Oh, how difficult adolescence is. For parents, who suffer the contempt and detachment of their offspring; For children who always feel misunderstood and frustrated, victims of the sadism and stupidity of parents so stupid that they are incapable of uploading a video to TikTok. Don’t worry, as in any crisis, to get through that stage of change in which hormones are rioting and half of the myths of childhood are dismantled, there is nothing better than a book.
A few years ago I wondered why we read less, now I think that, as far as adolescents and young people are concerned, they read much more now than 10 years ago. And some do something as beneficial as writing a diary (which also, who knows, may be the origin of a best-seller). There will be young people whose favorite books are adventure novels, or horror stories, or mystery or intrigue books, or science fiction. But what about novels deliberately written for this adolescent audience? How are they different from adult ones?
Well, in little things; the theme is the same as those for adults (love, mystery, adventure, whatever), but they are usually written in such a way that the reader identifies with the characters, especially with the protagonists. One of the main features is the identity searchof the protagonist, very convenient because that is exactly what happens to them – it has happened to all of us – when we reach puberty. That moment in life when our happy childhood world falls apart and we are more lost than an onion in a fruit salad. Even so, most are not exclusively for young people, but for everyone. Novels that today are considered “adult” (whew, this sounds like porn, I mean, for readers who have reached the age of majority) were conceived as juvenile. This is the case of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
The best thing about “youthful” books (I hate the label) is that teenagers like them a lot. Yes, they have a certain whiff of morality, but in a time when you are so disoriented, in which you question everything you have been taught, in which the concept of good and evil is no longer so clear, it is good that values such as tolerance, equality, justice and solidarity are promoted and abuse and discrimination are shown for what they are, scourges of society. These books are our favourites, read and reread in adulthood, authentic jewels with which to captivate the most listless and listless adolescent. And to make him have a good time.
‘The girl who wanted to be a turtle’ by Pedro Riera
A youth novel that, as happened in its day The boy in the striped pajamas or The incident of the dog at midnight , will conquer the heart of any adult. What can we do in the face of the wars that ravage the planet like the one in Yemen or the one in Ukraine? Here the protagonists, Fabio and Silvia, the posh boy and the clever one who radiates superiority, antagonistic in their ideas and their way of life, teach us that much more can be done than complain and look the other way. Riera not only addresses the subject of war, but with fast-paced rhythm and hooligan humor teaches us that things are not always what they seem, a subtle and beautiful novel, brimming with nuances, which tells us about youthful dreams, courage of friendship.
‘Her Majesty’s Witches’ by Juno Dawson
Dawson regales us with an urban fantasy about an alternate England that has a secret government office of witches: Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, whose mission is to protect the Crown and country from magical forces and supernatural evil entities. But, in reality, his worst enemy comes from within, from a prophecy that announces the end of the coven. A satire that addresses issues as profound as race, gender identity, transsexuality, fatphobia and feminism, and it does so in such an original way and with such well-created characters that sometimes you forget that witches don’t really exist… or if?
‘From the mouth of a lion’ by Ines Garland
Set in Argentina, De la boca de leon tells the story of Tadeo in the first person, a young man who experiences family violence hidden in the small domestic conflicts of everyday life. Thanks to his friendship with Vera, the young man will discover that not all families are like his. This fact helps him to travel the opposite path to fear, to find himself and to discover the keys to face this violence. From the mouth of a lionwas the winner of the XXI Alandar Youth Literature Award 2021, a novel that brings together all the themes that are pillars in adolescence: growth, maturity, the search for identity and first love. But there is more, Garland also confronts the reader with realities such as suicide and domestic violence that are often tried to be hidden out of shame or to avoid the pain that they entail.
‘The temperature between you and me’ by Brian Zepka
The temperature between you and me is a story about first love and how far we are able to go to understand what is hidden in our hearts. What begins with an electrifying chance meeting between two hitherto unknown people quickly turns into a heated romance, a journey to conquer personal identity and trust in the other, a countdown to life and death. I admit that at first I thought the story would be too predictable, the writing too simple, the romance too obvious, but then the action began: A hilarious book that makes you smile but also sometimes leaves you with a lump in your throat.
