2024 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers Nominees

The Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list identifies titles aimed at encouraging reading among teens who dislike to read for whatever reason. The list selects both fiction and nonfiction. Click on the title or image of each book to be taken to the blog post featuring a review, or browse all blog posts here. You can see previous lists on the YALSA website and on the Teen Book Finder app.

Blogging Team

Coordinator, Jessica Lorentz Smith, Rachel Adams, Sarah Carnahan, Cathy DeCampli, Mike Fleming, Katie Guzan, Katrina Henderson, Emma K. McNamara, Julianne Novetsky, Warren Public Library, Warren, Michigan;  Lorraine Roussin, Luna Middle School, San Antonio, Texas; and Molly Sprague-Rice, Springfield-Greene County Library, Springfield, Missouri.

Top Ten

  • A First Time for Everything
  • By Dan Santat
  • February 28, 2023
  • Length: 320 p.
  • First Second, $22.99
  • 9781626724150
  • Grades: 6-8
  • Dan Santat’s graphic novel memoir takes readers along with him on a 3-week cultural exchange trip to Europe during the summer before high school. Heartfelt, funny, and beautifully illustrated, Santat shares what it takes to open up to a series of incredible firsts and create memories that last a lifetime.
  • Breakup from Hell
  • By Ann Davila Cardinal
  • January 3, 2023
  • Length: 304p
  • Harperteen, $18.99
  • 9780063045309
  • Grades: 8-12.
  • Mica and her best friends must battle Hell’s legions and her ex-boyfriend if they want to save their town and possibly the world.
  • The Do-Over
  • By Lynn Painter
  • November 15, 2022
  • Length: 304 p.
  • Simon Pulse, $19.99
  • 9781534478862
  • Grades: 9-12
  • Emilie finds herself trapped in Valentine’s Day, reliving the day over and over. Though she attempts to alter her course, she keeps colliding with Nick, her science lab partner. Nick helps Emilie realize that just because she and her boyfriend Josh look good together on paper, planning to interfere with fate never works out. 
  • Five Survive
  • By Holly Jackson
  • November 29, 2022
  • Length: 388 p.
  • Delacorte Press, $19.99
  • 9780593374160
  • Grades: 9-12
  • An RV with six teenage friends breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Someone starts shooting at the RV demanding that the one with the secret come out. Trapped inside, the friends are now forced to share their secrets or die in the RV. 
  • Missing Clarissa
  • By Ripley Jones
  • March 7, 2023
  • Length: 244 p.
  • Wednesday Books, $18.99
  • 9781250801968
  • Grades: 9-12
  • High school juniors Blair and Cameron create a podcast about a popular cheerleader named Clarissa who disappeared from their town twenty years prior. But what starts as a school project could have some very serious consequences in the present. 
  • Promise Boys
  • By Nick Brooks
  • January 31, 2023
  • Length: 304 p.
  • Henry Holt and Company, $19.99
  • 9781250866974
  • Grades: 9-12
  • Urban Promise Prep is respected for helping young men succeed. When Principal Moore is found dead in his office, the three boys in detention are the only suspects – Trey, J.B., and Ramon. Each had reasons to hate Principal Moore and now must work together to prove their innocence.
  • Royal Blood
  • By Aimee Carter
  • March 7, 2023
  • Length: 364 p.
  • Delacorte Press, $18.99
  • 9780593485897
  • Grades: 7-12.
  • Evan’s life is shattered when the world discovers that she’s the King of England’s secret daughter and a suspect in a murder investigation.
  • Sun Keep Rising
  • By Kristen Lee
  • January 24, 2023
  • Length: 229 p.
  • Crown Books for Young Readers, $18.99
  • 9780593309193
  • Grades: 9-12.
  • Teen mom B’onca has always found a way to survive. But when her Memphis neighborhood becomes gentrified B’onca and her sister get an eviction notice. B’onca can’t lose her home or baby. Pushed into a corner, B’onca decides to take a risk to get quick money, putting everything in jeopardy. 
  • Thieves’ Gambit
  • By Kayvion Lewis
  • September 26, 2023
  • Length: 384 p.
  • Nancy Paulsen Books, $19.99
  • 9780593625361
  • Grades: 8-12.
  • Ross must compete in the Thieves’ Gambit, an international competition consisting of different heists, in the hopes that she might win so that she can have a wish granted. 
  • The Truth About Everything
  • By Bridget Farr
  • October 11, 2022
  • Length: 288 p.
  • Flux, $19.99
  • 9781635830804
  • Grades: 8-12
  • Lark’s conspiracy-theorist parents refuse to allow her to attend school so she secretly enrolls herself.

