2010 Best Books for Young Adults
The list of 90 books, drawn from 203 official nominations, is presented annually at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. The books, recommended for those ages 12-18, meet the criteria of both good quality literature and appealing reading for teens. The list comprises a wide range of genres and styles, including contemporary realistic fiction that reflects the diversity of the teen experience, nonfiction that brings to teens an awareness of the world they live in and its history, and fantastical stories told in both narrative and graphic formats. The committee also selected a Top 10 list.
“This year’s list was the result of exceptional work from the Best Books for Young Adults committee,” said Summer Hayes, committee chair. “With the ever increasing volume of reading material published for teens each year, identifying significant titles with both literary merit and teen appeal can be quite a challenge. The BBYA 2010 list represents the strongest offerings from a wide variety of genres and, while many of the titles will appeal to a broad selection of teens, we are especially pleased to have identified a number of books that will resonate with teens looking for a unique reading experience.”
The members of the Best Books for Young Adults Committee are: Summer Hayes, chair, King County Library System, Foster Library, Tukwila, Wash.; Martha Baden, Alice Boucher World Languages Academy, Lafayette, La.; Teresa Brantley, Salem Middle School, Apex, N.C.; Louise Brueggemann, Morton West High School, Forest Park, Ill.; Megan P. Fink, Charlotte (N.C.) Country Day Middle School; Michael Fleming, Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus Library, Issaquah, Wash.; Rebecca Hunt, Wayne State University School of Library and Information Science, Detroit, Mich.; Alissa Lauzon, Haverhill (Mass.) Public Library; Rachel McDonald, King County Library System, Auburn, Wash.; Diane Roberts, St. Thomas High School Library, Houston, Texas; Elsworth Rockefeller, Martin Luther King Library, Washington, D.C.; Terri S. Snethen, Blue Valley North High School, Overland Park, Kans.; Rollie Welch, Cleveland (Ohio) Public Library; Cassie Wilson, Rowlett (Texas) Public Library; Brook Young, Salt Lake City (Utah) Public Library; Gillian Engberg, consultant, Booklist, Chicago, Ill.; and Amanda Hirst, administrative assistant, King County Public Library, Redmond, Wash.
Anderson, Laurie Halse.
Wintergirls. Penguin/Viking Books. 2009. 9780670011100. $17.99
Lia is haunted by her best friend's death from bulimia, as she struggles with her own eating disorder.
Tales of the Madman Underground. Penguin/Viking Books. 2009. 9780670060818. $18.99.
In an attempt to distance himself from the rest of the students in the school's therapy group known as the Madman Underground, Karl launches his senior year with “Operation Be Fucking Normal.”
The Unnameables. Houghton Mifflin. 2008. 978-0-15-206368-9. $16.00.
In a place where everything has a name and every name has a meaning, outsider Medford Runyuin struggles in vain to follow the rules of his adopted home.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Dell Publishing/Delacorte Press. 2009. 978-0-385-34230-8. $23.00.
Flavia de Luce is delighted with the discovery of a dead snipe on her doorstep and considers it a bonus when a human body is found in her cucumber patch.
Going Bovine. Random House/Delacorte. 2009. 978-0-385-73397-7. $17.99.
Cameron knew there was something wrong when he started seeing pillars of fire and angels, but he never imagined he had mad cow disease.
Brennan, Sarah Rees.
Demon's Lexicon. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Margaret K. McElderry. 2009. 978-1-4169-6379-0. $17.99.
Sixteen-year-old Nick and his older brother Alan are always on the run. Now, Alan has been marked by a demon and to save him, the boys must become the hunters.
Hate List. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. 2009. 978-0-316-04144-7. $16.99.
In the year following the devastating shootings at her high school orchestrated by her boyfriend Nick, Valerie must come to terms with grief and guilt in order to move on with her life.
Burg, Anne E.
All the Broken Pieces. Scholastic. 2009. 978-0-545-08092-7. $16.99.