‘Whispering Forest’ by Greg Howard
A touching story about coming of age, which at first may seem a little childish because it is told from the perspective of Riley, an eleven-year-old boy who believes in whispers, magical fairies who will grant you wishes if you pay tribute to them. However, it is a story full of maturity and rebellion. Riley has a lot of wishes: he wants the bullies at school to stop picking on him, he wants Dylan, the eighth grade boy he likes, to like him, and he also wants to stop wetting the bed. But most of all, Riley wants his mom to come home and decides to do something about it. Her search for him ultimately leads her to the truth, and though it lasts, it will be the beginning of her return to his life. Howard addresses complex issues, such as grief, sexuality or the search for identity, but he does so in a very subtle, even kind way.
‘The Macabre Library’ by Edward Gorey
A beautiful case brings together five stories by the great Gorey, a cult character among many loyal fans around the world, like Tim Burton himself. His peculiar macabre universe will delight any teenager (or adult) who likes black humor. The Unfortunate Girl narrates the fateful life of Charlotte Sophia; The lewd summons is the story of a demoniac lady; The absolute zoo speaks of a more than exotic collection of animals; The maleficent garden, in which an entire family will be trapped and The Little Macabres, an alphabetical sampler of tragic childhood deaths, his masterpiece that we already recommend when we talk about the best scary stories for children. His Victorian graphic style, loaded with gothic elements, as well as his sublime handling of textures and grays, give his dark, at times surreal, work a unique imprint.
‘The Last Paper Crane’ by Kerry Drewery
The Last Paper Crane narrates the relationship between the old Ichiro and his granddaughter, Mizuki, who worries about her grandfather because she finds him downcast and restless. Ichiro promised his friend Hiro, amid the devastation caused by the Hiroshima bomb, that he would take care of his little sister, but was unable to keep his promise. Drewery deftly blends prose, free verse, and haikus to create a beautiful, at times heartbreaking novel about courage and guilt, but also about forgiveness and hope.
‘They will scream my name’ by Manu Carbajo
A story that pays homage to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but the action takes place in the 21st century and the transformations are those that take place in a society where the virtual seems more important than the real. Carbajo delves into the use and abuse of social networks, a world that initially seems wonderful and often hides unpleasant surprises. A novel with elements of terror and a thriller rhythm, but in which there is also room for love, science fiction and adventure, very well written and with an agile pace. It is also a good review of current trends and what technology brings with it.
‘The cycle of the eternal emperor’ by Laura Gallego
This is the story of Vintanelalandali, the seventeenth incarnation of the Eternal Emperor, educated as a child to take the reins of the empire as soon as her powers awaken. But it is also the story of Kelan, a boy raised in a remote corner of Akidavia, whose life changes suddenly the day he decides to defy the local authority. Gallego mixes with masterful skill the first-person chapters of Vintanelalandali’s personal diary with Kelan’s third-person narrations. An interesting, different read, it takes longer to hook you than other books by the author, and yet it ends up captivating and surprising you.
‘A story of violence’ by Pedro Riera
Is it lawful to use violence to achieve good? We all know the answer, but sometimes, there are those who fool around with that idea to justify deplorable acts. In this novel, aimed at a young audience but which is really for everyone, Riera masterfully combines social criticism with intimacy and tenderness through characters facing their fears and their own dreams. A novel that immerses you from the first page in the story of Gabriel and Toni, inseparable friends until their lives take almost opposite directions. Parties, steers, motorcycles, cars that double park… and a very particular way of fixing the traffic problem. What seems like an initiation novel actually has a much deeper reading, which leads you headlong to review your preconceived ideas, without wiping the smile from your lips. There is tenderness and anger, nostalgia and bewilderment, indignation and love. Riera’s prose is subtly austere, free of artifice, beautiful and clear. Universal. That is why he is one of my favorite authors, and because he always deals with social issues that concern us all.
