Young Adult Books, ages 11 or 12 and up
Reminder!Prior to the 1950's, the category we call Young Adult literature hadn't been identified as such. But several books came along - especially Catcher In The Rye (1951), by J.D. Salinger, and A Separte Peace (1959), by John Knowles - that revealed a need for books aimed at the experiences of teenagers, our young adults. Since that time the number of books in this category has exploded. Many seem like junk food, while others are outstanding literature. This site focuses on the good stuff.
THE LOST YEARS OF MERLIN (1996), by T.A. Barron
Fantasy is often beloved by teens. This is the first of a quintet about Emrys, who grows up to become Merlin, King Arthur's magician. In this opening novel, Emrys realizes that he has magical powers, and as he matures he becomes a deeply appealing character that readers will not forget. The imaginative details, the lush descriptions making a fictional place real, the danger of Merlin's first quest - well, you just have to read this one...and then the rest of the series. And soon you can see this book as a motion picture, too! The Seven Songs (Book 2); The Raging Fires (Book 3); The Mirror of Fate (Book 4); The Wizard's Wings (Book 5); The Dragon of Avalon (Book 6), et al.
HOLE IN MY LIFE (2002), by Jack GantosA Printz Honor award-winner, this memoir is an intense experience. You may know Gantos as the writer of the Joey Pigza novels for the 8 to 12 crowd, but this book tells us who he was as a young adult. At 20 he landed in a medium-security prison (messing with drugs, hoping to get rich fast); where he saw violence all around him and was basically "scared straight." In prison, he clung to a worn copy of The Brothers Karamosov, read it and reread it, then began writing his experiences between the lines. The writing saved him, and it's all here in this autobiographical outpouring. Strongly recommended.
THE SEA OF TROLLS (2004), by Nancy FarmerThis fantasy, set in A.D. 793, features Jack at age 11 and his sister Lucy, age 5. They seem young as main characters for YA books, but this is the beginning of a trilogy, so they grow older. Farmer's writing, characterization, and plotting are as good as it gets. I LOVE HER BOOKS! And readers do too, of course. This series is full of exciting stuff - trolls and Viking berserkers, who capture Jack and Lucy, swords and raiding pirates - all told to us so very well. PLUS, readers will find a wonderful sense of humor here - yay! THE LAND OF THE SILVER APPLES, book 2; THE ISLANDS OF THE BLSSED, Book 3.
THEODORE BOONE: KID LAWYER (2010), by John GrishamWhen do you suppose Grisham sleeps? Almost never? But the best thing is that his books are very good. They're well-written, they are laden with information about law, lawyers, courts, and the justice system, and the stories are always enjoyable. This series features Theo Boone, who at 13 believes himself to be a lawyer already. So it's no surprise when boom! he's in a courtroom involved in a murder. Nicely tense. Readers enjoy this series that offers such an appealing teen character involved in great mysteries. Also: Theodore Boone: The Abduction, Theodore Boone: The Accused, et al.
- THE CAT WHO TAILED A THIEF (1960's!), by Lilian Jackson Braun
- JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN (1939), by Dalton Trumbo
- MY DOG SKIP (1995), By Willie Morris
- COMMENTS ON THE HUNGER GAMES, by Suzanne Collins.
- THE RED PYRAMID, (Kane Chron., Bk 1), by Rick Riordan.
- FEED, by M.T. Anderson
- BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS, by Shannon Hale
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