Nominees

  • 99 Boyfriends of Micah Summers. By Adam Sass. 2022. 344p. Viking Books for Young Readers, $18.99 (9780593464786). Gr. 9-12. Micah Summers is on a quest to find the boyfriend of his dreams. A chance encounter with a lost jacket, and Micah must search all over Chicago for his prince. Micah and his friends search for the mysterious boy, but will Micah have his happily ever after?
  • Aces Wild. By Amanda Dewitt. 2022. 352p. Peachtree Teen, $17.99 (9781682634660). Gr. 8-12. When Jack’s family legacy of running a casino is jeopardized with his mother’s arrest, he and his friends must come together in Vegas to get to the bottom of why she is in jail and who is to blame.
  • All the Fighting Parts. By Hannah Sawyerr. 2023. 400p. Harry N. Abrams, $19.99 (9781419762611). Gr. 9-12. After an assault by a beloved community member, Amina finds a way to find her voice and herself by confronting her abuse after he is accused of another crime.
  • At the Speed of Lies. By Cindy Otis. 2023. 368p. Scholastic Press, $19.99 (9781338806762). Gr. 9-12. High school junior Quinn Calvet gets caught up in the disappearance of kids in a nearby town, soon beginning to suspect more to the story than anyone understands, and it is up to her to figure out what’s going on.
  • The Black Queen. By Jumata Emill. 2023. 400p. Delacorte Press, $18.99 (9780593568545). Gr. 8-12. When the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High is found dead the night of her coronation, her best friend Duchess suspects Tinsley, a white girl who lost. But as more clues are revealed the two girls end up working together to find the real killer.
  • Borrow My Heart. By Kasie West. 2023. 320p. Delacorte Press, $12.99 (9780593643259). Gr. 7-12. Sitting in a coffee shop where her best friend works, Wren overhears a guy getting accused of making up an online relationship by his friend, accusing him of being catfished, she jumps in to save the day–and pretends to be his online crush.
  • *Breakup from Hell. By Ann Davila. 2023. 304p. Harperteen, $18.99 (9780063045309). Gr. 8-12. Mica and her best friends must battle Hell’s legions and her ex-boyfriend if they want to save their town and possibly the world.
  • Chaos Theory. By Nic Stone. 2023. 288p. Crown Books for Young Readers, $18.99 (9780593307700). Gr. 8-12. Andy Criddle mistakenly texts Shelbi Augustine while drunk at a party. After receiving a DUI, Andy crosses paths again with Shelbi while working at a soup kitchen for his community service. Shelbi is determined to keep their relationship to friends only. Stone addresses self-harm, substance abuse, and mental illness in this novel.
  • *The Do-Over. By Lynn Painter. 2022. 304p. Simon Pulse, $19.99 (9781534478862). Gr. 9-12. Emilie finds herself trapped in Valentine’s Day, reliving the day over and over. Though she attempts to alter her course, she keeps colliding with Nick, her science lab partner. Nick helps Emilie realize that just because she and her boyfriend Josh look good together on paper, planning to interfere with fate never works out. 
  • The Dos and Donuts of Love. By Adiba Jaigirdar. 2023. 336p. Feiwel & Friends. $19.99 (9781250842114). Gr. 9-12. A delightful, contemporary romance about first loves, first losses, and lots of yummy desserts. 
  • Fight for Midnight. By Dan Solomon. 2023. 288p. Flux, $19.99 (9781635830866). Gr. 9-12. When Alex gets a call from his longtime crush to join him at the Texas capitol for a protest, he has no idea that he is about to enter the abortion debate and witness Senator Wendy Davis’s 11-hour filibuster against SB5 on June 25, 2013.
  • *Five Survive. By Holly Jackson. 2022. 388p. Delacorte Press, $19.99 (9780593374160). Gr. 9-12. An RV with six teenage friends breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Someone starts shooting at the RV demanding that the one with the secret come out. Trapped inside, the friends are now forced to share their secrets or die in the RV. 
  • Funeral Girl. By Emma Ohland. 2022. 272p. Carolrhoda Lab, $19.99 (9781728458007). Gr. 8-12. Georgia’s parents run the only local funeral home so it seems natural that someone would be able to communicate with ghosts. Discovering this after the death of her grandma, Georgia finds purpose in granting last wishes until one day one of her classmates arrives. Can she help him too?
  • Her Good Side. By Rebekah Weatherspoon. 2023. 304p. Razorbill, $18.99 (9780593465301). Gr. 9-12. California high schoolers Bethany and Jacob make a fake-dating pact in order to practice what it means to be boyfriend-girlfriend. They fall in actual love while helping each other confront their main stressors: Bethany wants to quit the basketball team, and Jacob wants to create the perfect film.