‘Coraline’ by Neil Gaiman
Coraline Jones discovers a mysterious door that has been boarded up. However, one day, the door is left ajar. What will Coraline discover on the other side of the door? It is a very short novel, with paragraphs and short sentences for the action to flow, in which the author skilfully combines adventure, a bit of terror and a lot of suspense. Although the environment is oppressive and disturbing, after all Neil Gaiman is a master of intrigue, he also has very funny parts and gives off a certain philosophy that encourages living life to the fullest, to overcome fear of the unknown. Gaiman’s prose is delicious, unpretentious, agile, lucid. McKean’s striking illustrations fit the plot perfectly. There is another version of Coraline, illustrated by Aurelie Neyret, who is kinder drawing, but I like McKean’s dark palette and somewhat expressionist illustrations.
‘Un monstruo viene a verme’ by Patrick Ness
Winner of numerous awards and honors, A Monster Calls tells the exciting and extraordinary story of a boy and the monster that has come to visit him every night since his mother fell ill. As readers delve into the story, it’s impossible not to feel worry, fear, and sadness for Conor, who is saddled with problems that many adults can’t get over. Even in his anger and her desolation, Conor’s defiant spirit shows flashes of dry humor and bittersweet hope. Funny and touching, A monster comes to see meIt deals with pain and the difficulty in accepting loss, it deals with the fragility of life, the proximity of death, which always hovers around us. The new edition has a beautiful prologue by JA Bayona, director of what, in my opinion, is a great film version.
‘Bad Ash. Sparks fly’ by Alina Not
Who said that love stories were always sappy? I don’t know who would say something like that, but she was wrong. Fully. The first book with which the La Rioja writer opens the Bad Ash trilogy is wonderful. Good youth literature. Totally addictive. A love triangle of a lifetime but told with rhythm, a lot of jokes and heart. It takes you back to high school and those teenage love affairs that are both so goofy and so dramatic. The story continues with Bad Ash. Without fear , and closes with Respira, both a sales success, although in my opinion, the publisher wanted to stretch the gum more than necessary. Still, they’re two fresh and vibrant novels, keeping you on your toes as Ashley Bennet’s bittersweet adventures/misadventures unfold.
‘Big Panda and Little Dragon’ by James Norbury
What started as a self-published project quickly sold out and became a hit on social media, where Norbury shares drawings of his projects. Big Panda and Little Dragon will take you on a philosophical journey where neither the journey nor the destination are too important. Let yourself be carried away by the beautiful illustrations and beautiful quotes. What perhaps began as a beautiful story for teenagers became a work for all audiences. Well, that always happens with children’s books, which are very good. It is really a book that produces good vibes, even in someone as skeptical and in such a black humor as I am. Beautiful.
‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’ by Sherman Alexie
A novel that opened my eyes about Native Americans, I knew little about their situation, only what I had seen glancingly in series and movies and it is not a matter of judging an entire town by what appears in the Ozark . The completely true diary of a part-time Indianis that, the journal of 14-year-old Arnold Spirit, who was born and raised on the Spokane Indian Reservation. He is clumsy, myopic, farsighted, stubborn and stuttering. His life is terrible, because bullying is compounded by poverty, alcoholism, abusive parents, but he has an acid humor and an enormous ability to draw comics. Although it is a very hard book, Alexie is so witty (and even funny) that sometimes you find yourself laughing despite the rawness of the situation that he narrates. Although it has been critically acclaimed, it has also been the subject of controversy for how it portrays abuse, violence, sexuality, profanity, and for all the slurs related to homosexuality and mental disability.
