100 books like Rule of the Bone

By Russell Banks,

Here are 100 books that Rule of the Bone fans have personally recommended if you like Rule of the Bone. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

David Haynes Author Of Right by My Side

From my list on kids with attitude.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a forty-five-year career educator, sharing my classrooms with students from primary school through graduate programs in creative writing. What I love most in every classroom I enter is sharing the books and stories and poems I love with my students. The best days: when I’m reading one of my favorite parts of the book out loud to the group and I look up and they laugh or gasp, or I look up and see their eyes full of joy. If it’s my own work I’m reading from, all the better!

David's book list on kids with attitude

David Haynes Why did David love this book?

Arnold, known as Junior, is a fourteen-year-old aspiring artist from the Spokane Indian Reservation, who tells us his story in a combination of hilarious cartoons and acerbic narration. Junior’s intimate self-revelations shocked me with their brutal honesty; this kid holds nothing back! Which is why younger readers are so in love with this character and this book: he tells all the things about being a teenager that most young people are too afraid to see. In the end, this is the most honest examination of identity that I know of. What does it mean to be Indian? American? Human and alive?  

By Sherman Alexie,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he…


Book cover of Ellen Foster

David Haynes Author Of Right by My Side

From my list on kids with attitude.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a forty-five-year career educator, sharing my classrooms with students from primary school through graduate programs in creative writing. What I love most in every classroom I enter is sharing the books and stories and poems I love with my students. The best days: when I’m reading one of my favorite parts of the book out loud to the group and I look up and they laugh or gasp, or I look up and see their eyes full of joy. If it’s my own work I’m reading from, all the better!

David's book list on kids with attitude

David Haynes Why did David love this book?

I saw this quirky little book on the “New Titles” table, “little” being the keyword. Algonquin published this short novel’s first edition in a smaller format, and I was, honestly, drawn to the size and to its evocative cover art—rumpled lines on an ornate cast iron bed. Inside I found feisty eleven-year-old Ellen, abused and ill-treated her family, abandoned to the foster care system. This wise and smart and funny narrator holds her next to the best talkers in all of literature. Among other things, Ellen (by way of Kaye Gibbons) taught me some of what I needed to know to write my own book. I fell in love with Ellen Foster and you will too!

By Kaye Gibbons,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Ellen Foster as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Filled with lively humor, compassion, and intimacy."
—Alice Hoffman, The New York Times Book Review

"When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy." With that opening sentence we enter the childhood world of one of the most appealing young heroines in contemporary fiction. Her courage, her humor, and her wisdom are unforgettable as she tells her own story with stunning honesty and insight. An Oprah Book Club selection, this powerful novel has become an American classic.

Winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and the Ernest Hemingway…


Book cover of Rich in Love

David Haynes Author Of Right by My Side

From my list on kids with attitude.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a forty-five-year career educator, sharing my classrooms with students from primary school through graduate programs in creative writing. What I love most in every classroom I enter is sharing the books and stories and poems I love with my students. The best days: when I’m reading one of my favorite parts of the book out loud to the group and I look up and they laugh or gasp, or I look up and see their eyes full of joy. If it’s my own work I’m reading from, all the better!

David's book list on kids with attitude

David Haynes Why did David love this book?

Ah, these juvenile narrators: they think they know it all. Lucille Odem has it all figured out. She can fix her broken family and heal her parent’s broken hearts—because of course she can. For me, the pleasure of a great young adult narrator is watching as even the smartest of these smarty pants comes to learn that we all have blind spots and that it’s often the things we can’t see or don’t know that are the most important part of the equation. What a sweet book this is.  

By Josephine Humphreys,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Rich in Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the age of seventeen, Lucille Odom finds herself in the middle of an unexpected domestic crisis. As she helps guide her family through its discontent, Lucille discovers in herself a woman rich in wisdom, rich in humor, and rich in love.


