Young adult books that teach empathy

Stone Girl

Stone Girl

Eleni Hale

Winner of the Readings Young Adult Book Prize 2019A heartbreaking novel of raw survival and hope, and the children society likes to forget. A stunning and unforgettable debut YA. 

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 Read reviewOn the Come Up

On the Come Up

Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died right before he hit big, Bri's got massive shoes to fill. But when her mom unexpectedly loses her job...

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 Read reviewCatching Teller Crow

Catching Teller Crow

Ambelin Kwaymullina, Ezekiel Kwaymullina

Winner of the Prize for Young Adult Writing at the 2019 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards. Told in two unforgettable voices, this gripping novel interweaves themes of grief, colonial history, violence,...

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 Read reviewI Am Out With Lanterns

I Am Out With Lanterns

Emily Gale

A beautiful novel about friendship, first love and the power of art to change lives.

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 Read reviewHighway Bodies

Highway Bodies

Alison Evans

Highway Bodies is a unique zombie apocalypse story featuring a range of queer and gender non-conforming teens who have lost their families and friends and can only rely upon each other.

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 Read reviewMeet Me at the Intersection

Meet Me at the Intersection

Rebecca Lim, Ambelin Kwaymullina

Meet Me at the Intersection is an anthology of short fiction, memoir and poetry by authors who are First Nations, People of Colour, LGBTIQA+ or living with disability. The focus of the anthology is on Australian life as seen...

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 Read reviewFar From the Tree

Far From the Tree

Robin Benway

Far From the Tree is a raw, compelling, and ultimately uplifting story of what it means to be family.

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The Librarian of Auschwitz

The Librarian of Auschwitz

Lilit Thwaites, Antonio Iturbe

Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.

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P is for Pearl

P is for Pearl

Eliza Henry Jones

From the talented author of the celebrated novels In the Quiet and Ache comes a poignant and moving book that explores the stories we tell ourselves about our families, and what it means to belong.

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The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Emily Danforth

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning and unforgettable literary debut about discovering who you are and finding the courage to live life according to your own rules.  

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Brontide

Brontide

Sue McPherson

Brontide is a coming of age story about four boys and their lot in life. Recounted through storytelling sessions at their school over a period of five days, these boys chronicle their lives. They are at times demanding,...

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What If It's Us

What If It’s Us

Adam Silvera, Becky Albertalli

From bestselling authors Becky Albertalli (Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda which was made into the film Love, Simon) and Adam Silvera (They Both Die At The End) comes a New York love story with a difference...

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 Read reviewChanging Gear

Changing Gear

Scot Gardner

The vivid story of a teenage boy and the road trip that clears his head and his heart.

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Saints and Misfits

Saints and Misfits

S. K. Ali

Saints and Misfits is a "timely and authentic" (School Library Journal, starred review) debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life...starring a Muslim teen.

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 Read reviewAfter the Lights Go Out

After the Lights Go Out

Lili Wilkinson

What happens when the lights go off after what might truly be an end-of-the-world event? How do you stay alive? Who do you trust? How much do you have to sacrifice?

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Girls Like Me

Girls Like Me

Lola StVil

Girls Like Me is a fresh poetic take on teen angst, high school romance, and cyber-bullying. A novel-in-verse that is campy like Glee, subversive, and downright funny.

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Unmasked (Young Readers' Edition)

Unmasked (Young Readers' Edition)

Turia Pitt

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Darius The Great Is Not Okay

Darius The Great Is Not Okay

Adib Khorram

Clinically-depressed Darius Kellner, a high school sophomore, travels to Iran to meet his grandparents, but it is their next-door neighbor, Sohrab, who changes his life.

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Little & Lion

Little & Lion

Brandy Colbert

A stunning novel on love, identity, loss, and redemption, featuring diverse characters grappling with such issues as bipolar illness and bisexuality--now in paperback!

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Between Us

Between Us

Clare Atkins

Winner of the CBCA Book of the Year Award for Older Readers 2019. Ana's in a detention centre and Jono's life is spiralling out of control. Can their growing romance overcome the borders between them?

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This Thing of Darkness

This Thing of Darkness

Matt Davies

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Long Way Down

Long Way Down

Jason Reynolds, Chris Priestley

Pressed our lips to the pavement and prayed the boom, followed by the buzz of a bullet, didn't meet us. After Will's brother is shot in a gang crime, he knows the next steps. Only when the lift door opens, Buck walks in,...

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Inside the Tiger

Inside the Tiger

Hayley Lawrence

It's not because Bel's mother was murdered. It's not because her father is a politician. Bel writes to a Death Row prisoner as an easy way out of an assignment. But now he's written back.

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A Very Large Expanse of Sea

A Very Large Expanse of Sea

Tahereh Mafi

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Shatter Me series comes a powerful, heartrending contemporary YA novel about fear, first love, and the devastating impact of prejudice.

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 Read reviewWe Are Okay

We Are Okay

Nina LaCour

After leaving her life behind to go to college in New York, Marin must face the truth about the tragedy that happened in the final weeks of summer when her friend Mabel comes to visit.

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You're Welcome, Universe

You’re Welcome, Universe

Whitney Gardner

For use in schools and libraries only. Creating a graffiti mural to cover up a nasty slur about her best friend written on the back of their school for the deaf, Julia is expelled and is sent to a mainstream school where she is...

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Someday We Will Fly

Someday We Will Fly

Rachel DeWoskin

From the author of Blind, a heart-wrenching coming-of-age story set during World War II in Shanghai, one of the only places Jews without visas could find refuge.

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 Read reviewLiving on Hope Street

Living on Hope Street

Demet Divaroren

We all love someone. We all fear something. Sometimes they live right next door - or even closer.

