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40 Young Adult Books Starring Mighty Girls
For Every Teen's Summer Reading List

A Mighty Girl's favorite new releases and old time favorites to keep her reading all summer long!

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For teens, whose reading skills are solidly established, summer reading isn't about practice; it's about getting to read whatever you want! Teen readers have reached a level of maturity where few topics are off limits, and storylines and characters can be extremely deep and complex. Just like in the real world, heroes have flaws and sometimes there isn't even a resolution — but that just makes the books teens are reading more absorbing and more real.

To keep your teen reading this summer, we've put together a list of forty engrossing young adult novels starring girls and women. From fascinating fiction to intriguing biographies and memoirs, these books will grab your teen's interest until the final word.

For more summer reading suggestions for all ages, make sure to visit our Summer Reading series or browse our entire girl-empowering book collection.

40 Young Adult Books for Summer Reading

The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass

Written by: Philip Pullman
Recommended Age: 10 and up

Lyra Belacqua is content to run wild among the scholars of Jodan College, with her daemon familiar always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle — a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armored bears. And as she hurtles toward danger in the cold far North, Lyra never suspects the shocking truth: she alone is destined to win, or to lose, this more-than-mortal battle. The first book of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy tackles deep philosophical issues, as well as questions about love, loyalty, and loss. The trilogy has also been reissued with new cover art in the His Dark Materials Boxed Set.

Flygirl

Flygirl

Written by: Sherri L. Smith
Recommended Age: 11 and up

In World War II, women finally had the opportunity to take to the sky as part of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) — but a would-be WASP might be facing racial discrimination as well as sexual discrimination. Ida Mae Jones’ father was a pilot, and she dreams of following in his footsteps, but young black women in 1940s Louisiana do not learn to fly. When the US Army announces the formation of the WASPs, Ida Mae has a chance to follow her dream — if she uses her light skin to pretend to be white. Ida Mae’s choice about whether to deny her identity and her family is superimposed on the exciting, suspenseful story of the WASP experience, giving the reader a fascinating glimpse into life as a black woman who yearns for the sky.

Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution

Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution

Written by: Ji-li Jiang
Recommended Age: 11 and up

In 1966, twelve-year-old Ji-li Jiang has everything a girl could want: brains, tons of friends, and a bright future in Communist China. But then Mao Ze-dong launches the Cultural Revolution, and Ji-li's world begins to fall apart. Over the next few years, children start turning on parents, students start turning on teachers, and friends and neighbors turn on each other, leaving everyone living in a constant state of fear and suspicion. When Ji-li's father is finally imprisoned, she faces the most difficult dilemma of her life. This lively, absorbing memoir will have teen readers' hearts pounding as Jiang aptly captures the terror, desperation, and moral dilemmas of living under leaders who abuse their power.

Picture Me Gone

Picture Me Gone

Written by: Meg Rosoff
Recommended Age: 12 and up

Mila can literally read a room — she can sense hidden facts and unspoken emotions, allowing her to understand clues that most people would overlook. When her father's best friend Matthew goes missing, Mila and her father travel to his upstate New York home to try to find out what happened. As Mila sees his belongings and meets Matthew's wife and baby, the pieces of the puzzle start to come together in an unexpected way. And when Mila lives through a shocking betrayal, she starts to wonder how she can be so good at reading other people and miss something so significant in someone close to her. This intriguing, suspenseful book is full of insights about relationships and the things we hide from one another.

Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue

Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue

Written by: Kathryn J. Atwood
Recommended Age: 12 and up

When war broke out yet again across the world, women were ready to protect their countries — even if they weren't permitted to enlist as soldiers. In these true stories from Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, and the United States, 26 women acted as resistance leaders, rescuers, spies, saboteurs, journalists, and more. In this book from the Women of Action series, their little-known stories are told in a fascinating and informative fashion. Fans of World War II history should also check out Double Victory: How African American Women Broke Race and Gender Barriers to Help Win World War II from the same series.