Book cover of Big Girl

David Haynes Author Of Right by My Side

From my list on kids with attitude.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a forty-five-year career educator, sharing my classrooms with students from primary school through graduate programs in creative writing. What I love most in every classroom I enter is sharing the books and stories and poems I love with my students. The best days: when I’m reading one of my favorite parts of the book out loud to the group and I look up and they laugh or gasp, or I look up and see their eyes full of joy. If it’s my own work I’m reading from, all the better!

David's book list on kids with attitude

David Haynes Why did David love this book?

The “big girl” of our title is Malaya Clondon, whose mother shames her endlessly about her weight. Malaya struggles to fit into all her worlds, be it the expected perfection of her mother and grandmother, the upper-class standards of her prep school peers, or a rapidly gentrifying Harlem. Malaya's clear-eyed and wise narration of her plight was an eye-opener for me. Big Girl is one of the most honest depictions I know of a young woman talking about what it feels like to be constantly judged because your body does not conform to the expectations of others. This book will stick with you for a long time.  

By Mecca Jamilah Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Alive with delicious prose and the cacophony of '90s Harlem, Big Girl gifts us a heroine carrying the weight of worn-out ideas, who dares to defy the compulsion to shrink, and in turn teaches us to pursue our fullest, most desirous selves without shame." -Janet Mock

Malaya Clondon hates when her mother drags her to Weight Watchers meetings in the church's stuffy basement community center. A quietly inquisitive eight-year-old struggling to suppress her insatiable longing, she would much rather paint alone in her bedroom, or sneak out with her father for a sampling of Harlem's forbidden street foods.

For Malaya,…


Book cover of Holes

Karen Samuelson Author Of Weaving Dreams in Oaxaca

From my list on books where the setting is like another character.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for novels with complex characters and a memorable sense of place. The setting is key to the overall ambiance of a novel: its colors, smells, architecture, terrain, weather, flora, and fauna. My novel, Weaving Dreams In Oaxaca, takes place in Oaxaca, Mexico. The story is unique to the location because it includes the zocalo, cathedrals, outlying pueblos, food, etc. My family and I moved there for six months in 2006, and I fell in love. I sent my mother audio tapes every two weeks describing our adventures as she had become blind. I later transcribed them into twenty-two pages of detailed description of this magical city which I used in my novel.

Karen's book list on books where the setting is like another character

Karen Samuelson Why did Karen love this book?

I think this book is a great read for all ages and the setting, Camp Green Lake, is not a lake, but a dusty dry desert.

This location informs the plot. It is a punishing environment as the boys sent there are being “reformed” by making them dig huge holes in the sun all day long. Digging holes is a metaphor for digging up the secrets of the camp and the threat of snake bites and dehydration and infighting enhance the tension.

By Louis Sachar,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Holes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE NEWBERY MEDAL WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD SELECTED AS ONE OF TIME MAGAZINE'S 100 BEST YA BOOKS OF ALL TIME Stanley Yelnats' family has a history of bad luck, so when a miscarriage of justice sends him to Camp Green Lake Juvenile Detention Centre (which isn't green and doesn't have a lake) he is not surprised. Every day he and the other inmates are told to dig a hole, five foot wide by five foot deep, reporting anything they find. Why? The evil warden claims that it's character building, but this is a lie. It's up…


Book cover of The Bridge Home

Lisa Lewis Tyre Author Of Hope in the Holler

From my list on to help kids build empathy for those in need.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of two middle grade books, and I love writing about kids who may not have much materially but abound in heart and courage. I grew up in a small southern town and my childhood was just like that—low on income but full of love, hope, and friendship. I want kids to know that despite their circumstances there is hope for a better life. Like Wavie’s mom tells her in my book, Hope In The Holler, “You’ve got as much right to a good life as anybody. So go find it!”

Lisa's book list on to help kids build empathy for those in need

Lisa Lewis Tyre Why did Lisa love this book?

