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sevenfourteen's avatar

What YA novel would you read again?

Asked by sevenfourteen (2419 points ) November 29th, 2011

My sister is turning 13 next week (see previous question) and I’ve decided I’d like to send her a book. I’m in grad school but I enjoy reading young adult novels and I thought it might be nice for us to read the same book. My roommate also suggested maybe something that’s being made into a movie so that we could go see it together when I am home.

However I want a book that’s not sci-fi or magic/fantasy. It’d be nice if it was something to do with growing up/being a teen etc. The only candidate that I’ve found is the book If I Stay by Gayle Forman (http://www.amazon.com/If-I-Stay-Gayle-Forman/dp/014241543X/ref=pd_sim_b_1)

It’d also be interesting to send her something classic (Animal Farm etc). What book did you read as a young adult that you would/have read again?

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21 Answers

linguaphile's avatar

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants IS good.

There aren’t movies, but “Gathering Blue” by Lois Lowry is good, as are the “Homecoming” series by Cynthia Voigt- that one was made into a movie. Anything by Judy Blume, Madeline L’Engle (not all are sci-fi), LM Montgomery and Cynthia Voigt will probably talk about growing up.

An older author that talks about growing up and being awkward is Paul Zindel.

Little Women is an awesome, enduring classic for that age and there are 3 excellent movies you can watch- one from the 1930s, one from the 1960’s and one from 1999ish.

Two excellent modern writers who address growing up or teenage issues are Laurie Halse Anderson and Sarah Dessen.

squirrelfreak's avatar

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

El_Cadejo's avatar

I loved “And then there were none” by Agatha Christie when I was younger. I actually picked it up not to long ago to read it again.

Nullo's avatar

The last one that I read was Airborne!. I enjoyed that quite a bit.

TexasDude's avatar

The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

It’s my favorite book. I’m almost 22 and I have read this book twice a year since I was 14. It’s a treasure for me. It’s riddled with cliche’s, but it’s still very heart-touching and it deals with a plethora of tough issues.

After that, I have to recommend Looking for Alaska, by John Green. Green is a fantastic writer, and Looking for Alaska is a superior book to Perks in a lot of ways. It is absolutely gut-wrenchingly sad, though. It deals with a lot of philosophical issues. Both of these books are coming-of-age stories, as well. Neither of them have vampires or fairies or any of that bullshit in them, either.

A good runner up is Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin. It’s a bit more fantastical than the other two books I mentioned, but not in a sword-and-sorcery way. It’s about a girl’s experiences in the afterlife, and it’s similar to The Lovely Bones in a lot of ways.

muppetish's avatar

Speak is one of the few Young Adult novels I read in high school as assigned reading that I thoroughly enjoyed. There is a dark backdrop to the story, but for the most part it is about a teenage girl trying to get through her freshman year. It was wonderful and certain passages have stuck with me.

My absolute favourite Young Adult novel is The Book Thief. It’s extremely heavy in terms of content, but it features a powerful main character, an amazing story, and manages to discuss one of the most depressing topics in an accessible manner (and without sounding the least bit condescending!) It remains one of my favourite books to this day.

linguaphile's avatar

@muppetish I triply second you on “The Book Thief” recommendation!

shrubbery's avatar

I know that The Perks of Being a Wallflower has been made into a movie which is coming out sometime in the near future but I haven’t read it myself.

A couple of questions though, is your sister already a big reader? Does she read books advance of her age? Because there are books I could recommend but they are about slightly older protagonists, 15–16 years old, and probably heavier for a 13 year old who doesn’t regularly read, and why no sci-fi or fantasy? There are so many amazing books I could recommend about growing up and being a teen which just happen to be fantasy. Just because they are fantasy does not make them un-relatable or non applicable in our every day lives. And lastly, are you asking for just general classics that we read as young adults and enjoyed or ones geared towards younger readers?

TexasDude's avatar

Oh yeah, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher is a good one as well.

sevenfourteen's avatar

Thanks everyone for your input. I’ve read Speak and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I’ve heard that the Perks of Being a Wallflower is slightly inappropriate. I will be looking at the other ones.