Voices

Voices

Written by: Ursula K. Le Guin
Recommended Age: 12 and up

Ansul was once full of libraries, temples, and schools — but when this peaceful city was conquered, its new rulers declared reading and writing punishable by death. The only place 17-year-old Memer feels safe is the Oracle House, the last place housing surviving books and a place most people think is inhabited by demons. But when an Uplands poet named Orrec and his wife, Gry, arrive, Memer starts to question everything. Why should Ansul bow to their oppressors? And what is so dangerous about the written word, anyway? Vivid and thought-provoking, teens will marvel at Ursula K. Leguin's gift for world-building.

Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High

Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High

Written by: Melba Pattillo Beals
Recommended Age: 12 and up

Melba Patillo turned sixteen in 1957, the same year that she became an unwitting warrior for desegregation. As one of the Little Rock Nine, she faced a firestorm of opposition as she entered the previously all-white Central High. In a harrowing ordeal, Melba faced everything from taunts to threats to an attack with acid that injured her eyes, but she never gave up her courage or her dignity. "Searing" is exactly the right description this affecting story of friendship, faith, and personal commitment, and young adult readers will be shocked to learn just how hard African American teens had to fight for their right to receive an equal education.

The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Written by: Markus Zusak
Recommended Age: 12 and up

After being painfully separated from her family, Liesel is adopted by a German couple, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Upon discovering that Liesel is illiterate, Hans encourages her to learn her letters — a process that opens Liesel’s eyes to a remarkable world of literature around her. Her new love of books add to her horror at witnessing a Nazi book burning, and she rescues a volume from the flames. Soon, her pilfered collection of books grows, even as the effects of the war make life in the village more and more difficult. And when the Hubermanns hide a young Jewish man named Max in their home, the stakes grow ever higher... even as Liesel and Max seek answers to the madness around them within her stolen pages. This unforgettable story, which was adapted into a live-action film, captures the power of books to sustain the soul.

I Will Always Write Back

I Will Always Write Back

Recommended Age: 12 and up

It started as an assignment: Caitlin, a 12-year-old from a middle class American family, was given a pen pal named Martin, a 14-year-old from a Zimbabwe slum. Caitlin began by describing a world of shopping mall trips, movies, and quarrels with friends; when Martin finally opened up, Caitlin was shocked to realize how many of the things he dreamed of having were things she took for granted.  In this dual memoir, the pair recount how that simple assignment became a six year relationship that changed both of their lives, as Caitlin helped Martin achieve his dream of studying at an American university, while Martin opened Caitlin eyes to the world — and her privileged place within it. Accessible and heartfelt, this book will give teens new perspective on their world.

Ten Days A Madwoman: The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of the Original "Girl" Reporter, Nellie Bly

Ten Days A Madwoman: The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of the Original "Girl" Reporter, Nellie Bly

Written by: Deborah Noyes
Recommended Age: 12 and up

Nellie Bly knew she wanted to be a journalist — and not writing for the society pages. To make her dream a reality, she pulled an incredible stunt: by feigning insanity, she had herself committed to a notorious asylum on Blackwell's Island and wrote an expose of the appalling treatment directed at its patients. She went on to expose political corruption, abuses of human rights, and grinding poverty, and she even proved it was possible to travel around the world in 80 days — by doing it in 72! And even when she retired from journalism, she wasn't done: after her millionaire husband died, she took over running his company. Nellie Bly's incredible true story is sure to fascinate young readers, and inspire them with their own ideas for living a bold life.

Gathering Blue

Gathering Blue

Written by: Lois Lowry
Recommended Age: 12 and up

Kira is an orphan with a twisted leg; in a world where the weak are scorned, she struggles to survive. That is, until her skill with embroidery results in her moving from the turmoil of her village to the Grand Edifice. Her new task will be to restore the historical pictures on the ancient robe worn at an annual ritual conducted by the Singer. But as she works, she meets others who live there — including Thomas, who carves the Singer's staff, and the girl being trained to become the next Singer. The seemingly kindly way in which they're all treated belies the truth: they are all captive artists, and their art is being used to suit those in power. Perhaps, though, Kira can find the courage to reshape their future... Set in the same world as the Newbery Medal-winning The Giver, Gathering Blue asks important questions about art, love, and the importance of standing up for what's right.

Endangered

Endangered

Written by: Eliot Schrefer
Recommended Age: 12 and up

Sophie wasn’t crazy about joining her mother’s work for a bonobo sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo — until she met Otto, a young bonobo that she rescues. Sophie and Otto’s bond is almost like that of parent and child, and when a civil war breaks out, the pair have to flee into the jungle and find a way to survive both the vicious revolutionaries and the difficulties of finding food and shelter in their environment. This thrilling adventure and survival story that tackles some difficult ethical questions is anchored by the deep, authentic relationship Sophie and Otto share and they seek a way to remain safe and together.

The Hired Girl

The Hired Girl

Written by: Laura Amy Schlitz
Recommended Age: 12 and up

14-year-old Joan Skraggs adores reading, but on a hardscrabble farm in 1911 Pennsylvania, books are hard to come by — especially after her father forces her to quit school to cook and clean after the death of her mother. After her father burns her few precious books as a punishment, Joan decides to run away and work as a hired girl in a city. She eventually finds herself in Baltimore, working as a maid for a Jewish family unlike anyone she's ever met: they are warm, kind, and appreciative of education. But even with six dollars a week in wages, will Joan finally have a chance to continue her education? This touching coming-of-age story, which received the 2016 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, is told through first person diary entries that give readers insight into  important questions about coming of age, faith, and what it means to belong to a family.

The Running Dream

The Running Dream

Written by: Wendelin Van Draanen
Recommended Age: 12 and up

Promising athlete Jessica's life seems to fall apart after an accident results in the loss of her leg. Being able to walk again — with a prosthetic — doesn’t seem that great to a girl who loved to run. And learning that Rosa, a girl with cerebral palsy who Jessica used to ignore, is going to be her math tutor is salt in the wound. But Rosa has a lot to teach Jessica about being comfortable in her skin, and when Jessica’s former teammates raise $20,000 to get Jessica a running leg, Jessica has a realization: the next time she races, Rosa should be getting some of the spotlight too. Jessica's realistic journey, both through the grief of losing a limb and through the guilt of recognizing how poorly she has treated people with disabilities in the past, is sure to speak to teens, and readers will cheer as Jessica finds a new running dream to chase.

The Song of the Lioness Quartet

The Song of the Lioness Quartet

Written by: Tamora Pierce
Recommended Age: 12 and up

When Alanna of Trebond first appeared in the Song of the Lioness series, it established Tamora Pierce as an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy. This box set unites the four books of the quartet into the whole Pierce originally intended, with all volumes featuring new cover art and afterwords by the author. Follow Alanna as she disguises herself as a boy so that she can train as a page, then eventually claims her destiny as a knight — and as the savior of the kingdom of Tortall. Rich world-building and an intriguing and daring main character make this as absorbing a read as the day it was first released.

Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific

Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific

Written by: Mary Cronk Farrell
Recommended Age: 12 and up

World War II marked the first time American military women ended up in a prisoner of war camp — despite the fact that none of them were supposed to be in combat. This book tells the story of the 101 American Army and Navy nurses serving in the Philippines who were captured by the Japanese as prisoners of war. Through their years as near-starving POWs, they continued to care for the ill and the wounded — and yet, it was only in 1983 that any official recognition of the service was made. The gripping story of these women — all of whom remarkably survived the war — is sure to inspire teens and adults alike!

Fangirl

Fangirl

Written by: Rainbow Rowell
Recommended Age: 13 and up

Cath Avery and her twin sister Wren have devoted themselves to the Simon Snow fandom for years, and as MagiCath, she's a well-known fanfic author and convention-goer. But when Cath and Wren go to college, Wren drops a bomb: she's ready to move on with life, and she's leaving the fandom — and Cath — behind. Thrust outside of her comfort zone, Cath is left struggling to make friends, but when one boy, Levi, wants to pull her even further into the real world, Cath has to face the choice: stay buried in the world of Simon Snow, or dare to have her own life outside of fanfiction. This quirky story highlights the power of a romantic partner to open up new possibilities.

