Becoming a YA Reader: Where to Start?

Becoming a YA Reader: Where to Start? Written by Grant Goodman, 10/21/2014

Let’s face it: the YA fiction market is huge. The shelves are crowded, they’re divided into thirty different sections, and all of them have covers screaming for attention. If you’re new to the world, you might be looking for direction: what should I start with? What’s a sure-fire winner?

I’m here to help you with some recommendations.

If you want straight-up, real-world fiction:

WONDER by RJ Palacio

This is the story of August, a boy who has undergone a ton of facial surgeries in order to stay alive. He’s always been sensitive about his looks and now his parents are telling him it’s time to go to public school. The novel is about finding friendship and fitting in, a struggle that is magnified when your looks don’t match with everyone else’s. A fantastic testament to kindness, humor, and dealing with bad days.

If you’re looking for sci-fi with a male lead:

SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi

Nailer crawls through the abandoned ships that were stranded once the last of the oil was gone. He has nothing: no money, no mother, no security. His father is a reckless drunk and his friends are likely to betray him for a few bucks. When a clean-energy ship gets caught in a storm, Nailer is the first to reach it. He’s stunned by the riches he finds aboard. And when he goes to pull a diamond nose stud from a dead girl on board, he never expects her to wake up.

If you want something that is just plain wonderful:

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate

Ivan is a gorilla in a mall’s zoo. He has been taken out of the wild and put on display. What few understand, though, is that Ivan is an artist and a poet at heart. Read it and it will make your life better.