Thematic Reading List- 15 Character Driven YA Novels
While YA novels can be a mesh of character and plot, it seems that the character is the true star of the story and the reason readers keep reading until the end. Will the high school football player ever be understood? Who is a person really responsible for? What if something monumental happens that changes a character’s future plans? This week’s list includes an array of characters, from a multitude of backgrounds, with one thing in common- growth. In addition to appealing to teens, each title may be enjoyed by adult readers also.
By: David Levithan
Every morning A wakes in a different person’s body, in a different person’s life, learning over the years to never get too attached, until he wakes up in the body of Justin and falls in love with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon.
|Love and Other Foreign Words
By: Erin McCahan
Brilliant fifteen-year-old Josie has a knack for languages, but her sister’s engagement has Josie grappling with the nature of true love, her feelings for her best friend Stu, and how anyone can be truly herself, or truly in love, in a social language that is not her own.
|The Boy in the Black Suit
By: Jason Reynolds
Soon after his mother’s death, Matt takes a job at a funeral home in his tough Brooklyn neighborhood and, while attending and assisting with funerals, begins to accept her death and his responsibilities as a man.
By: Angela Johnson
Fourteen-year-old Marley’s seemingly perfect life in the small town of Heaven is disrupted when she discovers that her father and mother are not her real parents.
|Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe
By: Benjamin Alire Saenz
Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before.
By: Laurie Halse Anderson
A traumatic event near the end of the summer has a devastating effect on Melinda’s freshman year in high school.
|I’ll Give You the Sun
By: Jandy Nelson
Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking.
|The Fault in Our Stars
By: John Green
Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with Augustus Waters at a cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss, and life.
|The Sun is Also a Star
By: Nicola Yoon
Two teens–Daniel, the son of Korean shopkeepers, and Natasha, whose family is here illegally from Jamaica–cross paths in New York City on an eventful day in their lives–Daniel is on his way to an interview with a Yale alum, Natasha is meeting with a lawyer to try and prevent her family’s deportation to Jamaica–and fall in love.
|Stuck in Neutral
By: Terry Trueman
Fourteen-year-old Shawn McDaniel, who suffers from severe cerebral palsy and cannot function, relates his perceptions of his life, his family, and his condition, especially as he believes his father is planning to kill him.
By: Patricia McCormick
Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family’s crops, Lakshmi’s stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family.
|One whole and perfect day
By: Judith Clarke
As her irritating family prepares to celebrate her grandfather’s eightieth birthday, sixteen-year-old Lily yearns for just one whole perfect day together.
|Eleanor and Park
By: Rainbow Rowell
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits–smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
|Everybody Sees the Ants
By: A.S. King
Overburdened by his parents’ bickering and a bully’s attacks, fifteen-year-old Lucky Linderman begins dreaming of being with his grandfather, who went missing during the Vietnam War, but during a visit to Arizona, his aunt and uncle and their beautiful neighbor, Ginny, help him find a new perspective.
|I am the messenger
By: Markus Zusak
After capturing a bank robber, nineteen-year-old cab driver Ed Kennedy begins receiving mysterious messages that direct him to addresses where people need help, and he begins getting over his lifelong feeling of worthlessness.