American Library Association - Best Books for Young Adults

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The books, recommended for those ages 12-18, meet the criteria of both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens. The list comprises a wide range of genres and styles, including contemporary realistic fiction that reflects the diversity of the teen experience, nonfiction that brings to teens an awareness of the world they live in and its history, and fantastical stories told in both narrative and graphic formats. (Young Adults Library Services Association)



2009 ALA Best Books for Young Adults


Abbott: Watersmeet

By Ellen Jensen Abbott

2009, 341 pages, $17 list

A surge in religious fervor increases the intolerance and cruelty in her settlement, so Abisina tries to find the mysterious place where her unknown father waits, called Watersmeet.


Abrahams: Reality Check

By Peter Abrahams

2009, 336 pages, $17 list

A rich girl's former small-town boyfriend comes to search for her when she goes missing from her fancy boarding school.


Alvarez: Return to Sender

By Julia Alvarez

2009, 336 pages, $17 list

Tyler learns that honesty, patriotism, and the line between right and wrong are not always black and white when his family must hire migrant workers to save their Vermont dairy farm.


Anderson: Wintergirls

By Laure Halse Anderson

2009, 288 pages, $18 list

Lia is haunted by her best friend's death from anorexia, as she struggles with the same eating disorder.


Booraem: The Unnameables

By Ellen Booraem

2008, 336 pages, $16 list

In a place where everything has a name and every name has a meaning, outsider Medford Runyuin struggles in vain to follow the rules of his adopted home.


Bray: Going Bovine

By Libba Bray

2009, 496 pages, $18 list

Cameron knew there was something wrong when he started seeing pillars of fire and angels, but he never imagined he had mad cow disease.


Brooks: Selkie Girl

By Laurie Brooks

2008, 272 pages, $16 list

Brooks’ coming-of-age story is full of secrets, teenage angst, fierce longing to belong, dramatic rescues, revenge, and true love. Her tone mimics traditional lore: appropriately dark, moody, and satisfyingly old-fashioned. Suggest this to girls who enjoyed Berlie Doherty’s Daughter of the Sea (1997), a selkie story for younger readers.


Burg: All the Broken Pieces

By Ann Burg

2009, 224 pages, $17 list

12-year-old Matt struggles to cope with his memories of family left behind in war-torn Vietnam with the help of his adoptive parents, his music teacher, and his baseball coach.


Calame: Swim the Fly

By Don Calame

2009, 352 pages, $17 list

To impress a girl, un-athletic Matt volunteers to swim in the boys' butterfly competition with the help of his two true friends as they face their true summer's goal.


Cantor: The September Sisters

By Jillian Cantor

2009, 368 pages, $17 list

13-year-old Abigail and her younger sister Becky have always fought, until the day Becky mysteriously disappears. Now Abby struggles to keep herself and her family together and find Becky’s killer.


Chaltas: Because I am Furniture

By Thalia Chaltas

2009, 368 pages, $ 17 list

Anke watches her siblings and mother suffer at the hands of her abusive father until she finds enough strength, through involvement in volleyball, to demonstrate her needs.


Clayton: Roar

By Emma Clayton

2009, 496 pages, $18 list

The government is making thousands of children strong, agile and competitive, but why? Twelve-year-old Mika plays along, hoping the training will lead him to his kidnapped twin.


Clement-Moore: Highway to Hell

By Rosemary Clement-Moore

2009, 368 pages, $17 list

Maggie and Lisa find their spring break road trip interrupted by a cow’s carcass which launches them into a hunt for an evil demon terrorizing a remote desert.


Cody: Powerless

By Matthew Cody

2009, 288 pages, $16 list

In Nobles Green there are six kids with superpowers, but the night they turn 13 the powers, and their memory of them, disappear.


Collins: Catching Fire

By Suzanne Collins

2009, 400 pages, $18 list

After winning the Hunger Games, Katniss is preoccupied with the government’s expectations for her romantic life. She soon has more important worries including revolts in the Districts and new Game rules.


Cooney: If the Witness Lied

By Caroline Cooney

2009, 224 pages, $17 list

Siblings Jack, Madison and Smithy work to protect their 2 year old brother Tris from media exploitation and their not-quite-aunt Cheryl.