12-year-old Matt struggles to cope with his memories of family left behind in war-torn Vietnam with the help of his adoptive parents, his music teacher, and his baseball coach.
Fire. Penguin Group/Dial Books. 2009. 978-0-8037-3461-6. $17.99.
In a world full of monsters so beautiful they lure people into their doom, how can people protect themselves from human monsters?
Because I Am Furniture. Penguin/Viking. 2009. 978-0-670-06298-0. $16.99.
Anke watches her siblings and mother suffer at the hands of her abusive father until she finds enough strength, through involvement in volleyball, to demonstrate her needs.
Highway to Hell. Random House / Delacorte Press. 2009. 978-0-385-73463-9. $16.99.
Maggie and Lisa find their spring break road trip interrupted by a cow’s carcass which launches them into a hunt for an evil demon terrorizing a remote desert.
Catching Fire. Scholastic/ Scholastic Press. 2009. 978-0-439-02349-8. $17.99.
After winning the Hunger Games, Katniss is preoccupied with the government’s expectations for her romantic life. She soon has more important worries—including revolts in the Districts and new Game rules.
A Brief History of Montmaray.Random House/Alfred A Knopf. 2009. 978-0-375-85864-2. $16.99.
Not even a small island nation populated mostly by royalty can keep neutral in the events leading up to the Second World War.
, Suzanne Carlisle.
The Stolen One. Harper Collins/Greenwillow. 2009. 978-0-06-123200-8. $17.99
In searching for her identity, Spirit finds that she is the daughter of a former queen and realizes who she truly loves, at the court of Queen Elizabeth I.
Lost. Marshall Cavendish. 2009. 978-0-7614-5535-6. $16.99.
Essie, 16, sews all day for pennies at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory to help feed her fatherless family and now to forget her little sister's death. Then the fire happens.
Mare's War.Random House/Alfred A. Knopf. 2009. 978-0-375-85714-0. $16.99.
Sisters Octavia and Tali embarks on a road trip woth their grandmother over the summer. During this road trip, Octavia and Tali learn that there's more to their grandmother than what they have seen.
Along For the Ride. Penguin/Viking. 2009. 978-0-670-01194-0. $16.99.
Auden’s summer becomes one of second chances, not just for her but for her family and friends as well. The more chances she takes, the more she discovers about herself.
Solace of the Road. Random House/David Fickling Books. 2009. 978-0-375-84971-8. $17.99.
Holly Hogan had had enough. She dons a blonde wig, hits the road, and becomes Solace, a street smart, tough teen ready to take on the world.
.2009. 978-0-670-01183-4. $17.99.
Soccer star Devon never admitted to herself that she was pregnant. Now she’s in detention, facing charges of attempted murder after delivering a baby and dumping it in the trash.
If I Stay.Penguin/ Dutton. 2009. 978-0-525-42103-0. $16.99.
While in a coma after her family is killed in a car accident, Mia struggles to decide whether to live or die.
Crossing Stones.Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Frances Foster Books. 978-0-374-31653-2. $16.99.
Muriel's itching for a life outside her family's Vermont farm, but bigger changes await her in 1917 as first her neighbor and then her brother enlist to fight in Europe.
Say the Word. Bloomsbury. 2009. 978-1-59990-333-0. $16.99.
After her estranged mother dies, Shawna Gallagher refuses to accept her dysfunctional home life and attempts to make peace with her mother’s lesbian lover.
George, Jessica Day.
Princess of the Midnight Ball. Bloomsbury. 2009. 978-1-59990-322-4. $16.99.
When the decade long war ends, professional solider Galen finds work as a gardener in the king’s garden, only to help solve the puzzle involving twelve dancing princesses.
Gill, David Macinnis.
Soul Enchilada. Harper Collins/Harper Teen. 2009. 978-0-06-167301-6. $16.99.
When a repo demon comes for her Cadillac, Bug Smoot finds that her deceased grandfather pledged both her soul and her car as collateral on a deal.
Eon: Dragoneye Reborn. Penguin/Viking Books. 2008. 978-0-670-06227-0. $19.99.
