The best books about a teenage girl

4 authors have picked their favorite books about teenage girls and why they recommend each book.

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I'm Alice, I Think

By Susan Juby,

Book cover of I'm Alice, I Think

I found out after I'd read and thoroughly enjoyed this novel that it's classified as YA. Pity. It made this adult laugh and laugh often. Alice is a refreshing change to … normal. Fortunately, there are two more books in the series.

I was so disappointed that the novel did not win the Leacock (technically, the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour). It definitely should have. But then … written by a woman … blah blah when will men get over themselves?)

Who am I?

I have a Master’s degree in Philosophy and for a (very) brief time was a stand-up comic (now I'm more of a sprawled-on-the-couch comic). Despite these attributes, I have received four Ontario Arts Council grants.  This Will Not Look Good on My Resume was shortlisted for the Rubery Book Award, and excerpts from my several other books have appeared in The Cynic Online Magazine and 222 More Comedy Monologues, and on Erma Bombeck’s humor website.  

I wrote...

This Will Not Look Good on My Resume

By Jass Richards,

Book cover of This Will Not Look Good on My Resume

What is my book about?

Everyone gets fired at least once in their life. And if not, well, they're just not trying very hard. And we all think of brilliant and immature 'shoulda saids' and 'shoulda dones' for weeks after. (Okay, years.) A quirky bit of fun that slaps you upside the head.

Where the Rhythm Takes You

By Sarah Dass,

Book cover of Where the Rhythm Takes You

Set on the island of Tobago, Where the Rhythm Takes You is a modern take on Jane Austen’s classic romance, Persuasion. Say no more! Seventeen-year-old Reyna helps her father run their seaside resort all while dealing with the death of her mother and missing her former best friend (and first kiss), Aidan. Little does she know that Aidan is about to make a comeback, and he’s not at all like Reyna remembers him. If you love summer vibes, Jane Austen retellings, and friends to lovers, this is the book for you!

Who am I?

Growing up, I always loved reading young adult romances where first love and growing up seemed like the perfect kind of summer story. As an adult, and especially as an educator, I have too often seen the likes and interests of my female students dismissed as silly or frivolous, romance being at the top of this list. I love cultivating a diverse classroom library, one that includes books for everyone’s interest and background. Writing stories for young readers and about what interests them has been the great privilege of my life.

I wrote...

The Edge of Summer

By Erica George,

Book cover of The Edge of Summer

What is my book about?

Saving the whales has been Coriander Cabot and her best friend Ella’s dream since elementary school. But when tragedy strikes, Cor is left to complete the list of things they wanted to accomplish before college alone, including a marine biology internship on Cape Cod.

Cor's summer of healing and new beginnings turns complicated when she meets Mannix, a local lifeguard who completely takes her breath away. But she knows whatever she has with Mannix might not last, and that her focus should be on rescuing the humpback whales from entanglement. As the tide changes, Cor finds herself distracted and struggling with her priorities. Can she follow her heart and keep her promise to the whales and her best friend?

The Crocodile Bird

By Ruth Rendell,

Book cover of The Crocodile Bird

I pick Rendel’s books because she knows how to get inside the complex workings of the human mind. I have always been a keen enthusiast of Rendel’s crime fiction thrillers. What amazes me is her depth of understanding of human psychology. On the one hand, I just couldn’t put the book down, and yet due to the interest, it evoked I never wanted to finish it. The story revolves around a teenager Liza who is kept away from the outside world in an isolated rural mansion and is completely dominated by her mother. Secrets, murders, and love affairs interlock, twist and turn and evolve into a thrilling page-turner. 

Who am I?

History is my passion. I’m a graduate of medieval history from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and post-graduate of London University. Former high school history teacher, and previously held the post of assistant researcher at the Museum of the Diaspora, Tel Aviv. I was commissioned by the Council of Zambian Jewry to research and write the history of Northern Rhodesian/Zambian Jewry. I have lectured frequently on my subjects and have contributed diverse historical articles in newspapers and journals. I have published six books, fiction, and non-fiction.  

I wrote...

The Conspiracy against Mary Magdalene

By Frank Shapiro,

Book cover of The Conspiracy against Mary Magdalene

What is my book about?

This is a case demonstrating the bending of truth in history. Read how Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ closest companion, was metaphorically crucified! In one dramatic act of interpretation and condemnation the role model of Mary Magdalene was severed from the axis of Christianity. The Apostle of the Apostle was suddenly considered undesirable and dangerous. Yet, at the crucifixion while all Jesus’ disciples scattered in fear, Mary stayed by his side. Later, she was the driving spirit encouraging the followers to return to build the movement. It was Mary Magdalene who saved Christianity from becoming just another marginal sect. Mary Magdalene was certainly most fitting to be the first bishop of Rome. Yet as we know, no female pope waves at us from the Vatican window in St. Peter’s Square.