@shrubbery she does read quite a bit but I don’t think she reads too advanced. She has read Harry Potter, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Lovely Bones etc. Nothing too serious or dark. I did notice that she had the book Catching Fire in her room but I haven’t read any of that series (slightly unfamiliar as well). I’m really only saying no sci-fi or fantasy because (other than Harry Potter) I’m not a huge fan.

shrubbery's avatar

@sevenfourteen, okay, fair enough. Catching Fire is the second book in the trilogy, the first being The Hunger Games and the third being Mockingjay. They are set in a dystopian future and I just finished reading them and am honestly glad I didn’t read them earlier (I’m 19) because I don’t think the protagonist is a good role model at all (I hated her and she reminded me of Bella). But if she likes that then she might be interested in classics such as Brave New World (though I would have had trouble with that had I not studied it in class so maybe that’s one for later) and 1984 (not sure how difficult to read that is). You mentioned Animal Farm which she might just think is a story about animals but I would probably wait for that one too until she learns what satire is so that it has more meaning. Umm, what else…

I would recommend Jeanette Winterson. I’m not sure if any of her novels are supposed to be YA but I read Lighthousekeeping a few years ago and it really really stayed with me, and though it’s quite purple prose-y it’s easy to read and beautiful too.

She might like to read some Jane Austin and then you could watch any of the movies or mini-series with her, or Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is obviously a coming of age classic. A Little Princess is another classic though I found it easier to read than Austin and Bronte, and of course how could I forget Little Women. I regularly re-read it and the movie is a great adaptation.

Holes by Louis Sachar is amazing and so is the movie.

Also there’s an australian author called Odo Hirsch who writes a series about a girl called Hazel Green. I can’t remember what age she is in the books nor what age the books are geared towards but I remember loving all of them at some point, you should check them out. He also has another series about an adventurer called Bartlett. Even if they’re a little bit young they could be a nice light read for her.

I’m certain I was still reading The Famous Five books by Enid Blyton at age 13.

If she likes The Lovely Bones she’ll probably like The Time Traveler’s Wife, though I found both a bit dark and serious.

I can’t think of any more right now but if you do want me to include fantasy I can give you better recommendations. Just please, whatever you do, do not let her read Twilight at least for a few more years.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’m going to throw out a couple that are a little rough. Lord of the Flies, and Catcher in the Rye.

TexasDude's avatar

@sevenfourteen it’s hard to find dyed-in-the-wool YA stuff that isn’t “slightly inappropriate.” That’s become one of the hallmarks of the genre… the edginess, and the inclusion of real-world issues that are sometimes pretty ugly.

genesisalexandra's avatar

Books by Sarah Dessen aren’t too gritty, at least in the one’s I’ve read. They are mostly coming of age novels. So check her out.

sevenfourteen's avatar

@shrubbery thanks for all the options. I was thinking Jane Austin or as @genesisalexandra suggested Sarah Dessen. A friend suggested Jane Eyre as well. I’m honestly considering just asking her what she’s read and then judging from that.

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard yeah I’m taking a leap thinking that things that aren’t exist but I figured I’d ask. I just am trying to really stay away from a book like Speak (main character gets raped) or 13 reasons why (main character committed suicide). I know a lot of them do have a lot about sexuality and whatnot but I’m afraid I’ll feel that awkward “mom-ish” moment if we watch a risky movie scene.

Nullo's avatar

The Jules Verne classics, while perhaps not YA, are a lot of fun anyway.
My sister recommends the Bloody Jack series, which is about the adventures of a girl who goes a-pirating.

linguaphile's avatar

Wuthering Heights would be an interesting book to read if you want to tie it in with Twilight. They’re similar.

Mariah's avatar

The Secret Life of Bees is fantastic, and was made into a movie with Dakota Fanning a few years ago. Every teenaged girl should read that book.

keobooks's avatar

I loved Perks of being a wallflower, but I’ll have to agree that it’s a little grown up for 13 year olds. I think there are many middle school appropriate reads out there.

One book she may like is the series “I’d tell you that I Love you But Then I’d Have to Kill You.” it’s about a girl who is secretly going to a school to learn to be an international super
spy.

Sarah Dessen is a great light romance / clean read for younger teens.

I am a licensed school librarian and worked many years with middle school students. If you’d like more suggestions, PM me and I can make a custom list if you give me some details about her personality.

Edited to add: Here is a list of clean reads I found in a google search. I’ve read about half on the list and I think they are all good choices. If you ever want to do a search yourself try “clean reads” and “teen” or “YA “in the field. This is the official librarian term for books with little to nothing controversial in the book. YALSA (the young adult section of the American library association) also puts out lists every year for middle school readers. I suggest the paperback lists for older books. Most of the other lists only have books published in the previous 12 months.

Leanne1986's avatar

@Mariah I loved The Secret Life of Bees

AshlynM's avatar

Are You There God, It’s Me, Maragret.

Blubber

Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You

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