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Boarding-School Book Bonanza

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Close quarters, no parental supervision, lots of teens, too-strict rules or no rules at all…no doubt, boarding schools are fertile ground for stories about burgeoning relationships and finding identity.

So, check out these YA books about teens' homes away from home—some romantic (with a heavy dose of LGBTQ romance), some fanciful, some serious, some sweet.

carry on

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Baz and Simon are roommates—which would be just fine, if Baz could keep his feelings from Simon forever. But he’s a vampire, and Simon might be the most powerful mage who ever lived, and the world is maybe falling apart… so, it’s complicated.

 

 

 

 

miseducation

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
Cameron is hauled off to God's Promise, a “conversion therapy school” that promises to cure her attraction to girls. (Spoiler alert: The exact opposite happens, and Cameron finds likeminded friends and her place in the world.)

 

 

 

 

lucky

Lucky Fools by Coert Voorhees
Red-striped tie on the cover? Pretty good bet it’s a boarding-school book. This one tells the story of David Ellison, who’s trying to figure out how to follow his Julliard dreams and live up to his Ivy League expectations at the same time.

 

 

 

 

hide

What We Hide by Marthe Jocelyn
Creative historical fiction with that uses letters, screenplays, and multiple perspectives to reveal the secrets of the students at a British boarding school in the turbulent Vietnam era.

 

 

 

 

 

skip

Skip Macalester by J.E. Robinson
The coming-of-age story of a precocious African-American teen at a prestigious prep school, trying to navigate relationships with his peers and his parents.

 

 


 

 

openly

 

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg
Rafe Goldberg, who was always known as “the gay kid” in his high school back home, decides to reinvent himself when he enters a fancy New England prep school.

 

 

 

 

alaska

Looking for Alaska by John Green
The first published novel by one of YA’s superheroes, Looking for Alaska takes readers on a literal and figurative journey to and from an Alabama boarding school.

 

 

 

 

 

gemma

The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray
Two great settings—a boarding school in Victorian England and a magical world called the Realms—provide the backdrop for this fun and steamy series.

 

 

 

 

 

simon

Simon Says by Elaine Marie Alphin
Charles is determined to get close to Graeme, another student at his boarding school for the arts whose YA novel inspired him to opt out of the “Simon Says” game of adolescence.

 

 

 

 

 

chocolate

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Nothing is spelled out in this 1974 classic about the violent bullying at Jerry’s all-boys’ prep school, but a vicious gang targets any kid who dares to refuse their directives or fit into their mold—including Jerry.

 

 

 

 

winger

Winger by Andrew Smith
Red-striped tie alert! Bullying and peer pressure take center stage as a 14-year-old newbie tries to navigate his aggressive rugby teammates.

 

 

 

 

 

separate

A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Another classic. This slender novel about two boys at a prep school during World War II is a tragic coming-of-age tale with a major tearjerker of an ending.

 

 

 

 

 


Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!

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A thank you from an author

Many thanks for remembering "Skip Macalester" (Haworth, 2006) for this list! I appreciate its inclusion, so many years after publication; it gratifies me that my work means something to others

you're very welcome!

Our pleasure -- thank you for your work!

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