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Hard Times for Teens

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Wintergirls
Anderson, Laurie Halse
Eighteen-year-old Lia comes to terms with her best friend's death from anorexia as she struggles with the same disorder. (eating disorders)
Th1rteen R3asons Why : A Novel
Asher, Jay
When high school student Clay Jenkins receives a box in the mail containing thirteen cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide, he spends a bewildering and heartbreaking night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah's voice recounting the events leading up to her death. (suicide, bullying)
Dear Life, You Suck
Blagden, Scott
Irreverent, foul-mouthed, seventeen-year-old Cricket Cherpin, living under the watchful eye of Mother Mary at a Catholic boys' home in Maine, has such bleak prospects he is considering suicide when Wynona Bidaban steps into his world. (suicide, bullying)
The Hit
Burgess, Melvin
There is a new drug on the mean streets of Manchester which promises the most intense week of your life, and then you are dead--and after he watches a pop star die on stage, Adam thinks that his own life is so miserable that he might just as well try it. (substance abuse)
Make Your Home Among Strangers : A Novel
Crucet, Jennine Capo
When Lizet-the daughter of Cuban immigrants and the first in her family to graduate from high school-secretly applies and is accepted to an ultra-elite college, her parents are furious at her decision to leave Miami. Just weeks before she's set to start school, her parents divorce and her father sells her childhood home, leaving Lizet, her mother, and Leidy-Lizet's older sister, a brand-new single mom-without a steady income and scrambling for a place to live. Amidst this turmoil, Lizet begins her first semester at Rawlings College, distracted by both the exciting and difficult moments of freshman year. But the privileged world of the campus feels utterly foreign, as does her new awareness of herself as a minority. (immigration)
We Were Here
de la Peña, Matt
Haunted by the event that sentences him to time in a group home, Miguel breaks out with two unlikely companions and together they begin their journey down the California coast hoping to get to Mexico and a new life. (juvenile crime)
Sad Perfect
Elliot, Stephanie
The story of a teen girl's struggle with Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and how love helps her on the road to recovery. (eating disorder)
Symptoms Of Being Human
Garvin, Jeff
A gender-fluid teenager who struggles with identity creates a blog on the topic that goes viral, and faces ridicule at the hands of fellow students. (transphobia)
Girl In Pieces
Glasgow, Kathleen
As she struggles to recover and survive, seventeen-year-old homeless Charlotte "Charlie" Davis cuts herself to dull the pain of abandonment and abuse. (self-abuse/cutting)
Traffick
Hopkins, Ellen
Five teens victimized by sex trafficking try to find their way to a new life. There's Eden, the preacher's daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue. Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body. Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze. Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop. And Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead. Now they are looking for a way out from the dark underbelly of the child trafficking trade. (prostitution)
The Five Stages Of Andrew Brawley
Hutchinson, Shaun David
Convinced he should have died in the accident that killed his parents and sister, sixteen-year-old Drew lives in a hospital, hiding from employees and his past, until Rusty, set on fire for being gay, turns his life around. Includes excerpts from the superhero comic Drew creates. (homophobia, bullying)
Bluford High. No Way Out
Kern, Peggy
Harold Davis, a freshman at Bluford High, is trapped. Medical bills for his sick grandmother are piling up, and a social worker has threatened to put him in a foster home. Desperate for money, he reluctantly agrees to work for Londell James, a neighborhood drug dealer. The choice leads him into a world of dangerous streets where no one is safe. (parental abuse)
Ask The Passengers : A Novel
King, A. S.
Astrid Jones copes with her small town's gossip and narrow-mindedness by staring at the sky and imagining that she's sending love to the passengers in the airplanes flying high over her backyard. Maybe they'll know what to do with it. Maybe it'll make them happy. Maybe they'll need it. Her mother doesn't want it, her father's always stoned, her perfect sister's too busy trying to fit in, and the people in her small town would never allow her to love the person she really wants to: another girl named Dee. There's no one Astrid feels she can talk to about this deep secret or the profound questions that she's trying to answer. But little does she know just how much sending her love--and asking the right questions--will affect the passengers' lives, and her own, for the better. (homophobia, family dysfunction)
Want To Go Private?
Littman, Sarah
Insecure about the changes high school brings, Abby ignores advice from her parents and her only friend to "make an effort" and, instead, withdraws from everyone but with Luke, who she met online. (online predators)
Killing Time In Crystal City
Lynch, Chris
Seventeen-year-old Kevin tries to reinvent himself when he runs away from home and the father he hates, but living with a mysterious uncle and befriending two homeless girls just adds more complications. (runaway, family dysfunction)
How It Went Down
Magoon, Kekla
When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson is shot to death, his community is thrown into an uproar because Tariq was black and the shooter, Jack Franklin, is white, and in the aftermath everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events agree. (racism, violence)
The Radius Of Us
Marquardt, Marie F.
