As kids turn into teenagers and as their interests slowly shift, Young Adult fiction enters the scene and raises new questions and challenges both for kids and for parents. This guide aims to help you navigate these new waters, with book suggestions for every type of teenager and every type of reader.


With Christmas fast approaching, you probably have the rhyme “something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read” might start playing in your head on repeat – and with your kids reaching their adolescent years, there is the added pressure of finding just the right present. Fear not, we are here to help with at least one of the four (and might we suggest, most important) gifts – something to read.

Specifically, Young Adult fiction! Young Adult fiction can be summarised as fiction written for readers 12 to 18 years of age. Generally, these are books written both about and for teenagers. Advertised as the transition between the middle grade books of tweens and the sometimes harsh reality of adult fiction, YA generally focuses on topics that are of interest to the above age category. These will often include coming-of-age narratives, first loves, the morals and challenges of friendships, and broader themes of identity. The aim of these books is to position young adults in situations that are becoming familiar, and to give them the tools to contend with these in their own lives.

Young Adult books come in many shapes and sizes, with genres varying from fantasy, sci-fi, literary, or mythological, and therefore everyone is bound to find something perfect for them. Below is an overview of classic YA books, as well as new releases that your teenager is going to love.

Classic Young Adult books

Just like with anything, when it comes to Young Adult fiction, you can never go wrong with the classics. The genre has been around longer than it has been called YA, but that doesn’t mean that many classics don’t address similar tropes. These are generally coming-of-age narratives, and the best examples are:

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

However, classics can also mean Young Adult books that have been published only in the past one or two decades and continue to influence young readers everywhere – these are most likely books you have heard of, read yourself, or seen the movie version. They are great choices too, and the best examples are:

  • The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth
  • Six of Crows series by Leigh Bardugo
  • All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Recent Young Adult book releases

While evergreens are always a good choice – there is a reason why we are still reading them – kids are likely to want the latest of everything, including books. This guide includes some of the Young Adult books that have come out in the last year or so and they are sure to score you some ‘cool parent’ points – whether they turn up under the tree or in the form of a birthday present.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken


Overview: Every seven years, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals and are hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, seeking divine power and immortality. Lore Perseus left that life behind when a rival line murdered her family, and for years she has pushed away the thought of revenge on the man – now god – responsible. As the next hunt descends on New York City, Castor, a friend Lore believed to be dead, and a gravely wounded Athena seek her help. Athena offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and a way for Lore to leave the ceremony behind forever.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna


Overview: There’s gold running through 16-year-old Deka’s veins. She fears it will make her an outcast from her village when she is discovered, but what it does is make her a warrior — an alaki, to be specific. Namina Forna’s debut book, the first in a trilogy of YA fantasy, stems from her experience as a young girl in West Africa and in America. The Gilded Ones offers space for teenage girls to explore different facets of life, like religion or identity, through the safety of a fantasy lens.

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen


Overview: It’s the summer of 1955. For Ethan Harper, a biracial kid raised mostly by his white father, race has always been a distant conversation. When he’s sent to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle in small-town Alabama, his Blackness is suddenly front and center, and no one is shy about making it known he’s not welcome there. Except for Juniper Jones. The town’s resident oddball and free spirit, she’s everything the townspeople aren’t―open, kind, and full of acceptance. Armed with two bikes and an unlimited supply of root beer floats, Ethan and Juniper set out to find their place in a town that’s bent on rejecting them.

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi


Overview: Jayne Baek is barely getting by. She shuffles through fashion school, saddled with a deadbeat boyfriend, clout-chasing friends, and a wretched eating disorder that she’s not fully ready to confront. But that’s New York City, right? At least she isn’t in Texas anymore, and is finally living in a city that feels right for her. On the other hand, her sister June is dazzlingly rich with a high-flying finance job and a massive apartment. Unlike Jayne, June has never struggled a day in her life. Until she’s diagnosed with uterine cancer. Suddenly, these estranged sisters who have nothing in common are living together. Because sisterly obligations are kind of important when one of you is dying.

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Graphic novel/LGBT

Overview: Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more...? They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn't think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner.

Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley


Overview: As a biracial, unenrolled tribal member and the product of a scandal, eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. Daunis dreams of studying medicine, but when her family is struck by tragedy, she puts her future on hold to care for her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, certain details don’t add up and she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into the heart of a criminal investigation.

Off the Map by Scot Gardner

Short stories

Overview: By turns dark and light, funny and poignant, this unforgettable collection of stories takes you right to the heart of what it means to be young in today's world. Getting lost, falling in love, pushing boundaries, exploring the world – powerfully honest stories to make you think and feel.

But it here!

Aurora’s End by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Science Fiction/Fantasy

Overview: The third and final instalment of the The Aurora Cycle Trilogy, Aurora’s End brings us the thrilling finale to an epic  series about a band of unlikely heroes who just might be the galaxy's last hope for survival. In this third book, Squad 312 is working together seamlessly as an intergalactic battle rages and an ancient superweapon threatens to obliterate Earth. Then everything goes horribly wrong, naturally, and saving the galaxy will take a miracle. Will they manage?

Buy it here!

Impossible Music by Sean Williams


Overview: Music is Simon’s life – which is why he is devastated when a stroke destroys his hearing. He resists attempts to help him adjust to his new state, refusing to be counselled, refusing to learn sign-language, refusing to have anything to do with Deaf culture. Refusing, that is, until he meets G, a tough-as-nails girl dealing with her own newly-experienced deafness.

Muddy People: A Memoir by Sara El Sayed


Soos is coming of age in a household with a lot of rules. No bikinis, despite the Queensland heat. No boys, unless he's Muslim. And no life insurance, not even when her father gets cancer. Soos is trying to balance her parents' strict decrees with having friendships, crushes and the freedom to develop her own values. With each rule Soos comes up against, she is forced to choose between doing what her parents say is right and following her instincts. When her family falls apart, she comes to see her parents as flawed, their morals based on a muddy logic. But she will also learn that they are her strongest defenders.

Any of the above Young Adult books would make a great present for budding teenagers – however, if your child already has enough books (never!) and you want to gift them something even more special, why not buy tickets to the Gold Coast’s literary event of the year? The Storyfest Writers’ Festival will be on 12-19 March in 2022, and it promises to be “…a festival of storytelling for the whole family." What better gift to give than an immersive literary experience?

Buy it here!

Find out more about the Writers’ Festival here.