Crowley: The Stolen One

By Suzanne Crowley

2009, 416 pages, $18 list

In searching for her identity, Spirit finds that she is the daughter of a former queen and realizes who she truly loves, at the court of Queen Elizabeth I.


de la Pena: We Were Here

By Matt de la Pena

2009, 368 pages, $18 list

Miguel, sentenced to a group home for a horrible crime, must overcome his self-hatred while on the run with two other criminals.


Dessen: Along for the Ride

By Sarah Dessen

2009, 383 pages, $20 list

Auden’s summer becomes one of second chances, not just for her but for her family and friends as well. The more chances she takes, the more she discovers about herself.


Echols: Going Too Far

By Jennifer Echols

2009, 256 pages, $9 list

Meg is the blue haired girl in a small town, John is the cop who picks her up one night, and the relationship that develops causes all sorts of problems.


Ellis: Everything is Fine.

By Ann Dee Ellis

2009, 160 pages, $17 list

Mazzy spends her summer making art and heating up marshmallows in the microwave, mainly because her mother won’t get out of bed and her father has left her alone.


Engle: Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba

By Margarita Engle

2009, 208 pages, $17 list

In 1939, Daniel leaves his family behind when he flees the horrors of holocaust Europe. Now a refugee in Cuba, he must find hope to make a life for himself.


Fantaskey: Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

By Beth Fantaskey

2009, 368 pages, $17 list

Jessica Packwood begins her senior year unaware that she’s destined to become the bride of an arrogant vampire prince who expects to establish his birthright and claim his prize.


Ferraro: The ABC's of Kissing Boys

By Tina Ferraro

2009, 224 pages, $9 list

Learning to kiss from her father's archenemy's son (a freshman) can lead to consequences Parker never imagined. A funny, poignant, and sweet Romeo and Juliet.


Forman: If I Stay

By Gayle Forman

2009, 208 pages, $17 list

While in a coma after her family is killed in a car accident, Mia struggles to decide whether to live or die.


Foxlee: The Anatomy of Wings

By Karen Foxlee

2009, 368 pages, $17 list

Jenny’s beautiful sister is dead and nothing makes sense anymore. The only way for Jenny to right her world is to analyze the events leading up to her sister’s death.


Garcia: Jumped

By Rita Williams-Garcia

2009, 176 pages, $17 list

When Trina unknowingly insults Dominique in the hallway, she’s in danger of being jumped after school. Leticia could warn her, but she’s reluctant to get involved.


Garsee: Say the Word

By Jeannine Garsee

2009, 368 pages, $17 list

After her estranged mother dies, Shawna Gallagher refuses to accept her dysfunctional home life and attempts to make peace with her mother’s lesbian lover.


George: Princess of the Midnight Ball

By Jessica Day George

2009, 288 pages, $17 list

When the decade long war ends, professional solider Galen finds work as a gardener in the king’s garden, only to help solve the puzzle involving twelve dancing princesses.


Gill: Soul Enchilada

By David Macinnis Gill

2009, 368 pages, $17 list

When a repo demon comes for her Cadillac, Bug Smoot finds that her deceased grandfather pledged both her soul and her car as collateral on a deal.


Goodman: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn

By Alison Goodman

2008, 544 pages, $20 list

Sixteen-year-old Eon is the unlikeliest candidate for Dragoneye, but she holds great power and a dangerous secret that just might make her the greatest Dragoneye for centuries.

Grant: Blue Flame: Book One of the Perfect Fire Trilogy

By K.M. Grant

2008, 256 pages, $17 list

In 1242 France, Parsifal, who has devoted his life to guarding the Blue Flame, helps a young couple whose families are in the bloody conflict between Catholics and Cathars.


Griffin: The Orange Houses

By Paul Griffin

2009, 147 pages, $17 list

Despite poverty, gang violence, and lack of appropriate supports, three inner-city teens come together and try to beat the odds and succeed in life.


Gingras: Pieces of Me

By Charlotte Gingras

2009, 144 pages, $18 list

Pieces of Mira: her crazy domineering mother, her mostly absent father, her artistic talent, her first friend Cath, the birdman. Will the pieces come together to free her to be herself?


