Which YA book should I read on the holidays?
The holidays are a wonderful time to sink deep into reading for pleasure. Here are our suggestions of books to please every sort of YA reader out there.
Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her high school teachers who think the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment and gross comments from guys. But most of all, Viv is fed up with always following the rules. Viv’s mum was Riot Grrrl in the ‘90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates Moxie, a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously. To her surprise, other girls respond and spread the Moxie message, and as Viv forges friendships across the divides of cliques, she realises that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution. Moxie was a bestseller when it was first published in 2017 and, with the Amy-Poehler-directed screen adaptation currently playing on Netflix, now is the perfect time to read it.
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… This fresh take on the 'enemies to lovers’ trope is fun and thoughtful - the perfect holiday reading.
The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold
A deadly flu has swept the globe, leaving a shell of the world that once was. Among the survivors are eighteen-year-old Nico and her dog, who are on a journey devised by Nico’s father to find a mythical portal; a young artist named Kit, who knows almost nothing of the world outside the old abandoned cinema he was raised in; and and the enigmatic Deliverer, who lives Life after Life in an attempt to put the world back together. This near-future novel defies genre expectations and makes obvious connections with our current world. Less action-packed than your usual dystopian novel, this is a deeply philosophical and immersive story of survival, hope and connection amid a ravaged earth.
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 unique sci-fi mashup of Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights is layered and complex, both in plot and ideas, making for a story you want to sink into and savour.
The Boy from the Mish by Gary Lonesborough
It’s a hot summer, and life’s going all right for Jackson and his family on the Mish, even though Jackson has just broken up with his girlfriend. Like always, Jackson’s Aunty and cousins visit from Sydney, but this time they also bring Tomas, who has just spent time in juvenile detention. Jackson is expected to share his room and show Tomas around, and as the two boys grow closer, a tender and tentative relationship forms between them. Debut author Lonesborough is a young Yuin man, and The Boy from the Mish is an Own-Voices story that’s authentic, funny, honest and beautifully written.
The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe
Meet Nora. Also known as Rebecca, Samantha, Haley, Katie and Ashley - the girls she’s been. As the daughter of a con artist who targeted criminal men, Nora always had to play a part. But when her mother fell for one of the men instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con herself: escaping from her mother and her toxic ways. For five years Nora’s been playing at normal - but when she ends up as a hostage in the middle of a bank heist, along with Wes (her ex-boyfriend) and Iris (her secret new girlfriend and mutual friend of Wes) she has to call on all her old skills and personae to get them out alive…With multiple timelines that work towards maximum thrills and thoughtful character development, this is a captivating read.
Love is a Revolution by Renee Watson
When Nala reluctantly agrees to attend an open mic night for her cousin Imani’s birthday, she finds herself falling in instant love with Tye Brown, the socially-conscious MC. In order to impress him, Nala tells a few tiny lies that make her look more into politics and community work than she really is. As Nala and Tye spend more time together and start dating, Nala’s lies start to entangle her. This is a realistic and uplifting story about a young woman figuring out what’s most important to her, and how to create honest relationships within her family and her wider community. With a message of radical self acceptance and self love, Love is a Revolution is a guaranteed mood booster.
The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni (released on 30 March 2021)
Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer. When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the sick woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal, a series of lethal elemental tests. Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place, with the hope that both she and the queen will gain their freedom. With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun. A new book - and a new series - from bestselling Australian author Lynette Noni is always a cause for celebration, and this gripping fantasy set in a unique location is a must-read.