After being mugged, seventeen-year-old Gretchen is still struggling to deal with her fears when she meets Phoenix, an eighteen-year-old immigrant from El Salvador. Told in alternating first person points of view, this is a story of love, sacrifice, and the journey from victim to survivor. It offers an intimate glimpse into the causes and devastating impact of Latino gang violence, both in the U.S. and in Central America, and explores the risks that victims take when they try to start over. Most importantly, this shows how people struggling to overcome trauma can find healing in love. (immigration)
Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass
Medina, Meg
One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn't even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she's done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn't Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn't kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. As the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy's life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? (bullying)
A Monster Calls : A Novel
Ness, Patrick
Thirteen-year-old Conor awakens one night to find a monster outside his bedroom window, but not the one from the recurring nightmare that began when his mother became ill--an ancient, wild creature that wants him to face truth and loss. (parental cancer)
Optimists Die First
Nielsen-Fernlund, Susin
When Petula de Wilde, who is anything but wild, meets Jacob in their school's dorky art therapy program, his friendship (and something more) helps her overcome intense fears since her sister died. And he has a secret of his own. (sibling death)
This Is Where It Ends
Nijkamp, Marieke
Minutes after the principal of Opportunity High School in Alabama finishes her speech welcoming the student body to a new semester, they discover that the auditorium doors will not open and someone starts shooting as four teens, each with a personal reason to fear the shooter, tell the tale from separate perspectives. (school shootings)
All The Bright Places
Niven, Jennifer
Told in alternating voices, when Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school--both teetering on the edge--it's the beginning of an unlikely relationship, a journey to discover the "natural wonders" of the state of Indiana, and two teens' desperate desire to heal and save one another. (suicide)
Out Of Darkness
Pérez, Ashley Hope
Loosely based on a school explosion that took place in New London, Texas in 1937, this is the story of two teenagers: Naomi, who is Mexican, and Wash, who is black, and their dealings with race, segregation, love, and the forces that destroy people. (racism, violence)
Trafficked
Purcell, Kim
A seventeen-year-old Moldovan girl whose parents have been killed is brought to the United States to work as a slave for a family in Los Angeles. (prostitution)
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock : A Novel
Quick, Matthew
A day in the life of a suicidal teen boy saying good-bye to the four people who matter most to him. (suicide)
Gabi, A Girl In Pieces
Quintero, Isabel
Sixteen-year-old Gabi Hernandez chronicles her senior year in high school as she copes with her friend Cindy's pregnancy, friend Sebastian's coming out, her father's meth habit, her own cravings for food and cute boys, and especially, the poetry that helps forge her identity. (teen pregnancy, substance abuse, homophobia)
All American Boys
Reynolds, Jason
When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn's alternating viewpoints. (racism, violence)
Urban Underground. Outrunning The Darkness
Schraff, Anne E.
Jaris Spain has a hard time believing in himself. Between his pessimistic father, his falsely optimistic mother, his failure at sports, difficulty in the classroom, and inability to be noticed by the one girl that matters to him, Jaris struggles to find his own place in the world. (self-esteem)
Somebody Up There Hates You
Seamon, Hollis
Dying of cancer in a hospice, seventeen-year-old prankster Richard has big plans for his final days. (teen cancer)
Challenger Deep
Shusterman, Neal
Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench. Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior. Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence to document the journey with images. Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head. Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny. Caden Bosch is torn. (schizophrenia)
More Happy Than Not
Silvera, Adam
After enduring his father's suicide, his own suicide attempt, broken friendships, and more in the Bronx projects, Aaron Soto, sixteen, is already considering the Leteo Institute's memory-alteration procedure when his new friendship with Thomas turns to unrequited love. (homophobia)
Winger
Smith, Andrew
Two years younger than his classmates at a prestigious boarding school, fourteen-year-old Ryan Dean West grapples with living in the dorm for troublemakers, falling for his female best friend who thinks of him as just a kid, and playing wing on the Varsity rugby team with some of his frightening new dorm-mates. (bullying, violence)
The Hate U Give
Thomas, Angie
After witnessing her friend's death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter's life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died. (racism)
After Tupac And D Foster
Woodson, Jacqueline
In the New York City borough of Queens in 1996, three girls bond over their shared love of Tupac Shakur's music, as together they try to make sense of the unpredictable world in which they live. (racism)
The Sun Is Also A Star
Yoon, Nicola
Natasha is a girl who believes in science and facts. Daniel has always been a good son and good student. But when he sees Natasha he forgets all that and believes there is something extraordinary in store for both of them. (immigration)
American Street
Zoboi, Ibi Aanu
When Fabiola's mother is detained upon their arrival to the United States, Fabiola must navigate her loud American cousins, the grittiness of Detroit's west side, a new school, and a surprising romance all on her own. (immigration)