5 Young Adult Novels About Female Friendship | Teen Read Week

With shows like Girls and Parks & Rec, positive female friendships are once again at the forefront of our discussions about media. An unfortunately large amount of media shows female friendships as catty, manipulative, or frenemies. Think Regina in Mean Girls or Alison on Pretty Little Liars. So instead, let’s share those books that feature positive female friendships, the kinds of relationships that benefit both parties.

Teen Read Week 2014


Violet & Claire – Francesca Lia Block

You might be noticing a theme here. What’s a TRW post from me without Francesca Lia Block? Published in 1999, Violet & Claire is one of Block’s underrated works. It follows Violet, a high school film nerd and aspiring director, who sees the world as if it’s a movie, and Claire, who lives in an optimistic sunshine world. When Claire becomes the new girl at Violet’s school, they become friends, and that friendship saves them both. Unlike many girl friendship novels, this friendship is never competitive or catty, it just is.

Hex Hall – Rachel Hawkins

While the friendship between Sophie and Jenna isn’t the focus of this book like it is in Violet & Claire, it’s definitely critical. Sophie would not be the same character without her friendship with Jenna, and she continually chooses Jenna, which is great. The novel is sassy, and well-written, and the narrator Sophie is super relatable. Magical boarding school for delinquent Prodigium (paranormal creatures), in Georgia, and it focuses on a teenage girl and her best friend. What more do I need to tell you? (It’s the first of a trilogy, if that sweetens the pot for you, and they’re all excellent).

The Blue Girl – Charles de Lint

This book. This BOOK. THIS BOOK. Often I can’t remember when I read a book, but this one I know was in seventh grade, and I absolutely loved it. Imogene is a teenage punk who joins de Lint’s Newford universe, befriends the school’s goody two shoes Maxine, discovers ghosts and faeries in the gymnasium and the library, meets (again) her childhood imaginary friend Pelly, and basically saves the entire world.

Young Adult Novels: Female Friendships

Saving Francesca – Melina Marchetta

At the outset, the group of girlfriends who are thick as thieves by the end aren’t really friends. They just know each other. But this book actually shows the organic growth of friendships, and it shows how important friends are in the face of adversity. Francesca’s mother is struck, very suddenly, with depression so intense she barely gets out of bed anymore. Francesca, in trying to keep her family afloat, is drowning. But her friends come along and help keep her up. The book isn’t devoted to the female friendships the way that Violet & Claire is, but Francesca’s friendship with Siobhan, Justine, and Tara sustains her even when she thinks nothing will. Every character in this novel feels so real that you just want to hug them.

A Great & Terrible Beauty – Libba Bray

I think every girl my age has read A Great & Terrible Beauty. But in case you haven’t, let me explain. Gemma Doyle is a British teen in the Victorian era living in India, until her mother dies and she has to attend boarding school back in Britain. I have very sharp memories of reading the descriptions of the loss of her mother and absolutely bawling my eyes out. Even though she has trouble fitting in at first, Gemma finds three good friends, and their relationship fills the void left behind by the loss of her mother. The trilogy (A Great & Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing) follows Gemma and her friends through a magical version of Victorian England. There’s a reason it captivated so many girls in my age group.

In celebration of Teen Read Week, I have been posting every day about young adult books. Young Adult lit is a vastly underrated genre by a lot of adults, but for many of us it’s still a great place to find your next read.

Today’s YA Recommendation: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. (Check out my video about it here!)


5 Young Adult Science Fiction Novels That Will Blow You Away| Teen Read Week

I’ve always been a big fan of science fiction.  Realistic fiction is just so much less fun than something that literally transports you to an alternate world.

Teen Read Week 2014

The Giver – Lois Lowry

I’m pretty sure everyone’s read at least one book in this series, but in my opinion the first is the best.  In a dystopian world, emotions are removed by daily injections, families are created entirely by adoption, and every child is given an assignment in the community at age 12.  Jonas, the main character, is assigned to become the new Receiver of Memories, and he becomes the only one to know about the emotional truths his society has suppressed.  Now that he knows the truth, can Jonas continue living in this world of “sameness” and suppression?


Across The Universe – Beth Revis

I received this book, and its sequel A Million Suns, as a prize from a giveaway.  When I got them, I read both in less than 24 hours.  They’re so engrossing, so incredible, and they read so fast.  Neither one is particularly short, but you’ll never want to put them down.  There is a third book in the trilogy, Shades of Earth, but I haven’t read it yet.  Amy, a 16-year-old girl, enters cryogenic stasis on Earth to be woken up 300 years later on a new planet.  Skip ahead 250 years, and she’s been woken up early.  Why?  By whom?  And what’s going on with the ship?  Across The Universe reminds me of Doctor Who, Star Trek, and Buffy, through the characters, their world, and their reactions to their world.

