An A-Z of YA. 26 letters. 26 YA books.
Read the world one letter at a time with this A-Z of YA booklist! What would your A-Z of YA look like?
Anna K. by Jenny Lee
📍 NEW YORK CITY
Leo Tolstoy’s timeless love story Anna Karenina is irresistibly reimagined in the scandalous, dazzling age of stilettos and social media. Welcome to New York’s Upper East Side: where privilege, partying and scandal rules.
Anna K is the golden girl of New York high society. She’s beautiful, she’s kind, she’s unbelievably rich, and she has the perfect boyfriend. Until she meets Alexi Vronsky. He’s a notorious playboy, totally gorgeous, and he only has eyes for Anna. Perfect for fans of Crazy Rich Asians and Gossip Girl.
Bone Talk by Candy Gourlay
📍 THE PHILIPPINES
The Philippines, 100 years ago. A boy called Samkad wants to become a man. He is desperate to be given his own shield, spear and axe. His best friend, Luki, wants to be a warrior too – but she is a girl and that is forbidden. Then a new boy arrives in the village and everything changes. He brings news that a people called ‘Americans’ are bringing war right to his home…
Cane Warriors by Alex Wheatle
Inspired by the true story of Tacky’s War in Jamaica, 1760. The only life fourteen-year-old Moa has ever known is toiling on the Frontier sugar cane plantation for endless hot days, fearing the vicious whips of the overseers. Then one night he learns of an uprising, led by the charismatic Tacky. Moa is to be a cane warrior and fight for the freedom of all the enslaved people in the nearby plantations. But before they can escape, Moa must face his first great task: to kill his overseer, Misser Donaldson. Time is ticking, the day of the uprising approaches…
Dragonfly Eyes by Cao Wenxuan, translated by Helen Wang
📍 SHANGHAI, CHINA and FRANCE
A beautiful, tender family saga spanning fifty years and three generations, which takes the reader from the France of the Golden Age to poverty-stricken post-war 1960s Shanghai via the re-imagined rural China of the Cultural Revolution.
Enchantée by Gita Trelease
📍 PARIS, FRANCE
Paris, 1789. Seventeen-year-old Camille survives the streets by using the magic she learnt from her mother. But when her brother disappears Camille decides to pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. But Camille’s resentment of the rich is at odds with the allure of their glamour and excess, and she soon discovers that she’s not the only one leading a double life…
Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez
In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life. At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father. On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her.
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
📍 WEST AFRICA
In this West African-inspired world, girls are outcasts by blood and warriors by choice. When sixteen-year-old Deka bleeds gold – the colour of impurity, of a demon – she faces a consequence worse than death. But when a mysterious woman tells Deka of her true nature, she is an Alaki, a near-immortal with exceptional gifts, she must have a choice: fight for the Emperor alongside the Alaki, or be destroyed…
Home is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo
📍 SUDAN and USA
A powerful novel-in-verse that captures one girl, caught between cultures, on an unexpected journey to face the ephemeral girl she might have been. Woven through with moments of lyrical beauty, this is a tender meditation on family, belonging, and home.
Internment by Samira Ahmed
Set in a horrifying ‘fifteen minutes in the future’ United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin is forced into an internment camp for Muslim-Americans along with her parents. With the help of newly-made friends also trapped within the camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
When Allyson “LuLu” Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey of Shakespeare, love and learning to break free of the narrow confines of her life.
The Khan by Saima Mir
📍 United Kingdom
Successful London lawyer Jia Khan is a long way from the grubby Northern streets she knew as a child, where her father, Akbar Khan, led the Pakistani community and ran the local organised crime syndicate. But when her father is murdered, Jia must return to take his place and a bloody power struggle has broken out among warring communities and nobody is safe. Justice needs to be restored, and Jia is about to discover that justice always comes at a cost.
Love From A to Z by S. K. Ali
When Zayneb gets suspended from school she heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break with a resolution to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her. Then her path crosses with Adam’s who’s grappling not only with his Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis but also how to break it to his family. But can a spring break romance last when they have to leave the magic of Doha behind them?
Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw
📍 NEW ORLEANS, USA
New Orleans Fang Fest, 1995. When 17-year-old Mina arrives in New Orleans to visit her sister, she can’t wait to explore the city’s darkest secrets – vampire tours, seedy bars, spooky cemeteries, disturbing local myths. But the perfect summer bliss is broken when someone begins replicating New Orleans’ most brutal supernatural killings and it’s down to Mina to discover the truth.
Nothing But the Truth by Dick Lehr
📍 BOSTON, USA
Trell was only a baby when her father was imprisoned, but she has always been certain of his innocence. Twelve years after his conviction, she persuades a down-on-his-luck reporter and a determined lawyer to help clear her father’s name. Inspired by the true story.
Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen
A teenage spy. A Nazi boarding school. The performance of a lifetime.
Sarah has played many roles – but now she faces her most challenging of all. Because there’s only one way for a Jewish orphan spy to survive at a school for the Nazi elite. And that’s to become a monster like them.They think she is just a little girl. But she is the weapon they never saw coming… with a mission to destroy them all.
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
📍 THE PHILIPPINES
When Jay Reguero hears of his cousin Jun’s death, everything changes. Although years have passed since they were last in contact, the stories about Jun just don’t fit with the boy Jay knew. Hoping to uncover the truth, Jay travels to Jun’s home in the Philippines – but the shocking realities of life there lead to even more questions. Can Jay find the answers he seeks?
The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James
📍 LONDON, UK
Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking and looking for treasure – until a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Now Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: they must decide what to sacrifice to save the whole human race…
Romanov by Nadine Brandes
Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before. Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are either to release the spell and deal with the consequences, or to enlist help from Zash, a handsome Bolshevik soldier.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
It’s early 1945 and a group of people trek across Germany, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. Four young people, each haunted by their own dark secret, narrate their unforgettable stories. Based on a true story.
Tsunami Girl by Julian Sedgwick, illustrated by Chie Kutsuwada
When fifteen-year-old Yūki Hara Jones and her beloved grandpa are caught in the 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, her life is changed forever. Beyond the immediate disaster lie even greater challenges, and a journey to a zone between this world and the next. Part prose and part manga.
Under a Dancing Star by Laura Wood
Bea longs for love and adventure but growing up in 1930s England she know’s she’ll one day have to marry someone her parents choose – someone rich enough to keep the family estate alive. When she gets the chance to spend the summer in Italy with her bohemian uncle a whole world is opened up to Bea – a world that includes Ben, a cocky young artist who just happens to be infuriatingly handsome too. A long, hot summer of kisses and mischief unfolds but every summer has to end… Inspired by Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black by Marcus and Julian Sedgwick, illustrated by Alexis Deacon
📍 LONDON, UK
When Harry Black learns that his brother Ellis has almost certainly been killed by a V2 rocket falling during a German air raid on London his search for him leads Harry deep into the city’s Underworld.
Wolf Light by Yaba Badoe
📍 GHANA, CORNWALL and MONGOLIA
Three girls born on the same day in wolf light are bound together to protect the world. They can dazzle or destroy. They have wind-song and fire-fury at their fingertips, but their enemies are everywhere. From the tropical forests of Ghana to the stormy moors of Cornwall, the lands they love are plundered and poisoned. The girls must rally to perfect their skills and prove the strength of sister-magic. Steeped in elemental myth, Wolf Light is a call to us all to hear the ancient power within us and conserve our heritage.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
(I’ve cheated slightly with this one!)
Xiomara has always kept her words to herself. When it comes to standing her ground in her Harlem neighbourhood, she lets her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But X has secrets – her feelings for a boy in her bio class, and the notebook full of poems that she keeps under her bed. And a slam poetry club that will pull those secrets into the spotlight. Because in spite of a world that might not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to stay silent.
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
📍 INDIA AND USA
Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story.
Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve her Bengali identity.
Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan
📍 TEXAS, USA
Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Texas, laying low and trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval. But when Zara becomes the subject of a violent Islamophobia crime she must choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.