8 YA Books From 2015 That Even Non-YA Fans Must Read
Recently, young adult literature has been getting more attention than ever — and not just from young adults themselves, either. There’s a good reason. From some of the most diversely representative characters ever before featured in YA plots, to a cast of leading young ladies that even the unstoppable Hermione Granger would be proud of, the books written with teens and tweens in mind this year offered readers a whole lot of literary goodness.
Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that I haven't always been the biggest fan of the adults reading YA trend — and if I'm being totally honest, the young adult section is rarely the first section I’ll browse upon walking into my local bookstore. But, as a books lover, even I can recognize that every once in a while a YA title comes along that speaks to readers of all ages and become a must-read for the year. And I’m not one to ever turn down a good book, no matter what genre it might be shelved under.
1. We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen
Stewart and Ashley’s lives are in chaos — or so it seems. His mother died of cancer, Ashley’s father’s coming out late in life resulted in her parents’ divorce, and now Ashley’s mother and Stewart’s father are getting married. Despite the shared transitions, the two young teens feel like they have nothing in common, and want almost nothing to do with one another. A story of love and loss, family and friendship, and acceptance of ourselves and others, We Are All Made of Molecules is YA gold.
2. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
At 17-years-old Madeline has never left her house. She is, as she describes, allergic to the whole world — or so she’s been told. Then Olly (you know the type: tall, dressed in all black, hair you want to run your fingers through) moves in next door and Madeline finally discovers something — or rather someone — willing to risk stepping outside for. All about the risks we take to fall in love, Everything, Everything is, well, everything you’d want in a YA romance.
3. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
As much as teen Violet Markey lives for her well-planned future, Theodore Finch lives only for the thought of death. He spends his time ways he might kill himself, but always finding a reason not to, while she plans for life beyond graduation, when she will leave her small town and never turn back. All the Bright Places finds these at an epic crossroads in each of their lives and explores the lessons each could have only learned from the other.
4. The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell
When Sora, a Japanese teenager living in Kyoto, is diagnosed with what he terms “an old man’s disease” (Lou Gehrig’s) he finds himself turning to the past as much as the present for strength, wisdom, and determination. Filled with the weighty tradition of the ancient samurai and the busy fervor of modern-day Japan, The Last Leaves Falling is a must-read about friends, family, and discovering who we really are before it’s too late.
5. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
The totally cry-worthy My Heart and Other Black Holes tells the story of two teens who find one another through a suicide partnership website — and plan to accompany one another through their shared desire to end their lives. But as teens Aysel and Roman begin to open up about the difficulties of their young lives, Aysel beings to realize if there may be a better way out than death: life.
6. Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt
Resonate with the same energy that made West Side Story a classic, Dream Things True puts another unforgettable face to the immigration debates in the United States, with the story of Evan and Alma. He’s the nephew of a Georgian senator, she’s an undocumented Mexican immigrant living in the South. Naturally, the two fall in love before Immigration and Customs Enforcement shows up, threatening to ruin Evan’s and Alma’s lives forever. This book is a sad, beautiful, and honest story about what home and belonging really mean.
7. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Violet is a dancer who couldn’t be more free. Amber is an incarcerated teen living in a juvenile detention center. And Orianna? A mysterious, otherworldly figure who connects the two young women, and seems to be the only one who has the answers to the questions that could change both girls’ lives forever. Melding the real world with the supernatural, The Walls Around Us demonstrates how true justice — or injustice — can really change lives.
8. Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Embark upon a Kerouackian journey of epic proportions with the unforgettable protagonist of Mosquitoland, Mim Malone — a teenage girl who is sent to live in the “mosquitoland” of Mississippi after her parents separate and her family falls apart. Mim isn’t in Mississippi long before she finds herself aboard a cross-country Greyhound, on her way to the mother and hometown that she loves. You’ll enjoy every minute of this bumpy, life-changing ride.