Thursday, June 9, 2011

6 Books About Tough Stuff for Teens

Because I Am Furniture
by Thalia Chaltas
2009 | 352 pages | YA Novel in Verse
Anke's father abuses her brother and sister, but ignores her, which is abuse of another kind. The poetry is beautiful, and the emotions powerful. I also love the title - it's perfect.

by Laurie Halse Anderson
1999 | 208 pages | YA Realistic Fiction
Melinda calls the police after an end of summer party turns wild. Her classmates ostracize her for getting them into trouble, but they don't know the terrible secret she hides. I read this book around the time it was published, which would have been toward the end of my high school career. It's unforgettable.

After the Death of Anna Gonzales
by Terri Fields
2002 | 100 pages | YA Novel in Verse
Told in poems from multiple points of view, this book tells of the aftermath of a teenage girl's suicide. Even those who didn't know Anna mourn her in some way. A thought-provoking and important book that reminds us that we don't always know the secret pains of those we see every day.

by Sarah Dessen
2000 | 256 pages | YA Realistic Fiction
I owned this book for years before finally getting the guts to read it. I was in high school when I bought it, but in graduate school when I finally finished it. Though the story is difficult to read emotionally - it's the story of a girl who is abused by her boyfriend - it's one of Dessen's best books. A definite deviation from her usual stories, but still a great book.

by Jay Asher
2007 | 288 pages | YA Realistic Fiction
I read this book in one afternoon, when I still worked in my small town library and had time every day to read. The premise is that a girl commits suicide, leaving behind a collection of thirteen audiotapes, one for each of thirteen people, explaining why she did it and who she blames. The main character receives one of the tapes, but finds that his is slightly different from the others. This book is really amazing. If you only read one from this list, pick this one.

by Robert Lipsyte
2006 | 240 pages | YA Realistic Fiction
A football hazing ritual goes too far, when the entire team turns on one of the players in an intensely disturbing bullying incident. Most of the team tries to cover it up, but one member, the main character of the novel, wonders if that is the right thing to do, or if he should stand up for the teammate who was violated. I don't like sports, but I love sports books, and this one covers so many important and timely subjects. It's disturbing, but it's so well written.


  1. Speak and 13 Reasons Why are both such PHENOMENAL books. I would add Wintergirls to this list in a heartbeat, plus my newest favorite: Hush by Eishes Chayil. YA saves!

  2. Wintergirls was really beautifully written - such a gorgeous book. I tend to read mostly on the lighter side, because I'm very easily upset by darker subject matter, but I absolutely agree that YA saves!


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