Half the World

By Joe Abercrombie,

Book cover of Half the World

Ever read a book you kept putting aside because you wanted to extend the pleasure a bit longer? I didn’t want to set this down. Ready to submit my five picks when I came across this tale. Delicious! By the time I’d finished it replaced one of my choices. Treachery, deceit, blood, with vivid characters you might wish to meet, at a safe distance.

A fantasy world obviously based on the Norse and Byzantium; you are swept away on an adventure. Do you like vivid duel and battle scenes where you can feel every blow? How about devious work behind the scenes? Whom do you trust? Yes, there is even a tinge of romance, and the ladies get more than their equal share of top billing.

Who am I?

An avid reader, and a spec-fiction/fantasy reviewer for CM Canada online, I’ve wanted to tell stories for as long as I can remember. I write “pantser-style” and let the characters run loose, looking at their motivation to steer the tale, often starting with little more than an idea and, if lucky, a character or two. My love of history led me to writing mediaeval or historical fantasy, as my first group of published novels attest, but to avoid stagnation added science fiction and a fantasy detective series of novellas. To date have fourteen novels and three anthologies of my novellas published and have appeared on panels at several cons.

I wrote...

The Dark Lady

By RJ Hore,

Book cover of The Dark Lady

What is my book about?

Young Princess Nefasti wakes one morning to discover her father, the king, poisoned and her mother near death. She is about to become the sole heiress to the High Kingdom of Vadio. The deceased king’s three brothers soon begin to plot and quarrel over who will become Regent and control the kingdom until she becomes of age or dies. They squabble over their main solutions, marry her off under their control, or kill her.

If this were not enough of a problem, the greedy and much larger kingdoms surrounding them all desire to gobble Vadio up, and their ambassadors scurry through the castle, plotting and scheming.

The Lovely Bones

By Alice Sebold,

Book cover of The Lovely Bones

Contemporary suspense, psychological fiction, the afterlife, family dynamics, and heaps of disturbing are the ingredients mixed together in The Lovely Bones. Fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon was raped and murdered. Only none of the living know who did it. But Susie knows. Her soul is stuck in the “Inbetween,” where she can watch the Earth below. She sees her family grieve. Sees her murderer, Mr. Harvey, who lives in her neighborhood near her school. Will he get caught? Or will Susie’s sister or another young girl be his next victim? As a ghostly “watcher” from the Inbetween, Susie narrates this compelling story and elevates it with her amazing voice. The message and emotional weight of The Lovely Bones will keep readers fully invested.

Who am I?

Ghost stories are predominantly one flavor: horror. However, my taste in ghost fiction resembles a smoothie. Blend equal parts of contemporary suspense/mystery and the paranormal; add a splash of science, a pinch of dark family secrets, and a sprinkle of romance; and then spike with a heaping cup of twists. That’s my favorite recipe for the paranormal crossovers I love to read and write. My narration preferences are less typical, too. Ghost stories are usually told by characters being haunted. In novels I love, ghosts participate as storytellers, breathing realism into the supernatural. For me, hauntingly plausible stories generate more goosebumps than those horrifically improbable. (Perhaps because I grew up in a haunted house!)

I wrote...


By Julia Ash,

Book cover of Mystified

What is my book about?

Being strangled in her parents’ pool was the last memory 15-year-old Jules Parker could recall...alive, but it hasn’t been the most shocking revelation. That was finding her drowned corpse and realizing she was a ghost. 

Now she’s joining forces with Truitt Windsor, the new teen next door—someone who’s not afraid of the paranormal. Someone who wants to help unlock the mysteries surrounding Jules’s life and death. No doubt, the secrets that’ll surface will be the greatest shock of all. 


By Marguerite Abouet, Clément Oubrerie, Helge Dascher (translator)

Book cover of Aya: Life in Yop City

I’ve added this graphic novel to my list in part for nostalgic reasons. Although the book and its two sequels were published in the 2000s, they are all set in 1970s Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, when I had the good fortune to live there. Aya is an adolescent girl living in the vibrant neighborhood of Yopougon, where everyone knows each other’s business. While she just wants to focus on her studies, she keeps getting distracted by the drama of those around her—from the boy-chasing machinations of her girlfriends to the foolish missteps of her parent's generation.

Who am I?

I’m a public health professional, author, and reader. During part of my childhood and my subsequent career in international public health, I lived in Côte d’Ivoire and the Central African Republic; I’ve also worked throughout West and Central Africa, primarily in Francophone African countries. My experiences in these parts of the continent have not only influenced my fiction writing, but also what I read. While there are plenty of books by Anglophone African authors, few of their Francophone counterparts see their work translated into English. As a result, stories from French-speaking Africa are underrepresented in the literature available to English-speaking audiences. This list is an attempt to make a dent in this disparity.

I wrote...

The Civilized World

By Susi Wyss,

Book cover of The Civilized World

What is my book about?