YA Science Fiction

Feed – M.T. Anderson

This is one of those books that makes me want to hide under a rock.  In a futuristic world, 73% of people have the internet fed directly into their brains.  The plot opens on the moon, when a group of kids are on Spring Break, and someone hacks their feeds.  When they return to Earth, they discover that one friend’s feed is so severely damaged that it’s threatening her life.  Throughout the novel, the characters are confronted with the world they live in, and how they should relate to it.  Do they continue their lives, knowing how strongly they are controlled by the feeds, or do they begin a revolution?


Bumped – Megan McCafferty

I accidentally started with the sequel, Thumped, but it was pretty easy to follow.  The first book is just as good.  In the world of this book, everyone over 18 is infertile.  This is actually a surprisingly popular topic, but Bumped handles it really well.  In the novel identical twins Melody and Harmony have just found each other, after having been separated at birth.  One twin was raised on a religious commune, one in a rich home in the secular world.  When the religious twin comes to see her sister, and falls for the uber-popular Jondoe, they come into conflict.  The novel really examines the cultural consequences of glorification of teenage pregnancy, and the ramifications of religion and early pregnancy.


House of the Scorpion – Nancy Farmer

This is the book that introduced me to cloning, so of course I’m generally against it.  It’s a semi-dystopian, futuristic sci fi novel.  Matteo, the main character, is a clone of El Patron, the leader of a country called Opium, named after its only export, that lies between the United States and Mexico.  El Patron is also, of course, a drug lord, given that his country’s only export is opium.  In this world of cloning and high technology, it’s very easy to control people, and to live essentially forever.  The opium is farmed by humans who’ve had computer chips placed in their brains which stifle all independent thought, and El Patron has lived 140 years.  How?  Oh, by taking organs from his clones.  Matteo knows he’s next, and this time, it will be a heart.  What’s a boy to do?  Stay and be harvested, or escape and have a chance at life?  This novel is one of those that really makes you think.  I read this at least ten years ago, and I still think about it all the time.  It’s particularly interesting for fans of Orphan Black.


In celebration of Teen Read Week, I’ll be posting about books all week long!  Young Adult lit is a vastly underrated genre by a lot of adults, but for many of us it’s still a great place to find your next read.

5 Types of Books You Read In High School/YA Mysteries/Ethereal YA/YA Series/Audiobooks/YA SciFi/YA Female Friendships

Today’s YA Recommendation is How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff.


Audiobooks Are For Everyone | Teen Read Week

For some reason, there’s a lot of resistance to change within the book community, but I am all for it.  I’ll read a physical book, or I’ll read an ebook, or I’ll listen to an audiobook.  I started listening to them when my family would make cross-country trips to visit my grandparents, and we’d drive the whole way.  We’d pick up a couple of mysteries, listen to them in the car, and drive for 20-30 hours straight.

Teen Read Week 2014

Last year, we joined Audible, and it’s totally transformed my days.  Audible is not, by the way, the only way to get audiobooks.  They’re available from multiple sellers in electronic formats, including iTunes, but they’re also available on discs that you can put into your computer and import to an mp3 player.  I rent them from the library sometimes too, and you can always check interlibrary loan.


Listening to an audiobook makes my early morning walks with my dog more interesting.  Rather than music, I’m currently listening to Dracula.  In April, when I had to clean up sand that I’d used to protect our basement from flooding, I listened to The Great Gatsby.  (see my Gatsby video, here)  I listen to audiobooks while I’m doing dishes, while I’m driving, while I’m doing yardwork or walking the dog, and while I’m knitting on the couch at night with nothing to watch on tv.

 Audiobooks | Teen Read Week 2014

Transform your time and bump up your reading list.

Audiobooks transform your busywork time, exercise time, or driving time into reading time.  If you’re like me, and you worry about not reading enough outside of school books, listening to your books can really up your book count.  It doesn’t eat away into your school time, it doesn’t keep you from doing what you need to do, but it still makes headway on your TBR pile.


Understand the difficult works.

For older books with weird, old diction, sometimes listening to it makes it easier to understand.  That’s why English teachers will have students read aloud in class.  It’s been proven again and again that reading things aloud, or listening to them, increases comprehension.


Appreciate the care in composition.

