Ten YA Books That Will Make You Laugh, Cry and Everything In Between by Naomi Bates
Books can be a powerful emotional vehicle. Anger, passion, joy, deep dislike, humor, pain…those are just some emotions young adult books and authors can pull from you. One minute you’re fine, the next you’re bawling in front of an audience (only if you read in public, that is). As a book lover and reader, I try SO hard to not let books affect me, but no matter what, the tears, laughter, or frowns come out. I’ve been asked so many times, “Are you okay?” because even if I put the book down, I’m still thinking about it and those emotions are still being ripped out of me. I’ve always contended that a young adult author who can write a book that impacts the reader emotionally is an author who has gone beyond writing for someone who enjoys reading and loving a book…we’re on a different level now. So here’s my top 10 list of books that bring out the best, worst and everything in between in me.
One by Sarah Crossan (2015, Greenwillow Books).
This is one of those books where I was so happy for the main characters (Grace and Tippi) for going through such a difficult life and finally finding happiness and friendship. But ultimately, this made me cry because of the difficult decision they have to make. The relationship between twins is very tight, and when one thing threatens that relationship, you know it’s going to be rough journey.
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt (2015, Clarion Books).
Stitch together the story of foster families and adoption, and you know there’s a nerve that’s going to be hit. The main character (Joesph) goes through so much in his short years on earth, from the most redemptive to the most difficult. You’ll be pushed to joy only to be brought down to your knees. Life isn’t always fair…
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (2015, HarperCollins)
Pit good against evil, and you’ll have a timeless classic. But if this evil is a bumbling idiot who can’t make anything work, then you’ve added a humorous twist. But the author didn’t stop there. She took a girl, who once she’s wound up can’t be stopped, and your belly will HURT from laughter! But be warned- it’s not all fun and games, as the author writes a deeper story than what’s on the surface.
Dime by E.R. Frank (2015, Atheneum)
Wow…just wow…I read this book and actually had to lay it down SO many times just to let me digest what’s going on. This book is definitely a roller coaster ride of emotions from pity and astonishment, deep dislike, to disgust. And that’s just the beginning of it.
Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by April Tulcholke (2015, Dial Books)
I can read it, but I just can’t watch it. That would be horror in its truest sense, which is what you’ll get with these stellar short stories. If I could hide my eyes and still read to see what happens next, I would have. Creepy retellings of classics with a capital CREEPY.
Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose (Sourcebooks Fire, 2014)
There are certain non-fiction titles that will just make your heart burst with pride or break apart with sorrow, and this book will do the latter. The main character (Mary Rose) takes you on her personal journey, which is ultimately sad, but what breaks your heart will be her self-portraits throughout her entries. Her wide eyed drawings especially…
The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks (2013, Penguin)
You know this is going to be one of those books when you begin to understand the premise of what is happening to the six people trapped in a bunker. And with understanding comes a true dislike for some of the characters, which is really ingenious because it is the ultimate diversion from the truly evil main character you’ll never meet. This is definitely a love/hate read for my teen readers.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton (2014, Candlewick Press)
First of all, this is a beautifully written story you’ll appreciate after you read it. The trials of the women in this family is poetically tragic. But the one main character (Ava) will take your hand and lead you through her life of acceptance, family, and tragedy. Tears of joy, tears of sadness, tears of redemption…
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (2014, Delacorte Press)
This is one book that will knock you for a loop for sure. The author allows the reader to really get to know this group of teens but never lets said reader in on the secret. When you finally discover the premise of the whole book, you’ll be gulping back your emotions of surprise and pain.
Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible by Stan Lee (2015, Touchstone)
Biographies can be dry, but not this one! Written as a graphic novel (of course), Stan Lee writes his own memoir as only Stan Lee can. You’ll definitely be amazed at the sheer luck and fortitude of this guy. More than that, you’ll be smiling throughout most of the book because you can’t help but read it with a loud, incredibly fantastic, amazing voice of the unnamed narrator every book reader has in their head! (Mine is the guy from Mutual of Omaha, back in the day J )
Naomi Bates is a teacher librarian at Northwest High School in Justin Texas. She has presented throughout the country for all types of librarians on technology for libraries, YA book trends, and advocates about the importance of school libraries. If you can’t find her online, she’ll be behind the cover of a good book! Follow her on Twitter @yabooksandmore or her YABAM blog (aka YA Books And More) at www.naomibates.blogspot.com