I have had a request to recommend books for teens that do not have hetero love interest and perhaps have plots that aren't survivalist. I have a lot of great books to recommend! Here is a list of things that I have read, myself. Next up will be a list compiled from colleagues' recommendations of things that I haven't read. These are not in any particular order, just randomly listed. If you read any of these, let me know what you think and we can talk about books and share and stuff.
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children – Kristin Cronn
This compelling story had me hooked from the first page. Born and christened as Elizabeth, Gabe is a pretty amazing teenager. He feels he’s always been a boy and is just starting to reveal that to everyone around him, including the cool older man who is his neighbor, grandfather figure and rock-music mentor. This book deals with a heavy issue but has many moments of sheer joy, delight and regular teen confusion. I picked it up after seeing that it won the Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award, and I’m very glad I did! Honestly, there aren’t many books I find these days that I don’t want to put down, and this one had that deliciousness about it because of the compassionate realism and the lack of melodrama often found in coming-of-age books.
A Mad, Wicked Folly – Sharon Biggs Waller
Women's Suffrage in the UK, as seen by a young woman struggling to be her own person, a serious artist, despite the social conventions that would require her to marry well. I really enjoyed the arc of her development. It was believable to see her reluctance to acquiesce to become part of the suffrage movement even though she was clearly rebelling against her upbringing with her art. Her inner conflicts seemed very real to me.
The War That Saved My Life – Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Beautifully written story of children raised in poverty in London by a single mother. The older child, a girl, has a club foot and has been abused by the mother. Both children are transported to the country before the Blitz and find solace and a home with a lovely woman who shows them that life can be so much kinder, so much better. Stark realities of poverty, ignorance and lack of medical care, set in WWII home front in the UK. Beautiful character development.
White Cat by Holly Black
Creepy, confusing, fascinating modern, urban Sci-Fi. I couldn’t put it down, and I had to tear through the rest of the trilogy as well. Really compelling and very likable protagonist.
Iron Trial – Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Another “this feels like Harry Potter” book that isn’t at all like Harry. Good anti-hero stuff going on here. 2 books out in the series so far. Third is due out in Sept, 2016. Looks like there’s going to be 5, in all.
Lady of Devices – Shelley Adina
Steampunk adventure novel, strong female protagonist, lots of fun. First in a series. I think that, technically, this is considered to be an adult series, but I feel it would be appealing to teens.
Soulless – Gail Carriger
Great fun! First in The Parasol Protectorate series of fantasy steampunk that has vampires, werewolves, and Alexa Tarabotti, a woman born w/o a soul who can, with the touch of her hand, temporarily remove the supernatural powers and attributes from the others. Sassy, bold and full of Victorian manners. This series is aimed at adults, although teens like it too. There is a related series with teen protagonists by the same author, set in the same world with some of the same characters that starts with
Etiquette and Espionage.
Grasshopper Jungle -- Andrew Smith
This doesn't have any romance, but it is a teenage boy with hormones raging and it does, fair warning, talk about masturbation and being horny. It also has giant insects eating people and crazy scifi things, so make of it what you will. There were parts that I loved and parts where I thought "yea, I'm not really the target demographic for this book" which probably means that teens will like it more than I did. I know my younger colleagues do.
Dorobo: Dark Days - Chantelle Feasel
This was written by a young author from Elk Grove! It is post-apocalyptic, but I liked it a lot. Interesting plot, interesting characters. I want to read more by her, and really, isn't that as good a rec as anything?
Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein
Girl pilots and spies, truth and fiction, heart-wrenching realism. I started this book on audio and did something I rarely do - switched to print. Why? The audio wasn't appealing to me but the story was VERY compelling. So compelling that I had to read it more quickly than the audio was allowing.
Bloodsucking Fiends - Christopher Moore
Funny, irreverent, wild vampire book. First in a trilogy. So very funny! The audio books are laugh-out-loud hilarious.
Beauty Queens - Libba Bray
Satire at it's best: a plane crashes on a deserted island and the only survivors are a group of girls traveling to some Miss Teen something or other pageant. I was literally laughing out loud - loudly - many times during this book. Bray reads is VERY well, as well as having written it well on the audio. There were a few passages that became too serious for the genre, imo, but overall I found this book hilarious and meaningful. The messages she's pushing are overly obvious, but then, if you can't tell by the cover and the blurb that it's not subtle, there is little hope for you. Besides, I'd love the book for footnote #50, alone.