  • The Lake House. By Sarah Beth Durst. 2023. 356p. HarperTeen, $19.99 (9780063214071). Gr. 8-12. Three strangers must work together to survive on an abandoned island when the remote summer camp they planned to attend is not at all what it seems, and a possible killer is on the loose. 
  • Last Chance Dance. By Lakita Wilson. 2023. 336p. Viking Books for Young Readers, $18.99 (9780593525616). Gr. 7-12. After being dumped before graduation, Leila decides to participate in the tradition of Last Chance Dance. She writes down three of her crushes and gets paired up with them on dates. As Leila goes out with each person she learns about love, loss and what it takes to find the right one.
  • The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen. By Isaac Blum. 2022. 218p. Philomel Books, $18.99 (9780593525821). Gr. 8-10. Hoodie Rosen faces anti-Semitism, ostracization, and possible romance when his Orthodox Jewish family moves to a non-Jewish town.
  • A Long Stretch of Bad Days. By Mindy McGinnis. 2023. 368p. Katherine Tegen Books, $19.99 (9780063230361). Gr. 9-12. Lydia, a small town legacy, and Bristal, a legacy for the wrong reasons, team up to finalize a podcast on the town’s history to graduate. They focus on a week in 1994 which included a tornado, flood, and the town’s first murder. This uncovers a shocking truth about Henley, Ohio. 
  • The Luis Ortega Survival Club. By Sonora Reyes. 2023. 320p. Balzer +Bray, $19.99 (978063060302). Gr. 9-12. Ariana is an autistic girl who rarely speaks. After having sex with a popular boy, Ariana isn’t sure she consented to the act. Confused, she finds a mysterious note in her locker leading to a group of other assault victims. Together they decide to seek vengeance against their shared attacker.
  • Make Me A Liar. By Melissa Landers. 2023. 240p. Disney-Hyperion, $17.99 (9781368098380). Gr. 9-12. Tia, a teen girl who can “mind-hop” and take over another person’s consciousness to perform tasks for them, is framed for a murder while she is out of her own body. Using her street savvy and skills, she must find the real killer. 
  • *Missing Clarissa. By Ripley Jones. 2023. 244p. Wednesday Books, $18.99 (9781250801968). Gr. 9-12. High school juniors Blair and Cameron create a podcast about a popular cheerleader named Clarissa who disappeared from their town twenty years prior. But what starts as a school project could have some very serious consequences in the present. 
  • The Prince and the Apocalypse. By Kara McDowell. 2023. 320p. Wednesday Books, $19.99 (9780063091597). Gr. 9-12. With eight days until the end of the world, American student Wren and Prince Theo go on the run across Europe in hopes of reaching their desired destinations before the apocalypse.
  • *Promise Boys. By Nick Brooks. 2023. 304p. Henry Holt and Company, $19.99 (9781250866974). Gr. 9-12. Urban Promise Prep is respected for helping young men succeed. When Principal Moore is found dead in his office, the three boys in detention are the only suspects – Trey, J.B., and Ramon. Each had reasons to hate Principal Moore and now must work together to prove their innocence.
  • The Q. By Amy Tintera. 2022. 352p. Crown Books for Young Readers, $18.99 (9780593486177). Gr. 9-12. Can Maisie, a girl born inside the Q and Lennon, a kidnapped son of a politician, navigate the dangers inside the Q before Lennon’s vaccination wears off and he becomes vulnerable to the virus?
  • Reggie and Delilah’s Year of Falling. By Elise Bryant. 2023. 400p. Balzer + Bray, $18.99 (9780063212992). Gr. 8-12. Reggie and Delilah randomly meet on every holiday over the course of one year. As they start to fall for one another, they both struggle with how to be their authentic self in the world.
  • The Reunion. By Kit Frick. 2023. 317p. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $18.99 (9781665921466). Gr. 9-12. A wealthy extended family meets for vacation in Cancun to celebrate a recent engagement. Throughout the week, someone will die, multiple people will lie, and long-standing family secrets may or may not get resolved. 
  • The Revelry. By Katherine Webber. 2023. 240p. Scholastic Press, $18.99 (9781338828528). Gr. 9-12. Bitsy begins to suspect she is cursed after sneaking into the Revelry, a mysterious yearly party in the woods outside her small town. Mystery, magical realism, and a realistic portrayal of adolescent friendship are woven together in this short novel. 
