9 Young Adult Coming of Age Novels

Alma Presses Play

Alma Presses Play By Tina Cane

A lyrical novel-in-verse that takes us through the journey of coming of age in New York during the 80s.

Alma's life is a series of halfways: She's half-Chinese, half-Jewish; her parents spend half the time fighting, and the other half silent; and she's halfway through becoming a woman. But as long as she can listen to her Walkman, hang out with her friends on the stoops of the Village, and ride her bike around the streets of New York, it feels like everything will be all right. Then comes the year when everything changes, and her life is overtaken by constant endings: friends move away, romances bloom and wither, her parents divorce and--just like that--her life as she knew it is over. In this world of confusing beginnings, middles, and endings, is Alma ready to press play on the soundtrack of her life?
 

 

Beyond the Mapped Stars

Beyond the Mapped Stars By Rosalyn Eves

A sweeping adventure, set in the late 19th century, about science, love, and finding your place in the world, perfect for fans of Ruta Sepetys and Julie Berry.

Seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Bertelsen dreams of becoming an astronomer, but she knows such dreams are as unreachable as the stars she so deeply adores. As a Mormon girl, her duty is to her family and, in a not too far away future, to the man who'll choose to marry her.

When she unexpectedly finds herself in Colorado, she's tempted by the total eclipse of the sun that's about to happen--and maybe even meeting up with the female scientists she's long admired. Elizabeth must learn to navigate this new world of possibility: with her familial duties and faith tugging at her heartstrings, a new romance on the horizon, and the study of the night sky calling to her, she can't possibly have it all...can she?

Coming Back

Coming Back By Jessi Zabarsky

A beautiful graphic novel fantasy romance that follows two young women who have to go on their own separate adventures to discover the truth about themselves and about each other.

Preet is magic.
 
Valissa is not.
 
Everyone in their village has magic in their bones, and Preet is the strongest of them all. Without any power of her own, how can Valissa ever be worthy of Preet’s love? When their home is attacked, Valissa has a chance to prove herself, but that means leaving Preet behind. On her own for the first time, Preet breaks the village’s most sacred laws and is rejected from the only home she’s ever known and sent into a new world.
 
Divided by different paths, insecurities, and distance, will Valissa and Preet be able to find their way back to each other?
 
A beautiful story of two young women who are so focused on proving they're meant to be together that they end up hurting each other in the process. This gorgeous graphic novel is an LGTBQ+ romance about young love and how it can grow into something strong no matter what obstacles get in the way.

Defiant

Defiant By Wade Hudson

As the fight for equal rights continues, Defiant takes a critical look at the strides and struggles of the past in this revelatory and moving memoir about a young Black man growing up in the South during the heart of the Civil Rights Movement. For fans of It's Trevor Noah: Born a Crime, Stamped, and Brown Girl Dreaming.

"With his compelling memoir, Hudson will inspire young readers to
emulate his ideals and accomplishments.” –Booklist, Starred Review
 
Born in 1946 in Mansfield, Louisiana, Wade Hudson came of age against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. From their home on Mary Street, his close-knit family watched as the country grappled with desegregation, as the Klan targeted the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and as systemic racism struck across the nation and in their hometown.

Amidst it all, Wade was growing up. Getting into scuffles, playing baseball, immersing himself in his church community, and starting to write. Most important, Wade learned how to find his voice and use it. From his family, his community, and his college classmates, Wade learned the importance of fighting for change by confronting the laws and customs that marginalized and demeaned people.

This powerful memoir reveals the struggles, joys, love, and ongoing resilience that it took to grow up Black in segregated America, and the lessons that carry over to our fight for a better future.

Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love

Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love By Jared Reck

The future is anything but certain in this alternately funny and heartbreaking contemporary story about food trucks, festivals, and first loves.

It's easy to look at high school senior Oscar Olsson and think: lost. He hates school, struggles to read, and wants nothing to do with college. But Oscar is anything but lost---he knows exactly what he wants and exactly how to get it. Oscar and Farfar, the Swedish grandfather who's raised him, run a food truck together selling rullekebab and munkar, and Oscar wants to finish school so he can focus on the food truck full-time.

It's easy to look at Mary Louise (Lou for short) Messinger and think: driven. AP everything, valedictorian in her sights, and Ivy league college aspirations.

When Lou hijacks Oscar's carefully crafted schedule of independent studies and blocks of time in the Culinary Lab, Oscar is roped into helping Lou complete her over-ambitious, resume-building service project-reducing food waste in Central Adams High School. While Lou stands to gain her Girl Scout Gold Award, Oscar will be faced with a mountain of uneaten school apples and countless hours with a girl he can't stand.

