Our best recommendations for teen books this month

It’s been a big month for local YA fiction so prepare for your bedside reading stacks to start tottering. We’ve also got some recommended books for teens interested in sport, mental health and real-life stories, as well some youth literature awards announcements.

(Find our best recommendations for kids' books this month here.)



Debut novelist Jodi McAlister brings us the funny, action-packed and heart-pounding (in more ways than one) Valentine. Sinister events are occuring in an Australian town, with four teenagers born on the same Valentine’s Day seemingly the targets. This pacy book has got evil fairies plus family secrets plus a good dose of making out plus stealth attacks… What more could you want?

A Shadow’s Breath opens with a serious car accident and follows a now-and-then timeline. Trapped in a mangled car with her boyfriend Nick, Tessa recalls the events that led her to this place. This third novel from Nicole Hayes takes a serious look at a young woman who has struggled to find safety and stability in her family situation, and who must draw on her own strength to survive.

Ooh la la… Let’s visit Paris with Catherine Bateson’s Lisette’s Paris Notebook. Lisette’s gap year ‘dream trip’ is somewhat hampered by the fact that it’s mostly her mum’s idea, she has to live in a poky apartment with a psychic, and attendance at French language classes is compulsory. Still, the romantic setting and exposure to fashion, art and foreign boys can’t help but work their magic on Lisette…

Other LoveOzYA recommendations this month are Alison Evans’s Ida (a gender-fluid, sci-fi story of parallel universes), and Julia Lawrinson’s Before You Forget (a funny and heartbreaking coming-of-age tale).



Amnesia keeps a teen on her toes in The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr. Since she was a child, anterograde amnesia has meant that Flora can only remember the last few hours, and some select details of her life before her amnesia began. Writing detailed notes for herself keeps her on track, but even though – she’s effectively someone in a 17-year-old body who’s has the life experience of a 10-year-old. When she kisses a boy at a party, Flora is shocked to find that she can remember it. Our Kids Shop Manager Angela recommends the novel as ‘a wonderful coming-of-age story about a very unusual girl who fights against her constraints’.

In Eric Lindstrom’s A Tragic Kind of Wonderful, 16-year-old Mel Hanningan is managing her bipolar disorder with the help of medication, a mood diar, and a supportive mum. But Mel also has things she’s hiding from – especially the death of her brother two years prior. Despite the heavy subject matter of this book, Mel makes for a warm, funny and engaging narrator, as she tries to face up to the full truth of her life.

Here are some other international YA books to check out this month:



Mental health is often on the minds of parents and teachers, not to mention the teenagers themselves. With this in mind, we’ve put together a collection of fiction and non-fiction books for teen readers that cover topics as diverse as self-esteem, anxiety, depression, self harm, stress management, mindfulness, bullying and more. Mind Your Head, Depression: A Teen’s Guide to Survive and Thrive and 101 Ways to Conquer Teen Anxiety are great, practical resources for teens (and adults too).

If you know a teenager who prefers true stories to fiction, there are plenty of great memoirs and biographies suitable for younger readers. Queen of Katwe, Nujeen and Every Falling Star are three recent releases that will entertain, educate, inspire and inform. Find even more suggestions here.

Finally, the successful start of the AFL Women’s competition has highlighted the intense interest women’s sport can – and should – receive in this country. Older teens 14 years and up will enjoy respected sports journalist Angela Pippos’s Breaking the Mould, which draws attention to the determination of sportswomen who have broken through barriers.



I’m an avid reader of crime fiction, and have devoured huge swathes of adult and YA crime fiction over the past few years. The best thing about YA crime fiction is that teenage characters get to circumvent parents, police and authorities while getting their hands dirty, and all in the name of truth, justice, love, revenge, survival, family, morbid curiosity and poor decision-making.

I recently put together a a blog post jam-packed with book suggestions for teen readers who enjoy crime and detective fiction – featuring everything from historical (such as Jennifer Donnelly’s These Shallow Graves), to supernatural (such as Gabriel Bergmoser’s Boone Shepard), to capers (such as Stephanie Tromly’s Trouble is a Friend of Mine).

You can find ALL my recommendations here.



The Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards were announced last week. Randa Abdel-Fattah’s When Michael Met Mina was the winner in the Young Adult category, and was also voted the People’s Choice winner by the public. Congratulations Randa!

The American Library Asssociation also announced their prestigious Youth Media Awards this month. The Michael L Printz Award for youth literature went to March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, while the Coretta Scott King award went to Readings favourite, The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.

The Youth Media Awards contain a really interesting category for adult books that appeal to a teen audience. You can find the 10 Alex Awards books here.

Leanne Hall is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Kids. She is also the Grants Officer for the Readings Foundation.

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A Shadow's Breath

A Shadow’s Breath

Nicole Hayes

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