Young adult books seem to be getting closer and closer to that new adult genre. Some of the books marked to teens now have more sexual situations or violence than parents or teachers might be comfortable with. While our world is changing and our young adults are too, some authors are still handling tough topics, and universal conflicts, without crossing the lines that might make adults uncomfortable recommending a book for someone else’s teen or younger advanced reader. Here are some ‘gentle reads’ that you can recommend without blushing that are well written and far from dull reads.
Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
In 1793 Philadelphia, sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic.
Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
After the death of the uncle who had been his guardian, fourteen-year-old Alex Rider is coerced to continue his uncle’s dangerous work for Britain’s intelligence agency, MI6.
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
After her mother leaves home suddenly, thirteen-year-old Sal and her grandparents take a car trip retracing her mother’s route. Along the way, Sal recounts the story of her friend Phoebe, whose mother also left.
All these Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin
In a future where chocolate and caffeine are contraband, teenage cellphone use is illegal, and water and paper are carefully rationed, sixteen-year-old Anya Balanchine finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight as heir apparent to an important New York City crime family.
Ten Miles Past Normal by Francis O’Roark Dowell
Because living with “modern-hippy” parents on a goat farm means fourteen-year-old Janie Gorman cannot have a normal high school life, she tries joining Jam Band, making friends with Monster, and spending time with elderly former civil rights workers.
The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
During the 1967 school year, on Wednesday afternoons when all his classmates go to either Catechism or Hebrew school, seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood stays in Mrs. Baker’s classrooom, where they read the plays of William Shakespeare and Holling learns much of value about the world he lives in
Have you read all of these or just want more suggestions? In that case, these books might be of interest as well; Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, Beauty by Robin McKinley, A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Maas, The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene, Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce, Airborn (Matt Cruse, #1) by Kenneth Oppel, or All-American Girl by Meg Cabot.