With the finish line in sight, a relationship he never expected, and festival season about to begin (for good), the unthinkable happens, and Oscar's future is anything but certain.

Off the Record

Off the Record By Camryn Garrett

The behind-the-scenes access of Almost Famous meets the searing revelations of metoo in this story of a teen journalist who uncovers the scandal of the decade.

Ever since seventeen-year-old Josie Wright can remember, writing has been her identity, the thing that grounds her when everything else is a garbage fire. So when she wins a contest to write a celebrity profile for Deep Focus magazine, she's equal parts excited and scared, but also ready. She's got this.

Soon Josie is jetting off on a multi-city tour, rubbing elbows with sparkly celebrities, frenetic handlers, stone-faced producers, and eccentric stylists. She even finds herself catching feelings for the subject of her profile, dazzling young newcomer Marius Canet. Josie's world is expanding so rapidly, she doesn't know whether she's flying or falling. But when a young actress lets her in on a terrible secret, the answer is clear: she's in over her head.

One woman's account leads to another and another. Josie wants to expose the man responsible, but she's reluctant to speak up, unsure if this is her story to tell. What if she lets down the women who have entrusted her with their stories? What if this ends her writing career before it even begins? There are so many reasons not to go ahead, but if Josie doesn't step up, who will?

From the author of Full Disclosure, this is a moving testament to the MeToo movement, and all the ways women stand up for each other.

"Brave, necessary, and unflinchingly real, Off the Record is an instant classic." --Marieke Nijkamp, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of This Is Where It Ends

On Top of Glass

On Top of Glass By Karina Manta

An insightful memoir from a figure skating champion about her life as a bisexual professional athlete, perfect for readers of Fierce by Aly Raisman and Forward by Abby Wambach.

Karina Manta has had a busy few years: Not only did she capture the hearts of many with her fan-favorite performance at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, she also became the first female figure skater on Team USA to come out as queer. Her Modern Love essay "I Can't Hate My Body if I Love Hers" was published in the New York Times, and then she joined the circus--Cirque du Soleil's on-ice show, AXEL.

Karina's memoir covers these experiences and much more. Attending a high school with 4,000 students, you'd expect to know more than two openly gay students, but Karina didn't meet an out-lesbian until she was nearly seventeen--let alone any other kind of queer woman. But this isn't just a story about her queerness. It's also a story about her struggle with body image in a sport that prizes delicate femininity. It's a story about panic attacks, and first crushes, and all the crushes that followed, and it's a story about growing up, feeling different than everybody around her and then realizing that everyone else felt different too.

Smoke

Smoke By Darcy Woods

What lines would you cross to save someone you love? Filled with the kinds of impossible choices that made the TV show Weeds such a hit, this compelling drama asks to what lengths an avid rule-follower will go in order to save her family--and the answer involves "growing" in surprising directions.

Sixteen-year-old Honor Augustine never set out to become a felon. As an academic all-star, avid recycler, and dedicated daughter to her PTSD-afflicted father, she's always been the literal embodiment of her name. Coloring inside the lines is what keeps Honor's chaotic existence orderly.
 
But when she discovers her father's VA benefits drying up, coupled with a terrifying bank letter threatening the family's greenhouse business--Honor vows to find a solution. She just doesn't expect to spot it on the dry erase board of English lit--"Nature's first green is gold."

The quote by Frost becomes the seed of an idea. An idea that--with patience and care--could germinate into a means of survival. Maybe marijuana could be more than the medicinal plant that helps quiet her father's demons. Maybe, it could save them all.

The Year I Stopped Trying

The Year I Stopped Trying By Katie Heaney

Booksmart meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower in this novel of overachieving, existential crises, growing up, and coming out, from the author of Girl Crushed and Never Have I Ever.

Mary is having an existential crisis. She's a good student, she never gets in trouble, and she is searching for the meaning of life. She always thought she'd find it in a perfect score on the SATs. But by junior year, Mary isn't so sure anymore.

The first time, it's an accident. She forgets to do a history assignment. She even crosses "history essay" off in her pristine planner. And then: Nothing happens. She doesn't burst into flames, the world doesn't end, the teacher doesn't even pull her aside after class.

So she asks herself: Why am I trying so hard? What if I stop?

With her signature wit and heaps of dark humor, Katie Heaney delivers a stunning YA novel the sprints full-force into the big questions our teen years beg--and adeptly unravels their web.

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