Browsing the shelves for a good book to read can be intimidating. There’s thousands of new books published every year and how do you know if a book is good anyway? It’s cover? Haha! Every year the Young Adult Library Association (YALSA) publishes lists of books that have been certified by librarians and readers as excellent reads. One of those annual lists is the Alex Awards. The Alex Awards are given to books that have been written for adults but have special appeal for teen readers. So if you are looking for great books that tackle complex subjects you’ve come to the right book list.
Caring is Creepy by David Zimmerman
Bored and lonely, 15 year old Lynn finds companionship by flirting online with strange men. It is there that she meets Logan a young, troubled AWOL soldier. After they meet in person she takes him home and keeps him prisoner in her closet.
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
When her Uncle Finn, a famous artist dies of AIDs, 14 year old June’s world turns upside down. Shy and introverted, June never felt like she fit in but with Finn she could be completely herself. With his death, new people and new experiences come into her life that make her question everything she knew about her uncle and herself.
Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman
Rory has been told that she is a “third-generation bastard surely on the road to whoredom.” But she is determined to prove them all wrong. Following the edicts from an old copy of the Girl Scout Handbook, Rory plots her escape from the Reno trailer park where she lives with her bartender mother. Told through diary entries, social workers’ reports, half-recalled memories, arrest records, family lore, Supreme Court opinions, and her grandmother’s letters.
Where’d You Go Bernadette? By Maria Semple
Bee’s mother, Bernadette Fox, a genius architect is a force of nature to her family but to the outside world she seems crazy and erratic. On the eve of a family vacation to Antarctica, a reward for star-student Bee, Bernadette disappears without a trace. Bee gathers her mother’s emails, invoices and hospital bills to try and discover who her mother really was and where she went.
The Round House by Louise Erdich
In 1988, an Ojibwe woman is brutally raped and beaten on her North Dakota reservation. Thirteen year old Joe, tries to help his mother but she refuses to talk about the event to her family or the police. As his mother becomes increasingly depressed and isolated, Joe and his three friends decide to conduct their own investigation into the incident.
Pure by Julianna Baggot
In a post- apocalyptic world, 16 year old Pressia lives with a doll head fused to her hand but she is better off than most. Some survivors were grafted with each other or animals or worse. On the run from being drafted into a paramilitary group, she rescues Partridge, a “Pure”, someone who has survived whole by living in a Dome. He has left his home to search for his missing mother, who may be living on the outside.
One Shot at Forever by Chris Ballard
It’s an old story, a small town team, a misfit coach and one magic season but this isn’t a film or a novel but a true story. In 1971, the Macon, Illinois high school baseball team beat the odds and went to the state finals. The ragtag team was coached by a hippie, dreamer intellectual who allowed his team to have long hair and wear peace signs on their hats. He wasn’t just teaching them about baseball he was teaching them about life.
My Friend Dahmer: A Graphic Novel by Derf
We know him as Jeffrey Dahmer, the notorious cannibalistic serial killer who murdered 17 people but back in high school he was just “Jeff”. Derf, who attended high school with Jeff, knew him as a shy, bullied, lonely misfit who craved attention and used alcohol as a crutch. Meanwhile, Jeff was also slicing up animals to see what they looked like from the inside out.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
When young web designer Clay loses his tech job he takes the night shift in a San Francisco bookstore. Not just any bookstore but one of surprises, mysteries and a secret society. A place where ancient code and books on alchemy meet the processing power of the 21st century, all in a quest for eternal life.