How long has it been since you’ve checked out the nonfiction side of the teen section in your library? Here are some standout titles—you can find them with young adult biographies.
The Bite of the Mango
Mariatu Kamara grew up in Sierra Leone, where rebel soldiers and the government were at war. At age 12, Mariatu was caught in a rebel attack. She escaped—but first, the rebels cut off her hands. Wounded and separated from her family, Mariatu had to learn a new set of survival skills. Though there are bleak moments in the book, there is also a happy ending: Mariatu now works for UNICEF, an international organization that helps young people.
Grace After Midnight
Growing up in Baltimore, “Snoop” Pearson always felt like the streets were calling to her. She grew up in foster care and was attracted to girls from a young age (her first crush was Smurfette from the Smurfs). As a teenager, Snoop was sent to prison for killing a woman in self-defense. She speaks frankly here about her struggles before prison, in prison, and afterwards.
The “hook” here is that Marni pulls her own hair. But the bigger story is about her family: Her father abandons and ignores her. Her sister is cruel to her. Her cousin suffers from drug addiction. Her mother loves her but can’t protect her from getting hurt. Marni feels like an outcast but is a likeable storyteller—and she was only 19 when she wrote the book! If you like Marni’s story, you can try the others in this series of teen memoirs, Emily and Chelsey.