I Have Lived A Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust

I Have Lived A Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust

Written by: Livia Bitton-Jackson
Recommended Age: 13 and up

Life as a teenager in the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp was harrowing, physically grueling — and yet, somehow, still held potential for hope. Livia Bitton-Jackson, who was born Elli L. Friedmann in Czechoslovakia, was 13 when she, her mother, and her brother were taken to the camp. In a gripping first-person narrative, she talks about the roundups, selections, forced labor, shootings, and more. Yet, always, there is a sense of hope, and the victims in Bitton-Jackson’s tale never lose their humanity. Hearing about a fellow teen's experience living through the Holocaust will give a new sense of immediacy to this chapter in history for young adult readers.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass

Written by: Meg Medina
Recommended Age: 13 and up

One day, a girl Piddy Sanchez barely knows tell her that Yaqui Delgado, head of a gang of girls at school, hates her. Piddy doesn't even know who Yaqui is, but it turns out that Yaqui thinks that Piddy isn't "Latin enough" — white skin, good grades, and no accent — which makes her "stuck-up attitude" even worse in Yaqui's eyes. Piddy tries to shake things off and focus on finding the father she's never met and balancing schoolwork and a weekend job, but as the harassment ramps up, Piddy starts to wonder if she can survive without running away or giving up who she is. The sense of claustrophobia and fear produced when few places are safe, and the lack of easy solutions despite many caring adults, makes this a realistic and emotional look at bullying, class conflict, and ethnic identity.

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science — And The World

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science — And The World

Written by: Rachel Swaby
Recommended Age: 13 and up

Stories of women's contributions to science are often neglected, so Rachel Swaby set out to change that! In this book, 52 engaging capsule biographies span centuries of courageous thinkers and illustrate how each one’s ideas developed, from their first moment of scientific engagement through the research and discovery for which they’re best known. The women featured, whose specializations range from biology to physics to engineering, include some well-known figures such as Sally Ride and Ada Lovelace, but most of the women highlighted will be new to the majority of readers. While each individual's biography runs for only a few pages, Swaby has done an impressive job of conveying the essence of each scientist's life and work into the profiles. Many young adult readers will be inspired to learn more about the intriguing figures in these pages.

Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone

Written by: Leigh Bardugo
Recommended Age: 14 and up

The once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh... and its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything, but when her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life — and could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha and the secrets of her heart. Innovative and powerful, this trilogy is sure to be a hit. You can follow the rest of Alina's story in Seige and Storm and Ruin and Rising.

If You Find Me

If You Find Me

Written by: Emily Murdoch
Recommended Age: 14 and up

The only home Carey remembers is a broken-down camper hidden in a national forest, where she takes care of her sister despite their mentally ill mother's negligence and abuse. As far as Carey knows, their father doesn't care about either her or Jenessa. But then her mother doesn't come home, and instead, strangers arrive, taking her and Jenessa to her father's home, where Carey faces a strange new world of seemingly caring parents and step-parents, shopping, and school. As Carey faces the truth of why her mother abducted her and who her father really is, she also conceals a secret about "the white star night" that rendered Jenessa selectively mute and forced Carey to make a brutal decision. Haunting and unflinching, this novel explores the harsh realities of mental illness, drug abuse, and sexual abuse, as well as celebrating the resiliency of kids and teens everywhere who survive them.

Hush

Hush

Written by: Jacqueline Woodson
Recommended Age: 13 and up

When Toswiah Green's father testified against a fellow police officer, her life changed forever. For their safety, the Greens have had to leave everything they know and assume new identities. Now, Evie Thomas has to live with a defeated father, a mother searching for a new place to direct her energy and drive, and a sister who's planning to leave. Toswiah/Evie Thomas/Green will have to cope as best she can — and find a new way to define her own identity. Familiar conflicts of identity and family are writ large in this novel, and young readers will admire Evie's strength and resiliency as she finds her way through troubled times.

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Written by: Robin Talley
Recommended Age: 13 and up

It's 1959, and two girls are coming face first up against deeply held prejudices of their age. Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students at Jefferson High School; despite being an honor student at her last school, she's put in remedial classes and harassed daily. Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the main opponents to the idea of integrating the school. But when they're forced to work on a project together, they not only have to come to terms with the dynamics of race, prejudice, and power... but also with their growing romantic feelings for one another. But if it would shake the school to think of them as friends, how can they possibly consider being more? This compelling novel tackles what happens when two deep prejudices must be faced at the same time.

