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Best young adult books of 2013

29YA credit Miguel Porlan

"Paper Valentine" by Brenna Yovanoff (Razorbill)

Disguised as a murder mystery, "Paper Valentine" is really the tale of a depressed young woman, Hannah, who must forgive her friend Lillian for starving herself to death. (MG)

"All the Truth That's in Me" by Julie Berry (Viking)

When she was 14, Judith Finch was kidnapped. After two years, her captor cut out her tongue and let her go. She returned to her puritan community broken and still in love with her childhood friend. Berry's passionate story is riveting. (CP)

"Kingdom of Little Wounds" by Susann Cokal (Candlewick)


Set in the Scandinavian city of Skyggehavn in the late 16th century, Cokal's YA debut follows an ailing king, an insane queen, a mute nursemaid, and a host of other palace characters. Cokal is unflinching in her depictions of rape, syphilis, miscarriage, and violence, making her deeply researched novel best suited for very, very mature teen readers and adults. (CP)

"Far Far Away" by Tom McNeal (Knopf)

Jeremy Johnson Johnson can hear Jacob Grimm's ghost, a fact that makes him an outcast in his small town of Never Better. His lonely life changes after Ginger Boultinghouse befriends him. Together, they set out to figure out why children are disappearing from Never Better. This gripping novel honors fairy tales, misfits, resilience, and friendship. (CP)

"Hostage Three" by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury)

On the outside, 17-year-old Amy Fields is privileged, rebellious, and seemingly apathetic. Inside she's still reeling from her mother's suicide. After Somali pirates take over her father's yacht in the Gulf of Aden, Amy begins to see herself and her loved ones clearly for the first time since her mother's death. A novel that is as lyrical as it is suspenseful. (CP)


"Requiem'' by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins)

Let everyone else talk about Veronica Roth's "Allegiant," the last book in her dystopian series, "Divergent," which hits movie theaters next year. Oliver's "Delirium" series got less hype, but has far more to offer romantics. "Requiem" closes out Oliver's addictive trilogy about a society that forbids love. The author has said that she doesn't like happy endings; there's no tidy closure here. (MG)

"Eleanor & Park" by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin's Griffin)

The year is 1986 in Nebraska. Teenager Eleanor is "weird," poor, and overweight. Park is half Korean, likes to dress in black, and feels like he's a constant disappointment to his dad. Their love story is unlikely, but feels so very real. (CP)

"Two Boys Kissing'' by David Levithan (Knopf)

Levithan's story is about two young men who attempt the world record for longest kiss, but it's his narrators — a Greek chorus of gay men who died of AIDS — who stay with you. This one's a conversation starter for parents who like to read with their teens. (MG)

"Boxers & Saints" by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)

This set of transfixing graphic novels delivers two separate perspectives on the Boxer Rebellion. In "Saints," Vibiana sees visions of Joan of Arc and comes to believe that she, too, must be a "maiden warrior" for her Christian faith. In "Boxers," Bao calls upon the ancient Chinese gods to save his country from "foreign devils." (CP)


Meredith Goldstein can be reached at Chelsey Philpot's debut YA novel, "Even in Paradise," will be published in fall 2014. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseyPhilpot.