Books for teens are hard! By the time we get to this point, the homogeneity of the Wimpy Kid/Treehouse years are well-and-truly behind us and kids splinter off, some diving headfirst into particular genres, some leap-frogging over YA into adult books, some putting books aside in favour of other pursuits.
But parents, teachers, librarians, friends, aunts, uncles and other interested parties do not give up trying to put quality, engaging reads into their kids’ hands. I know this because the Your Kid’s Next Read community is full of such parties, enquiring about books for their voracious readers, their reluctant readers and their over- or underwhelmed readers.
One such group that’s getting a lot of attention at present in the YKNR community are girls aged 13 and 14, particularly with Christmas on the way and parents keen to find just the right book for the teen in their lives.
To help, I turned to one of the most engaged and interested readers that I know, the lovely Jazzy of the Jazzy’s Bookshelf blog. Jazzy is 14 and is an experienced, thoughtful book reviewer, having maintained her blog since she was nine years old. She is also a fellow MS Readathon ambassador so she knows a thing or two about books and the power of reading.
I asked Jazzy to nominate brilliant books for 13/14-year-old-girls and she not only came up with ten terrific picks of her own, but canvassed her friends for 10 others to round out the selection.
Take it away Jazzy!
20 tried-and-tested books for 13/14-year-old girls
Natalie is an 18-year-old girl who has just come out of school, with recently separated parents. She despises her appearance and has a skin disorder. She judges herself extremely harshly, which means that when problems keep piling onto her – the divorce, her first romance and friendship troubles – she can’t deal. What good could possibly come out of this?
I loved this book. The author Nina Kenwood has done a fantastic job in building Natalie’s character in a fascinating way, so I will be looking out for more of her novels in the future. I recommend it to anyone looking for a good laugh.
When Lex’s brother Ty took his life, her entire world took a drastic turn for the worse. Lex’s mother turns to alcohol and both mourn Ty’s loss miserably. Lex breaks up with her boyfriend and pretends nothing is wrong; but within, she is a complete wreck.
Only the most amazing book would make me emotional and this novel certainly achieved just that. It was so realistic and heartbreaking. If you read this book, expect to get teary…
Imagine a time where blood is life’s currency. Where you can survive for hundreds of years – or die in your 20s.
Seventeen-year-old Jules Ember and her father lead miserable lives; they exist in a world where blood is money. The Gerlings rule, outliving others by melting blood coins into their drinks. Rent is payed through these coins and Jules and her father are behind on rent.
In an attempt to escape the relentless assault of poverty, Jules ignores her father’s warning and seeks work at Everless, the Gerlings’ palace. Jules discovers their merciless, greedy ways and uncovers some truths about herself.
Everless is an intense dystopian novel that keeps you gripped until the last page. I was entranced by Sara Holland’s style of writing, particularly the way she weaves detail into the story. It made Everless a lot more enjoyable and painted vivid imagery inside my mind.
In the midst of a horrifying drought, 16-year-old Alyssa Morrow’s life is turned up-side-down from “The Tap-Out”. With water a rare commodity and her small Californian town rife with violence and crime, Alyssa is forced out of her house.
To avoid death by dehydration, she hits the road with her brother and the “freak” who lives next door. Picking up strangers on the way and watching the thirst bring out the worst in people, two questions remain; how long can they survive without water and where can they find it?
I enjoyed Dry because of the plausibility of the situation happening in real life. I was delighted by the way the tone constantly changed throughout the story; there were nail-biting scenes, sad moments and humorous parts.
Jacob O’Leary of Palmerston is forced to live with cerebral palsy and is desperately waiting for a chance to prove himself. When livestock are murdered in his small Australian town, a newcomer is unfairly blamed and Jacob seizes the moment to fight for justice. Will he solve the Palmerston case, or fail and be forever ridiculed?
This is an entertaining and inspirational read and I admired how many obstacles Jacob overcomes. He experiences great personal growth and doesn’t give up on his fight for righteousness.
In medieval times a jester performs his new play, The Anger of Angels, which ridicules the Prince of Goretti. At the same time, his 17-year-old daughter Giovanna meets Raffaele and falls madly in love with him.
The play has dire consequences, wreaking havoc in everyone’s lives. People are dying and the prince is blackmailing the jester in order to get a hold of the script. Giovanna is forced to travel to Goretti and hand it over so as to stop the misery it is causing.