Etiquette and Espionage

Etiquette and Espionage

Written by: Gail Carriger
Recommended Age: 13 and up

Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is not your ordinary finishing school. When Sophronia is banished there by her exasperated mother, she's expecting lessons on how to curtsy; instead, she discovers that Mademoiselle Geraldine trains young women to be part spy, part assassin, and part lady of quality. It's going to be quite the first year at school for Sophronia.... Author Gail Carriger has created a fascinating steampunk world (complete with a finishing school in a series of dirigibles and mechanimal pets) that will enthrall teens. Interested readers can continue the series in book 2, Curtsies and Conspiracies.

How To Save A Life

How To Save A Life

Written by: Sara Zarr
Recommended Age: 13 and up

Since Jill MacSweeny's dad died, she's been isolating herself from everyone who wants to support her — including her mother. Now her mom is planning to adopt a baby, but to Jill, that just feels like replacing one member of the family with a new one. Mandy Kalinowski grew up unwanted, so when she gets pregnant, she knows that keeping the child is the wrong choice for her — but she wishes she could find a better life for herself as well as her child. As Jill and Mandy struggle with their rapidly shifting worlds, each of them must come to terms with the challenges of simultaneously letting go and holding on. No one is all good or all bad in this touching novel, which gives it an authentic feel and will leave young adult readers contemplating what perspectives they don't see.

Cinder

Cinder

Written by: Marissa Meyer
Recommended Age: 13 and up

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future. No one — including Cinder herself — knows that Earth's fate hinges on one very special young woman.... This first book in the Lunar Chronicles provides an intriguing, clever, and dark reimagining of the Cinderella story.

Being Jazz: My Life As A (Transgender) Teen

Being Jazz: My Life As A (Transgender) Teen

Written by: Jazz Jennings
Recommended Age: 13 and up

Unlike many transgender kids, Jazz Jennings transitioned to female at the age of five — and even more unusually, she and her parents started sharing her story with the world. At a time when the public was almost always ignorant — and rarely accepting — of the transgender community, Jazz became a critical voice and a role model to kids everywhere. But today, she's facing a whole new challenge: her teen years. In this fascinating memoir, Jazz reflects on her very visible life as an advocate for transgender kids and teens, the support she's received from her family, and the additional challenges that come with navigating the physical, emotional, and social upheavals of adolescence when you were born in the wrong body. Intriguing, honest, and inspiring, both cis- and transgender teens will find this book illuminating.

The Abhorsen Trilogy

The Abhorsen Trilogy

Written by: Garth Nix
Recommended Age: 13 and up

This fantasy series features two Mighty Girls, Sabriel, the Abhorsen who lays the disturbed dead to rest, and Lirael, the Abhorsen-in-Waiting, in a trilogy that established Garth Nix as one of the stars of fantasy. In Sabriel, Sabriel must travel to the Old Kingdom of the dead after her father goes missing, and assume his mantle of Abhorsen before the line between life and death is destroyed. In Lirael, Lirael discovers that she lacks the second sight of her family — because she is destined to be the Abhorsen-in-Waiting. Finally, in Abhorsen, the gripping conclusion, Lirael must find a way to defeat the evil Destroyer before he ends all life. This absorbing work of high fantasy, set in a unique world, will keep her turning pages right to the end.

What I Saw and How I Lied

What I Saw and How I Lied

Written by: Judy Blundell
Recommended Age: 13 and up

When 15-year-old Evie's father came back home from World War II, the family expected its life to settle back to normal quickly. Then the Spooners go on an off-season vacation, and Joe meets a couple who convince him to get into the hotel business. Meanwhile, when Evie meets Peter, a handsome ex-GI who served in Joe's company, she rapidly falls head over heels. But things are not as they appear, and Evie starts to realize that she's at the center of a dangerous web of lies... and when three people go boating and only two return, she's forced to reevaluate whether the adults in her life are what they seem. This suspenseful historical thriller tackles issues of sexism, racism, and socioeconomic status in post-World War II America in an intriguing way.

