through cartoons over the course of his tumultuous first year of high school. Junior decides to leave the Spokane reservation where he grew up to seek a better high school education at an all-white school, a choice that makes him alien both at his new school and with his old friends at home. Drawn from his own experience, Alexie’s writing is heart-wrenching and unforgettable and the seamless interweaving of Forney’s comics brings just the right amount of lightheartedness. Every high-schooler stands much to gain from this incredible book.–Áine
Divergent by Veronica Roth, Katherine Tegen Books
The world of Divergent is a dystopian Chicago. When she turns 16, Beatrice Prior and all her peers must make a decision that will determine the course of the rest of their lives. Where do they belong? There are five factions to choose from, each devoted to a particular virtue: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Everyone must remain loyal to one and only one of these groups or they are considered a threat to the society at large. How will Beatrice determine who she really is? Trying to fit into this rather brutal world takes Beatrice on a perilous journey of initiation where she discovers her bravery & ultimately, her truth. I couldn’t put this down!
-Sondra & Áine
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Fans of the Hunger Games will love this gripping sequel to Veronica Roth’s Divergent! The city is up in arms as new faction loyalties emerge in the wake of a devastating attack. Racked with guilt and struggling with her own survival, Tris must navigate all of the factions, seeing sides of the city that she has never known, to find out the truth about the attack that claimed her parents’ lives and what it really means to be Divergent. –Áine
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, Art by Maira Kalman
An intimate and bittersweet memoir of an ill-fated teen romance. From the heady beginnings to the painful end, the author takes us on a scavenger hunt through the mementos of Ed & Min’s relationship, allowing us an insider’s view of the highs and lows of Min’s experience. I was captivated by the detail and how perfectly the (sometimes excruciating) shattering of Min’s illusions brought back memories of my own first love. –Sondra
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
A powerfully touching story of a young girl’s passion for reading, living, and loving while battling cancer. Truly a great read! -Thea