I’ve been to India three times and I love to share books that show its complex, beautiful, and sometimes brutal culture. When sisters Viji and Rukku leave home to escape their abusive father, readers are given a detailed look at what living on the streets of India is like for many children. It’s a realistic lesson on the caste system and abject poverty, all wrapped in a compelling story; and I am always a fan of books that show siblings that care deeply for one another. I also hope it sparks an interest in that amazing country and its inhabitants.

By Padma Venkatraman,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Bridge Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

"Readers will be captivated by this beautifully written novel about young people who must use their instincts and grit to survive. Padma shares with us an unflinching peek into the reality millions of homeless children live every day but also infuses her story with hope and bravery that will inspire readers and stay with them long after turning the final page."--Aisha Saeed, author of the New York Times Bestselling Amal Unbound

Cover may vary.

Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman's stirring middle-grade debut.

Life is harsh in Chennai's teeming streets, so when runaway sisters…


Book cover of I See You

Jacqueline B. Toner Author Of Yes I Can!: A Girl and Her Wheelchair

From my list on acceptance and empathy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved children. I love tiny babies just discovering the world around them. I love elementary-age kids who are taking pride in developing new skills and learning how to deal with challenges. I love teens who are questioning and rethinking the things they thought they knew. I also love the science and practice of psychology (my profession for over thirty years) and, I love books. To date, I have written nine books. My audience ranges from preschool to high school and topics include strategies to understand and cope with problems as well as psychology as a topic of study.

Jacqueline's book list on acceptance and empathy

Jacqueline B. Toner Why did Jacqueline love this book?

Although this picture book has no words, its message of caring and compassion is clear and powerful. A small boy becomes aware of a homeless woman and simply, gently, acknowledges her. This innocent and kind book serves may serve as an opening to talk to children about homelessness. It also may help us all to remember not to ignore those less fortunate.

By Michael Genhart, Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

I See You is a wordless picture book that depicts a homeless woman who is unseen by everyone around her - except for a little boy. Over the course of a year, the boy is witness to all that she endures. Ultimately, in a gesture of compassion, the boy acknowledges her through an exchange in which he sees her and she experiences being seen. This book opens the door for kids and parents to begin a conversation about homelessness. In a "Note for Parents, Educators, and Neighbours", there are discussion questions and additional resources about helping the homeless. Ages 4-8.


Book cover of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City: A Memoir

Sarah L. Sanderson Author Of The Place We Make: Breaking the Legacy of Legalized Hate

From my list on memoirs to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I chose to study creative nonfiction during my MFA program so I could learn what makes great memoirs work, but I first fell in love with the genre as a teenager, when I picked up Angela’s Ashes off my mom’s bedside table. I’m grateful for the way memoir gives me a window into the lives of people of other races, religions, abilities, experiences, and even other centuries. While my book The Place We Make isn’t only a memoir—it’s a blend of memoir and historical biography—it was my desire to both understand the view through my research subject’s eyes, and analyze how I was seeing the world myself, that drove me to write it.

Sarah's book list on memoirs to see the world through someone else’s eyes

Sarah L. Sanderson Why did Sarah love this book?

This whole book is a powerful exploration of alcoholism, homelessness, and the father-son relationship, but it was a single chapter that made me write “WOW” in the margins.

“Same Again” is a four-page chapter composed of nothing but short sentences that contain only euphemisms for alcohol, from “the usual” to “same again.” That sounds like it wouldn’t work, but it does. It’s poetic, gripping, and follows a narrative arc through a single evening at the bar.

Read the whole book, but don’t skip this mesmerizing chapter.  

By Nick Flynn,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Another Bullshit Night in Suck City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nick Flynn met his father when he was working as a caseworker in a homeless shelter in Boston. As a teenager he'd received letters from this stranger father, a self-proclaimed poet and con man doing time in federal prison for bank robbery. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City tells the story of the trajectory that led Nick and his father onto the streets, into that shelter, and finally to each other.


