Teen/Young Adult


Medusa by Jessie Burton

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Medusa

Powerful feminist retelling of the famous Gorgon’s tale

Medusa by Jessie Burton gives us a compelling spin on the legend of the snake-haired girl whose gaze turns onlookers to stone. Mythology buffs will know her as a monstrous character, ultimately beheaded by one of the most famous heroes of Ancient Greek folklore. Here, however, she is a young woman with her own take on events. This gloriously illustrated book brings us Medusa’s story, a heady tale of love, betrayal, tyranny, and ultimately, the path to self-acceptance.

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Stay Another Day by June Dawson

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Stay Another Day

An essential festive sofa read

Stay Another Day by Juno Dawson is a glitter-laden delight and I’m hoping Santa pops a copy into every discerning teen reader’s Christmas stocking. Written with Dawson’s trademark brio and wit, it’s the story of three siblings, reunited for a festive family gathering. Coming home from uni, student Fern is longing for the perfect Christmas, her twin Rowan bitingly dismissive of his uncool, drab family, while younger sister, Willow, awaits them, ‘pale and tragic, some gothic attic secret.’Rowan’s fears of dullness are decidedly misplaced. Hold onto your party hats as the tinsel hits the fan.

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Be Resilient by Nicola Morgan

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Be Resilient

Learning to roll with it

Buffeted by the storms of Covid-19 and climate change, our teenagers are navigating turbulent times, and that’s aside from the fizzing hormones and usual angst-inducing challenges. For those young readers who are feeling mentally fragile as we approach the new school year, Be Resilient by Nicola Morgan provides balm for the troubled soul. With compassion and clarity, the award-winning teenage brain expert gives us five practical steps towards cultivating resilience, the happy reward being a strong mind, capable of surviving and thriving in an uncertain world.

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Loveless by Alice Oseman

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Loveless

YA Book Prize winner is a timely and Illuminating read

Don’t let the melancholic title mislead you, Loveless by Alice Oseman is a novel absolutely brimming with love in a myriad of guises, some of which you may never have considered. Awarded the YA Book Prize 2021 by judges keenly aware of the literary zeitgeist, this warm and engaging story introduces us to Georgia, a young woman coming to terms with her asexuality. A decidedly 21st century campus drama, Loveless contains the classic elements of a coming-of-age tale, while also presenting a welcome challenge to lazy heteronormative thinking.

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The Dark Lady by Akala

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The Dark Lady

Inspired adventure gloriously evokes Shakespeare’s London

‘London stank.’ The punchy opening line to The Dark Lady by Akala sets the tone for this smart and inspired YA adventure, set in the fetid and brutal streets of Elizabethan London. A novel laced with the supernatural, it gives us Henry, an orphan and pickpocket possessed of extraordinary powers, in thrall himself to the poetic magic of William Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays. An intriguing combination in a tale that will take Henry from London’s foulest gutter to its most exclusive gentlemen’s society.

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Bone Music by David Almond

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Bone Music

Sage advice for ‘the weird, passionate, troubled, loving young.’

Rewilding is the practice of taking the landscape back to a more natural ecosystem, recalibrating the environment and allowing its man-made bruises to heal. In Bone Music by David Almond, we contemplate whether the philosophy of rewilding should be applied to our very own selves. It tells the story of young urbanite, Sylvia, reluctant newcomer to a Northumbrian village of too much sky and capricious mobile connection. Initially hostile to rural life, Sylvia is about to undergo a profound transformation in this absorbing contemplation of the connections between ourselves and nature.

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How to Change Everything by Naomi Klein

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How to Change Everything

‘Don’t let the facts overpower you.’

The 15th of March 2019 was an extraordinary day in history, marking as it did, the very first global school strike for climate. Raising their collective voice, more than a million and a half school children across the world took to the streets, demanding immediate action on climate change. How to Change Everything by Naomi Klein is inspired by this new wave of bold, young campaigners. Aimed at teenagers who wish to understand the history, science and politics of climate change, while also acquiring the tools for activism, the renowned social activist and writer shares her decades of accumulated wisdom.

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Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

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Concrete Rose

Astute and impassioned prequel to The Hate U Give

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas is the third novel from this brilliant chronicler of young, urban black experience. Having previously tackled institutional racism and stereotyping, here she turns her gimlet eye on the complexities of black manhood. In this prequel to her outstanding debut novel, The Hate U Give, Thomas presents us with a morally conflicted young man named Mav. Firmly entrenched in gang life, an unexpectedly early fatherhood shocks the 17-year-old into reconsidering life’s priorities. Maybe it’s time for this self-confessed ‘drug-dealing, gangbanging, high-school flunk out’ to go straight.

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Why Your Parents Are Driving You Up the Wall and What To Do About It by Dean Burnett

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Why Your Parents are Driving You Up the Wall and What To Do About It

Defusing domestic dramas

Why Your Parents are Driving You Up the Wall and What To Do About It by Dean Burnett, a marvellous title that delivers on its promise. In a world full of books advising parents on how to deal with their troublesome teenagers, how refreshing to discover a manual for dealing with parents, ‘…literally the most annoying people in the world.’ Covering potentially volcanic issues, from school to social media, to leaving wet towels on the floor, advice is on hand from a friendly neuroscientist.

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Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

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Punching the Air

A vital and profound contender for our favourite YA read of 2020

In this year of racial unrest and protest, the world of children’s literature has responded with a welcome wave of history and fiction books concerning multiculturalism and prejudice. Several of these make it their business to shine a light on systemic racism, the very brightest being, for me, Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam. Applauded as a depiction of what it means to be young and black in America, this is the story of Amal, a thoughtful and artistic teenager, convicted of a crime he didn’t commit.

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