5 Young Adult Novels That Will Get You Woke

Sonia Akavan
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As a YA bookworm, I know how wonderful it is to read a book that changes your life. Every once in a while I’m sitting somewhere and I stumble upon a book that changes my way of thinking. The coolest thing about books is that your find this one quotes in them that accurately describes you perfectly.

Here are 5 Young Adult Novels That Will Get You Woke.

Everything, EverythingBest Overall
Everything, Everything

1. Everything, Everything

Our rating: 9 / 10

Everything, Everything

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  • An interesting take on a classic young adult novel
  • Twist that you won’t see coming
  • Heartbreak and hope in a book


  • Some of the events seem improbable
  • Twist that some readers find offensive

Everything, Everything is a young adult with an always-interesting take on a classic trope: the romance. This story is about Maddy, a teenager who suffers from an autoimmune disease that confines her to a germ-free environment.

Maddy loves to communicate with her neighbor, a boy named Olly, through notes. But when Olly sneaks into her room, Maddy finds herself falling in love with her online companion, and must choose between her forbidden romance and the possibility that her parents will never let her out of the house again.

Yoon’s writing style doesn’t rehash the same old love story that young adult readers often find themselves bored by. Instead, this book is full of heartbreak and hope; a tearjerker that will leave you fuming, but still begging for more.

2. The Hate U Give

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Hate U Give

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  • Quick read
  • A contemporary masterpiece
  • Touching, relatable characters
  • Discusses important issues
  • Well-written dialogue
  • Relevant to youth today

The Hate U Give is an empowering book that follows a sixteen-year-old girl named Starr as she navigates the dangerous and conflicted world on both sides of the tracks. Starr lives in a poor neighborhood and attends a prep school. She is caught in the middle of a tug-of-war between poor blacks and poor whites.

She witnesses the police shooting of her best friend, a young black teenager, and no one is interested in hearing her side of the story. Protests ensue, and Starr finds herself at the center of the media storm. She is faced with some hard choices and is forced to decide whether she will be a bystander or an advocate. As Starr makes her way through situations that most adults could never imagine, she comes to realize that her voice matters and she has a responsibility to justice, no matter how dangerous that path may be.

Some of the issues explored in this book include abusive relationships, class distinctions, race issues, poor schools, police brutality, activism, and gang violence.

3. The Sun Is Also a Star

Our rating: 7 / 10

The Sun Is Also a Star

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  • Beautiful story in simple language
  • Not trite or predictable
  • The author has an easy yet lyrical style
  • Example of romance that leans more towards "troubled" than the escapism of romance novels


  • Some find the writing hard to digest
  • Some may find the ending unsatisfying

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon examines the love between two people spanning the entire 20 hours they share together before one of them is deported back to her home country. Natasha, a Jamaican teen, is spending the last day of her vacation with her beloved father before he goes to jail for cashing in fraudulent checks. Daniel, an aspiring scientist, is visiting New York City, where he meets Natasha when he asks for directions.

Natasha realizes that she only has a day left with her father and decides to spend the final hours of her vacation with Daniel. Daniel, however, is facing a deportation order at midnight and has worked out a last-minute plea bargain to stay in America. The two embark on a journey to save Daniel's potential green card while recounting their love stories, describing their dreams for the future, and analyzing what makes them the people they are.

4. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Our rating: 7 / 10

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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  • The gay love story is thought-provoking
  • Great for teens
  • Characters stay true to themselves


  • One of the main characters in the film is not in the book
  • The gay love story is thought-provoking

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli is a YA novel about a gay teen named Simon Spier who has a crush on a boy from school. He keeps his secret life away from his friends in hopes that it won’t affect his relationship with them.

Things get complicated when someone starts blackmailing him and revealing his true self to everybody. The story itself is much better in the book, but the movie is still pretty good.

Bottom line: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a funny, fast-paced, and sweet LGBT+ novel about a closeted gay teen.

5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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  • Emotional read
  • Highly relatable


  • Some of the cultural elements may be off-putting to some readers

"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" (2007) is an published and award-winning graphic novel by Sherman Alexie. It will appeal to those who are resilient and independently minded. It is a coming-of-age for those who deviate from the mainstream. Although there are some elements that are probably too aggressive for the very young, the bulk of the story will appeal to kids between the ages of 12 and 16.

This is one of those wonderful stories where the cover accurately reflects the contents of the novel. If you look at the cover you will see that Junior is wearing an old pair of jeans and a T-shirt with cut-off sleeves. Although he is Native American, he is the only one not wearing traditional garb. This is his way of letting the people know that he is an individual and makes this point very well.

6. Monster

Our rating: 6 / 10


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  • Award-winning writer
  • Deals with difficult topics
  • Truthful and honest about how teenagers are living their lives


  • Not for the faint of heart
  • Available in hardcover and paperback

Monster is a poignant coming-of-age story inspired by real-life events. Walter Dean Myers, a celebrated writer, wrote this novel about an event that he witnessed as a teenager.

The novel follows Steve Harmon, an inner-city teenager, who is forced to deal with a difficult choice between staying true to himself and the risk of losing everything.

Although the subject matter is dark, the book is incredibly powerful and touching as it portrays the plight of the working-class African American teenager.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What books to read in your 20s?

After wading through more than 3,000 young adult novels to find the most uplifting, important, and engaging, we have come up with an incredible list of specially selected books; books that are sure to expand your world view and re-ignite your passion for the fight for social justice.

Stand on the Shoulders of Giants: The Greatest Jewish Books and Stories Ever Written

"Lots of history I hadn't known. Lots of fun stories of lives saved and protected by brave and compassionate evaders, spies, and righters of wrongs. Fascinating."

Bernie R.

What is a good book series to read for young adults?

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – This is the third book on this list and a good example of why it’s hard to limit books to just one genre. All the Bright Places is young adult fiction. It’s also classified as romance, and suspense, but has a lot to say about significant, even controversial, social issues. This novel bothered me in places, but it also strengthened my resolve and reminded me why I do what I do daily. This novel is about two high schoolers – funny, gorgeous and popular – who find themselves in a very different sort of relationship. Both are profoundly changed by the experience.

What are some of the best novels to read for beginners?

Of course, there are plenty of light and fun novels out there. And while I won't say that they're bad, they're not going to do a lot for you if you're looking to make a big change. So, your best bet is with books that are more substantial. More serious. Books that tackle real problems without being depressing.

I've listed five titles below to get you started. If you need more recommendations, just let us know!

What are 10 books you must read?

You might find this list helpful! The books were chosen based on their ability to leave a great impression on people. They come from various genres: fiction, non-fiction, and self-help to name a few. So, take a look at them. If you've encountered some of these books, it's time to go back and re-read them! If not, it's time to start reading!


For a genre that can make you laugh, cry, and think deeply, it’s a shame that most young adult novels get a rap for being mindless and commercialized. You can quickly, and easily, dismiss books in the young adult genre, which is why we’ve created a list of the most important young adult novels for teens and new adults. We’ve added the parameters of the books that we deem (and many agree) to be the most important, thought-provoking, modern, or otherwise significant books of the genre.

Our Recommendation

Everything, EverythingBest Overall
Everything, Everything