The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton: This book likely started it all in the late 1960s and is still a compelling narrative, written by a very young woman grappling with issues of class and privilege in a small Oklahoma town.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie: A major literary fiction writer tackles the YA genre to spectacular effect in this pulls-no-punches story of a Native American teen contemplating going to a largely white high school off his Indian reservation.
First Day on Earth, by Cecil Castellucci: An eerie but moving YA novel that deserves more attention, this beautiful little book describes the strange relationship between two misfit teens and their connection to a homeless man who says he’s from another planet.
Every Day, by David Levithan: This curiously compelling story is about a person, “A,” who wakes up every day in a different body and then, one day, falls in love with someone. “A” then tries to get back to her despite waking up every day in a different body – and not always the same gender or race. Every Day pushes our ability to think about gender and love.
A House Like a Lotus, by Madeleine L’Engle: L’Engle’s late work is often neglected, but this one continues the tale of Polly, a relation of Meg from A Wrinkle in Time, on her path toward adulthood, with attendant complications.