Even older books, things that were originally oral tales, like The Odyssey or Beowulf, were meant to be spoken aloud, and listening to them you pick up the puns, the slant-rhymes, the rhythm of the original composition.  Not only does it make more sense this way (as does Shakespeare when read in Original Pronunciation), but you can appreciate the care the author (or authors) put into making these work, or that the translator put into maintaining these puns.


Audiobooks are for everyone.  They’re especially helpful for those with a difficulty reading – including a friend of mine from high school with dyslexia who listened to all of her assigned books, and always did well in our AP English classes – but they’re not just for people with difficulties.  There are a lot of great reasons to listen to audiobooks, and these are just a few.

5 Young Adult Series To Sink Your Teeth Into | Teen Read Week

There’s been a recent trend of trilogies instead of longer series, so today I’m highlighting a few YA series that are at least 6 books long.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with trilogies, but sometimes you just need to sink your teeth into a series).

Teen Read Week 2014

The Mediator – Meg Cabot

I know, I already talked about one Meg Cabot series this week, but her books are really worth reading.  The Mediator follows teenage mediator Suze, who can interact with ghosts.  In the first book she moves across the country to California, and thinks her time as a mediator is over, but that’s not so.  One hot ghost, one vengeful ghost, one mediator priest, and one falling statue later, it’s clear Suze’s ability (and her duty as a mediator) isn’t going away any time soon.  My friends and I read every one of these books in middle school, and even used to play pretend that we were the characters.  Meg Cabot recently announced a final sequel set to come out next year called Remembrance as an epilogue of sorts.  It will detail Suze’s adult life, after the end of the series.


Pretty Little Liars – Sara Shepard

Confession: I’ve only read the first of the novels.  But there are 15 of them so far, and I think there will be more.  The series follows friends Aria, Spencer, Emily, and Hannah after the body of their missing best friend Alison is found, but is Alison really dead?  Someone is taunting the girls, signing those taunts as “A”, is A for Alison?  My best friend has read all the books, and there are also two sort of spin-off novels in addition to the main five.  They read very quickly, but the one I read was also really entertaining.  (I’m also a huge fan of the show and once won an ABC Family contest so I have about a million posters and postcards for it).

YA Series

Maximum Ride – James Patterson

One day I will read the rest of this series, but so far I’ve only read the first four.  During high school Maximum Ride was my favorite book series, and for good reason.  It details the escapes and escapades of The Flock a group of teens and kids who were subjects of genetic engineering, and because of it have wings like enormous birds.  They were stolen from the lab by their “Dad” who raised them after he broke them out, but now he’s gone.  Max, the leader, is a 14-year-old girl in the beginning of the series, and she faces their problems head on.  Now there are 9 books in the series, and you should definitely pick them up the next chance you get.


The Mortal Instruments – Cassandra Clare

This is another series I haven’t finished yet, but I love it.  When the first book came out, I devoured it in about three days.  Casssandra Clare is an amazing author, and her books pull you right in.  The first is City of Bones, and the last is City of Heavenly Fire.  The series follows Clary Fray, a normal girl from Brooklyn, who discovers the world of Shadowhunters while out with her best friend Simon.  Shadowhuters are the descendants of angels and they hunt demons.


Sweep – Cate Tiernan

These were super popular with my friends in middle school, and they’re so much fun.  There are 14 books in the regular series, and an epilogue style book that takes place years later.  Sweep follows Morgan, a teenager who discovers that she is a witch, and is thrust into a world of magic, intrigue, and betrayal.  The books are pretty short, and while they’re easy reads, they’re also fun reads.


In celebration of Teen Read Week, I’ll be posting about books all week long!  Young Adult lit is a vastly underrated genre by a lot of adults, but for many of us it’s still a great place to find your next read.


Today’s YA Recommendation is 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson.

7 Ethereal Young Adult Novels | Teen Read Week

Sometimes, you just need to escape into a book with an ethereal otherworldly feeling, without necessarily actually entering an alternate world.  I get that.  Here are 8 books for those moments.

Teen Read Week 2014

The Dreaming Place – Charles de Lint

I love Charles de Lint.  Kind of a lot.  In seventh grade, when everything felt like it was on a rapidly descending roller coaster of pain, I discovered his novels, and I escaped into them.  The Dreaming Place was the earliest published Newford story.  There are twins, cousins, magic, incredible rage, and an otherworldly being.  It’s not very long, but it’s beautifully crafted.  I remember reading this book on the subway and feeling like I was in an entirely different world, like I had traveled for hours that day, and couldn’t shake myself back into the real world..  It really sucks you in and doesn’t want to let you go.