Sixteen-year-old Eon is the unlikeliest candidate for Dragoneye, but she holds great power and a dangerous secret that just might make her the greatest Dragoneye for centuries.
The Orange Houses. Penguin/Dial Books. 2009. 978-0-8037-3346-6. $16.99.
Despite poverty, gang violence, and lack of appropriate supports, three inner-city teens come together and try to beat the odds and succeed in life.
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder.Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends. 2009. 978-0312382520. $16.99.
Feeling used by her two best friends, high school sophomore Jessie decides to go in search of new friends. But will she be able to survive being branded a nerd?
Han, Jenny. The Summer I Turned Pretty. Simon & Schuster. 2009. $16.99. At the beach house where she has spent every summer since childhood, sixteen-year-old Belly finds that this is the summer of many changes.
The Lost Conspiracy.HarperCollins. 2009. 978-0-06-088042-2. $16.99.
Hathin is unremarkable compared to her mind wandering sister, but when push comes to shove, Hathin must save herself, her sister, and her whole island.
The Great Wide Sea. Penguin/Viking. 2008. 978-0-670-06330-7. $16.99.
His mother is dead and his father is missing at sea. With a horrific storm brewing, can sixteen-year-old Ben and his younger brothers survive?
No More Us for You. Harper Collins/Harper Teen. 2009. 978-0-06-117333-2. $16.99.
Carlos has a cheating girlfriend, a mystery man urinating on the floor at work, and a friend in a coma. Can Isabel—still grieving her dead boyfriend—help him cope?
The Reformed Vampire Support Group. Harcourt/ Houghton Mifflin. 2009. 978-0-15-206609-3. $17.00.
Nina Harrison, now and forever a teenage vampire, leads her dysfunctional crew of bloodsuckers on a mission to halt vampire persecution and rescue a vicious werewolf.
. Random House Children’s Books/Alfred A. Knopf. 2009. 9780375861178. $15.99.
Eddie Corazon, an angry juvenile delinquent in an alternative school, is influenced by love, a special teacher, books, and a criminal cousin as he tries to find his true self.
Almost Perfect. Random House/ Delacorte Press. 2009. $17.99. 978-0-385-73664-0.
An intriguing new student gets Logan out of his post-breakup slump, but as Sage reveals her past, Logan isn’t sure he’s confident enough to handle her MTF gender identity.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. Henry Holt. 2009. 978-0-8050-8841-0. $16.99.
In 1899, eleven-year-old Calpurnia bonds over science and nature with her grandfather even as she becomes increasingly aware that she may not be able to pursue those interests as an adult.
The Dust of 100 Dogs.Llewellyn Publications/Flux. 2009. 978-0-7387-1426-4. $9.95
After being cursed to live the lives of 100 dogs before being reborn as a human, former pirate Emer Morrisey returns to Jamaica to reclaim treasure buried centuries before.
Jumping Off Swings. Candlewick Press. 2009. 978-0-7636-3949-5. $16.99.
Ellie is pregnant after looking for love in the wrong places with one too many boys. Corrine, Caleb and Josh all deal with the emotions, consequences and difficult decisions ahead.
Hold Still. Dutton. 2009. 978-0525421559. $17.99.
Devastated by her best friend’s suicide, Caitlin tries to rebuild her own life and relationships while finding the courage to read the journal that Ingrid left behind.
Liar.Bloomsbury. 2009. 978-1-59990-305-7. $16.99.
For years Micah has been a liar, and after her boyfriend's brutal murder, will anyone...will you... believe what she has to say?
The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had
. Penguin/G.P. Putnam's Sons. 2009. 978-0-399-25090-3. $16.99.
1917 Alabama, 12-year-old Dit’s life in rural Moundville becomes complicated and tragic by his friendship with Emma, the African American daughter of the new postman.
The Treasure Map of Boys:
Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch--And Me, Ruby Oliver. Random House/Delacorte Press. 2009. 978-0-385-73426-4. $15.99.
