The best YA books from the 20th century that will give you all the feels

Who am I?

When I was a teen, I had zero aspirations to become a writer. I didn’t discover my passion for writing until I was thirty! But once I started writing, it was these books and the way they made me feel that I drew on. I wanted strong heroines that I wanted to be—and be friends with. I wanted a slow burn, skin-tingling romance with a lot of push and pull. I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself. To go on a quest. To feel victorious. And it is my hope that I can give my readers all the feels these books gave me.

I wrote...


By Katie Delahanty,

Book cover of Keystone

What is my book about?

When Ella Karman debuts on the Social Stock Exchange, she finds out life as a high-profile "Influencer" isn't what she expected. Everyone around her is consumed by their rankings, in creating the smoke and mirrors that make them the envy of the world. But then Ella’s best friend betrays her, her rankings tank, and she loses—everything.

Leaving her old life behind, she joins Keystone, a secret school for thieves, where students are being trained to steal everything analog and original because something—or someone—is changing history to suit their needs. Partnered with the annoyingly hot—and utterly impossible—Garrett Alexander, who has plenty of his own secrets, Ella is forced to return to the Influencer world, while unraveling a conspiracy that began decades ago. One wrong move and she could lose everything—again.

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The books I picked & why

Remember Me

By Christopher Pike,

Book cover of Remember Me

Why did I love this book?

I’ve read this book more times than I can count. A girl has to solve her own murder from beyond the grave with a cute dead boy who was her friend before he passed away? Sign me up! Though I don’t write paranormal, I’ve always had a fascination with “the other side”, and this book more than delivers a big dose of murderous intrigue and belly-dipping romance. And it has a real ghost story behind it! Christopher Pike is quoted as saying that when he wrote the book’s final words, “I just want to be remembered”, he felt a hand on his shoulder and a voice said, “I’ll see you later.” He realized the story had poured out of him, without pre-plotting, like it had been dictated to him. Plus, it was the first story he’d ever written in first person. Is this story really from beyond the grave? We’ll never know…

By Christopher Pike,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Remember Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this harrowing thriller from bestselling author Christopher Pike, a teen girl must solve the mystery of her own murder before the killer strikes again.

After a night spent out with friends, Shari Cooper wakes up in her bed not sure how she got home. And things only get stranger when her family acts like she’s not even there. Nothing Shari says gets a response and nothing she does can get someone to even glance at her. Then the hospital calls.

Shari’s mom starts to cry. The blood drains from her dad’s face. And still no one will tell her…


By Jane Claypool Miner,

Book cover of Roxanne

Why did I love this book?

I have loved many a Sunfire historical Romance. Danielle (pirates!), Caroline (Gold Rush!), Amanda (Oregon Trail!), Nicole (Titanic—way before there was a movie). There’s always a kick-ass heroine and a love triangle and fun outfits (also a must for me—I was a fashion designer before becoming a writer and styling the wardrobe and “sets” is very important to me when crafting a story. I keep a Pinterest board for all my books and unlock it once a book/series is fully published). Anyway, I especially loved Roxanne because I’ve always loved Old Hollywood and old movies (much like Elisha in Keystone). I moved to Orange County, California from Pittsburgh when I was a kid, and on day trips to Los Angeles, I preferred seeing Hollywood through Roxanne’s eyes. It was her story that connected me to my new home. 

By Jane Claypool Miner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Roxanne as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Miner, Jane Claypool

Anne of the Island

By L.M. Montgomery,

Book cover of Anne of the Island

Why did I love this book?

The best kind of books are books that are your friends, aren’t they? As a reader, I usually feel connected to characters and don’t think much about authors (and I feel this is how it should be. I think once they leave an author’s hands, books belong to the reader!) but in this case, I also feel like Lucy Maude and I are kindred spirits. We both had two imaginary friends growing up, after all. That’s enough to make us BFF’s, right? 😉 Anyway, I have visited with all my Anne book friends many times, but the one I always come back to is Anne of the Island. This is probably because I love a slow-burn romance, and this is the book where Anne and Gilbert finally get together. After three books of will-they-won’t-they banter the payoff is totally worth it! (And on a side note, would this book be considered “new adult” today?)

By L.M. Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anne of the Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the third installment of the Anne of Green Gables series, Anne enrolls in college and must face new challenges inside and outside the classroom. The young student attempts to balance a vibrant social life with an intense course load that will push her to her limits.

Anne has left the comforts of Green Gables to embark on her college career. While attending Redmond College in Nova Scotia, she meets a new friend, Philippa Gordon and a potential beau, Roy Gardner. As her social circle grows, Anne maintains her connection with childhood cohort, Gilbert Blythe. When his undeniable affection becomes…

Book cover of The Wakefields of Sweet Valley (Sweet Valley High)

Why did I love this book?

I devoured everything in the Sweet Valley world as a teen, though I was more into Sweet Valley Twins than Sweet Valley High for some reason. Maybe it’s because I liked the twins’ innocence, and the high school drama was too much (or too relatable!) to me. I like to escape to a happy ending! And in complete seriousness, I debated naming my daughter Lila because I didn’t want her to be associated with mean girl Lila Flower. In the end, I named her Delilah (Lilah—with an h!—for short) and that eased my worries.

At any rate, I’ll read a family saga any day. And we’ve established that I love historical romance and costumes, so give me all the Wakefield history.

By Francine Pascal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wakefields of Sweet Valley (Sweet Valley High) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Follow the riveting stories of the women who came  before Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield:

  Alice Larson, a bold sixteen-year-old from Sweden,  arrives alone in America to start a new life --  but with a broken heart.

Headstrong  frontier tomboy Jessamyn runs away to join the circus,  leading her sensitive twin, Elisabeth, into a  desperate search that ends in tragedy.

Spirited  twins and rivals Samantha and Amanda battle for  the love of the same boy during the glamorous  Roaring Twenties.

Marjorie, stranded in France  during World War II, becomes a heroine of the  Resistance.

Alice Robertson, child of the  tumultuous sixties,…

Book cover of The Initiation: The Secret Circle, Vol. 1

Why did I love this book?

I love an underdog. I love a fish out of water. I love a character who discovers a secret power they didn’t know they possessed (be it other-worldly or grounded in reality). I love being on the inside of a secret society (especially a teenage one). The Secret Circle series is all these things and demanded many a re-read! 

By L. J. Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Initiation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cassie is initiated into the coveted Secret Circle, a coven of young witches whose power has ruled New Salem for three hundred years, but when Cassie realizes her love for the leader's boyfriend, she risks falling prey to the dark powers that surround her. Reprint.

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