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5 Young Adult Stand Alone Books That Adults Will Love

A series of books is really an investment, and sometimes, if you’re anything like me, you just want a “one and done” read.  I’m here to share with you 5 Amazing Young Adult Stand Alone Novels. Put these books on your reading list stat!

The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead

The Nickel Boys

Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. When he accepts a ride from someone who has stolen a car he is sent to The Nickel Academy, which purports to be a reform school whose mission statement says it provides “physical, intellectual and moral training” so the delinquent boys in their charge can become “honorable and honest men.” In reality, The Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors, where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear “out back.”

Colson Whitehead knows how to tell a story and this tale of Elwood and the abusive reform “school” is not an easy one. Whitehead does it justice though, and this is a book I flew through. It’s heartbreaking and sad but engrossing and will keep you reading. This a fictional book but based on a real place in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children.

American Street, Ibi Zoboi

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie – a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

I couldn’t put this book down. It’s told from the point of view of a newly immigrated teenaged Fabiola. She’s sometimes irritatingly naive, but it’s because of this that you’ll fall in love with this story. We get to see how Fabiola navigated her life in America, which felt real and realistic. The picture of her extended family and their sisterhood.

New Boy, Tracy Chevalier

New Boy is a contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello. Othello is not a favorite of mine because I don’t like tragedies, so I was predisposed to not like New Boy. But imagine my surprise to find out just how much I did get into it. Chevalier’s idea of rewriting Othello with a cast of kids turned out to be a genius move. I think it worked out so well because it was short and took place in one day, plus – yeah, kids can be brutal!

Arriving at his fifth school in as many years, a diplomat’s son, Osei Kokote, knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.

The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Angie Thomas does a fantastic job of giving us all the feels with this book – a lot of it may be uncomfortable, as she tackles the serious subject of the disproportionate violence with which African American males experience at the hands of the police. It’s written so well that it truly captures all the conflicting emotions that people experience around these types of situations. I don’t know how the author did it, but she wrote a brilliant complex novel and made it relatable / educational for everyone. Seriously, give this book a try no matter how you think you may not relate. I guarantee you’ll fall for the characters and this book.

On the Come Up, Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral … for all the wrong reasons.

On the Come Up

You do not need to listen to rap or even be a fan of rap to appreciate this book. On the Come Up is the story of a young girl coming into her own, in a family that has nothing except love for each other and the will to do battle with the harshness of life. Bri, her brother, mom, grandparents – every character is written so that you get to know them well, what they’ll do and how they’ll react. I listened to the audiobook which to me is the best way to experience On the Come Up. The narration will bring out the story does justice to the rap battles and how Bri expresses herself through rap … the narrator, Bahni Turpin, was so soooo good!

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any recommendations for standalone young adult novels that you read and loved?

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  1. […] ten+ Finally, in case you missed it, earlier this week I shared 5 Young Adult Stand Alone Books That Adults Will Love. […]