There are plenty of young adult books that have crossover appeal—particularly those with adventure and romance. But there are too many adult readers who pass over the best of teen lit because of the “YA” label. Do yourself a favor—ignore the fact that you’re in the “Teen Reads” section of the bookstore, and you just may discover some insightful stories with emotional resonance and gorgeous prose.
Here are a handful of teen books from this year (and a few coming soon!) that adults need to read:
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
“Anyone who has had a broken heart and sifted through the detritus left behind will find Min’s collection extremely relatable. If that’s not you yet, just wait; Why We Broke Up is a beautiful story, but also soul food for dark times. Don’t miss it.” Read more of our review and our interview with Handler.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Mention excellent YA books this year, and this is always at the top of lists. It should be considered one of the best books of the year, period. Read our interview with Green.
In Darkness by Nick Lake
The overlapping tales of Shorty, trapped beneath the rubble of a hospital during the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake, and Toussaint L’Ouverture, the real slave who set Haitians free from the French, make this one much more than just a teen book. “Let this incredible novel initiate a call for action.” Read more of our review.
Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
The mass killing during the Khmer Rouge’s overthrow of Cambodia in 1975 is relatively forgotten in the history of genocide, but this one fits right in with several August fiction titles that delve into Cambodian history (such as In the Shadow of the Banyan). National Book Award finalist McCormick’s YA version is just as gripping. Read our review.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
“Elizabeth Wein’s astonishing new World War II novel is a reminder of the power historical fiction can have in the hands of an accomplished author. Set in Great Britain and occupied France both before and during the war, Code Name Verity is . . . likely to find a home on the shelves of teens and adults alike.” Read more of our review.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
“Debut novelist Rachel Hartman has created a unique and imaginative fantasy kingdom. Her world-building is so detailed and well-integrated, each character and place so well-drawn, one wonders if they truly exist somewhere. . . Seraphina is an engaging and innovative fantasy that uses the plights of dragons and humans as an allegory for the real prejudices we all must face.” Read more of our review.
Small Damages by Beth Kephart
A pregnant teen is sent away to a bull farm in southern Spain, where she is to live out her pregnancy and give the child to a Spanish couple. The writing in this one glows just as much as the imagery of the Spanish countryside. Watch for an interview with Kephart in our August issue.
Every Day by David Levithan (out 8/28)
You could call this one a story of teen love. But the tale of A, who wakes up every day in a different teen boy or girl’s body, and the girl A loves is so much more than that. No other book this year has so holistically captured every possible crisis a teen can face. This may be Levithan’s best yet.
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan (out 9/11)
Two-time Printz Honor winner Lanagan has created a vibrant, ferocious and romantic mythology, filled with witches, seal-women and a commanding coastal setting. The writing is so good, it would seem that these legends have always existed.
What would you add? Which 2012 teen books belong on every adult’s TBR list?