‘The Princess Bride’ by William Goldman
It is a complex novel that combines fantasy, romance, fairy tale and a lot of humor. One of my all-time favorites, even before seeing the movie version. It narrates a fictional version of the life and family of the author, of the adventures and misadventures of his ancestors. It is a novel where there are swordsmen, imperishable love, intense hatred and ruthless revenge. Readers of all kinds like it because it has everything and lacks nothing. She is kind, tender, brave. A masterpiece. You will see yourself saying: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
‘The curious incident of the dog at midnight’ by Mark Haddon,
The novel tells the story of a 15-year-old boy who, after finding the corpse of his neighbor’s dog, embarks on an investigation in the style of his hero, Sherlock Holmes. Asperger’s disease is not mentioned once in the book, although Christopher himself admits that he has “some social behavior problems”. We quickly infer that he is something more serious, he has a photographic memory, an extraordinary facility for mathematics, he is extremely observant and pathologically incapable of telling lies. And most disturbing: he is devoid of any kind of empathy towards others. It is a delicate and at the same time fierce novel, slightly disturbing and precursory, since it deals with a subject so unknown at the time, such as neurobiological disorders.
‘Rumble Rule’ by SE Hinton
If you’ve seen the Francis Ford Coppola movie, you might think the book is about gang fights, but no. It is a novel that explains what it is to want to be something that you cannot be, to achieve it after a lot of effort and to realize later that it was not what you wanted. Of what it is to be misunderstood and always misunderstood, to choose the wrong heroes. Like Rusty James trying to emulate his brother, the guy on the motorcycle, and coming face to face with life. A novel about the value of friendship when you grow up in a dysfunctional family and about the allure of violence and drugs when life is black and white where you only see color in goldfish that wander carelessly and with no memory of their confinement, happy in their glass cage.
‘Utopia: A Philosophical Adventure’ by Ana Alonso
Utopia is a camp for young people hooked on mobile phones, social networks or video games. And the perfect excuse for the author to capture the interest of young people in the great philosophers through the story of Lua in this camp located in Menorca. The objective is twofold: to warn of the dangers of the modern world and to bring teenagers closer to classical philosophers. Alonso succeeds and does so by telling, in addition, a pleasant, close and endearing story. A book that allows us to discover how philosophy provides us with the tools to question things and face problems from different perspectives, moving away from prejudices and creating our own criteria.
‘Eleanor y Park’ de Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor and Park sit together on the school bus because they have no other choice. They’re not exactly popular. Thus begins a relationship between the ugly ducklings of the institute. Although it sounds sweetened, the novel is not, in fact, the situations that the two teenagers experience are quite harsh. Rowell certainly remembers well what it’s like to be a teenager. He displays his talent with narrative agility and transmits great empathy towards his characters. His simple prose, without haste and without pause, with a beautiful rhythm, makes you immerse yourself fully in the lives of these two very peculiar characters. The novel is narrated in the third person but alternating the vision of the two protagonists. A masterfully told story, with a certain distance and frequent leaps into the past at the right moments, without dwelling much on the present. endearing,
‘My sister lives on the mantelpiece’ by Annabel Pitcher
When I read the title for the first time I thought it would be humorous. Yes, there is humor, but no, the title describes a reality in the home of Jamie, the narrator. He is a 10-year-old boy whose older sister was torn to pieces by a terrorist bomb in London 5 years earlier. Almost nothing. His family is overcome by loss and torn by grief. As they start to pull themselves together, Jamie goes to a new school. His classmate is a Muslim girl named Sunya. Her thoughts are “Muslims killed my sister” over and over again, but Sunya doesn’t look like a terrorist at all…she’s kind, funny and beautiful.
The characters are very well developed and the prose is clear, precise and beautiful. It’s rare to find a book that makes you laugh and cry in equal measure, but it happened to me. A story that addresses Islamophobia from the perspective of an innocent girl. A novel that puts you from the first page on an emotional roller coaster, from which you come out with a clearer head and a softer heart. Highly recommended.