Hartinger: Project Sweet Life

By Brent Hartinger

2009, 288 pages, $17 list

Three friends spend the summer scheming to raise enough money so they won't have to get summer jobs but find this may be harder than actually working.


Headley: North of Beautiful

By Justina Chen Headley

2009, 384 pages, $17 list

Terra Cooper is held back in life by her facial port-wine stain, her controlling father and herself. When she meets Jacob’s family, she and her mother begin to escape.


Herlong: The Great Wide Sea

By M.H. Herlong

2008, 288 pages, $17 list

His mother is dead and his father is missing at sea. With a horrific storm brewing, can sixteen-year-old Ben and his younger brothers survive?


Hernandez: No More Us for You

By David Hernandez

2009, 288 pages, $17 list

Carlos has a cheating girlfriend, a mystery man urinating on the floor at work, and a friend in a coma. Can Isabel still grieving her dead boyfriend help him cope?

Herrick: Cold Skin

By Steven Herrick

2009, 279 pages, $19 list

In a small Australian town, a murder brings everyone under suspicion, especially Albert Holding and his sons.


Hoban: Willow

By Julia Hoban

2009, 336 pages, $17 list

Willow uses self-mutilation to deal with losing her parents to a car crash. Soon, a person named Guy enters her life and helps her to deal with her issues.


Hoose: Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

By Phillip Hoose

2009, 144 pages, $20 list

As a teen, Claudette Colvin sparked the protest that led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and desegregation of public facilities by refusing to relinquish her seat to a white woman.


Howell: Everything Beautiful

By Simmone Howell

2008, 304 pages, $17 list

Riley is intent on escaping the Christian camp her father has sent her to before the week is out, but meeting Dylan Luck, who uses a wheelchair, challenges her own beliefs and plans.


Hrdlitschka: Sister Wife

By Shelley Hrdlitschka

2008, 176 pages, $13 list

Celeste lives in a remote polygamist society but chafes at her coming marriage. There is an option to leave everything she knows, but that is the problem.


Jinks: The Reformed Vampire Support Group

By Catherine Jinks

2009, 368 pages, $17 list

Nina Harrison, now and forever a teenage vampire, leads her dysfunctional crew of bloodsuckers on a mission to halt vampire persecution and rescue a vicious werewolf.


Jones: Need

By Carrie Jones

2008, 320 pages, $17 list

Zara moves to Bedford and discovers that not everything is what it seems in the small Maine town.


King: The Dust of 100 Dogs

By A.S. King

2009, 336 pages, $10 list

After being cursed to live the lives of 100 dogs before being reborn as a human, former pirate Emer Morrisey returns to Jamaica to reclaim treasure buried centuries before.


Levine: The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had

By Kristin Levine

2009, 272 pages, $17 list

Alabama, 12-year-old Dit’s life in rural Moundville becomes complicated and tragic by his friendship with Emma, the African American daughter of the new postman.


Libby: The King's Rose

By Alisa Libby

2009, 320 pages, $18 list

A pawn to her family's ambition, Catherine Howard tries to give Henry VIII a son.


Livingston: Wondrous Strange

By Lesley Livingston

2008, 336 pages, $17 list

Faeries, pixies, Janus guards, and struggling actresses populate this fantasy that weaves Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream with a contemporary New York City Setting.


Magoon: The Rock and the River

By Kekla Magoon

2009, 304 pages, $16 list

Chicago, Sam struggles to decide whether to support his father's nonviolent approach to civil rights or his brother, who has joined the Black Panther Party.


Marino: Magic and Misery

By Peter Marino

2009, 293 pages, $18 list

TJ and her gay best friend Pan enjoy their close friendship until Caspar asks TJ out on a date. TJ stuggles to balance her time between Pan and Caspar.


Mass: 11 Birthdays

By Wendy Mass

2009, 272 pages, $17 list

On Amanda's eleventh birthday everything goes wrong, and she is celebrating without her best friend. When she wakes up the next morning, it's her birthday again...and again...and again.


McKernan: The Devil's Paintbox

By Victoria McKernan

2009, 368 pages, $17 list

Orphaned siblings Aiden and Maddy have survived Kansas, barely, setting out on the Oregon Trail just to have regular meals. But the trip is more than they expected...


