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for young adults

The young adult summer reading guide

“The Passion of Dolssa”

by Julie Berry (Viking)

From the author of “All the Truth That’s in Me” comes a stunning work of historical fiction about a mystic named Dolssa and three sisters who dare to defy the Catholic Church in an era when to do so meant certain death.

“The Lie Tree”

by Frances Hardinge (Abrams)

When Faith Sunderly’s famous father moves the family from 19th-century London to the island of Vane, she suspects that there’s more behind the abrupt departure than she’s been told. Hardinge creates a multilayered historical mystery/fantasy that is as well written as it is unputdownable.


“Whisper to Me”

by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury)

Cassie writes a message the length of a novel explaining to the boy she loves how the voice in her head, grief, guilt, and her quest for atonement led to the end of their relationship. Set in a deteriorating boardwalk town, Lake’s story is both gripping and lovely.

“Burn Baby Burn”

by Meg Medina (Candlewick)

Seventeen-year-old Nora Lopez struggles to make sense of her uncertain world during the summer of 1977 — when New York City was a tumultuous place ruled by arson, crime, and the serial killer Son of Sam. A vibrant and detail-rich work of historical fiction.

“Summer Days and Summer

Nights: Twelve Love Stories” edited by Stephanie Perkins (St. Martin’s)

Best-selling author Perkins assembles a dream team of authors (including Libba Bray, Leigh Bardugo, and Lev Grossman) to contribute to this genre-spanning, short-story collection.

“Klickitat” by Peter Rock (Abrams)

Rock’s YA debut is lyrical, mystifying, and wrenching. His story is told from the perspective of 16-year-old Vivian who runs away with her older sister and a mysterious boy to practice wilderness survival and, one day, go far away.

“The Way I Used to Be”


by Amber Smith (McElderry)

Eden’s brother’s best friend rapes her during winter break of her freshman year. Soon after, the former “band-geek nobody” embarks on a mission of self-destruction that lasts until she is forced to choose between losing or saving herself. A heart-twisting, but ultimately hopeful, exploration of how pain can lead to strength.

“All Better Now”

by Emily Wing Smith (Dutton)

In this memoir, Smith bravely explores the lasting mental, physical, and emotional impact that a large tumor at the base of her skull (which wasn’t discovered until she was 12-years-old) had on her childhood and life as a whole.

“American Girls”

by Alison Umminger (Flatiron)

Fed-up with her life in Atlanta, 15-year-old Anna runs away to live with her half-sister in Los Angeles. Through her Hollywood experiences and her research about the women who followed murderer Charles Manson, Anna comes to understand how she fits in the long chain of lost girls, past and present.

“The Steep and Thorny Way”

by Cat Winters (Abrams)

Winter’s atmospheric retelling of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” takes place in prohibition-era Oregon, where a mixed-race teenager, Hanalee Denney, is determined to uncover what really happened the night her father died.

“Highly Illogical Behavior”

by John Corey Whaley (Dial)

Solomon Reed, 16, is an agoraphobe who hasn’t left his house in years. Lisa Praytor is a former classmate who witnessed his mental breakdown and is now determined to “fix” him. Whaley, the winner of the 2012 Printz Award, examines mental illness, connection, and the inner worlds that shape us with empathy and grace.


Chelsey Philpot is the author of “Even in Paradise.” Her second young adult novel, “Be Good Be Real Be Crazy,” will be published in October.