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23 YA Books With Adult Appeal

Accord­ing to The Atlantic, 55% of the read­ers of young adult lit­er­a­ture are adults. And if you’ve read teen lit recent­ly, it’s easy to see why. Diverse pro­tag­o­nists? Check. Unique and com­pelling plot­ting? Check. World-class writ­ing? BIG check. Here are 23 of our YA favorites that also con­tain some major adult crossover appeal. 

Look­ing for more curat­ed recs from our staff? Check out our Read­ing Rec­om­men­da­tions page!

Aris­to­tle and Dante Dis­cov­er the Secrets of the Uni­verse by Ben­jamin Alire Sáenz

Read if you like: lyri­cal nov­els; fam­i­ly/friend­ship-cen­tered sto­ries; com­ing-of-age; self-dis­cov­ery; the 1980s; LGBTQIA+ themes; Call Me By Your Name

The Aston­ish­ing Col­or of After by Emi­ly X. R. Pan

Read if you like: lit­er­ary fic­tion; Tai­wan; friend­ship; grief; birds that very well might be rein­car­na­tions of loved ones; mag­i­cal real­ism; men­tal health

Black Girl Unlim­it­ed by Echo Brown

Read if you like: semi-auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal fic­tion; non-lin­ear nar­ra­tives; unflinch­ing social com­men­tary; com­ing-of-age sto­ries; Black Girl Mag­ic (lit­er­al­ly)

Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu

Read if you like: graph­ic novels/​sequential art; slow burn romance; bak­ing and/​or eat­ing pies; found fam­i­ly; healthy male friend­ships; the vague con­cept of hock­ey (in-depth knowl­edge not required)

Chil­dren of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Read if you like: stel­lar world­build­ing; West African-inspired fan­ta­sy set­tings; rogue princess­es; quests to restore mag­ic; trilo­gies; adven­ture; N.K. Jemisin

Dar­ius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Read if you like: com­ing-of-age; men­tal health, end­less Star Trek ref­er­ences; dis­cov­er­ing your roots; arm­chair trav­el; LGBTQ+ themes

Fan­girl by Rain­bow Rowell

Read if you like: fan­dom (espe­cial­ly fan­f­ic); fam­i­ly; first love; intro­verts intro­vert­ing; writ­ing; nar­ra­tives set in col­leges; twins; boy wizards

Firekeeper’s Daugh­ter by Ange­line Boulley

Read if you like: intense reads; tough-as-nails hero­ines; mys­ter­ies; under­cov­er oper­a­tions; Ojib­we cul­ture; fam­i­ly and com­mu­ni­ty; rich­ly lay­ered char­ac­ter­i­za­tion; Veron­i­ca Mars

The For­est of Stolen Girls by June Hur

Read if you like: his­tor­i­cal fic­tion; Kore­a’s Joseon dynasty; mys­te­ri­ous dis­ap­pear­ances; small vil­lage secrets; fam­i­ly bonds; buried memories

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Read if you like: fem­i­nism; fierce female char­ac­ters; fol­low­ing your dreams; self-actu­al­iza­tion over romance; real­is­ti­cal­ly imper­fect fam­i­ly dynam­ics; soc­cer (but not required!)

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melis­sa Barshardoust

Read if you like: fan­ta­sy; fem­i­nist fairy tale retellings; Snow White; rivals-to-allies; mother/​daughter rela­tion­ships; LGBTQIA+ themes; The Bloody Chamber

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Read if you like: the spe­cial bond between twins; art and the peo­ple who cre­ate it; first love; fam­i­ly loss; alter­nat­ing time­lines; self-dis­cov­ery; romance 

Last Night at the Tele­graph Club by Melin­da Lo

Read if you like: his­tor­i­cal fic­tion; 1950s San Fran­cis­co; The Red Scare; rock­et sci­ence; romance, dis­cov­er­ing iden­ti­ty; LGBTQ+ themes

Lit­tle & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Read if you like: love; iden­ti­ty; loss; redemp­tion; blend­ed fam­i­lies; real­is­tic depic­tions of men­tal health; secret board­ing school rela­tion­ships; falling in love with the same girl your broth­er has a crush on 

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Read if you like: fierce stac­ca­to nar­ra­tive; nov­els in verse; unique plot­ting; mourn­ing; vengeance; poten­tial­ly mag­ic ele­va­tors; social com­men­tary; ghosts 

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

Read if you like: the #metoo move­ment; Ore­gon; vig­i­lante jus­tice; boy­cotts; unlike­ly heroes; books writ­ten from mul­ti­ple third-per­son perspectives

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Read if you like: mag­i­cal real­ism; mon­sters; utopia/​dystopia; mythol­o­gy; strong sto­ry­telling; heavy top­ics; quick-yet-pow­er­ful reads

The Poet X by Eliz­a­beth Acevedo

Read if you like: nov­els in verse; slam poet­ry; Harlem; forg­ing your own path; frus­tra­tion; pas­sion; fam­i­ly expec­ta­tions; com­ing-of-age sto­ries; inspir­ing and empow­er­ing narratives

Sadie by Court­ney Summers

Read if you like: true crime; mys­ter­ies; pod­casts; revenge; sus­pense; unsolved crimes; unfor­get­table characters

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Read if you like: fan­ta­sy; thieves; heists; crim­i­nals; adven­ture; out­casts; romance; mys­tery; moral­ly grey char­ac­ters; Ocean’s Eleven

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Read if you like: semi-auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal tales; romance; heart wrench­ing exam­i­na­tion of the treat­ment of Mus­lim Amer­i­cans post Sep­tem­ber 11th; breakdancing

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Read if you like: poet­ic, emo­tion­al writ­ing; men­tal health themes; nar­ra­tives dri­ven by emo­tion rather than plot; books that feel like a qui­et ache long after you’ve finished

Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi

Read if you like: bonds between sis­ters (or lack there­of); New York City; angst; iden­ti­ty swap­ping; emo­tion­al issues; Fleabag