Queen of Shadows

Queen of Shadows

Written by: Sarah J. Maas
Recommended Age: 15 and up

Assassin Celaena Sardothien has come to terms with her true identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen; now it is time to reclaim her empire and wreak vengeance on those who wronged her. She will fight to rescue her cousin from execution, to free Prince Dorian from the demon living inside him, and to set her people, ruled by a brutal king, free. But to do so, Aelin will have to draw on every ally she has earned and every ounce of power she possesses. And with such epic forces clashing, will her kingdom — and the world — survive? Fans of the Throne of Glass series will tear through the pages of this fourth volume and eagerly await the September release of the next in the series, Empire of Storms.

Under A Painted Sky

Under A Painted Sky

Written by: Stacey Lee
Recommended Age: 13 and up

In 1849, Samantha's dreams of moving to New York to be a professional musician seem out of reach: how can a girl, let alone a Chinese-American girl, achieve such a thing? But after a family tragedy and an incident that leaves her on the run from the law and fearing for her life, those dreams are the last thing on her mind. With the help of Annamae, a runaway slave, Samantha head for the Oregon Trail, where the newfound friends disguise themselves as boys for protection. With the law closing in on them, but some unexpected allies in their corner, the girls will have to fight for their safety and their freedom.

In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer

In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer

Written by: Irene Opdyke
Recommended Age: 14 and up

When World War II began, 17-year-old Irene Gut was a nursing student, a typical teenager preparing for a future career; by the end of the war, she had suffered brutality from both German and Russian soldiers, provided food to the Jews starving in the ghetto, and even agreed to become mistress to a German major in exchange for protection for Jewish friends. Opdyke presents her story as the result of many small moral choices, but the sum of those choices created remarkable heroism; her courage in the face of terrible and terrifying times is sure to be an inspiration. This memoir by a real-life Holocaust rescuer is a powerful read for any teen.

Seraphina

Seraphina

Written by: Rachel Hartman
Recommended Age: 13 and up

In the kingdom of Goredd, rational, mathematical dragons, who can take humanoid form, have long warred against their human counterparts. There has been four decades of unsettled peace, but tensions are running high when Seraphina, a gifted musician, joins the court just before a member of the royal family is murdered — apparently by a dragon. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation and faces a desperate struggle: she must prevent a war by finding the killer — without revealing the secret of her connection to both sides of the conflict. This engrossing, complex fantasy world full of politics and conspiracy is sure to fascinate teens and adults alike. Fans of Seraphina can continue the story in the sequel, Shadow Scale.

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity

Written by: Elizabeth Wein
Recommended Age: 13 and up

In World War II England, two young women become unlikely friends. One is a pilot, a new member of Britain's Air Transport Auxiliary; one is a spy, destined to assist the resistance in France. When one woman has to eject from their malfunctioning plane and is captured by the Gestapo, she steels herself for the brutality of an interrogation. But do they have the pilot, or the spy? And will Verity manage to keep Britain's secrets, or does her capture risk everything? Suspenseful and rich in detail, this is a book that will keep teens turning pages to the end... and then get them back to the beginning to look for the things they missed on the first read. Fans of this book will want to check out the companion, Rose Under Fire.

Graceling

Graceling

Written by: Kristin Cashore
Recommended Age: 14 and up

In Katsa’s world, the lucky few discover a Grace, a remarkable talent for anything from dancing to swimming to poetry. But in Katsa’s case, her Grace is fighting — and killing. As the King’s niece, she is forced to use her talent on those who oppose him, but she’s not willing to be the King’s thug. Instead, she forms a secret Council to aid those who seek justice. Graces are not always what they appear to be; is it possible that Katsa can turn her seemingly destructive Grace to good use? Fans of this inventive fantasy debut will enjoy the sequels, Fire and Bitterblue.

The Tyrant's Daughter

The Tyrant's Daughter

Written by: J.C. Carleson
Recommended Age: 14 and up

When Laila's father is killed in a coup, her family is forced to flee to the US for safety. Exile and anonymity are hard at first, but soon Laila starts settling in to her new home, her new school, and her new culture. But Laila's mother isn't interested in making a new home: she's conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain their family's throne. Meanwhile, Laila is starting to realize that the father she loved may have been as harsh and brutal a ruler as his opponents said. Can she find a way to prevent her old country — and her new one — from suffering another devastating crisis? Laila's outsider perspective on American customs will get teen readers thinking, while the intriguing questions about the differences between society in America and the Middle East is sure to generate interesting conversations.