  • *Royal Blood. By Aimee Carter. 2023. 364p. Delacorte Press, $18.99 (9780593485897). Gr. 7-12. Evan’s life is shattered when the world discovers that she’s the King of England’s secret daughter and a suspect in a murder investigation.
  • The Ruby Code. By Jessica Khoury. 2023. 304p. Scholastic Press, $18.99 (9781338859287). Gr. 3-7. Bullied at school and home, Ash finds respite from his unhappy life in virtual reality games. One night, he spends his meager savings to help a stranger, who thanks him with a copy of an old fantasy game called The Glass Realm. 
  • Seven Percent of Ro Devereux. By Ellen O’Clover. 2023. 312p. HarperTeen, $18.99 (9780063255036). Gr. 9-12. Ro creates an app based on the popular MASH game for a senior project that can predict someone’s future with 93% accuracy. She is matched with Miller, her childhood friend who she had a falling out with, as her soulmate.
  • Someone is Always Watching. By Kelley Armstrong. 2023. 368p. Tundra Books, $18.99 (9780735270923). Gr. 7-12. A close-knit group of friends must find out what really happened to their supposedly mentally-ill friend. In the process they will also seek the truth about their parents, the high-tech company their parents work for, and themselves.
  • Spells for Lost Things. By Jenna Evans Welch. 2022. 368p. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $19.99 (9781534448872). Gr. 7-12. Willow must go to Salem, MA, to help her mother tend to a family death. Mason must go to Salem, MA, because his new foster family lives there. After their chance meeting, the two search to find answers to Willow’s family’s mystery and search to find Mason’s mother.
  • Stars and Smoke. By Marie Lu. 2023. 328p. Roaring Brook Press, $19.99m (9781250852816). Gr. 9-12. A pop star and a spy race through London to stop an international arms dealer from delivering a weapon of mass destruction.
  • *Sun Keep Rising. By Kristen Lee. 2023. 229p. Crown Books for Young Readers, $18.99 (9780593309193). Gr. 9-12. Teen mom B’onca has always found a way to survive. But when her Memphis neighborhood becomes gentrified B’onca and her sister get an eviction notice. B’onca can’t lose her home or baby. Pushed into a corner, B’onca decides to take a risk to get quick money, putting everything in jeopardy. 
  • Swarm. By Jennifer Lyle. 2023. 336p. Sourcebooks Fire, $11.99 (9781728270913). Gr. 9-12. Shur must protect her family from an invasion of giant man-eating butterflies.
  • *Thieves’ Gambit. By Kayvion Lewis. 2023. 384p. Nancy Paulsen Books, $19.99 (9780593625361). Gr. 8-12. Ross must compete in the Thieves’ Gambit, an international competition consisting of different heists, in the hopes that she might win so that she can have a wish granted. 
  • *The Truth About Everything. By Bridget Farr. 2022. 288p. Flux, $19.99 (9781635830804). Gr. 8-12. Lark’s conspiracy-theorist parents refuse to allow her to attend school so she secretly enrolls herself.
  • We’ll Never Tell. By Wendy Heard. 2023. 320p. Christy Ottaviano Books, $18.99 (9780316482332). Gr. 9-12. Plans go awry for a group of teens exploring an infamous murder house when one of them ends up in a coma. The remaining friends must try to figure out what happened to him, and how it relates to the original 1972 murder-suicide, despite not knowing if they can trust anyone, including one another. 
  • What Happens After Midnight. By K.L. Walther. 2023. 384p. Sourcebooks Fire, $11.99 (9781728263137). Gr. 9-12. Lily agrees to help the campus jester prank their boarding school before realizing it’s her ex-boyfriend.
  • Whiteout. By Dhonielle Clayton. 2022. 291p. Quill Tree Books, $19.99 (9780063088146). Gr. 9-12. A snowstorm shuts down Atlanta in this collection of short stories that has a much more cohesive throughline than its companion, Blackout (2021). The teenaged characters navigate first love, family, and loyalty while trying to understand their own identities. 
  • A Whole Song and Dance. By Sarvenaz Tash. 2023. 304p. Disney Hyperion, $18.99 (9781368077552). Gr. 9-12. College freshman Nasrin is studying drama at NYU but her parents think they are paying for a business degree. Now she has to find a way to break the news to them.
  • You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight. By Kalynn Bayron. 2023. 230p. Bloomsbury YA, $19.99 (9781547611546). Gr. 8-12. Charity, the final girl, who plays a terror game at The Curse of Camp Mirror Lake, uncovers a killer’s motives and the bloody history of the real Mirror Lake.

