Recommended YA books for March

This month we have unique time-travelling mash-ups, a sparkling enemies-to-lovers story, contemporary stories of grief, loss and mental health, the graphic novel adaptation of an award-winning novel, a guide to youth activism and more.

Find our March picks for kids books here.


The Gaps by Leanne Hall

When sixteen-year-old Yin Mitchell is abducted, the news reverberates through Balmoral Ladies College. As the hours tick by, the girls know the chance of Yin being found alive is becoming smaller and smaller. Police suspect the abduction is the work of a serial offender, with none in the community safe from suspicion. Everyone is affected by Yin’s disappearance - even scholarship student Chloe, who usually stays out of Balmoral drama. When she begins to form an unlikely friendship with the queen of Year Ten, Natalia, things get even more complicated.

Well, this is awkward. I wrote a book, and now I have to tell you about my book. I’ll leave the rest to our reviewer Angela, who said: ‘ The Gaps is a strongly feminist novel filled with righteous anger about the violence enacted upon young women. It’s an utterly compelling page turner that also depicts racism, sexism and privilege in nuanced ways.’

You can read her full review here.

For ages 13+.


Waking Romeo by Kathryn Barker

It’s 2083 and the end of the world. Literally. Time travel is possible, but only forwards. And only a handful of families choose to remain in the ‘now’, living off the scraps that were left behind. Among these are eighteen-year-old Juliet and the love of her life, Romeo. But things are far from rosy for Jules. Romeo is in a coma and she’s estranged from her friends and family, dealing with the very real fallout of their wild romance. Then a handsome time traveller, Ellis, arrives with an important mission that makes Jules question everything she knows about life and love.

This highly original mashup of Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights is the much-anticipated second book by Aurealis-Award-winning Australian author Kathryn Barker. Our reviewer Claire had high praise for this spectacular genre twisting tale: ‘This story brings together myriad dystopian futures, the concepts of fate and existentialism, and a disorientating, but engaging, tale of love and time – but not in the way you may first think.’

You can read her full review here.

For ages 14+.

Perfect On Paper by Sophie Gonzales

Despite never having been in a romantic relationship herself, Darcy Phillips runs her school’s anonymous relationship advice service via locker 89. The process is simple: write a letter confessing your relationship woes, pay a small fee of $10, and wait patiently for the solution to appear in your inbox. But when the new Australian jock at school, Alexander Brougham, discovers Darcy in the act of collecting letters from locker 89, she is strong-armed into helping him win his ex-girlfriend back. Darcy has good reason to keep her identity secret, but things are about to get very complicated…

Our reviewer Kealy loved this ‘wonderfully fresh take on the ‘enemies to lovers’ trope’ that also contains thoughtful and necessary conversations surrounding bisexuality and biphobia.

You can read her full review here.

For ages 14+.

Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi

Jayne and June Baek are nothing alike. June’s three years older, a classic first-born, know-it-all with a problematic finance job (according to Jayne). Jayne is an emotionally stunted, self-obsessed fashion student who lives in squalor, has egregious taste in men, and needs to stop wasting Mom and Dad’s money (if you ask June). Once close, these sisters who grew up in Seoul and are now in the same city again - New York - don’t want anything to do with each other. That is, until June gets cancer. And Jayne becomes the only one who can help her.

Fans of Mary H. K. Choi’s excellent romances Emergency Contact and Permanent Record will be delighted with the new territory she covers in this thoughtful tale of the bonds of sisterhood, and battling with body image, cultural identity and intimate relationships.

For ages 14+.

Lead the Way by Jean Hinchliffe

Lead the Way is a guide to activism and making systematic change written by one of the key young organisers of School Strikes 4 Climate. From identifying your cause to finding allies, planning a march, nailing your messaging, public speaking and working with the media, to the importance of self-care when you’re on your activist journey, this intelligent and insightful guide uses lists and anecdotes to advise.

Our reviewer Ngaire appreciated the reflections on power distribution and inclusivity, and found this to be the ‘perfect introduction to activism’

You can read her full review here.

For ages 12+.

Tell Me Why for Young Adults by Archie Roach

This young adult edition of Archie Roach’s award-winning and acclaimed memoir tells the story of his life and his music. Only two when he was forcibly removed from his family, and brought up by a series of foster parents until his early teens, Archie’s world imploded when he received a letter that spoke of a life he had no memory of. It took him almost a lifetime to find out who he really was. Tell Me Why for Young Adults is an unforgettable story of resilience, strength of spirit and hope, and contains reflections from First Nations Elders and young people.

For ages 12+.

What’s the T? by Juno Dawson

Discover what it means to be a young transgender or non-binary person in the 21st century in this frank and funny guide for teens. Activist, former teacher and bestselling trans author Juno Dawson (Wonderland, Meat Market) tackles the complex realities of growing up trans with honesty and humour, offering advice on coming out, sex and relationships. Dawson also invites her trans and non-binary friends to make contributions, ensuring this inclusive book reflects as many experiences as possible, and is joyfully illustrated by gender non-conforming artist Soofiya.

For ages 14+.


Recent awards announcements include the much-anticipated Children’s Book Council of Australian notable books lists which covers books for older readers, and, over in the UK, the Carnegie Medal longlist which contains some quality YA.

Know an avid teen reader? Readings is hosting a monthly online book club for young adults aged 14+ this year. Hop to it!

If you’re keen to read for First Nations Australian authors this year, we’ve compiled a list of First Nations writers to read in 2021, which includes several YA titles.

The tween years can be a tricky time for reading. If you know a young reader who is almost - but not quite - ready for YA books, we’ve recommended some titles that we think are perfect for the tween years.

If you missed our wonderful event featuring Rebecca Lim in conversation with Alice Pung, you’ll be very pleased to know that you can watch a recording of it here.

Leanne Hall is the children’s specialist for Readings online. She also writes books for children and young adults.

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Cover image for The Gaps

The Gaps

Leanne Hall

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