An Ember In The Ashes

An Ember In The Ashes

Written by: Sabaa Tahir
Recommended Age: 14 and up

Laia is a slave, eking out an existence in the Martial Empire's backstreets and hoping to stay out of notice of the elite: those who make trouble are brutally punished. But when her brother is arrested for treason, Laia has only one way to save his life: assist the rebels by spying inside the walls of the premier military academy. There, she meets Elias, the school's best soldier, but an unwilling participant, conscripted against his will. Together, their choices may change their own destinies — and that of the Empire itself. This intense fantasy novel, the start of a new series, will have teens eagerly looking forward to the second volume, A Torch Against the Night, which releases at the end of August.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Written by: Alan Bradley
Recommended Age: 14 and up

Flavia de Luce is an aspiring chemist with a particular interest in poisons, but in her 1950s English village, she's definitely the oddball. Her talents for listening at keyholes and picking locks, however, come in handy when a series of mysterious events come to the mansion at Buckshaw: first a dead bird on the doorstep with a postage stamp on its beak, then a dying man in the family's cucumber patch. No matter what happens, Flavia can't help but admit that her life began in earnest once murder came calling! Rollicking and intriguing, this is an excellent option for teens and adults alike. You can continue the series with The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag.

Symptoms of Being Human

Symptoms of Being Human

Written by: Jeff Garvin
Recommended Age: 14 and up

A new school and an ultra-conservative congressman father running for re-election are stressful enough, but Riley has a secret: Riley is genderfluid, identifying as a boy some days and a girl others. The strain of playing a role for the community and media is building, so on a therapist's recommendation, Riley starts an anonymous blog about what it's like to be a genderfluid teen. But just as Riley gets settled at school, the blog goes viral — and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley's identity and threatens to expose it to the world. Riley faces a choice: walk away from support, understanding, and a newfound cause, or come out — and risk everything. Jeff Garvin has created an uplifting story with a fascinating protagonist, one who faces prejudice and keeps a sense of humor. This unique novel will provide teens on the gender binary with a thoughtful look at genderfluidity, and genderfluid teens with an all-too-rare role model in fiction.

Illuminae

Illuminae

Recommended Age: 14 and up

It's 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war — over Kady's planet. This morning she thought breaking up with Ezra would be the hardest thing in the world; now, she and Ezra have to evacuate with a hostile warship in pursuit... while they're barely speaking to one another. And that's just the beginning of their problems: to survive — and learn the truth about what's really going on — Kady will have to hack a web of data and figure out how she and Ezra can work together despite it all. Told in a unique dossier format of hacked documents, including e-mails, IMs, files, medical reports, and more, this story will have teen readers eager for the next book of the planned trilogy.

I'll Give You The Sun

I'll Give You The Sun

Written by: Jandy Nelson
Recommended Age: 14 and up

At thirteen, Jude and her twin brother Noah are as close as can be; at sixteen, they're barely speaking. Something happened in those years — something that broke each of them as individuals, and shattered the relationship between the two of them. In this story, the siblings' younger years are Noah's to tell, while Jude tells the later story — and in each, they face the reality of how things have driven them apart, and how love can bring them back together. A rollercoaster of first loves and first breakups, betrayals and forgiveness, this artful and whimsical story is also an excellent choice to introduce magical realism to teen readers.

Mosquitoland

Mosquitoland

Written by: David Arnold
Recommended Age: 14 and up

Mim is furious that her father and stepmother have moved her from Cleveland to Mississippi, so when she learns that her real mother is sick, she decides to run away, hopping onto a Greyhound bus and starting a journey to the place she considers home. Along the way, she'll meet a quirky cast of fellow travelers, some who mean well and some who don't — and she'll also make decisions, both good and bad, about how to treat them. But as the final stage of her journey starts to fall apart, Mim has to confront the reality of her mother's mental health and her own. Both funny and heartwrenching, this novel explores the world through the eyes of a young woman struggling to find her place.