Weetzie Bat & The Hanged Man – Francesca Lia Block

Everything I’ve read by Francesca Lia Block has had the same ethereal, otherworldly, magical feeling.  I started reading her books in sixth grade, and in middle school I wore her work like armor against the world.  The Hanged Man is probably my favorite, even edging out the Weetzie Bat books.  But we’ll talk about them in a second.  The Hanged Man tells the story of Laurel, reeling from the death of her father, trying to be perfect, and wrestling with some incredible internal pains.  The Hanged Man deals with heavy material, but keeps the world feeling like light gossamer wings, summer nights, and fairy dust.

Weetzie Bat is both a book and a series.  The original Weetzie Bat book, published in 1989, introduces the titular Weetzie.  When the story starts she’s about 16, but she grows during the book and the series.  If you’re lucky you’ll find Dangerous Angels, the collection of the first five books together, and you can read them straight through.  Everything about this series is unreal, including Weetzie Bat’s name.  The series takes her from high school girl to mother, and it touches on everything you could want it to.  None of the books are terribly long, but they all reach inside adolescent girls’ heads, and toss out life lessons with glitter and feathers.


Bones of Faerie – Janni Lee Simmer

This is a weird one, I’ll warn you now, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from reading it.  Set after a cataclysmic war between humans and faeries, this book delves into families, isolation, post-war politics, and secrets.  It’s weird and wonderful, and it feels like a different world.  It mixes fantasy and post-apocalyptic dystopia.

Ethereal YA Novels

Sea Change – Aimee Friedman

This book is incredible.  Now that that’s out of the way, I can talk about it properly.  It chronicles the time that Miranda Merchant spends clearing out her grandmother’s house with her mother, on tiny Selkie Island where her mother grew up.  She meets this boy, Leo, who has a secret, and there’s a secret in her family history, and there is magic.  It’s definitely magical realism, but the magic is so strong.  This book will leave you wanting more, but unfortunately it’s a standalone.


Wondrous Strange – Leslie Livingston

Wondrous Strange is a fabulous book about faeries, theater, and living in New York City.  Leslie Livingston weaves myth and lore into this novel perfectly.  It’s definitely modern, and it’s less ethereal than many of the books on this list, but it still fits the bill.  Everything about this novel is magical.  Kelley is trying to make it as an actress when she meets this changeling boy who works as a faerie guard, and she’s introduced to this incredible world.  There’s even a scene at Tavern on the Green with the two worlds coexisting.  (As a kid I wanted my wedding there, but it’s no longer possible).  It’s essentially the opposite of Melissa Marr’s faerie books, but in so many ways it reminds me of them.  There are two more books in the series, so when you finish the first, grab the second!


Coraline – Neil Gaiman

You’re probably familiar with the movie version, which is great, but the book is even better.  The whole world of Coraline is like stepping into a fairytale.  It blends magic, mystery, and beauty.  There’s a magic cat, a pair of old spinsters who used to be circus performers, a flea circus, and a boy named Wyborne, plus ghosts, alternate worlds, and rainy countryside.  How can you not want to read it?


In celebration of Teen Read Week, I’ll be posting about books all week long!  Young Adult lit is a vastly underrated genre by a lot of adults, but for many of us it’s still a great place to find your next read.


Today’s YA Recommendation is Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.


Young Adult Mysteries | Teen Read Week

Young Adult Mystery is a huge genre.  Everything from R.L. Stine’s The Babysitter series, to Joan Lowery Nixon, to Caroline B. Cooney, and more fits under the umbrella.  But, in my opinion, there are a few authors who really nail it.

Teen Read Week 2014

Caroline B. Cooney was probably the first YA mystery author I read.  My high school library had almost all of her books, and every week freshman year I would pick a new mystery, since most of them are short enough to read in a week after homework.  She wrote The Face On The Milk Carton and the rest of that series, so she’s probably very familiar to you.


Lois Duncan is another author I would check out from my high school library almost every week.  Her novels were short, but full of suspense.  She’s a master at scaring you out of your mind, and just writing this and remembering the books of hers I’ve read is raising the hairs on the back of my neck.  You probably know the movie I Know What You Did Last Summer (or maybe not, am I dating myself here?) but did you know the movie is loosely based on her novel of the same name?  Her most terrifying is widely considered to be Killing Mr. Griffin, about high school students who plan to kidnap and kill their teacher.