“La tumba by Aurora K.” by Pedro Riera
A novel awarded with the EDEBE prize that, like all of Pedro Riera’s, addresses a social issue, in this case that of exile and identity, of coexistence between enemies, actually all victims of war, but from a point of view very different and original view. The protagonist embarks on an inner journey to discover her roots in Turenia, a fictional land probably inspired by what the author experienced in the Balkans after the war in Yugoslavia. The book also raises the issue of whether our true family is the biological one or the one that sees us grow. They seem like very serious questions, and they are, but the narrative pace, the stories that intersect with the main one and a mystery that is not solved until the end makes the suspense last until the last page. Riera’s prose, agile, subtle, free of artifice, shows his narrative mastery. The result is a pleasant, interesting, different and very addictive book.
‘Invisible’ by Eloy Moreno
A moving but rather harsh read. Invisible narrates, through the eyes of a child, a universal story, that of bullying from a different and necessary perspective. Moreno shows the shortcomings of the system but also points out what is the accomplice of the abuse and in which we can all participate: indifference. The victim of bullying can be any of us, but it can also be that, without knowing it, we are the monsters who choose to look the other way and not find out. A powerful evocation of the raw pain of those who yearn for invisibility and go unnoticed for being the target of other people’s frustrations. Very very original, surprising.
‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ by JK Rowling
How could Harry Potter not be in a selection of youth literature? Although I really do not know if it is children’s or youth literature. I believe that you can start reading Harry Potter at 9 or 10 years old, that is, long before reaching puberty, but the phenomenon has been such (and it has fans of any age, and especially adolescents) that it could not not include it. 1997 was the year of the phenomenon that shook youth literature, when an unknown woman managed to publish her first novel. Nobody suspected the success that it would have, and that it would be translated into more than 65 languages, including Latin and ancient Greek. Harry PotterIt meant that it meant that publishers put more emphasis on publishing more YA novels and that authors didn’t see this type of literature as a minor genre. The series has come to have 8 titles, and from it there are movies, a video game and numerous pieces of merchandising. A phenomenon that has generated a lot of money. The truth is that Harry Potter is read with pleasure and, although it is aimed at a young reader (or children, I have already said that I am not very clear about it), there are many adults who have been enchanted by the Hogwarts universe.
‘The Hate You Give’ by Angie Thomas
My great discovery of 2017 was this youth novel to which I owe a sleepless night. I started it in the middle of the afternoon and I didn’t fall asleep until I finished it, I couldn’t! Angie Thomas’s debut, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, is the story of an ordinary girl subjected to harsh circumstances. She tackles issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unwavering honesty. The hate you giveIt is not just a book about the fight for equality and justice, it is a book about family love, friendship and the responsibilities of our actions. It is a brave, real, hard and complex novel, easy to read and a great social message. A text that goes with its own soundtrack, as any rap fan will already recognize in the title. It comes from rapper Tupac Shakur’s definition of Thug Life , which was not just the tattoo he wore on his stomach, but a street code in the poorest neighborhoods. very powerful.
‘Dream Castle’ by Dodie Smith
Smith is most famous for her children’s book The One Hundred and One Dalmatians , which was quickly adapted by Disney and made into an animated classic. But The Dreaming Castle is her first novel and for most, her masterpiece. Very well known in the United Kingdom and here, however, it has gone unnoticed. the dream castleis an initiation novel set in the English countryside of the thirties. The narrator is Cassandra, a 17-year-old girl who lives with her peculiar and eccentric family in a house built on a ruined castle. A castle, yes, but they have been living in absolute poverty for five years. It is a charming book, very funny, with that fine irony that the British handle so well, but in which things also happen, some of them very hard. A somewhat ambiguous ending, which each reader interprets in his own way.
