The best YA books, news & events for June

There is an exciting array of YA books coming out this month: a smart psychological thriller, a chilling look at VR technology, dystopian fiction with an ecological bent, heartfelt contemporary stories and a young adult edition of the bestselling The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Find our June picks for kids' books here.



The Girl Who Came Out of the Woods by Emily Barr

Artemis has always lived in the Clearing, a small settlement with utopian aims in the forests of south India. She’s made it to her teens without having any contact with the outside world: no electricity, no internet, no money, and no violence. Stories about the outside world, ‘the Wastelands’, come only from old books and community elders. Artemis loves life in the Clearing, but when tragedy strikes their community she is forced to leave with one brother and seek help.

Scenes of Artemis’s bewildering introduction to the outside world, unexpected social media fame and introduction to her long-lost grandparents are interspersed with the mysterious narrative of someone imprisoned in a cellar in this intriguing novel. Our reviewer Daniella says The Girl Who Came Out of the Woods ‘has the feel of a thriller but [it] deals with issues ranging from the patriarchy and capitalism to social media addiction’. For ages 13 and up.

You can read our full review here.



River Stone by Rachel Henessy

Pandora has reached adulthood, and in the tradition of the River People, she’s been assigned a life partner in her good friend Matthew. The River People are the survivors of the Burning, and cling to strict traditions that are hard for Pandora to accept. When a devastating illness strikes their small village, Pan and her friends travel to the city of Melney in search of a vaccine, encountering dangerous feral animals and members of their rivals, the Mountain People.

A gripping exploration of ecological devastation and war, our reviewer Joe highly recommends this Australian novel: ‘ River Stone is a gripping dystopia with a unique flavour, filling the genre’s bones with its vibrant characters, relentless storytelling and a phenomenal world.’ For ages 12 and up.

You can read our full review here.


Meat Market by Juno Dawson

After sixteen-year-old Jana Novak is unexpectedly discovered by a model scout at a theme park, she’s catapulted from her ordinary life on a South London estate into the supposedly glamorous world of fashion modelling. Gruelling shoots, seedy shared model apartments and constant travel take a toll on Jana’s health and her relationships, but it’s an encounter with a predatory photographer that truly brings home the incredible power imbalances in the industry.

Our reviewer Angela was hooked by this gritty contemporary novel, saying: ‘This is a compelling, fascinating read about the ugly side of the world of beauty from a well-respected, prolific British author.’ For ages 13 and up.

You can read our full review here.


Birthday by Meredith Russo

Childhood best friends Morgan and Eric were born on the same day, and in this moving dual narrative, we meet them on every birthday from the ages of thirteen to eighteen. At thirteen Morgan has realised that the gender she was assigned at birth doesn’t fit who she really is, but she struggles to tell Eric that she’s not a boy. Over time Morgan moves closer and closer to self acceptance, despite harassment and bullying, while footballer Eric struggles with his abusive father, shouldering expectations and questioning his sexual identity.

This is intimate and honest writing, exploring weighty issues, but leaving room for romance and gentle optimism. For ages 13 and up.


Mindcull by K.H. Canobi

Sixteen-year-old social media star Eila is shortlisted in a competition to be the face of virtual reality company Pearl, and invited to England to try out their cutting edge VR ‘skin suits’. After a harrowing interrogation by law enforcement officials, Eila is coerced into spying on Pearl’s activities and finds herself drawn into a dangerous world of competition and conspiracy.

In England, at the mansion owned by Pearl, things only get murkier. An assassination attempt is foiled and Eila must decide who she should trust. The safety of her own mind is under attack, as the sinister possibilities of technology become clearer. A highly original techno-thriller, Mindcull is the debut novel of Australian author, K.H. Canobi, who is also a cognitive scientist and expert in developmental psychology. For ages 12 and up.


The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Young Adult Edition) by Heather Morris

Originally published in 2018, The Tattooist of Auschwitz was a fictionalised account of the romance between two Slovakian Jews who survived Auschwitz-Birkenau and became something of a global phenomenon. Lale Sokolov was given the job of tattooing numbers onto the arms of thousands of incoming prisoners. When he tattoos the arm of his fellow prisoner, terrified Gita Furman, he falls instantly, hopelessly in love.

This young adult edition has been edited and updated for teen readers, and contains extra materials, including photos, maps and documents. Based on author Heather Morris’s interviews with Sokolov, this is a powerful story of love and survival.


We are delighted to announce the 2019 shortlist for the Readings Young Adult Book Prize. Now in its third year, the prize was created to recognise and celebrate new voices in Australian Young Adult literature, and considers the first and second books of YA authors across Australia.

The six shortlisted books for this year are:

You can find out more and read the judge’s comments here.


Applications are now open for the 2019–2020 Readings Teen Advisory Board!

The Readings Teen Advisory Board is a volunteer group of teenagers that meets at the Readings head office once a month to chat about recent and forthcoming young adult books, write blog posts and short reviews, learn about careers in the book industry, and provide feedback to Readings staff members on a range of subjects.

In a recent meeting, they met with a Penguin Books publicist, and discussed our Readings Young Adult Book Prize shortlist.

Applications close 5pm, Friday 21 June, 2019. Find out everything you need to know here.


In honour of the fraught world of teenage friendships, we put together a list of recommendations of healthy and complicated friendships in YA fiction, with fictional friendships to aspire to, and ones to avoid.

Zach, one of our Teen Advisory Board members, has put together a fantastic beginner’s guide to Jay Kristoff. This is a wonderful ode to a favourite author, and an excellent guide for future sci-fi and fantasy reading.

The 2019 Emerging Writers' Festival will run from 19–29 June in venues across Melbourne’s CBD and surrounding suburbs, and contains many events that would be perfect for young adults interested in books, writing, politics, ideas and creativity. To help navigate the amazing EWF program, we put together eight of our top picks from the program. You can view the full program here, and you can find information about what special passes are available here.


We are very delighted to have Julie Kagawa, the New York Times-bestselling author of the Iron Legends series and the Talon saga, joining us to talk about her new book Soul of the Sword, the second in her Shadow of the Fox series on Wednesday 26th June 2019, 5:30pm at Readings Kids. Julie will be in conversation with Rebecca Lim (the Australian author of the Mercy series and the Children of the Dragon series.)

This event is free, but please book here.

Leanne Hall is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Kids. She also writes books for children and young adults.

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The Girl Who Came Out of the Woods

The Girl Who Came Out of the Woods

Emily Barr

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