The best YA books set in Australia

Who am I?

I am an Australian author and an avid reader. Although I love reading books set in other countries, I particularly enjoy stories that take place in Australia, as I can really identify with them. I especially relate to those set in the Australian outback or small rural towns, as for several years I lived in remote indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. I understand how in small towns it is very difficult to keep secrets, as everybody knows everyone else’s business, and I now realise this is becoming an underlying theme in my writing. I have a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Tasmania.

I wrote...

Jilda's Ark

By Verity Croker,

Book cover of Jilda's Ark

What is my book about?

A sixteenth birthday celebration cruise for twins Jilda and Rosa quickly becomes a nightmare. While her family enjoys an excursion on a Fijian island, Jilda, who is unwell and remains onboard, finds their ship has sailed off, leaving most of its passengers stranded on shore.

An unknown group has overtaken the ship. After a few days, they collect thousands of new passengers from a distant archipelago, making conditions onboard overcrowded and uncomfortable. Nobody knows where they’re headed, so the mood on the ship rapidly deteriorates. Though Jilda is desperate to reunite with her family, she meets someone who comforts her and completely changes her world. But how will her new friend Jade feel when she learns Jilda has a boyfriend back home in Australia?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Boy from the Mish

Verity Croker Why did I love this book?

I love the novel The Boy from the Mish as it gives insight into how 17-year-old Jackson digs deep to find the courage to acknowledge and explore his sexuality in a small rural Australian indigenous community. It is written in a fresh and engaging way, making the reader empathise strongly with the main character.

By Gary Lonesborough,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Boy from the Mish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED: 2022 CBCA Book of the Year, Older Readers

'I don't paint so much anymore,' I say, looking to my feet.

'Oh. Well, I got a boy who needs to do some art. You can help him out,' Aunty Pam says, like I have no say in the matter, like she didn't hear what I just said about not painting so much anymore. 'Jackson, this is Tomas. He's living with me for a little while.'

It's a hot summer, and life's going all right for Jackson and his family on the Mish. It's almost Christmas, school's out, and he's hanging…

Book cover of Frankie

Verity Croker Why did I love this book?

I really loved reading Frankie. The feisty main character, Frankie, meets Xavier, who claims to be her half-brother. When he goes missing in Melbourne, she is determined to find him, and you really feel you are there with her in her quest. It is a poignant and touching story, and the climax leaves your emotions reeling. You’ll want to read more from this author.

By Shivaun Plozza,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Frankie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Shivaun Plozza’s debut novel, Frankie, is a genre-hopping, darkly funny novel about searching for the truth, finding yourself, and falling in love

Frankie Vega is angry. Just ask the guy whose nose she broke. Or the cop investigating the burglary she witnessed, or her cheating ex-boyfriend, or her aunt who's tired of giving second chances.

When a kid shows up claiming to be Frankie's half brother, it opens the door to a past she doesn't want to remember. And when that kid goes missing, the only person willing to help is a boy with stupidly blue eyes, a criminal record,…

Book cover of Metal Fish, Falling Snow

Verity Croker Why did I love this book?

Metal Fish, Falling Snow is a terrific Australian road trip story, with a gorgeous cover. After Dylan’s mother suddenly dies, her mother’s boyfriend Pat drives her across the country to join her absent father’s family. During the trip, while experiencing the wilds of outback Australia first hand, Dylan gets to know Pat better. The novel deals with grief and evolving relationships, and is a very satisfying read.

By Cath Moore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Metal Fish, Falling Snow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When her mother dies, Dylan struggles to find her identity. An outback road-trip with her mum’s grieving boyfriend sees an unlikely bond develop. But it won’t last…

Dylan dreams of sailing across the ocean to France with her mother. Paris, Dylan imagines, is a place where her black skin won’t make her stand out, a place where she might feel she belongs.

When she loses her mother in a freak accident, Dylan finds herself on a very different journey: a road trip across the Australian outback in the care of her mother’s grieving boyfriend, Pat. As they pass through remote…

Book cover of Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories

Verity Croker Why did I love this book?

I really enjoyed reading all the #OwnVoice short stories, several of which have intersectional representation, in Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories. The twelve authors demonstrate a wide range of writing styles, writing about different themes in a variety of genres from medieval to contemporary to dystopian. It’s a book you can return to again and again, choosing different stories to read depending on your mood and interests. 

By Michael Earp (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kindred as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Twelve of Australia’s best writers from the LGBTQ+ community are brought together in this ground-breaking collection of YA short stories.

What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to be human? In this powerful #LoveOzYA collection, twelve of Australia’s finest writers from the LGBTQ+ community explore the stories of family, friends, lovers and strangers – the connections that form us. This inclusive and intersectional #OwnVoices anthology for teen readers features work from writers of diverse genders, sexualities and identities, including writers who identify as First Nations, people of colour or disabled. With short stories by bestsellers, award…

Book cover of Begin, End, Begin: A #Loveozya Anthology

Verity Croker Why did I love this book?

Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology is a great collection of short stories, written in a cross-section of genres, on different themes, by a variety of Australian authors. Reading these stories gives you a taste of the authors’ writing styles, and, as many of them also write novels, you can choose which authors’ works you’d like to read more of.

By Amie Kaufman, Melissa Keil, Will Kostakis , Michael Pryor , Lili Wilkinson

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The YA event of the year. Bestsellers. Award-winners. Superstars. This anthology has them all. With brilliantly entertaining short stories from beloved young adult authors Amie Kaufman, Melissa Keil, Will Kostakis, Ellie Marney, Jaclyn Moriarty, Michael Pryor, Alice Pung, Gabrielle Tozer, Lili Wilkinson and Danielle Binks, this all-new collection will show the world exactly how much there is to love about Aussie YA. Ages 14+

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By Laci Barry Post,

Book cover of Songbird

Laci Barry Post Author Of Songbird

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Group fitness instructor Mom of two Travel consultant Hiker

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What is my book about?

It's 1943, and World War II has gripped the nation, including the Stilwell family in Jacksonville, Alabama. Rationing, bomb drills, patriotism, and a changing South barrage their way of life. Neighboring Fort McClellan has brought the world to their doorstep in the form of young soldiers from all over the country and German POWs from halfway around the globe.

Songbird is an inspirational, historical fiction novel, dealing with family, faith, strong women, and the American home front. It explores many historical elements of the World War II era, such as women's aid groups, the writings of Ernie Pyle, D-day, radio and music of the 1940s, and the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.


By Laci Barry Post,

What is this book about?

When the perils and social changes of World War II confront a small southern town, faith, family, and love sustain the lives of one young woman and her family. Can those left behind endure?

"I'm waiting for my life to begin. Waiting for the train to come in," Ava Stilwell, a young woman eager for life, sings a popular song with the big band that reflects her heart. In the midst of a world at war, Ava finds love, a passion for her music, and new opportunities, but the war still looms over her, threatening to take it all away.…

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