Ruby Oliver’s neurotic mind continues to struggle with having boys as friends while being backstabbed by her female classmates at Seattle’s Tate Prep School.
Flash Burnout. Houghton Mifflin. 2009. 978-0-547-19489-9. $16.00.
Blake Hewson discovers there’s a big difference between lust and love, a tough lesson of a fifteen-year-old involved with a girlfriend and another girl as a friend.
The Rock and the River.Aladdin. 2009. 978-1-4169-7582-3. $15.99.
In 1968 Chicago, Sam struggles to decide whether to support his father's nonviolent approach to civil rights or his brother, who has joined the Black Panther Party.
Purple Heart.HarperCollins Publisher/Balzer + Bray. 2009. 978-0-06-173090-0. $16.99.
Private Matt Duffy receives the Purple Heart, but he cannot remember the incident that left him with a traumatic brain injury and an image of an Iraqi boy's death.
The Devil’s Paintbox. Random House/Knopf. 2009. 978-0-375-83750-0. $16.99.
Orphaned siblings Aiden and Maddy have survived Kansas, barely, setting out on the Oregon Trail just to have regular meals. But the trip is more than they expected...
McKinley, Robin and Peter Dickinson.
Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits. GP Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Readers Group. 2009. 97800399252891. $19.99.
Fire in different and subtle interpretations: a phoenix hatched from an egg forgotten in an old museum, a dragon that can't go into Firespace, a hellhound/dog that finds a family.
.Curbstone Press. 2009. 978-1931896498. $16.95.
After surviving years of torture as a political prisoner in Chile in the 1980s, Daniel's father rejoins his family in the United States, but his fight for justice isn’t over.
, Donna Jo.
Alligator Bayou. Random House / Knopf. 2009. 978-0-385-74654-0. $16.99.
Fourteen-year-old Calogero emigrates to Louisiana in 1899, where his tiny Sicilian community faces discrimination and worse in a small town where they’re considered neither black nor white.
Gentlemen. Scholastic. 2009. 978-0-545-09749-9. $16.99.
After one of four rough cut high school guys disappears, his friends become suspicious of their teacher Mr. Haberman, who refers to them as gentlemen while teaching Crime and Punishment.
Oaks, J. Adams.
Why I Fight. Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books. 2009. 9781416911777. $16.99.
For five years, Wyatt travels the country with his drifter Uncle Spade, first as a companion, then as a money-making bare-fisted fighter, until realizing Spade doesn't exactly have Wyatt's best interests at heart.
Pearson, Mary E.
The Miles Between.Henry Holt. 2009. 978-0-8050-8828-1.
October 19th never turns out well, but this year is different as Destiny takes off on a road trip with three classmates in a convertible left by a mysterious stranger.
Pena, Matt de la.
We Were Here. Random House/Delacorte Press. 2009. 978-0-385-73667-1.
Miguel, sentenced to a group home for a horrible crime, must overcome his self-hatred while on the run with two other criminals.
Punkzilla. Candlewick Press. 2009. 978-0-7636-3031-7. $16.99.
Jamie has run away from his family, military school, and his troubled past. He sets out via bus to visit his dying brother, writing letters along the way.
Surface Tension: A Novel in Four Summers. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf. 2009. 978-0-375-84446-1. $16.99.
Every summer Luke spends two weeks vacationing at a lake, and every year things are just slightly different.
of Hands and Teeth.Random House/Delacorte. 2009. 978-0-385-90631-9. $19.99.
Mary’s village is protected by a fence keeping out the Unconsecrated-who are undead craving human flesh-until a massive breach launches the teenage girl into a fight for survival.
Love You, Hate You, Miss You. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. 2009. 978-0061122835. $16.99.
Seventy-five days after the car crash that killed her best friend Julia, Amy leaves rehab and begins writing a series of letters to her in a journal.
In the Path of Falling Objects
. Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends. 2009. 9780312375584. $17.99.
When their mother abandons them, brothers Jonah and Simon hit the road and make one fatal mistake: they accept a ride from a pretty girl and a dangerous man.
