A list compiled by teacher, cousin, friend, Kelly Love
Warning: Some of these books would be rated PG-13 if they were movies; in some cases rated R. They are tough, honest, and real. They dig deep. They are written in beautiful language, mostly by men, for young adults to be. I wouldn’t hesitate to let my sons read any of these, so take that for what you may.
These are not in any order of preference; these are some of my favorites, and those that some of my guy students have secretly told me they loved. If you want further information, please email me:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Oh, Mr. Gaiman, you are amazing.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. From Death’s perspective – a personification of triumph of the will.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
This story still holds up today – replace Soc’s and Greasers with Crips and Bloods, if you like.
Slam by Nick Hornby. An honest counter-point to the movie Juno, in my opinion. What’s it really like to be a teenage father?
Schooled by Gordon Korman
Talk about a fish out of water story – poor Cap (Capricorn) Anderson must make his way through middle school after being home-schooled by a hippie grandma – yikes. My students (and I) LOVE this book!
Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman
What would you do if you were a nice kid in a bad family? A really bad family?
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
Hero Type by Barry Lyga–Kevin did a really brave thing – or did he?
Tears of a Tiger by Sharon Draper
Monster by Walter Dean Meyers
Inside Out by Terry Trueman
What happens when you are 16 years old, have schizophrenia, and can’t get the help you need?
Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen
Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Lightening Thief (#1) to the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan (series)
The classic “journey of the hero” that all people respond to – archetypes that we all recognize, and the hero struggles, as we all do – this is a fantastic series.
New Found Land by Allan Wolfe: a tale of the Lewis and Clark expedition that made me finally understand why Sacajawea was so important and how a dog thinks.
And always: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: the ultimate teen angst story.
Be More Chill by Ned Vizzini
On the darkside of fantasy:
Ironside, Tithe, or Valiant, by Holly Black: dark fairy stories, with twists – if you need to cleanse your palette after the Twilight series (it’s a guy thing)