Are you heading to ALA annual this year? Are you staying home, but wishing you could join the festivities in San Francisco? Here are some young adult books set in San Francisco to help you feel like you are there already:
The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman
Jade Moon is offered the opportunity to join her father in immigrating to the United States. Soon, however, she finds herself trapped on Angel Island with no promise of ever seeing her new country. The only way she can get off the island is to disguise herself as a boy. Can this fire horse girl survive the streets of 1920s San Francisco?
Bitter Melon by Cara Chow
Frances’s mother dreams of the day that Frances graduates from high school and begins to pursue a career as a doctor. She encourages Frances to work very hard in school and has forbidden any extra-curricular activities. A computer glitch lands Frances in a speech class, though, and there she begins to find her true calling.
Miss Fortune Cookie by Lauren Bjorkman
Erin is the brains behind the popular advice blog Miss Fortune Cookie. When one of her friends writes in for advice, however, Erin must face the real-world consequences of her blog’s advice.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (2013 Alex Award)
Clay was just looking for any job that paid when he walked into Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore, but he soon finds himself wrapped up in mysteries and puzzles and enigmas.
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
Marcus is a hacker, and when terrorists blow up the San Francisco Bay Bridge, he and his friends are arrested by Homeland Security. He’s eventually released into a world where freedom no longer exists and must find a way to free his friend, no matter the cost.
Adaptation and Inheritance by Malinda Lo
Reese and David are traveling home from a debate tournament when they are in a horrible car accident. As a result, they end up at a secret base in Area 51. They return to a home that they no longer recognize and begin developing strange abilities. What really happened to them out in the desert?
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Lola falls in love with the boy next door, a boy who has secretly loved her since he met her. This is a sweet romance story that features the characters from Anna and the French Kiss as secondary characters. (Both titles made the 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list.)
The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr
Lucy, a child prodigy in piano, suddenly stops playing after a competition in Prague, and her younger brother takes her place as the star musician in the family. Lucy has to decide whether she wants to continue her pursuit of music or if she should try something completely different.
Roomies by Sara Zarr
Lauren and Elizabeth are about to be college roommates, and this collection of their emails to each other describes their differences while also highlighting how much they have in common.
This autobiographical graphic novel retells Raina’s experiences in middle school as she loses her two front teeth in an accident and has to go through numerous dental procedures on top of the ups and downs of middle school.
Gingerbread, Shrimp and Cupcake by Rachel Cohn
This series has a love for major East and West Coast cities. Irreverent Cyd Charisse (not that one) flits back and forth between San Francisco and New York, getting to know her mother’s and father’s sides of the family and spending quality time with her best friend, an old lady named Sugar Pie, her boyfriend Shrimp, and her crush (Shrimp’s brother), Java.
Ripper by Isabel Allende
Not technically a YA novel, but this popular author has fans of many ages, and this book stars a teen protagonist. This techno-thriller mystery is about murder and computer games and takes its characters – and you – all around San Francisco’s many distinct neighborhoods.
Love and Haight by Susan Carlton
What about 1971 as a major cultural moment in San Francisco history? In this road trip story, a girl and her best friend move to the city in order to procure a legal abortion, and they discover many things about themselves on the way.
Al Capone at Alcatraz series by Gennifer Choldenko
This middle grade series will appeal to your middle schoolers as they move from tween to teen. The historical fiction series is about a boy whose father works at Alcatraz. Everything starts when he tries to impress the kids at school with stories about the island’s most famous inmate, Al Capone.
–Jenni Frencham, currently reading Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge and Hannah Gomez, currently reading Show and Prove by Sofia Quintero