By Michelle Cooper, 2009
"A Brief History of Montmaray" (first in the series) by Michelle Cooper is a young adult book set in a tiny island kingdom during the run-up to WWII. The teenagers of an eccentric royal family learn, grow and defeat Nazis together. The series is heavily influenced by Dodie Smith’s "I Capture the Castle," but with more adventures and less infatuation.
By Jennifer Longo, 2014
In this debut novel, Leigh has lost her best friend and been put to work in a graveyard. After years making herself invisible while her family fought her older sister Kai’s leukemia, Leigh is having a hard time figuring out how to be alive now that Kai is in remission. Leigh gives more in the unbalanced relationship between the sisters, but Kai is still the only person in their emotionally exhausted family to notice that Leigh has needs, too. Bonus: The author is local.
By M-E Girard, 2016
Pen is the butch teen daughter of conservative immigrant parents. She doesn’t want to be a boy, or to be a girl the way everyone else wants her to be a girl. She just wants to be left alone to be herself, but faces constant bullying, parental pressure and unstable friendships. The only person who really gets her is her older brother. M-E Girard’s novel fills an important representation gap in YA fiction.
By Patrick Ness, 2015
“The Rest of Us Just Live Here” has a delightful premise — what is it like to be an average kid in a world of superheroes? While the “chosen ones” open interdimensional portals and stave off apocalypses, Mikey deals with more ordinary problems, such as getting a date to prom and dealing with his two sisters (one has an eating disorder).
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in April 2017, and updated in April 2020.