Young adult literature takes on a number of important social issues and educates readers of all ages through characters they can empathize with. Here are some must reads many adult readers may have passed by.
1. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Asher’s acclaimed story centers around Clay Jensen receiving several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker in which she details thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life, Clay being one of them. As Clay listens to Hannah recount her pain, he learns about himself as a person.
2. The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
Johnson gives a poignant depiction of teen pregnancy and parenthood all from the point of view of the father which is raw seen in teen literature. Bobby is an ambitious and talented young man life dramatically changing when he becomes a father. While, the novel depicts the hardships of teen fatherhood it also portrayals the deep and profound love between Bobby and his daughter.
3. Zero Fade by Chris Terry
Terry accounts eight days in the life of inner-city Richmond, Virginia teen Kevin Phifer as he deals with everything being bullied over bad haircuts to dealing with his uncle coming out of the closet. This hilarious coming of age story tackles serious issues in a way that is both engaging and impactful.
4. Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan
Sullivan tells the tale of a thirteen-year-old Tanzanian Albino boy named Habo and the hardships he faces in his society and within his own family due to being different. When Habo’s family is forced to move to Mwanza he ends up being hunting for his body parts by a man who believes them to be good luck. In order to survive, Habo must run and learn to accept himself and love his differences.
5. Dr. Bird’s Advice For Poets by Evan Roskos
Roskoes’s teen protagonist James battles depression and anxiety and gives an honest firsthand account of how his mental illness affects his life. Compounding his difficulties are his abusive and ambivalence parents who want to kick his older sister out of the house. Seeking refuge from his adversities James began having imagined therapy sessions with a pigeon he calls Dr. Bird. Whereas most depictions of mental illness alienate the character, James is so sympathetic it makes him accessible to readers.