With love in the air and separation anxiety from her papa, Giovanna feels great pressure to complete her mission. The prince promises not to kill her, but Giovanna is untrusting. Will the prince be true to his word?
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Anger of Angels. It is well-written and kept me hooked until the end. I would definitely vouch for this book if someone was looking for a medieval romance.
Fourteen-year-old Stevie is having it rough. Her dad has passed away, leaving her mum severely depressed so she is unable to work. Stevie has a passion for her dad’s music and that is what gets her by in tough times.
Hafiz is a football-loving refugee from Syria. After his friend is hurt in a terrifying accident, Hafiz’s parents had to send him away. He has been mistreated on the boat journey and arrives, scarred, in the UK.
Can these teens from two different worlds solve their problems together?
This is a thoughtful and utterly beautiful story of friendship that is literally begging for a sequel (or even better, a prequel).
Riya and Abby are inseparable friends. They part when Riya moves from California to Germany. During that time, Abby’s parents divorce and she is left unsure of herself and upset. The next year, Riya invites her to fly to Europe and tour the main cities and towns, together. However, they seem more distant than ever and there now are hidden secrets between them…
I think this is an interesting novel. It has all of the elements of a good narrative drama – wonderfully-developed characters, romance, friendship and personal growth.
In the future, technology has advanced – perhaps too much. Death is nearly inexistent, and pain is reduced. The only way to die is through a Scythe – which are cloaked, weapon-wielding killers appointed by the government as an attempt to stop overpopulation. Some scythes are compassionate and feel empathy for the people they glean (kill), while others are the complete opposite, and glean for fun.
For Citra and Rowan, being chosen to be apprentices to the same scythe is just the beginning of the journey of potential love, loss and murder.
I absolutely loved the futuristic ideas in this book, especially about death – I believe that one day, death could possibly be defeated, and this novel further explores this and the possible solutions.
Maddy is an 18-year old girl who has been kept inside for the majority of her life. The reason? She has a disease that could kill her if she is exposed to germs from the outside world.
Every day seems exactly the same as the last until a family moves in next door – with a son named Olly. Maddy liked him from the moment she saw him, but how can she ever see him – let alone fall in love with him – if she’s trapped inside her own home?
This beautiful romance is filled with real empathy and emotion.
Jazzy’s friends recommend
When talking about this book, there are so many things that can be said: the amazing writing, the plot that keeps you on your seat for the entirety of the book or the fact that once started you simply can’t put it down.
The real hero of this book, though, is the character: Celaena Sardothien is a character to whom you not only connect but who inspires the best in everyone and shows how bravery in the face of danger is one of the most important aspect of someone’s personality.
The author perfectly combines the use of tension throughout the book through the third person perspective and creatures that would scare anyone, as well as showing the lengths people will go through to get what they want. In a nutshell, betrayal, murder, romance, and an amazing storyline – what else could you need? –Abby, age 14
In fantasy books especially, I have always had a love for books that merge the world of magic with the mortal world and this book achieves it perfectly. Skulduggery Pleasant and Stephanie Edgley are the perfect team with a mixture of witty humour and the kickass fighting we all know and love.
The suspense created throughout the book is amazing and the characters truly made the book as enjoyable as it is with them being able to make you laugh one minute, and cry the next.
Although I could talk about this book for hours, overall, it is, and always will be, one of my most favourite books of all time and I suggest all teenagers to try this one on for size. –Abby, age 14
Now, I could read this book over 20 times and I still would get shocked by the betrayal and romance that appears in the book. Jude is one of those characters which you cannot help but admire as she battles through hardships that most people wouldn’t be able to go through, showing how, even in an unknown world with everything stacked against you, being intelligent can be one of the only factors which keeps you alive. Her determination to do what she believes is right will have you cheering for her!
This is a book which I highly recommend as it blurs the line between the mortal world and the Fae Lands, right and wrong, and betrayal and romance, in total must-read. –Abby, age 14
This is the third book of the Harry Potter series. Throughout the series, we see the adventures of a boy who goes to a school for people who are born wizards and witches. In the school, they learn how to use their powers as well as being able to contain them in certain situations. The school also prepares them in using their powers as defence mechanisms against wizards who wish to abuse their magical powers for selfish reasons. One of these wizards is Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter alongside his friends has been trying to stop Voldemort from his schemes.