Smith, Sherri L.
. Penguin/G.P. Putnam's Sons. 2009. 978-0-399-24709-5. $16.99.
During WWII, Ida Mae Jones must go against her family and heritage to join the Army’s WASP program and fulfill her dream of being a pilot.
How to Say Goodbye in Robot. Scholastic. 2009. 978-0545107082. $17.99.
Fringe dwellers Jonas (Ghost Boy) and Beatrice (Robot Girl) use their adopted alter egos to help navigate the difficulties of fractured families and impending adulthood during their senior year.
When You Reach Me. Random House / Wendy Lamb Books. 2009. 978-0-385-73742-5. $15.99.
The year they are twelve, Sal begins to ignore Miranda and breaks her heart. But Miranda's attention is diverted when she begins to receive urgent, anonymous notes in unexpected places.
Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception. Llewell/Flux. 2008. 978-0-7387-1370-0. $9.95.
Shy and ordinary Deirdre finds herself caught up in an ancient struggle in the faerie world when she meets Luke, a sexy musician with a very dark past.
Shiver. Scholastic Inc./Scholastic Press. 2009. 978-0-545-12326-6. $17.99.
Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. She has been particularly drawn to one – a yellow-eyed wolf who, in turn has been watching her intensely.
Stork, Francisco X.
Marcelo in the Real World. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books. 2009. 978-0-545-05474-4. $17.99.
Marcelo—a teen who exhibits Asperger-like behaviors—is forced to leave his job caring for horses to work in his father’s law firm and experience “the real world.”
Heroes of the Valley. Disney Book Group/Hyperion. 2009. 978-1-4231-0966-2. $17.99.
Halli lives in the shadow of his brother and the ancient heroes of his homeland, but when his family is threatened, he is unafraid to face enemies - whether human or not.
Tales from Outer Suburbia. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books. 2009. 978-0-545-05587-1. $19.99.
Giant floating poetry balls, living stick figures, strange creatures from the sea and an all-knowing water buffalo are some of the wonders found in this lushly illustrated collection of stories.
Lips Touch: Three Times. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. 2009. 978-0-545-05585-7. $17.99.
Three novellas explore the power of a kiss, and its possible hazards or thrills, especially if the kiss pulls humans and demons together in a lusty embrace.
Creature of the Night. Roaring Brook Press. 2009. 978-1-59-643511-7. $17.95.
Juvenile delinquent Bobby resists his mother’s plan to move to the countryside, but his anger becomes fear as he learns about local history and the creatures who rule the fields.
Broken Soup. Harper Collins/Harper Teen. 2009. 978-0-06-085071-5. $16.99.
Since Rowan’s brother died, her mother’s been depressed, and she’s been caring for her sister alone. When a stranger insists that a photo negative belongs to her, Rowan’s life changes.
Same Difference. Scholastic, Inc./PUSH. 2009. 9780545004077. $17.99.
Emily commutes between a suburb where everyone tries to fit in and Philadelphia where everyone wants to be unique. Between these two "worlds" Emily tries to navigate between two sets of friends and struggle to find out who she really is.
Breathless. Walker & Company. 2009. 978-0802798497. $16.99.
When her schizophrenic brother’s behavior grows violent, Katie parents send her off to boarding school, where she quickly becomes part of the in crowd while harboring a dark secret.
Leviathan. Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse. 2009. 9781416971733. $19.99.
Steampunk novel that is a strange mixture of Victorian times with mechanical inventions. Bio-society countries are at war with mechanical countries in this extremely fresh novel.
Williams, Carol Lynch.
The Chosen One. Macmillan/St. Martin’s Griffin. 2009. 978-0-312-55511-5. $16.95.
When the Prophet commands thirteen-year-old Kyra to marry her aging uncle, her family is shaken. Desperate to escape, Kyra knows that running away puts them all at risk.
Jumped. Harper Collins/Harper Teen. 2009. 9780060760915. $16.99.