Joan Lowery Nixon completes the trifecta of female young adult mystery authors who probably sold their souls in order to make such excellent mysteries.  I recently rediscovered my collection of Nixon books in storage boxes while searching for a different book.  My favorite?  Definitely Murdered, My Sweet, which lightly riffs on Murder She Wrote in its premise.

 Young Adult Mysteries

Meg Cabot is so well known for The Princess Diaries, that a lot of people don’t know she’s written a mystery series.  The series is called 1-800-WHERE-R-U, and it’s about a teenager, Jess Mastriani, who gets struck by lightning and develops a psychic ability: she sees missing children.  Jess starts calling in tips about the kids, and of course it gets complicated.  These books are short but wonderful, and Jess is exactly as spunky as you’d expect from a teenager with psychic abilities.  I absolutely devoured these books in high school, even walking into a column once because I was so engrossed.


Now I have two standalone young adult mystery novels for you.


What I Saw And How I Lied – Judy Blundell

I stumbled across this book in the library back in Brooklyn one summer.  It’s set in a post-WWII world, with all the glamour you’d expect.  The main character, Evie, is about 15 when her family spends a summer in Florida, and she meets charming former GI Peter, who happened to have served with her father.  But not all is what it seems, and when tragedy strikes, Evie is catapulted into the adult world.  What I Saw And How I Lied won the National Book Award, and I can see why.


Silent to the Bone – E.L. Konigsburg

Silent to the Bone is an upper middle grades/young adult mystery novel about 13-year-old Branwell who is accused of assaulting his infant sister.  His best friend Connor takes up the case and finds a way to communicate with Bran, even as Bran is silent.  It’s surprisingly complex, and will really keep you guessing as to whether Bran did it, and who else could be suspects.  E.L. Konigsburg is a great writer who’s written dozens of books that have shaped countless childhoods, including my own.


In celebration of Teen Read Week, I’ll be posting about books all week long!  Young Adult lit is a vastly underrated genre by a lot of adults, but for many of us it’s still a great place to find your next read.


Today’s YA Recommendation is Peeps by Scott Westerfeld.

5 Types Of Books You Read In High School | Teen Read Week

It’s Teen Read Week!  Every year in October one week is devoted to books for teens, library strategies for teens, and all things teensXbooks.  In celebration I will be posting about books every day this week.  Check back each day for new posts!

Teen Read Week 2014

The Guilty Pleasure Read

For me, this was Twilight.  I know.  At this age, I’m pretty ashamed of it.  But at 15, I loved it.  On the subject of guilty pleasures, never feel guilty for something you love.  If you’re not hurting anyone with it, go ahead and read it.


The Assigned Classic (That You End Up Loving)

I had a lot of these, but especially The Great Gatsby and A Tale of Two Cities.  You start reading it in class because you’re required to, and next thing you know, you’re up all night bonding with Sidney Carton and crying over his loneliness.  This first classic is like a gateway drug into classic literature.  Follow it straight to the bookstore.


The Favorite Author’s (Not So Great) Newest Book

I love Scott Westerfeld’s writing, and I actually loved it even more in high school.  I met him once at a Barnes & Noble back in Brooklyn and nearly died of excitement.  But when Extras came out, I was not enthused.  The rest of the Uglies series was excellent and I loved them, but Extras just didn’t stand up to them.  We’ve all got that book.  Whatever it is for you, don’t let it stop you from reading more of your favorite author’s books in the future.

5 Types of Books You Read In High School

The Latest YA Trendy Book

If you can’t find it on a shelf in your local bookstore, your library is bound to have a Young Adult section.  You probably even have a youth librarian.  (I used to dream of being a youth librarian, and part of me still does!)  Reading the trendy book doesn’t mean being mindless; things are popular for a reason, and you should always find out why.


The Bildungsroman (Coming Of Age Story) That Changes You

Really, learning the term Bildungsroman was the best part of my Creative Writing class in college.  Now, I sound totally fancy.  A bildungsroman is a coming of age story, and though the main characters are frequently teens (like Holden in The Catcher In The Rye) they’re not always teens.  The bildungsroman that changed me and my view on the world was The Perks of Being A Wallflower and it’s now one of my favorite books.  If you’re having a bit of an existential crisis, get yourself to the youth library desk stat!


In celebration of Teen Read Week, I’ll be posting about books all week long!  Young Adult lit is a vastly underrated genre by a lot of adults, but for many of us it’s still a great place to find your next read.  (For more of these Teen Read Week posts, check my TRW category).


Today’s YA Recommendation: The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab.  (Check out V’s blog too!)