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Amal Unbound

Amal Unbound

Aisha Saeed

Aisha Saeed's middle-grade debut tells the compelling story of a girl's fight to regain her life and dreams after being forced into indentured servitude.

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Clean

Clean

Juno Dawson, Beth Eyre

A razor-sharp, adrenaline rush of a novel from award-winning author Juno Dawson, Clean is Gossip Girl meets Girl, Interrupted  

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I Had Such Friends

I Had Such Friends

Meg Gatland-Veness

A moving debut set in a rural Australian town, I Had Such Friends by Meg Gatland-Veness encourages young adults to see the gaps in our friends' silence and question the parts we play in the stories of others. A thought-provoking...

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 Read reviewWhat I Like About Me

What I Like About Me

Jenna Guillaume

Maisie Martin is a clever, shy, funny, confused 16-year-old. She's ready for the summer of her life. Until everything starts going wrong...

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Nothing But the Truth

Nothing But the Truth

Dick Lehr

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 Read reviewInternment

Internment

Samira Ahmed

New York Times bestselling and Carnegie Prize-nominated author Samira Ahmed (Love, Hate and Other Filters) fights against Islamophobia and complicit silence in a novel about a futuristic internment camp for fans of The Handmaid's...

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Girls on the Line

Girls on the Line

Jennie Liu

Told in two voices, Luli and Yun, raised in an orphanage to age sixteen, work together in a factory until Yun, pregnant, disappears and Luli must confront the dangers of the outside world to find her. Includes facts about China's...

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The Astonishing Colour of After

The Astonishing Colour of After

Emily X.R. Pan

Life, loss, love and art explode in a kaleidoscope of emotions as one girl must learn the truth about her family's past in order to bring peace to the present. For fans of Jandy Nelson and Nicola Yoon.'Portrays the vast spectrum...

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Whisper

Whisper

Chrissie Perry

Fifteen-year-old Demi's world is shattered when she is left profoundly deaf by a sudden illness. Everything is different now, and Demi must learn to adapt to a new school, new friends and even learn a whole new language. Whisper...

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 Read reviewBecause of You

Because of You

Pip Harry

Meet Tiny and Nola. Two very different girls with two very different stories who are just trying to find a place to belong. A powerful and compelling novel about friendship, love and acceptance.

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Making Friends With Alice Dyson

Making Friends With Alice Dyson

Poppy Nwosu

Alice knows exactly how she'll be spending her final year of high school: with her head down, concentrating on textbooks and homework. Until an encounter with the school's most notorious troublemaker derails her plans, turning her...

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Beck

Beck

Mal Peet, Meg Rosoff

The final novel from Carnegie Medal-winning author Mal Peet is a sweeping coming-of-age adventure, with all the characteristic beauty and strenth of his prose.

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The Bone Sparrow

The Bone Sparrow

Zana Fraillon

Subhi's imagination is as big as the ocean and wide as the sky, but his world is much smaller: he's spent his whole life in an immigration detention centre. The Bone Sparrow is a powerful, heartbreaking, sometimes funny...

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13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why

Jay Asher

Clay Jensen returns home to find a strange package with his name on it. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and first love - who committed suicide. Hannah's voice explains there are...

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The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas

A powerful and brave YA novel about what prejudice looks like in the 21st century.

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The Protected

The Protected

Claire Zorn

A compulsively readable novel from the acclaimed author of The Sky So Heavy. The worst thing that could happen would be for my life to go back to how it was before Katie died. Hannah's world has imploded, all thanks to her older...

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 Read reviewWhen Michael Met Mina

When Michael Met Mina

Randa Abdel-Fattah

Michael has always believed that everything in life is black and white. But that was before he met Mina.

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This One Summer

This One Summer

Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki

Every summer, Rose goes with her mum and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different.

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 Read reviewThe Things We Promise

The Things We Promise

J. C. Burke

Gemma's older brother Billy made her a promise that he would ensure she looked fabulous for her first school formal. But his circumstances change dramatically and Billy's promise becomes the least of the family's concerns.

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Becoming Aurora

Becoming Aurora

Elizabeth Kasmer

Sixteen-year-old Rory is at a crossroads in her life. While her gang plans its next move in a racially motivated turf war, Rory is sentenced to spend her summer at an aged care facility.

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 Read reviewTake Three Girls

Take Three Girls

Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell, Fiona Wood

Rumour is the new truth: feminism, identity and belonging are explored in a spectacular collaboration between three award-winning YA authors.

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Trouble Tomorrow

Trouble Tomorrow

Terry Whitebeach, Sarafino Wani Enadio

The compelling story of a Sudanese boy who escapes from civil war and learns not only how to survive on his own without friend or family, but how to construct a new and peaceful way of living.

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 Read reviewMr Romanov's Garden in the Sky

Mr Romanov’s Garden in the Sky

Robert Newton

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Freedom Swimmer

Freedom Swimmer

Wai Chim

This incredible tale about two boys' swim from mainland China to Hong Kong in search of freedom from poverty and oppression is inspired by a true story.

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Sister Heart

Sister Heart

Sally Morgan

A young Aboriginal girl is taken from the north of Australia and sent to an institution in the distant south. There, she slowly makes a new life for herself and, in the face of tragedy, finds strength in new friendships.

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Becoming Kirrali Lewis

Becoming Kirrali Lewis

Jane Harrison

Set within the explosive cultural shifts of the 1960s and 1980s, Becoming Kirrali Lewis chronicles the journey of a young Aboriginal teenager as she leaves her home town in rural Victoria to take on a law degree in...

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The Sun is also a Star

The Sun is also a Star

Nicola Yoon

The dazzling new novel from Nicola Yoon, the New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything.  

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