McMann: Fade

By Lisa McMann

2009, 256 pages, $16 list

Janie’s ability to see people’s dreams leads police to a predator who is assaulting girls at her high school. But this gift may jeopardize the first love she’s ever known.


Meminger: Shine, Coconut Moon

By Neesha Meminger

2009, 256 pages, $17 list

Samar (Sam) is a Sikh ostensibly Americanized, until her uncle shows up, igniting her interest in her culture and past in a post-9/11 world.


Myers: Dope Sick

By Walter Dean Myers

2009, 192 pages, $17 list

An undercover cop is shot in a drug sting. Wounded, dealer Lil J is hiding in an abandoned apartment with a stranger and a TV that replays events in Lil J’s life.

Napoli: Alligator Bayou

By Donna Jo Napoli

2009, 288 pages, $17 list

14-year-old Calogero emigrates to Louisiana in 1899, where his tiny Sicilian community faces discrimination and worse in a small town where they’re considered neither black nor white.


Naylor: Cricket Man

By Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

2008, 208 pages, $17 list

Superhero Cricket Man rescues crickets, fights bullies, saves a drowning child, helps a friend after the birth of her illegitimate baby, and delivers the baby to safety.


Northrop: Gentlemen

By Michael Northrop

2009, 256 pages, $17 list

After one of four rough cut high school guys disappears, his friends become suspicious of their teacher Mr. Haberman, who refers to them as gentlemen while teaching Crime and Punishment.


Nuzum: The Leanin' Dog

By K.A. Nuzum

2008, 256 pages, $16 list

The only witness at her mother’s death, Dessa Dean is paralyzed with fear and loneliness. She won’t leave the house. A skittish, injured stray dog is her only hope for healing.


Pike: Wings

By Aprilynne Pike

2009, 304 pages, $17 list

Laurel discovers she is a faerie when a beautiful flower blossoms out of her back, and she and her friend David seek to find out her place in the world.


Polak: What World is Left

By Monique Polak 2008, 208 pages, $13 list

When Anneke and her family are sent to Theresienstadt, the model concentration camp, she struggles to understand how her father could cooperate with the Nazis in order to improve their family's situation.


Rallison: My Fair Godmother

By Janette Rallison

2009, 320 pages, $17 list

Savannah learns to be careful what she wishes for when her fairy godmother sends her to the middle ages.


Rapp: Punkzilla

By Adam Rapp

2009, 256 pages, $17 list

Jamie has run away from his family, military school, and his troubled past. He sets out via bus to visit his dying brother, writing letters along the way.


Resau: The Indigo Notebook

By Laura Resau

2009, 336 pages, $17 list

Zeeta has lived in a different country every year with her mom Layla. Instead of enjoying their nomadic existence, she wants a boring suburban life and a normal boring dad.


Riordan: The Last Olympian

By Rick Riordan

2009, 400 pages, $18 list

The fifth installment of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series unfolds the long-awaited prophecy and Percy battles for the survival of Western civilization.


Runyon: Surface Tension: A Novel in Four Summers

By Brent Runyon

2008, 208 pages, $17 list

Every summer Luke spends two weeks vacationing at a lake, and every year things are just slightly different.


Ryan: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

By Carrie Ryan

2009, 320 pages, $17 list

Mary’s village is protected by a fence keeping out the Unconsecrated-who are undead craving human flesh-until a massive breach launches the teenage girl into a fight for survival.


Schrefer: School for Dangerous Girls

By Eliot Schrefer

2009, 256 pages, $18 list

Angela has been sent to Hidden Oak, a special boarding school for the most difficult girls. The worst ones never leave.


Sheehan: Lost and Found

By Jacqueline Sheehan

2007, 304 pages, $15 list

Essie, 16, sews all day for pennies at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory to help feed her fatherless family and now to forget her little sister's death. Then the fire happens.


Simner: Bones of Faerie

By Janni Lee Simner

2009, 256 pages, $17 list

Liza is caught in a world where magic is deadly and her powers lead her on a quest to find her missing mother.


Smith: Flygirl

By Sherri Smith

2009, 256 pages, $17 list

During WWII Ida Mae Jones must go against her family and heritage to join the Army’s WASP program and fulfill her dream of being a pilot.


