Tuesday, August 9th is National Book Lovers’ Day! Celebrate with the bibliophiles in your life by visiting your local library, checking out an independent bookstore, or reading one of these YA and teen-appropriate recommendations from our staff at the IRRC!
Taylor Miller, IRRC Online Learning Specialist
This book tells the story of Ponyboy Curtis, a young boy who feels like an outcast in the world around him. It deals with timeless issues such as grief, poverty, and feeling like you don’t belong.
“We read this book as a class when I was in middle school,” says Miller, “and I really enjoyed it even though it is a bit old. It’s a coming-of-age story that deals with some heavy issues, but never feels too overwhelming. The author started writing when she was a teen, and that shows through her storytelling.”
Olivia Tonelli, Student Writer
Quintero tells the story of Gabi as she navigates her way through high school and seeks empowerment in her friendships and her poetry. Readers may resonate will the strength Gabi shows in the face of great adversity, from a friend’s pregnancy to her own struggles with family and relationships.
“This novel is a great read for those who enjoy a funny, honest, and bold protagonist,” says Tonelli.
This novel of fantasy and adventure follows Xochitl, a cuentista who has the power to carry all the secrets of her village. As she journeys away from home to find her true purpose, the trials Xochitl must face are both heart wrenching and inspiring, delivering an impactful story of hardship and love.
“This novel pulled me into a world of fantasy and adventure,” says Tonelli.
Rachel Wallace, Administrative Services Coordinator
Trigger warning: This book contains depictions of suicide and sexual assault.
The main character Charlie tells a magnetic story by writing a series of letters to an anonymous friend that describe what’s going on in his life. The letters touch on numerous topics such as friendship, loneliness, family dynamics, sexuality, mental health, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The film adaption of this timeless, must-read was released in 2012.
“This book was published right before my freshman year of high school and resonated with me in many ways,” says Wallace. “It was bold, ahead of its time, and unlike anything else I was reading at 14.”
Meg Mechelke, Lead Student Writer
When Dr. John Montague, a researcher concerned with the science of hauntings, invites a group of young people to spend the summer at the infamous Hill House, Eleanor is one of only two to accept. Soon, a series of bizarre events occurs, including strange noises, writing on the walls, and shifting rooms. The visitors of Hill House must confront not only the building’s secrets but also their own if they hope to uncover the thing that really haunts this home.
“This book blew my mind the first time I read it, and it has held up every time I have revisited it since,” says Mechelke. “It is a masterpiece in gothic horror and a beautiful investigation of the human mind.”
In this dark, fairytale-like story, a young man returns to his childhood hometown for a funeral. There, he begins to reflect on memories of the strange things that happened to him one summer as a child. With stunning prose and fast-paced plot, Gaiman weaves a twisting, bizarre story of grief and identity that is truly unforgettable.
“This book is gorgeous, but not for the weak-stomached. If your teen is a fan of the weird, the gothic, or the macabre, this is the book for them!” says Mechelke.
When Lyra Belacqua’s best friend Roger goes missing, she swiftly sets out to rescue him from the clutches of a secretive group known only as “the Gobblers.” Armed with a magical truth-telling device and her dæmon Pantalaimon, Lyra travels to the ends of the Earth to save her friend and uncover the truth about a mysterious substance called “Dust.” This novel combines science, magic, philosophy, and adventure in a tightly woven, hard-to-put-down package that has been hailed as a modern classic.
“This novel and its sequels are some of my favorite books of all time,” says Mechelke. “Pullman’s works ask huge questions about life and the universe but deliver them in an engaging and accessible form.”
Sean Thompson, Communications Specialist
Far From the Tree is a well-told, insightful story of three children who were put up for adoption. They meet for the first time as teens and embark on finding their biological mother while getting to know each other. It alternates between the characters each chapter as it explores the complexities of family and siblinghood.
“The siblings Maya, Grace and Joaquin are different in some ways, the same in others, and all very likeable,” says Thompson.
Alex is a high-school senior trying to get through the year and on to college, all while figuring out what is real and what are delusions caused by schizophrenia. This book provides a refreshing portrayal of mental illness that is genuine, stigma-free, and non-sensational.
“The characters are relatable and likeable,” says Thompson. “The plot twist made me audibly gasp.”
This book tells the story of five best friends’ senior year of high school, told from the perspective of Beth, a thoughtful, analytical, caring person who struggles with anxiety, self-doubt, and panic attacks. In this artful romantic drama, Gilbert explores friendship, loyalty, secrets, and young love.
“The way [Gilbert] describes how Beth feels makes the reader see and feel what she experiences,” says Thompson. “You can get lost in her writing.”