When Trina unknowingly insults Dominique in the hallway, she’s in danger of being jumped after school. Leticia could warn her, but she’s reluctant to get involved.
Funny How Things Change. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2009. 9780374302337. $16.95.
In this coming-of-age novel, Remy must choose between the girl of his dreams and the mountain his family has called home for generations.
The Uninvited. Candlewick Press. 2009. 9780763639846. $16.99.
When Mimi decides she has to get out of town, she retreats to her father’s cabin in the Canadian wilderness. Unease, mystery, and spookiness decide to follow.
The Monstrumologist. Simon & Schuster. 2009. 978-1416984481. $17.00.
Will Henry, orphan and assistant to a monstrumologist, races against time to save his town (and himself) from the anthropophagi, a pod of monstrous creatures who prey on humans.
Yang, Gene Luen.
The Eternal Smile. Roaring Brook/First Second. 2009. 9781596431560. $16.95.
Three tales in one graphic novel show the paper-thin margin that separates fantasy from reality for a warrior, a frog and a girl.
Once Was Lost. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. 2009. 978-0-316-03604-7. $16.99.
Samara’s faith is tested as struggles to uphold their perfect family image her father. a pastor, must portray while her mother drinks herself into rehab and a friend goes missing.
An Off Year. Penguin/Dutton. 2009. 978-0-525-42159-7. $16.99.
Cecily decides to take a gap year before college and embarks on a journey of self-discovery with wry humor and professional help.
The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P.T. Barnum. Random House/Schwartz and Wade Books. 2009. 978-0-375-84197-2. $18.99.
The AMAZING and THRILLING life of the GREAT P.T. Barnum is laid bare in this STUPENDOUS biography. Come one, come all and learn about this truly AMERICAN icon.
The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe. Black Dog & Leventhal. 2009. 9781579128142. $29.95.
The 118 elements of the periodic table are photographed and described with humor, style and authority.
Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith. Henry Holt and Company. 978-0-8050-8721-5. $18.95.
This lively biography of Charles Darwin focuses on the family life of one of the world’s most famous scientists, including the impact differing religious beliefs had on the family’s relationships.
, Phillip M.
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 2009. 978-0-374-31322-9. $19.95.
As a teen, Claudette Colvin sparked the protest that led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and desegregation of public facilities by refusing to relinquish her seat to a white woman.
Mann, Charles C.
The Americas of 1491. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum. 978-1-4169-4900-8. $24.99. 2009.
Well before the arrival of Columbus, there were highly advanced civilizations in the Americas. More native people died from their germs than at the hands of the Europeans.
Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting. Scholastic. 2009. 978-0-545-13049-3. $16.99.
Bored and miserable after months in the trenches along Europe’s Western Front during WWI, German and Allied soldiers brought fighting to a halt to celebrate Christmas together in 1914.
Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don't You Grow Weary. Penguin Group/Viking.2009. 978-0-670-01189-6. $19.99.
In a tense, day-by-day account of the Freedom March of 1965, teen voices are crucial to the spirit and drive of the march.
Stitches: A Memoir. W.W. Norton & Co. 2009. 9780393068573. $24.95.
In stunning graphic memoir format, Caldecott-winning artist David Small tells the story of his difficult childhood and his journey into adolescence and adulthood.
Stone, Tanya Lee.
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream. Candlewick. 2009. 978-0-7636-3611-1. $24.99.
The story of the “Mercury 13” women who paved the way for females in space and aeronautics by challenging the political and social culture behind NASA’s unwritten rule that astronauts must be male.
Swanson, James L.
Chasing Lincoln’s Killer. Scholastic Press. 2009. 978-0439903547. $16.99.
Much more than just Lincoln’s killing went on that night of the Ford Theater assassination, this book will inform and entertain you with the gory details.
Walker, Sally M.
Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland. Lerner/Carolrhoda Books. 2009. 978-0-8225-7135-3. $22.95.
This book offers an incredible look at how ancient bones can reveal the details about the daily lives of colonial Americans.