10 Stunning YA Books That Chronicle The Tough Realities Of Growing Up

It isn't easy to leave childhood behind. Coming to terms with identity, learning how to be independent, and figuring out long-term goals are just a few of the challenges that adolescents struggle with. If you want to read about realistic characters dealing with the realities of growing up, check out the ten stunning works listed here. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Young Adult Books About Hardship: Our 10 Picks

Title Author
1. The Art of Getting Stared At Laura Langston
2. The Girl in the Broken Mirror Savita Kalhan
3. Cutters Don't Cry Christine Dzidrums
4. Shooter Caroline Pignat
5. Double Negative C. Lee McKenzie
6. Just Wreck It All N. Griffin
7. American Road Trip Patrick Flores-Scott
8. The Free Lauren McLaughlin
9. Every Last Promise Kristin Halbrook
10. Little & Lion Brandy Colbert

8 Great Films Based on YA Novels

  1. The Fault in Our Stars based on the book by John Green
  2. Divergent based on the book by Veronica Roth
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone based on the book by J.K. Rowling
  4. The Princess Diaries based on the book by Meg Cabot
  5. Holes based on the book by Louis Sachar
  6. The Hunger Games based on the book by Suzanne Collins
  7. Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist based on the book by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
  8. Bridge to Terabithia based on the book by Katherine Paterson

Helpful Resources for Parents Dealing With Death

Sometimes all a person needs to get back on their feet is a hug and a reassuring smile. But some emotional scars are deeper than others. If you need professional help, or are looking to join a support group, these organizations are a great place to start:

InfoAboutKids.com Tools for healthy child & family development
National Alliance for Grieving Children A nonprofit that offers networking, information, and support
The Dougy Center A safe place for grieving families to share their experiences
Our House A grief support center for children, teens, and adults
Foundation for Grieving Children Assistance, counsel, comfort, and education for children and families

How To Deal With Obstacles

In Depth

Young adult literature is full of lighthearted romances, paranormal horror tales, and fantasies with dragons and fairies. But some teenagers want reads that focus on the real, difficult issues they face. In no particular order, here are ten thoughtful Y.A. titles that don't shy away from tough subject matter.

At #1 is "The Art of Getting Stared At" by Laura Langston. High-school student Sloane Kendrick is given the opportunity of a lifetime when a video she makes goes viral. She can earn a film school scholarship if she produces a follow-up movie in just two weeks. But before she can make much headway, she's diagnosed with an incurable autoimmune disorder that causes her hair to fall out in clumps. Sloane finds herself trying to hide her illness from everyone. If she lets her fear of being ridiculed stop her, she may give up on filmmaking entirely.

At #2 we have "The Girl in the Broken Mirror" by Savita Kalhan. Jaya takes the normalcy of her life for granted until the night she is raped. As her sense of self begins to unravel, she struggles with the pain in secret. Then, following the death of her father, her mother moves both of them in with relatives. Jaya, who was born in England, has always lived a Western lifestyle. Her new home, however, holds traditional Indian values. The culture clash only adds to the confusion and doubt that's been growing inside of her. She must rediscover who she is or lose everything.

The culture clash only adds to the confusion and doubt that's been growing inside of her.

Coming in at #3 is "Cutters Don't Cry" by Christine Dzidrums. Unable to express the negativity she feels, Charity Graff instead cuts herself to dull her emotions. It's not until she turns nineteen that she attempts to explore how she ended up this way through journal writing. As she does so, the entries take on the form of letters to her estranged father, a man she hardly remembers. Once her emotions come pouring out, Charity finds a glimmer of hope that could help her to finally heal.

Our #4 pick is "Shooter" by Caroline Pignat. A surprise lockdown drill forces five high school students into the boys' bathroom. As they impatiently wait to get back to class and end the day, one of them receives a text saying that it's not a drill and a shooter is loose in the school. Without access to other rooms, and with no way to secure the bathroom door, the possibility of dying makes each member of the group share the difficulties of their lives, and they learn unexpected truths about one another.

For #5 we have "Double Negative" by C. Lee McKenzie. Sixteen-year-old Hutch McQueen feels he has fallen to the wayside. At home, he lives with his alcoholic mother's abuse. At school, he barely gets by, unable to read but remembering discussions well enough to get most of the right answers. Without purpose or direction, Hutch runs away from home to a friend's house, only to get caught in a drug bust he had nothing to do with. Facing juvenile detention, he'll forever be an outcast if he can't find meaning to his life.

At school, he barely gets by, unable to read but remembering discussions well enough to get most of the right answers.

At #6 is "Just Wreck It All" by N. Griffin. After causing the accident that left her best friend permanently injured, Bett gives up everything in her life that once brought her happiness. Wallowing in her guilt, the former star athlete falls into self-harm, overeating, and depression. Just sixteen years old, Bett is torn between trying to live the life she wants and continuing to punish herself, even though doing so won't undo the past.

Our #7 entry is "American Road Trip" by Patrick Flores-Scott. Seventeen-year-old Teodoro is excited for his brother Manny to return home from his military service in Afghanistan. But upon reuniting, Manny's PTSD begins having an impact on the entire family. T's own relationships with friends begin to crumble as he tries to save his brother from something neither one fully understands. In a last-ditch attempt to save the family, their sister Xochitl takes her siblings on a road trip to meet with relatives from their past.

Next up, at #8, is "The Free" by Lauren McLaughlin. Isaac West spends much of his young life stealing things for his little sister. Their mother, an alcoholic, struggles to give them the things they want, let alone need. In time, however, his thefts grow more serious and land him in juvenile detention. Now unable to protect his little sister and uncertain of his own fate, Isaac seeks to discover the root of his problems to avoid traveling down an increasingly dismal path.

Isaac West spends much of his young life stealing things for his little sister.

Our #9 pick is "Every Last Promise" by Kristin Halbrook. One night at a party, Kayla witnesses her friend being sexually assaulted. That same night, she's responsible for a car crash that ends the life of one of her small town's beloved students. Afterward, she leaves the community for the summer. When she returns in the fall, she's determined to keep the secret of what she saw that night in order to rebuild her reputation. Yet the truth needs to be heard, even if it alienates her further.

Finally, rounding out our list at #10 is "Little and Lion" by Brandy Colbert. When Suzette returns to her Los Angeles home from a New England boarding school, she's coming to terms with her bisexuality. However, her hopes of discovering more about her identity are interrupted by her brother Lionel's bipolar disorder. As she supports him emotionally and tries to keep his illness in check, she soon learns that they are in love with the same girl. Saving him could mean losing her, but if Suzette pursues her feelings, Lionel might lose what little control he has over his life.