The series mainly focusses around the Harry and Voldemort rivalry, however, the Prisoner of Azkaban gives us an opportunity to dive into the life of Harry’s family. It gives an opening to a side plots that in the end, contributes to the main plot. It has a fresh story in it that gives us a break from a repetitive cycle of Voldemort planning something and Harry trying to stop him and it makes the overall plot rich in complexity. –Sarvani, age 14
This book is a historical fiction set in a time where Hitler was gaining power over Germany. The main focus of the story is about what an average life of a young girl living in this time would look like. The girl has endured much tragedy and suffering in her life and in the book, we see her live through it and how she deals and copes with the pain she’s going through.
The book is written in a fresh perspective as well, as there are other plots that all come together in the end, like a puzzle. This book makes you burn with curiosity as the story fits together. –Sarvani, age 14
This book follows the story of three children who lost their parents in a fire. Their parents left them a massive fortune but a greedy man intends to steal it. In each book, the children go from place to place, and the families they live with try to protect them from this man, however, the children are mostly left to themselves.
Throughout the course of the series, they learn more about their history and the death of their parents. The books make us see things from a wide view. While the children’s perspective is what the book focusses on, it shows that there are always two sides of a story.
While reading the series, there are some good morals that can be carried in real life situations. It teaches us to work with our skill sets and the spirit and hope that can be achieved by solving problems rather than brooding on them. –Sarvani, age 14
This book is in the science fiction genre. Regardless of this, the book is written in such a way that anyone can enjoy the book even if they don’t have a scientific background or previous knowledge. Humour is a big part of the book as some of the characters in the book are present for comedic relief.
It follows the adventures of man who is the only survivor of the Earth blowing up and he goes along with some beings from other planets and ends up having a tour of space. The concepts of science in the book are basic and are explained in an understandable manner.
This book also makes you appreciate the real wonders of the universe. There are numerous take home lessons that we learn throughout the course of the book and we see the characters develop from beginning to end as they learn these lessons. –Sarvani, age 14
This is about the story of a rich man called Henry Sugar who’s wrapped up in his own world. He’s played poker and gambled in some of the biggest bars and hotels in the world. The day comes where he finds a doctor’s report on Imraat Khan, the man who could see without his eyes. Here, we are now thrown into another story on the journey of this man and how he came to achieve this.
The thoughts of Henry Sugar during this are made known to us, and we see that he has learned the values of finding an inner whole to yourself. His character develops from a shallow man to having a personality with depth and full of experience. The book tells a story in a way that in some moments, we can relate to Henry in learning these lessons.
This book is one of the few books that can build on your own character as you see things from both Imraat Khan’s perspective and Henry’s. –Sarvani, age 14
Babysitting younger siblings is one of the most arduous and tedious tasks that one must perform, however, for Che Taylor, a 17-year-old Australian boy, his duties are more difficult than most. Che’s parents are constantly moving them around the world for their work, leaving behind sporting clubs, schools, family and friends.
With the parentals away more than at home, Che is looking after his sister – a smart, talented, pretty girl; a psychopath. With dreams of his own, Che must balance his life with his sister’s trying to protect her from the world and protect the world from her dark and complex games.
With romance, competitions, friendships, family relationships, and the dark world a young psychopathic girl, this book is impossible to put down – a different twist at the turn of every page. –Molly, age 14
Jasmine de los Santos has always done everything right. Popular, beautiful cheerleader with her life together more than most teenage girls, she had studied hard and was ready to reap the rewards of a full college scholarship. Then her whole world falls apart.
Being invited to a national awards night finally pushed her parents to reveal the truth; their visas had expired years ago. Her family was illegal. Everything Jasmine had worked for was out of the picture as the major threat of deportation loomed over her head every second of the day.
For the first time in her life, Jasmine does all the teen things she never had the opportunity to do in the past as she tries to discover where and even if she fits in to the American dream at all.
This is an extraordinary novel about family, friendship, romance and the determination to stay in a country that is trying to deport you. – Molly, age 14
Thank you Jazzy, Abby, Sarvani and Molly!
*Click on the title of each book to learn more about it or to buy on Booktopia