Graphic Novel or Illustrated Text

Fiction

  • *A First Time for Everything. By Dan Santat. 2023. 320p. First Second, $22.99 (9781626724150). Gr. 6-8. Dan Santat’s graphic novel memoir takes readers along with him on a 3-week cultural exchange trip to Europe during the summer before high school. Heartfelt, funny, and beautifully illustrated, Santat shares what it takes to open up to a series of incredible firsts and create memories that last a lifetime.
  • Hungry Ghost. By Victoria Ying. 2023. 198p. First Second, $17.99 (9781250767004). Gr. 9-12. Valerie Chu’s attempts to be the perfect daughter begin to crumble under the pressure of personal tragedy, troubles with friends, and an eating disorder. To heal she must learn to follow her own path.
  • Mall Goth. By Kate Leth and Diana Sousa. 2023. 256p. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $14.99 (9781534476943). Gr. 8-12. Liv, a Goth, bisexual teen, struggles to find her place after she moves to a new town with her mom. Even though her job is embarrassing, she loves spending time with her new friends at the mall. But trouble at home, with her friends, and at school threaten her happiness.
  • Pardalita. By Jona Estrala. 2023. 244p. Levine Querido, $21.99 (9781646143177). Gr. 7-12. Raquel is finally back in school after being suspended for a week. Her best friend Fred decides to sign up for the theater to try something new; Raquel is signing up to get closer to Pardalita. (not that she would ever tell her friends that.)
  • The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich. By Deya Muniz. 2023. 256p. Little Brown Ink, $17.99 (9780316538725). Gr. 7-12. In the kingdom of Fromage, an unmarried woman cannot legally inherit property. Lady Camembert, disguised as a man after her father’s death, relocates to the kingdom’s capital city where she befriends Princess Brie, and the two soon form a fast friendship and maybe more. What if Cam’s secret comes out?
  • Sunshine: A Graphic Novel. By Jarrett Krosozka. 2023. 240p. Graphix, $14.99 (9781338356311). Gr. 7-12. In high school, Jarrett J. Krosoczka joined a program sending students to counsel seriously ill kids at Camp Sunshine. Despite initial worries about the potential sadness, he discovered a surprising atmosphere of hope and determination. Engaging in camp activities, he met extraordinary kids, learning about illness challenges and the liberating power of a supportive environment.

Non-Fiction

  • Extra Life (Young Readers Adaptation): The Astonishing Story of How We Doubled Our Lifespan. By Steven Johnson. 2023. 128p. Viking Books for Young Readers, $18.99 (9780593351499). Gr. 5-8. Extra Life explores the scientific advancements that have prolonged human life. It provides a deep dive into modern history and scientific advances, making it an ideal book for younger readers.
  • Welcome to Consent: How to Say No, When to Say Yes, and How to be the Boss of Your Body. By Yumi Stynes & Dr. Melissa Kang, illustrated by Jenny Latham. 2023. 224p. Walker Books US, $17.99 (978153622617). Gr. 5-9. Understanding consent is important for people with all kinds of bodies, in all kinds of circumstances–from getting a haircut or letting the doctor check your blood pressure to hugging a friend, picking up a child, or kissing someone.
  • Where to Start: A Survival Guide to Anxiety, Depression, and other Mental Health Challenges. By Mental Health America, illustrated by Gemma Correll. 2023. 208p. Rocky Pond Books, $19.99 (9780593531402). Gr. 5-12. Clear and accessible information about mental health challenges one might face. Engaging illustrations make this easy to pick up and read.