Wonder, August’s lesson by RJ Palacio
August is different, he has a different face, deformed because he was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by malformations. But his brain is that of a totally normal boy, a Star Wars fan., funny, a little joker. His parents, in their zeal to protect him, decided to educate him at home. However, they later change their minds and at the age of 10 August begins to go to school. He makes friends, like Jack and Summer, but his different face makes him the victim of the cruelty of others. Through August’s humor, the author explores friendship, tenacity, fear, and perception of self and others. A book that undoubtedly promotes self-esteem and overcoming adversity. The structure is very original, since the story is narrated in the first person, but with different characters: the first is August, and then his sister Olivia, Jack, Summer, her sister’s boyfriend…, each one narrates the story. from a different point of view. August’s Lesson is followed by August & Meand Wonder. Mr. Browne’s book of precepts, a compilation of phrases and quotes (from celebrities or supposed students of this endearing professor) that invite us to reflect.
‘Paper Towns’ by John Green
John Green is a favorite of any teenager. He reaches them. Me too, for the record. Paper Towns was awarded the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery Book. It has since been read in many American college and university curricula, often alongside Whitman’s Leaves of Grass , which is an important text within the novel. Paper cities It has three very different parts. The first part introduces us to the enigmatic Margo in a series of events that happen in a single night. The second is Q’s internal struggle with himself and his perception of Margo. He rethinks aspects of his life and in general, it is a journey with himself. In this part the characters are finally defined to prepare us for a third part that is a true road movie. Many readers are disappointed by the ending, for me the ending is a metaphor for life.
‘Nick and Norah an evening of music and love’ by Rachel Cohn
It’s a bit wrong to recommend a book that you’ve translated, but it’s really good. In the United States it was a complete sales success and was even made into a movie, but here the novel was barely known, perhaps because of the title the publisher chose despite my suggestion of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which was what it was literally called in English. Any teenager is thrown off by such a cheesy title, and the truth is that this novel is anything but cheesy. There is music and love, but above all there are tacos, there is sex, there are people who go wild and people who have fun, and on top of all that, there are adolescent worries and doubts, hopes and fears, an emotional roller coaster that I have since then it took me with a stroke of the pen to my own adolescence. The story isn’t always predictable (even if you’ve seen the movie) and isn’t without its humor to deal with such overwhelming themes as teen angst, youthful anger, and family misunderstanding.
‘El diario rojo de Flanagan’ by Andreu Martin and Jaume Ribera
I have read the 13 novels in the Flanagan series with true devotion, I recommend this one here for reasons that I will explain later, but they are all magnificent and highly recommended. Martin and Ribera have the peculiarity and the ability to mix crime novels and costumbrismo. Juan –or Flanagan– is a teenager who goes to high school and from time to time helps out at his parents’ bar, the typical neighborhood bar for tapas and canas. In addition, he carries out small investigations for his high school classmates and neighbors, helped by his sister Pili. However, what he begins with an innocent investigation often turns into something more dangerous. And in this crime novel of manners, there is no lack of the femme fatale , even though they are teenagers and everything is very romantic and innocent.
In Flanagan’s Red Diary – parallel to Gemma Lienas ‘s Charlotte’s Red Diary – Flannagan (and Charlotte in Lienas’s book) describe their sexual experience together, but from different points of view. This text strays a bit from the style of the other novels and constitutes in itself a completely independent adventure and a fantastic initiation novel.
‘Axlin’s Bestiary’ by Laura Gallego
Laura Gallego is the great reference for any adolescent in this country, and half the world! Her twenty-seven YA novels and some of her children’s stories have been translated into sixteen languages, including English, French, German, and Japanese.
Axlin’s world is part of his Guardians of the Citadel trilogy, complete with The Secret of Xein and Rox ‘s Quest . They are fantasy books, very entertaining, but they are also impregnated with values such as justice, solidarity, good deeds. Gallego writes clearly, fluently, with precision and a sense of rhythm. Without a doubt, he has won over his young audience because he tells them about a world of monsters and fantastic beings, yes, but that also has a lot of inner journey of personal recognition. Perfect for gifts, the only problem is that they already have them.