12 Contemporary Works of Literature Focusing On Issues Facing Teens

Being a teenager in the modern world isn't always simple or easy. From eating disorders to dysfunctional families, there are a lot of issues that all too many people have to deal with at a young age. The YA novels listed here delve into the complex reality of growing up. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

12 Contemporary Works of Literature Focusing On Issues Facing Teens

Title Author
1. Fat Girl on a Plane Kelly deVos
2. Analee, In Real Life Janelle Milanes
3. Ready to Fall Marcella Pixley
4. Hate is Such a Strong Word Sarah Ayoub
5. Something Beautiful Amanda Gernentz Hanson
6. Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down Anne Valente
7. The Patron Saint of Butterflies Cecilia Galante
8. Pearl Deirdre Riordan Hall
9. You and Me and Him Kris Dinnison
10. Darius the Great Is Not Okay Adib Khorram
11. Feral Youth Polly Courtney
12. The Last Days of California Mary Miller

Fun Activities For Teens

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

The Psychology of Adolescence

In Depth

Growing up isn't always easy. Everyone has difficult experiences in their youth that, ultimately, make them who they are. Well-written young adult novels are great at showing characters as they go through tough times and delving into how they respond. Here, in no particular order, are twelve contemporary works of literature that focus on issues facing teens.

First up at #1 is "Fat Girl on a Plane" by Kelly deVos. Cookie's dream is to make fashion more inclusive. After losing a scholarship to a girl much thinner than herself, Cookie becomes determined to lose weight. She expects it to fix her problems, but when she finally lands a career in fashion it's nothing like she expected, and she's lost sight of the dream that brought her there in the first place.

Next at #2 is "Analee, In Real Life" by Janelle Milanes. Analee has felt out of place since her mother's death. She enjoys her virtual life more than her real one and spends as much time as possible role-playing online as an elf named Kiri. Then comes Seb, a popular boy at school who wants Analee to be his fake girlfriend so he can win back his ex. Analee agrees in hopes she can learn to be more social, and perhaps get the guts to confess her feelings for Harris, her online partner who she's never met in person.

Analee has felt out of place since her mother's death.

#3 on our list is "Ready to Fall" by Marcella Pixley. Max has just lost his mother to cancer, and now he thinks her tumor has moved into his brain. It's causing him to act out and isolate himself, and he feels like it's running his life. Then he goes to Baldwin School, where he joins theater and makes friends with other outcasts. He's content, for a while, in this new life. But when Max has a breakdown, he must confront his past, and the truth about his tumor, so that he can move forward.

#4 is "Hate is Such a Strong Word" by Sarah Ayoub. Sophie wants to fit in at her all-Lebanese school, but her conservative father has other plans. He wants her to stay home, either babysitting her younger siblings or studying. When she meets a new student named Shehadie, Sophie sees someone who's more of an outcast than she is, since he is half Australian. As the two of them grow closer, Sophie will need to find her voice and learn to stand up for what she believes in.

At #5 is "Something Beautiful" by Amanda Gernentz Hanson, which tackles tough topics like suicide and homophobia. Cordelia and Declan are childhood friends who pursue a relationship in high school. She's struggling with her mental health while he's figuring out his sexuality. Declan thinks he could be gay, but that doesn't explain his strong attraction to Cordelia. The novel follows them as they find themselves, grow up, and learn to accept one another.

Cordelia and Declan are childhood friends who pursue a relationship in high school.

Next up, #6 is "Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down" by Anne Valente. This book delves into the lives of four teens after a school shooting. Following the deadly tragedy, the victims' houses begin to catch fire. Matt's father is investigating, but Matt can't leave this to the police. He gets involved in an attempt to crack the case himself. Meanwhile, Zola is trying not to have a breakdown, and Nick and Christina are focused on repairing their broken friend group as the others withdraw.

#7 is "The Patron Saint of Butterflies" by Cecilia Galante. Agnes and Honey are friends who've been raised in a religious commune. As they've grown up, they've also grown apart. Agnes is devoted to the religion, while the only thing Honey likes about her life is the butterfly garden she tends. One day while her grandmother is visiting, Agnes's brother is hurt, and their leader refuses to let him get medical help. This, along with other secrets that have been revealed, prompts her grandma to take the kids away, beginning a new chapter for them all.

#8 is "Pearl" by Deirdre Riordan Hall. Pearl's mother was a rock star until her drug addiction landed her on the streets. Pearl is homeless until a new opportunity arises, and she is able to go away to a posh boarding school paid for by her uncle. As she makes new friends, she learns about trust, forgiveness, and moving forward. She wants to be nothing like her abusive mother, but when it comes time to make some tough decisions, Pearl will have to find the courage to do what's right.

Pearl's mother was a rock star until her drug addiction landed her on the streets.

#9 is "You and Me and Him" by Kris Dinnison. Maggie and Nash are best friends. They've always been there to support one another, but when they both fall for the same guy, things get complicated. Nash calls dibs the first time he sees Tom on the school bus. But later, Maggie learns that Tom is straight and has feelings for her. Now she has a choice to make, and it just might cost her a friendship.

Next, at #10 is "Darius the Great is Not Okay" by Adib Khorram. Darius is visiting Iran to meet his mother's side of the family for the first time. The trip is rough for him, but when he meets his neighbor, Sohrab, things get a little better. The two quickly become best friends, and Darius feels more like himself when he's with Sohrab. But when it's time to go back to America, Darius must learn to stand on his own feet and continue to live his truth.

#11 is "Feral Youth" by Polly Courtney. Alesha is used to a life of crime, so when her old piano teacher attempts to help her start fresh, it's not easy. Alesha finds herself wanting to pull her life together, but she's also drawn to the familiarity of gang life and drug dealing. With riots happening throughout the country, it becomes even more critical for Alesha to stop going back and forth, and finally make a decision about which path she wants to commit to.

With riots happening throughout the country, it becomes even more critical for Alesha to stop going back and forth, and finally make a decision about which path she wants to commit to.

Finally at #12 is "The Last Days of California" by Mary Miller. Jess's family is incredibly religious and believes that the world will end soon. Her father wants to redeem lost souls during their road trip to California. But as Jess tries to convince others, her belief in her own faith wanes. She finds herself growing into a new worldview, which is shaped by the pain her mother is going through and the dysfunction of her family.