Sniegoski: Legacy

By Tom Sniegoski

2009, 224 pages, $16 list

High school dropout Lucas Moore is shaken to learn he’s the son of The Raptor, a superhero sworn to protect Seraph City, who now wants Lucas to fight crime.


Springer: Somebody

By Nancy Springer

2009, 117 pages, $17 list

Fifteen-year-old Sherica has moved around the country with her father and brother. Flashbacks and the opportunity to log into the Internet, answers the unanswered questions about her family.


Stiefvater: Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception

By Maggie Stiefvater

2008, 336 pages, $10 list

Shy and ordinary Deirdre finds herself caught up in an ancient struggle in the faerie world when she meets Luke, an attractive musician with a very dark past.


Stoffels: Heartsinger

By Karlijn Stoffels

2009, 144 pages, $17 list

Mee, the singer of sorrows, and Mitou, the merrymaker, are destined to meet and change the life of a princess. Can they change one another?


Stork: Marcelo in the Real World

By Francisco Stork

2009, 320 pages, $18 list

Marcelo a teen who exhibits Asperger-like behaviors is forced to leave his job caring for horses to work in his father’s law firm and experience “the real world.”


Stroud: Heroes of the Valley

By Jonathan Stroud

2009, 496 pages, $18 list

Halli lives in the shadow of his brother and the ancient heroes of his homeland, but when his family is threatened, he is unafraid to face enemies - whether human or not.


Summers: Cracked Up to Be

By Courtney Summers

2008, 224 pages, $10 list

Once a perfectionist cheerleader, Parker Fadley now comes to school drunk and lashes out at classmates and teachers in a hateful voice that masks her inner pain..


Tan: Tales from Outer Suburbia

By Shaun Tan

2009, 98 pages, $22 list

Giant floating poetry balls, living stick figures, strange creatures from the sea and an all-knowing water buffalo are some of the wonders found in this lushly illustrated collection of stories.


Thompson: Creature of the Night

By Kate Thompson

2009, 256 pages, $18 list

Juvenile delinquent Bobby resists his mother’s plan to move to the countryside, but his anger becomes fear as he learns about local history and the creatures who rule the fields.


Valetine: Broken Soup

By Jenny Valentine

2009, 224 pages, $17 list

Since Rowan’s brother died, her mother’s been depressed, and she’s been caring for her sister alone. When a stranger insists that a photo negative belongs to her, Rowan’s life changes.


van Diepen: Raven

By Alison van Diepen

2009, 288 pages, $16 list

Escaping her dreadful family is Raven’s goal when dancing with the crew at Evermore. Raven’s attraction for mysterious Zin leads to an ancient secret and the possibility of eternal love.


Volponi: Response

By Paul Volponi

2009, 160 pages, $16 list

After being severely beaten with a baseball bat during a hate crime, seventeen-year-old Noah must determine how he will let the event change him.


Whitcomb: The Fetch

By Laura Whitcomb

2009, 384 pages, $17 list

Calder, a 350-year old Fetch that accompanies souls to heaven, breaks all his vows for a woman, wreaking havoc in the world of lost souls.


Williams: The Chosen One

By Carol Lynch Williams

2009, 224 pages, $17 list

When the Prophet commands thirteen-year-old Kyra to marry her aging uncle, her family is shaken. Desperate to escape, Kyra knows that running away puts them all at risk.


Wolff: This Full House

By Virginia Wolff

2009, 496 pages, $18 list

LaVaughn perseveres through a broken heart while discovering a new love and determining what it means to have character in the face of challenging friendships, conclusion of Make Lemonade trilogy.


Yang: The Eternal Smile

By Gene Luen Yang

2009, 176 pages, $17 list

Three tales in one graphic novel show the paper-thin margin that separates fantasy from reality for a warrior, a frog and a girl.


Zemser: Dear Julia

By Amy Bronwen Zemser

2008, 336 pages, $17 list

Sixteen-year-old Elaine Hamilton wants to be a chef like her hero, Julia Child, but her bossy and flamboyant best friend, Lucida Sans, is about to make life much more interesting.


End of ALA Best Books for Young Adults