Lois Lane: Fallout

Lois Lane: Fallout

Written by: Gwenda Bond
Recommended Age: 13 and up

Army brat Lois Lane is starting a new life — again — in Metropolis, and she's determined to stay quiet, fly straight, and blend in. But things aren't that easy: at her new school, a group called the Warheads is messing with another girl's mind through some sort of high tech video game they all play. Lois can't let it stand, so with her wit, her brand new reporter's credentials, and the help of mysterious online friend, Smallville Guy, she's determined to get to the bottom of things. This creative reimagining of classic DC character Lois Lane is first in a series; make sure to pick up the second, newly released volume, Lois Lane: Double Down, too!

Sold

Sold

Written by: Patricia McCormick
Recommended Age: 14 and up

Lakshmi’s family is poor, but together they scrape by in their rural Nepal home. When the crops fail, however, their situation suddenly becomes dire, and Lakshmi’s stepfather tells her that she must leave home to work in the city to help support the family. But when she reaches the “Happiness House” in India, she learns the truth: she has been sold into prostitution. Lakshmi believes that she has no escape, but she remembers her mother’s words: “Simply to endure is to triumph.” Perhaps, if Lakshmi can endure long enough, escape — and a life of her own — will become possible. McCormick spoke to many girls and women from India’s sex trade to research this novel, giving an authentic feel to the terror, bewilderment, and hope experienced by her main character. Written in free verse, Lakshmi’s story shows that it is possible for a girl facing this brutal life to survive, to escape, and even to thrive.

The Way I Used To Be

The Way I Used To Be

Written by: Amber Smith
Recommended Age: 15 and up

Eden has always been the good girl, but when her brother's best friend rapes her, her world is turned upside down. She knows she should tell someone what happened, but she doesn't know how, so she buries it instead... along with the person she used to be. The new Eden doesn't know how to manage the trauma she's suffered, and the aftereffects damage both her own mental health and her friendship. But as she continues her journey through high school, can Eden find a way to make peace with the new her — and see the possibility of a happy future? Told in four parts — freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year — this heartbreaking story of surviving sexual assault and embracing your own strength will be a thought provoking read for older teens.

Dumplin'

Dumplin'

Written by: Julie Murphy
Recommended Age: 14 and up

Willowdean has always been at home in her own body, even if her former beauty-queen mom might make a tough comparison to some. But she finds her confidence unexpectedly shaken when she falls for Private School Bo, a hot former jock, and discovers he actually likes her back. Appalled at her own doubts, Will decides to take life by the horns and enter the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant — along with several other unlikely candidates — to show the world that all bodies are beautiful bodies. Teens will empathize with Will as she wrestles with confidence, body image, loss, and love — and cheer when she comes out the other side.

The First Time She Drowned

The First Time She Drowned

Written by: Kerry Kletter
Recommended Age: 15 and up

Cassie's mother dumped her in a mental institution against her will — but two and a half years later, she's emancipated herself and is ready to start over. She attends college and makes friends, and she even dares to offer a fresh start to her mother. As their contact continues, though, their unhealthy relationship begins to rear its head once again. Full of confused childhood memories and conflicting feelings, Cassie must decide whose history is real — and whose life to save. Poignant and bold, this powerful book about recovering from trauma and learning to love yourself tackles difficult issues about mental illness, love, and dying.

The Her Campus Guide to College Life: How to Manage Relationships, Stay Safe and Healthy, Handle Stress, and Have the Best Years of Your Life

The Her Campus Guide to College Life: How to Manage Relationships, Stay Safe and Healthy, Handle Stress, and Have the Best Years of Your Life

Teens who are college bound will want to check out this great, empowering guide from the experts behind Her Campus! Full of information that's useful for everyone from freshman to seniors, this book covers everything from building a comfortable relationship with your dorm roommate to staying physically and emotionally healthy to managing your money and planning your academic and career track. Its accessible and reassuring tone will help Mighty Girls headed to college feel confident and in control, whatever challenge lies before them.

Additional Recommended Resources

  • For more blogs with summer reading suggestions for all ages, check out the rest of our Summer Reading blog series.
  • For our full selection of young adult books, visit our Teen Book Collection.
  • Summer is a great time to start A Mighty Girl book club! For organization tips and reading lists, visit our Book Club page.

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