8 Great Adult Books for Teens Ready to Move On from YA

by Liz Lesnick

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from parenting a teenager, it’s that they are predictably unpredictable. Just when I thought my daughter would never read anything except young adult novels, she informed me, “I am so over YA.” I wanted to make sure that she wasn’t over reading, so I set out to find some adult books that she would find as compelling as her YA favorites. With the help of a fabulous librarian, I compiled this list of fantastic adult reads for teens.

  • The Beautiful Struggle: A Memoir

    by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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    Before Ta-Nehisi Coates penned his bestseller Between the World and Me, he wrote this powerful memoir about growing up with an activist father. More than just a coming-of-age story, The Beautiful Struggle reveals the challenges of being an African American man in a country where it often seems like black lives don’t matter.

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  • The Haunting of Hill House

    by Shirley Jackson

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    If your teen was first in line to see “The Shape of Water” or can’t get enough of Stephen King, they’ll go crazy for Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. Jackson was the master of creating horror through atmosphere and suggestion rather than through explicit descriptions or gore. True confession: I had to read this with the lights on when I knew I wasn’t alone in our house.

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  • Prep

    by Curtis Sittenfeld

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    When my daughter came home from camp last summer, she started saying that she really wanted to go to boarding school. She knew that this was never going to happen, but she continued to bring up the subject. I’m not sure if she appreciated it when I left a copy of Prep on her bed, but she gave it a try. She finished the novel in a day, and while it didn’t stop her from bringing up the subject of boarding school, she did thank me for giving it to her — score one for Mom.

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  • Ready Player One

    by Ernest Cline

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    If your teen is a gamer, a sci-fi/fantasy fanatic, or a self-proclaimed nerd, they’ll geek out over Ready Player One. Words can’t do justice to this laugh-out-loud quest novel whose twists and turns will keep readers glued to the page. Bonus for parents: You get to explain all of the ’80s references from Billy Idol to Atari to “Family Ties”!

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  • Middlesex

    by Jeffrey Eugenides

    In a world that seems more accepting of variations in gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender expression than when Middlesex was published in 2002, many teens still struggle with these issues. I can’t think of a better novel for gaining understanding and empathy for anyone whose appearance doesn’t match their identity. I urge everyone, teens and adults, to read this moving, beautiful story and talk about it with your young adult.

  • My Brilliant Career

    by Miles Franklin

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    If Jo March was your daughter’s favorite character in Little Women, she must read My Brilliant Career. Franklin’s heroine, Sybylla Melvyn, is sort of an Australian Jo, a young woman who wants nothing more than to be a writer, but who is thwarted by both her modest background and the conventions of early 1900s Australia. (I also highly recommend watching the 1979 movie adaptation starring a young Judy Davis as Sybylla, but only after you’ve read the book.)

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  • Life Is Like a Musical: How to Live, Love, and Lead Like a Star

    by Tim Federle

    Some of us are soccer moms or tiger moms or dance moms — I am a drama mom. My daughter gobbled up this funny, honest tell-almost-all about what it’s really like to try to make a living in theater. Tim Federle, author of the beloved Better Nate Than Ever, deserves a standing ovation for this entertaining advice book that teaches valuable lessons about grit and determination without being preachy or treacly.

  • Rebecca

    by Daphne du Maurier

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    If your teen couldn’t put down E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, she’ll devour Daphne du Maurier’s classic tale of a young woman haunted by the legacy of her husband’s glamorous first wife, Rebecca. Du Maurier creates a mysterious and compelling cast of characters from the dashing Maxim de Winter to the severe and terrifying housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, that are as memorable as her famous first line: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” For an extra treat, I recommend a mother-daughter screening of the Hitchcock classic adaptation of the novel.

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What adults books do you think teens would especially enjoy? Let us know in the comments below!