The best YA books about a teen girl finding herself in the midst of chaos

Who am I?

I’m a Hollywood native, writer/actor/mixed-media artist/creative compulsive. When I was a kid, I was really close to my older brother who was an addict. Unfortunately he never stopped using and died too young. I dealt with it by allowing the experience to inspire me. In my recent young adult novel, Just a Girl in the Whirl, the father character is inspired by him. I express myself through all art forms in order to make my way in the world and I love reading about other female characters who do the same! I’m a lifelong optimist and I love feeling inspired and inspiring others to love themselves, find the humor in everything, and create! 

I wrote...

Just a Girl in the Whirl

By Annie Wood,

Book cover of Just a Girl in the Whirl

What is my book about?

17-year-old Lauren is a closet poet trying to keep her messy family together. she juggles responsibility between her younger sisters and her bipolar mother. When her allegedly now sober father wants back into their lives to reconnect, everything spins out of control, and Lauren's writing is her only escape.

Just a Girl in the Whirl is about family, forgiveness, and being bold enough to create your own life, your own way.

The books I picked & why

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The Poet X

By Elizabeth Acevedo,

Book cover of The Poet X

Why this book?

I loved this book from the get-go! It’s about Xiomara (X), a first-generation Dominican American teen living in Harlem who feels stifled growing up in a religious immigrant home and I love how X is tough and confident enough to defend herself against the boys who give her unwanted attention and also protect her little brother. But mostly what I loved about her is how she fought for the freedom to express herself, which she does so beautifully in her school’s poetry slam. Her poetry is timely and raw. I love how it made me feel like creativity can set us all free. 

How to Make Friends with the Dark

By Kathleen Glasgow,

Book cover of How to Make Friends with the Dark

Why this book?

Tiger is a teenage girl who suddenly loses her mother. It’s a real, heartfelt, and painfully sad book, so be warned! This book made me look into my own losses and remember that grief is not a one size fits all experience and that there’s no way to avoid the sadness. To get through it we must keep going. I think it’s a beautifully written and important book for all who are grieving.

You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone

By Rachel Lynn Solomon,

Book cover of You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone

Why this book?

This book is about twin Israeli-American teenage girls whose mom has Huntington’s disease and the different ways they go about handling that as individuals and how it affects the sister’s relationship. I love the way religion is handled in this book, with each sister’s different take where it concerns their Judaism. It’s about life, death, and sisterhood. I loved it. 

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

By Anne Frank, B.M. Mooyaart,

Book cover of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Why this book?

Even though this story has a tragic ending, Anne Frank is a true inspiration through her words. She kept this diary while she and her family hid from the Nazis during WWII. She shares with us her hopes, fears, and dreams and through her eyes we can feel a sense of hope, love of family, and so much strength. I’ve read it several times and I still can’t get over how Anne, after all she went through, could say, “In spite of everything, I still believe people are good at heart.” Wow. I wish I knew her. 

Eliza and Her Monsters

By Francesca Zappia,

Book cover of Eliza and Her Monsters

Why this book?

It’s about a girl, Eliza, who created a super successful webcomic. IRL, Eliza is shy and withdrawn so when she meets a boy who loves her comics she doesn’t tell him that she’s the creator. This book is so now and reminds me of the importance of showing your true self and embracing your gifts. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Washington state, adolescence, and the Holocaust?

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Washington State Explore 36 books about Washington state
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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