Feel Good YA

It seems YA lit is getting a reputation. Past controversies over “darkness” and “sick lit” and constant threats of challanges and censorship make it seem like the only thing YA has going for it is doom, gloom, drama, and adversity. But true YA readers, especially here at The Hub, know this isn’t the case. While most of the attention seems focused on the negative, there are plenty of uplifting and positive books that don’t always deal with the heavier subjects. Sure, we still love the dystopias, zombies, and drama-filled love triangles, but sometimes we need a good story with a happy and satisfying ending. Inspired by a teen reader who came to me recently looking for a book that would “just make me feel good,” here is a list of books that hopefully will make you smile, laugh, and maybe cry — but only happy tears.


  • Ten Miles Past NormalTen Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
    Janie has had enough of her parents’ granola, hippie lifestyle on their small farm and begins high school to find new friends and a new way of looking at the world.
  • Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (2007 Best Books for Young Adults)
    D.J. Schwenk doesn’t get a lot of attention from her father (or anyone else really) until she decides to try out for the football team. Now everybody wants to know who exactly D.J. is — including herself.

Fabulous Fantasy

  • 13thThirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede
    Eff is used to being in her brother’s shadow, but when new magical creatures from the Far West threaten her frontier town, Eff must discover her own unique power.
  • The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (2011 Edwards Award)
    Tiffany Aching will do anything and fight anyone to get her brother back — even if it means teaming up with the slightly mad, slightly blood-thirsty, slightly tiny, slightly ridiculous Nac Mac Feegles.

Philosphical Musings

  • There Is No Dog by Meg Rosoff
    God is a 17-year-old boy who’s lazy, temperamental, and a little horny. Can Earth and the humans who live their survive his adolescent angst?
  • as easyAs Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)
    Planes, trains, and automobiles, adventures and misadventures — Ry just wanted to get to summer camp but now finds himself lost in the middle of a life-changing trip — and hopefully found.


  • Carter Finaly Gets It by Brent Crawford (2010 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)
    Carter has some serious issues; the worst of them is his inability to talk to girls, and slightly less worse is his ability to mess up everything and anything he can.
  • willgraysonWill Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults 2011)
    Can the world handle it when two Will Graysons collide because of one amazing and hilarious Tiny Cooper?

A Little Romance

  • What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (2012 Teens’ Top Ten)
    Mclean is used to moving and changing herself to fit her new school and town. But can Mclean handle being herself?what happened to goodbye sarah dessen cover
  • Heist Society by Ally Carter (2010 Teens’ Top Ten)
    Katrina Bishop just wants a normal, non-illegal life that does not involve high stakes art theft. Is that really too much to ask for?

What are your favorite YA books that just make you feel good? And while you’re thinking of your favorites why not suggest them for YALSA’s Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults list “Humor Me: Funny, Fantastic and Witty Reads” list?

— Amanda Margis, currently reading Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz and listening to Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter — also feel good reads!

10 thoughts on “Feel Good YA”

  1. Thanks for this! I will definitely be using this post to boost up my summer reading list, I need lots of feel-good beach-vacation reads.

    A few of my feel-good favorites are “Anna and the French Kiss” and “Lola and the Boy Next Door” by Stephanie Perkins; “Audrey, Wait!” by Robin Benway; and, “Meant to Be” by Lauren Morrill.

    1. I loved “Audrey, Wait!” or anything with a fun music storyline. Stephanie Perkins is another great author for a fun pick-me-up.

  2. I must put in a good word for a warmhearted trio of books: “My Most Excellent Year” by Steve Kluger, “Sorta Like a Rock Star” by Matthew Quick, and for sheer humor, “Tales of the Madman Underground” by John Barnes. Those are the three I always read when I need to feel good.

  3. The statistical probability of love at first sight by Jennifer E. Smth makes me smile

  4. @Mars. I love Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick too. Another of my favorites is My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick.

  5. My favorite feel good YA book is Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors. It is such a great, cozy winter read.

  6. Oooh! I adored Ten Miles Past Normal! Great to see it get recognized for the awesomeness it possesses :)

  7. Another one of my favorite “Feel Good” books is:

    Keeper, by Kathi Appelt

    In this one there’s self-discovery, there’s magic, there’s friendship, there’s family, there’s even the slightest touch of romance (although it’s not overpowering), and there’s happy endings for everyone. It’s one of those rare books that can be enjoyed on multiple levels and related to by multiple ages. It’s also one of those even more rare books where you want to {{{hug}}} the book when you’ve finished reading it…and then you want to read it again!

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