The best teen suspense novels about suffering through bad relationships or tragedy

Who am I?

I am a novelist who loves stories that express deep emotions and life-changing experiences, suspenseful stories that explore how humankind responds to tragedy, to heartache, and to joy, so that is what I write. My stories don’t come from me; they come through me. I often listen to scene-setting music full blast over and over again as scenes form in my head and the words pour onto the page. I don’t write my stories in order. I usually know the beginning and end, but I write whatever scene I “see” and then arrange them in the right order when I’m done. 

I wrote...

Turning in Circles

By Michelle Buckman,

Book cover of Turning in Circles

What is my book about?

Savannah and Charleston, two sisters living in a small Southern town, have always been close. They've shared everything with one another...until Dillon, the bad boy in school who sets his sights on Charleston. As Charleston is drawn down his dark, destructive path, Savannah panics, knowing her sister is destined for disaster.

She turns to her lifelong best friend, Ellerbe, for help, but their relationship has shifted. The connection they've shared is taking a turn toward something more, something deeper, and Savannah isn't sure she's ready for a romance while trying to save her sister. As Savannah's foundation begins to crumble, every decision becomes an unchangeable step toward an outcome that could have tragic repercussions for Charleston.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Run, Rose, Run

Michelle Buckman Why did I love this book?

Dolly Parton and James Patterson partnered to write this suspenseful story about a runaway girl who arrives in Nashville with dreams of making it big, but who is shadowed by the constant fear of being found by her abuser. After begging for stage time at bars, she is discovered by a retired celebrity who pulls her into the spotlight—which in turn draws the attention of the man who wants to kill her.

I have a special fondness for Dolly Parton because she endorsed my novel, which is also about a teenage girl getting mixed up with a guy who, like Dolly’s character, has murderous intent. In a beautiful handwritten note, Dolly Parton declared, “I’m proud my song "Joshua" inspired the character Beard.”

By James Patterson, Dolly Parton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Run, Rose, Run as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


From America’s most beloved superstar and its greatest storyteller—a thriller about a young singer-songwriter on the rise and on the run, and determined to do whatever it takes to survive.

Every song tells a story. 

She’s a star on the rise, singing about the hard life behind her. 

She’s also on the run. Find a future, lose a past. 

Nashville is where she’s come to claim her destiny.  It’s also where the darkness she’s fled might find her.  And destroy her. 

Run, Rose, Run is a novel glittering with danger and desire—a story that…

Book cover of Drowning Ruth

Michelle Buckman Why did I love this book?

Christian Schwarz deftly creates a rising tension between two sisters who are torn apart by secrets. Ruth gradually pieces together memories from her childhood, bringing the story to a climax when her secrets are revealed and the consequences come to pass. This story was one I read and studied multiple times during my journey to publication.

By Christina Schwarz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

New York Times

'[A] gripping psychological thriller . . . In the winter of 1919, a young mother named Mathilda Neumann drowns beneath the ice of a rural Wisconsin lake. The shock of her death dramatically changes the lives of her daughter, troubled sister, and husband . . . The narrative gradually and tantalizingly reveals the dark family secrets and the unsettling discoveries that lead to the truth of what actually happened the night of the…

Book cover of The Lovely Bones

Michelle Buckman Why did I love this book?

I love books that revolve around the desperate emotions of life, of the very decisions we make over living or dying, and how one cherishes or fritters away the short time we have on Earth. The Lovely Bones focuses on family, but in this case, it’s the disappearance of a child. Emotionally driven and captivating, Alice Sebold’s deft writing style enveloped me in the time and place she created—an art I have done my best to apply to my own stories. 

By Alice Sebold,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Lovely Bones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The internationally bestselling novel that inspired the acclaimed film directed by Peter Jackson.

With an introduction by Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles.

My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.

In heaven, Susie Salmon can have whatever she wishes for - except what she most wants, which is to be back with the people she loved on earth. In the wake of her murder, Susie watches as her happy suburban family is torn apart by grief; as her friends grow up, fall in…

Book cover of Everything I Never Told You

Michelle Buckman Why did I love this book?

This edgy saga centers on secrets and emotional undercurrents in families. When Lydia, the family’s pride and joy, is found dead in a lake, the family unravels. While the mother sets out to solve the crime, it’s Hannah, the youngest child, who holds the secret to what really happened. A great story wrapped around the intricacies of family ties, which is what inspires my own writing

By Celeste Ng,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Everything I Never Told You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The acclaimed debut novel by the author of Little Fires Everywhere and Our Missing Hearts

"A taut tale of ever deepening and quickening suspense." -O, the Oprah Magazine

"Explosive . . . Both a propulsive mystery and a profound examination of a mixed-race family." -Entertainment Weekly

"Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet." So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia's body…

Book cover of The Homecoming

Michelle Buckman Why did I love this book?

I loved The Waltons, the closeness of the family, and how they solved typical family squabbles. As an adult, I watched every episode again with my kids, so I was thrilled when I actually met The Homecoming author Earl Hamner, Jr. (the real John-Boy Walton/Clay-Boy Spencer) in an online writers’ group way back when the internet was first invented. We became great online friends. His John-Boy character inspired the character in my book, a good-hearted teen who, despite living in modern times, traverses his small southern town on a horse, just as John-Boy rode Blue, his mule.

By Earl Hamner,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Homecoming as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A young man searches for his missing father on Christmas Eve in this sequel to Spencer’s Mountain, the novel that inspired The Waltons.
It’s the night before Christmas, but Clay Spencer has failed to return home. Leaving his worried family to keep watch at the homestead, his son, Clay-Boy, takes to the snowy Virginia hills in search of his father. Along the way, he will meet an irate deer, a threatening county sheriff, a congregation of African American churchgoers, and two elderly women who happen to be bootleggers—in this tale filled with warmth, humor, and emotion.
Along with Spencer’s Mountain,…

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Deep Roots

By Sung J. Woo,

Book cover of Deep Roots

Sung J. Woo Author Of Deep Roots

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Novelist Tennis fan Cinephile Gamer

Sung's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

After solving her first case, private eye Siobhan O’Brien is hired by Phillip Ahn, an octogenarian billionaire with his own personal island in the Pacific Northwest. Ahn, a genius in artificial intelligence, swears that Duke, his youngest child and only son, is an impostor. Is Ahn crazy, or is Duke really someone else? As Siobhan attempts to arrive at the truth, her biggest challenge will be dealing with Ahn’s family, who all live under the same gilded roof: his current wife, his two ex-wives, and their awful, privileged children.

What is the real reason that Siobhan was brought to this isolated estate? If she can keep her head – literally and figuratively – she’ll learn that family secrets have some very deep roots.

Deep Roots

By Sung J. Woo,

What is this book about?

After solving her first case, Siobhan O’Brien faces her biggest challenge yet – Thanksgiving!  With her lawyer boyfriend Craig in tow, Siobhan travels to Minneapolis to endure small talk with the extended O’Brien clan and chow down on some seriously delicious turkey and dressing.  Everything’s swell until her sister-in-law Gwen tells her about her brother Sven's frequent late-night meetings with his co-workers.  Since Siobhan’s next case is just a ferry ride from their house in Washington state, she asks for Siobhan’s help.
Big sister is happy to oblige, though she’s got her hands full.  Hired by Phillip Ahn, a Korean…

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