Classic Books For Teens
Young adult literature has exploded over the past decade or so. There certainly are a lot of very good books being published, but one shouldn't forget the classics, the predecessors to The Hunger Games and The Princess Diaries. Here are a few of my favorites for readers aged 12 and up.
Squashed by Joan Bauer (1982*, Speak trade paperback, 208 p.)
Sixteen-year-old Ellie Morgan's life would be almost perfect if she
could just get her potentially prize-winning pumpkin, Max, to put on
about two hundred more pounds, and if she could lose twenty herself.
With the extra weight, Max would be the shoo-in champion at the Rock
River Pumpkin Weigh-In. Ellie could then become a famous pumpkin-growing
personality and squash the obnoxious Cyril Pool once and for all.
Forever... by Judy Blume (1965; Simon Pulse trade paperback, 208 p.)
Katherine and Michael can't get enough of each
other. Their relationship is unique: sincere, intense, and fun all at
the same time. Although they haven't been together all that long, they
know it's serious.
But it's senior year of high school, and there are big
changes ahead. Michael and Katherine are destined for another big
"first": a decision. Is this the love of a lifetime, or the very
beginning of a lifetime of love?
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden (1982, Farrar Strauss and Giroux trade paperback, 272 p.)
Liza and Annie meet at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum
of Art. Annie's from a rough neighborhood, while Liza is very sheltered.
They fall in love and intend to be honest and true to their feelings, despite the pressure from their parents and schools.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (1967, Speak trade paperback, 224 p.)
According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world:
greasers and socs. A soc (short for "social") has money, can get away
with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine.
greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to
watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he's always been proud of it,
even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow
greasers--until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc.
Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas (1996, Simon Pulse trade paperback, 208 p.)
But his herbal endeavors --
and personal demons -- have lead to a severe lack of motivation. Steve's
flunking out, but if he writes a one-hundred-page paper, he can
Steve realizes he must write what he knows. And
through telling the story of how he got to where he is, he discovers
exactly where he wants to be....
*Original publication dates.