5 Conversation-Starting YA Novels

  • By Caroline Bock
  • October 9, 2015

These new releases are sure to spark dinnertime discussion!








The school year is well underway, and that means homework, homework, and more homework. But in those sweet moments when you want to encourage your teen to read something free-ranging and unassigned, when you want to say life isn’t all work (even homework), suggest one of these new or soon-to-be-released titles, all of which are recommended for ages 14 and up.

  1. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Co-written by award-winning authors Reynolds, African-American, and Kiely, Caucasian, All American Boys tells the story of 16-year-olds Rashad and Quinn after a fateful incident involving the police brings them together. In alternating-point-of-view chapters, the boys (and the authors) grapple with the issue of race in America today. The result is a novel that packs a powerful, must-read punch.

  2. What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler. The unflinching realism in this, Hartzler’s debut novel, is ripped from the headlines. In 2012, the small town of Steubenville, Ohio, was torn apart by an allegation of gang rape at a party by high school student-athletes. It explores the immediate before and after of teens involved in a similar crime. Who is guilty? Who is complicit? And who is to judge?  

  3. Hello? by Liza Wiemer. Another debut, Hello? is a lyrically woven tale of grief and love. Told from five points of view and in varying styles of writing — including narration, free-verse poetry, and script dialogue — it begins with a phone call that will change the lives of five teens. It’s a story with a lot of courage and even more hope.

  4. Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith. Can Clare and Aidan’s relationship survive separate colleges? It’s the night before they are to leave for school, and the question is: Is this goodbye? The couple has one night to decide in this fast-paced novel. Going off to college is a pivotal moment for many teens, and Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between is ideal for jumpstarting conversations about how life — and love — changes.  

  5. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I am breaking my rule here: There are no deep issues to discuss in this much-anticipated release. There is nothing to lean into. This is a lean-back-and-relax book for teens because they need those, too. Inspired by characters in Rowell’s bestselling novel Fangirl, Carry On is set at the Watford School of Magicks and is likely to become another reader favorite.

Caroline Bock the author of the critically acclaimed young-adult novels Before My Eyes and LIE, both from St. Martin’s Press. She lives in Potomac, MD, with her husband, 15-year-old son, and 10-year-old daughter. She is always trying to discuss books with them over dinner.

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