Throwback Young Adult Books

In this post I’m going to throw it back a few years–back to my early reading days. I thought it would be fun to mention some of the books I really enjoyed reading when I was dabbling in the Young Adult genre. Here are some of my favorites…

throwback young adult


The Clique Series by Lisi Harrison
I think I remember reading this series during middle and early high school. This series centers on four popular girls–Massie, Kristen, Dylan, and Alicia–who live in Westchester, NY. They all come from wealthy backgrounds and wear only designer things. Their group is known as The Pretty Committee. In the first book, Claire–who moved from Florida to New York and is staying Massie’s guesthouse with her family–has a hard time fitting in with Massie and her group. But, as time passes and the girls get to know each other more, friendships are forged. There are 15 books in the regular series, with five books in the summer series, and one called The Cliquetionary, which explains the language and slang the girls use within the books (e.g., ah-mazing, ehmagawd, nawt). Some of the best parts of the novel are the instant messaging conversations, which will seem so outdated now…I think. There is also a movie based on the first book, and while some of the scenes are painful to watch, my sister and I can almost quote the whole movie–or at least the better (worse?) lines. Definitely check out the trailer–you might even recognize some of the actors!

Wintergirls and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Since my mom was a high school librarian, I had a plethora of young adult books at my fingertips. Laurie Halse Anderson is one young adult author that artfully discusses some of the heavier topics. From Speak to Wintergirls, Anderson creates a discussion that is accessible to younger readers. Just a warning, and to perhaps be more specific, the heavier topics I’m referring to include sexual abuse, suicide, and eating disorders. The narrator in Wintergirls suffers from anorexia and self-harm. After her best friend dies from bulimia, the narrator attempts to hold on to hope and break through the darkness of her own mental illness.

I first read speak in 6th grade and I remember watching the movie on the Lifetime channel (is that still a thing?), which stars Kristen Stewart. From the Barnes & Noble description: “”Speak up for yourself–we want to know what you have to say.” From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. In Laurie Halse Anderson’s powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself.”

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
No description needed. From waiting outside the local bookshop at midnight for each new release to dressing up like Bellatrix Lestrange during a summer study program, this series had a formative presence in my childhood, teenage, and adult life. Also, I am loving the newly released illustrated editions; Jim Kay’s art and Rowling’s writing is a match made in heaven. As I mentioned in a prior post, I am thinking about doing a reread of the series, which might be fun to document on here!

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
I remember first reading this book for my 5th grade reading group. Though I haven’t read it in quite some time, from what I can remember, this novel is kind of like Clue. From the Barnes & Noble description: “A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, on things for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!” It was a fun read and definitely piqued my interest in the mystery/thriller genre!

ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley
I think I only read the first one in this series, but I remember loving this book when I was in middle school. Ghostgirl is about one girl’s quest for popularity. The twist? She’s dead. After choking on a gummy bear and dying, Charlotte wanders through high school and her friends’ and family’s lives as a ghost, still attempting to achieve popularity. This isn’t a depressing novel by any means if you were unsure about the whole dying part. From the Barnes & Noble description: “If you thought high school was a matter of life or death, wait till you see just how true that is. In this satirical, yet heartfelt novel, Hurley explores the invisibility we all feel at some times and the lengths we’ll go to be seen.”

Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska by John Green
I’m not sure I could do a post on the young adult genre without mentioning John Green. While I am not really a fan of his work anymore, and I did not like The Fault in Our Stars, I did really enjoy Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska when I first read them in the eighth or ninth grade. To be honest, I probably liked these novels so much because I–like many other 13 year olds–was going through my “I need to get out of this town and do something amazing or whatever” phase.

From the Barnes & Noble description of Paper Towns: “When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.” I haven’t seen the movie, but it seems to have average ratings. Let me know if you’ve seen it and it’s worth watching!

The description of Looking for Alaska on Barnes & Noble states: “Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .
After. Nothing is ever the same.”


What are some of your favorite young adult books and series?


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