Book cover of Learning to Breathe

Amber Smith Author Of The Way I Used to Be

From my list on me-too movement.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began writing The Way I Used to Be back in 2010. For me, it started simply as a place to work through my own private thoughts and feelings about sexual violence. I was writing as a survivor myself, but also as someone who has known, loved, and cared for so many others who have experienced violence and abuse. By the time I finished, I realized my novel had evolved into something much bigger: a story I hoped could contribute something meaningful to the larger dialogue. These powerful books on this list are all a part of that dialogue, each based in a richly diverse, yet shared reality. Readers will learn, grow, heal, and find hope in these pages.

Amber's book list on me-too movement

Amber Smith Why did Amber love this book?

Learning to Breathe tells such an important side of the #MeToo Movement, with sixteen-year-old Indira (Indy), a Black Bahamian girl who struggles to find her place in the aftermath of an assault that leads to an unwanted pregnancy. Set in the Bahamas, a place so often portrayed in Western culture as idyllic, it depicts a very different gritty and authentic lived reality for the main character. This heart-rending, yet empowering novel is enlightening on so many levels. Not only does it offer the unique and all-too-often overlooked point of view of a young person of color, but it also deals with complex family issues, homelessness, and a young woman’s path to claiming power over her own body and future. 

By Janice Lynn Mather,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Learning to Breathe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

A 2019 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection
Amelia Bloomer List’s 2019 Top Ten Recommended Feminist Books for Young Readers
A Governor General’s Literary Award Finalist
A Junior Library Guild Selection
A Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize Semifinalist
A BC Book Prize Finalist

“A love letter to girls—bittersweet and full of hope.” —Ibi Zoboi, author of National Book Award Finalist American Street
“This is a stellar debut.” —Brandy Colbert, award-winning author of Little & Lion and Pointe
“A vibrant, essential story of healing, resilience, and finding one’s family.” —Stephanie Kuehn, author of William C. Morris Award winning Charm…


Book cover of Crenshaw

Maura Jortner Author Of 102 Days of Lying About Lauren

From my list on kids who make it through tough times.

Why am I passionate about this?

I went through major surgery when I was in eighth grade. The physical pain was bad, but what hurt more was the emotional side. When I returned to school, the friend groups had shifted, shutting me out because of my extended absence. I had to face that time in life alone. Perhaps that’s why I’m drawn to works about kids who have to face challenges on their own. When we go through hard times, our true selves come out. They have to; we have no one else. We can’t pretend. We can only try to make it. The books I like show characters that shine through their hardships.

Maura's book list on kids who make it through tough times

Maura Jortner Why did Maura love this book?

This book is amazing. It’s about a kid named Jackson whose parents are having trouble making ends meet. It looks like they’re going to be homeless... again. But that’s when Crenshaw, Jackson’s old imaginary friend shows up. I love how Katherine Applegate shows Jackson’s fears and hopes. I grew up pretty poor, and so I know that she does a great job with this tough situation. Yet, despite the hardships, Applegate fills this book with fun, like when Crenshaw, a giant imaginary cat, takes a bubble bath.

By Katherine Applegate,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Crenshaw as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

The heart-warming new story about family and friendships from Newbery Medal-winner Katherine Applegate.

Life is tough for ten-year-old Jackson. The landlord is often at the door, there's not much food in the fridge and he's worried that any day now the family will have to move out of their home. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He's large, he's outspoken and he's imaginary. He's come back into Jackson's life to help him but is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

A heart-warming story about family and friendships from Newbery medal winner Katherine Applegate.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in homeless people, Jamaica, and teenage boys?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about homeless people, Jamaica, and teenage boys.

Homeless People Explore 23 books about homeless people
Jamaica Explore 54 books about Jamaica
Teenage Boys Explore 34 books about teenage boys