New Adult Books for Teens

As one might expect, being a high school library serving teens, most of the books we buy for the collection are written specifically for young adults. However, we also get some titles that, while written and marketed for adults, have young adult appeal as well. Our book review sources — Booklist and School Library Journal among them — do an excellent job of bringing these titles to our attention so we can decide if we should add them to our collection.

Here are some recent adult books that would be suitable for some young adults as well…


American War by Omar El Akkad — Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. “Give this fascinating, terrifying dystopian novel to mature or politically or environmentally minded teens, who will undoubtedly connect events in 2017 with those of the 2070s” (School Library Journal).

City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty — Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by–palm readings, zars, and a mysterious gift for healing–are all tricks, both the means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive. “Though Nahri is in her early 20s, young adults will recognize themselves in her. Chakraborty’s meticulous research about Middle Eastern lore is evident, but readers won’t be bogged down by excessive details” (School Library Journal).

The Clockwork Dynasty by Daniel H. Wilson — When a young anthropologist specializing in ancient technology uncovers a terrible secret concealed in the workings of a three-hundred-year-old mechanical doll, she is thrown into a hidden world that lurks just under the surface of our own. With her career and her life at stake, June Stefanov will ally with a remarkable traveler who exposes her to a reality she never imagined, as they embark on an around-the-world adventure and discover breathtaking secrets of the past. “The chapters are brief, with the rapid pace of a Dan Brown novel. There’s plenty of action here, but Wilson also raises questions about the purpose of life and what makes someone human” (School Library Journal).

She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper — A propulsive, gritty novel about a girl marked for death who must fight and steal to stay alive, learning from the most frightening man she knows–her father. Eleven-year-old Polly McClusky is shy, too old for the teddy bear she carries with her everywhere, when she is unexpectedly reunited with her father, Nate, fresh out of jail and driving a stolen car. He takes her from the front of her school into a world of robbery, violence, and the constant threat of death. And he does it to save her life. “Harper’s portrayal of the California underworld rings true, and the loving connection that develops between Polly and Nate is full of hope and promise” (School Library Journal).

Things We Have In Common by Tasha Kavanagh — Fifteen‐year‐old Yasmin Doner is a social misfit–obese, obsessive and deemed a freak by her peers at school. With her father dead and her mother in a new relationship, Yasmin yearns for a sense of belonging, finding comfort only in food and the fantasy of being close to Alice Taylor, a girl at school. Yasmin will do anything to become friends with pretty and popular Alice. “Readers will find themselves thoroughly confused and questioning what’s actually happening until they reach the last sentence” (School Library Journal).

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard — In New York City, magic controls everything. But the power of magic is fading. No one knows what is happening, except for Sydney–a new, rare magician with incredible power that has been unmatched in decades, and she may be the only person who is able to stop the darkness that is weakening the magic. But Sydney doesn’t want to help the system, she wants to destroy it. “Strong characters and a captivating revenge plot make this a fun, absorbing read for those who like their magic, and their magicians, dark and twisty” (Kirkus Reviews).


Because We Are Bad: OCD and a Girl Lost In Thought by Lily Bailey — Written with the indelible power of Girl, Interrupted, Brain on Fire, and Reasons to Stay Alive, a lyrical, poignant memoir by a young woman about her childhood battle with debilitating obsessive compulsive disorder, and her hard-won journey to recovery. “Bailey’s often emotional account of her teenage struggles with mental illness will likely resonate with YAs” (Booklist).

Frederick Douglass: America’s Prophet by D.H. Dilbeck — In this concise and original biography, Dilbeck offers a provocative interpretation of Douglass’s life through the lens of his faith. In an era when the role of religion in public life is as contentious as ever, Dilbeck provides essential new perspective on Douglass’s place in American history. “A superb account of one man’s 50-year fight for human rights and freedom in America. Recommended for those interested in the U.S. Middle Period, Civil War, African American history, and all readers” (Library Journal).

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by Melissa Fleming — Chronicles the life of Doaa Al Zamel, a Syrian girl whose life was upended in 2011 by the onset of her country’s brutal civil war. Doaa and her fiance, Bassem, decide to flee to Europe to seek safety and an education, but four days after setting sail on a smuggler’s dilapidated fishing vessel along with five hundred other refugees, their boat is struck and begins to sink. This is the moment when Doaa’s struggle for survival really begins. “This book amply demonstrates why Al Zamel has become a symbol of hope for other refugees. Fleming should be congratulated for bringing her inspiring and illuminating story to the page” (Publishers Weekly).

Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory by Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton — Deena Kastor was a star youth runner with tremendous promise, yet her career almost ended after college, when her competitive method–run as hard as possible, for fear of losing–fostered a frustration and negativity and brought her to the brink of burnout. On the verge of quitting, she took a chance and moved to the high altitudes of Alamosa, Colorado, where legendary coach Joe Vigil had started the first professional distance-running team. “By sharing the lessons she learned as a high-school and college athlete, Kastor provides a road map for teen athletes striving to develop positive outlooks” (Booklist).

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates — A collection of essays from award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coats reflecting on race, Barack Obama’s presidency and the jarring aftermath of the election of Donald Trump. Not just about presidential politics, this book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this 8-year period. “National Book Award-winning Coates is a crucial voice in the public discussion of race and equality, and readers will be eager for his take on where we stand now and why” (Booklist starred review).

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