The Fault in Our Stars
The subject of teenage cancer sufferers is hard to stomach, but adults have a lot to learn about the way the young protagonists deal with their situation. This novel is unflinchingly honest, but the hope that shines through will warm your heart as well as break it.
Harriet the Spy
The eponymous Harriet is an outsider, who dresses differently to her peers, is interpreted by some as being gay, and is bullied by her classmates. The fact that so many children and young adults identify with her means she can teach us an important lesson about acceptance.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
This young adult series follows four girls from their teens up to their late 20s. The bonds of female friendship, as well as the struggle to become individuals while maintaining these close ties will resonate with women of all ages.
Kit’s Wilderness is young adult only in that it is told through the eyes of a child; its themes of Alzheimer’s, bravery, and death are wholly adult. Much of the book is autobiographical; the result is nostalgic and compelling.
Laurie Halse Anderson
Wintergirls follows a teenage anorexia sufferer struggling after the death of her bulimic friend. The plot is brutal and shocking, and its message is particularly aimed at teenage girls, but adults will benefit just as much from its exposition of the dangerous power our body image can hold over us.
Louisa May Alcott
The beloved March girls may be battling through their teenage years, but the lessons they have to teach us about treasuring the people in our lives, picking ourselves up after failures, and adapting to the curveballs life throws us are just as useful whether we’re 25 or 85.
We Were Liars
This fantastic book came out last summer and we loved it right away. The shocking twists and Gossip Girl-like premise combine to make We Were Liars intensely readable. E. Lockhart’s skillful writing lends this book a sophistication that makes it beach-friendly for readers of all ages.
The Diary of a Young Girl
Publishing in 1947, The Diary of Anne Frank is the real journal of a young girl writing her thoughts as Nazi Germany spread throughout Europe and forced her family into hiding. Her writing is filled with love, hope, and understanding even in the face of such evil. Mandatory reading for all ages.
S. E. Hinton
Published in the 1960s, this book instantly became a phenomenon in America. A classic narrative of outcasts and their constant battle with society, the story is dramatic and breathtaking at every twist and turn.
Mega-series like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games put Young Adult books on the map in a big way. When we read as teenagers, we fall in love with the exciting plots, the magical worlds, and the characters we wish were our best friends. For the same reasons, Young Adult books are entertaining for adults of any age. These novels teach us about the friendships, heartbreaks and challenges of growing up; they equip us to deal with life’s hardships; they show us how to empathize. There’s no end to the things we can learn from books, and if you read, or re-read any of these wonderful YA novels, you may just find yourself feeling very young at heart.
Shelf Curated by Emma Oulton.
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