Set across five African countries and the U.S., The Civilized World follows five unforgettable women whose lives intersect across Africa in unexpected and sometimes explosive ways. Adjoa struggles to earn enough money in Côte d’Ivoire to return to Ghana to open a beauty parlor. Janice, an American aid worker, is haunted by a tragedy that also impacts Adjoa. Comfort, an imperious busybody, complains about her American daughter-in-law, Linda, while Ophelia contemplates how to save her marriage. Named “A Book to Pick Up Now” by O, the Oprah Magazine, the book explores what it means to need forgiveness—and what it means to forgive.

The World on Either Side

By Diana Terrana,

Book cover of The World on Either Side

This story takes place on an exotic trek in Thailand. The setting is amazing. But what is even more amazing is the stuff going on inside the sixteen-year-old narrator Valentine’s head! She is trying to cope after the tragic, senseless death of her boyfriend. There is a lot that is sad and serious in this story, but it’s also life-affirming and beautifully written.

Who am I?

As far as I can remember, I have been obsessed with death! Maybe it’s because my mom, who died four years ago at the age of 86, was a Holocaust survivor. Anyway, what I’ve noticed is that all kids' stories deal with death. Think, for instance, of how Harry Potter is an orphan. Or how so many characters in fairy tales have a parent who is dead. I think dealing with death – talking about it openly --- helps us live our lives in a more meaningful way. For my own novel, Planet Grief, I did a ton of researcher and befriended an amazing grief counselor named Dawn Cruchet. You can look her up on the web and learn about her too. Dawn taught me that there is no one, correct way to grieve, that grief is a life-changing journey.

I wrote...

Planet Grief

By Monique Polak,

Book cover of Planet Grief

What is my book about?

Planet Grief takes place at a grief camp – a place for kids who are mourning the death of someone they loved. Compared to other kids, the kids at grief camp really are living on another planet. Always-sarcastic Abby would rather be playing soccer, and cagily-quiet Christopher thinks grief camp is a waste of time. But together with the other kids on Planet Grief, they’re about to learn a thing or two – not so much about death, but about life. The novel’s author, Monique Polak, is also a journalist. The novel is based on research about a real-life grief camp in Montreal.


By Pintip Dunn,

Book cover of Malice

 Okay, technically, Malice is a futuristic young adult novel, but there's a fantastic mystery here with a strong female protagonist. I did mention these books would be genre-bending. In this one, a young girl knows part of the future--the part where one of her classmates releases a virus that kills two-thirds of the population. Now she's in a race against time to find out who he is before he kills everyone she knows.

Who am I?

Bestselling author Candace Havens has published more than 25 books. Her novels have received nominations for the RITA’s, Holt Medallion, Write Touch Reader Awards, and National Reader’s Choice Awards. She is a Barbara Wilson Award winner. She is the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation’s leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities from George Clooney to Chris Pratt. Candace runs a free online writing workshop for more than 2000 writers and teaches comprehensive writing classes. She does film reviews with Hawkeye in the Morning on 96.3 KSCS, and is a former President of the Television Critics Association.

I wrote...

A Case for the Cookie Baker

By Candace Havens,

Book cover of A Case for the Cookie Baker

What is my book about?

Ainsley McGregor and the entire town of Sweet River, Texas, are preparing for the annual summer celebration. And thanks to the extra tourist traffic, Ainsley’s shop, Bless Your Art, has never been busier. Good thing her new friend, Lizzie, has opened a bakery nearby and provides Ainsley and her staff with tasty treats and daily sugar rushes. It’s all cookies and fun, until someone ends up dead in the bakery and her new pal is the prime suspect.

Ainsley is convinced Lizzie is innocent. Unfortunately, her brother, the town sheriff, and her boyfriend, Jake, have some not-so-secret suspicions. With a town full of strangers who just might be suspects, Ainsley finds herself targeted by a killer. Even as her world crumbles faster than a cookie, she’s determined to prove her friend’s innocence—if she can stay alive long enough.

City of Bones

By Cassandra Clare,

Book cover of City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments #1

Oh, how I love my Shadowhunters and Downworlders! I’m definitely Team Jace, although I have a deep love of Magnus Bane, too. Cassandra Clare won my heart in this first installment in the Mortal Instruments series, starting with Clary, an ordinary girl who sees something unworldly at a dance club, which thrusts her into the world of humans with angel blood, vampires, werewolves, Fae, and other magical beings. The world building is gripping, the story grabbed me and I could not put the book down. You know a book is great when it was not only made into a movie but a television series as well. Cassandra has an almost cult following and it’s no wonder, her books are addictive and unforgettable.

Who am I?

I dreamed of being a fairy tale princess at a young age, and although I never received my glass slipper, I still have a highly active imagination. This is probably why fantasy books are my favorite, and I’ve read extensively in this space. I’m also a huge Disney and Harry Potter nerd. While I might not win a trivia competition on these topics, I could definitely hold my own. To be honest, immersing myself in another world is my favorite form of escapism and the number one way I relax and unwind after work. I’ve read many, many books in my life and can quickly tell you the ones I love the best.

I wrote...

Never Forgotten

By Kelly Risser,

Book cover of Never Forgotten

What is my book about?

Meara Quinn is about to find out there are worse things than moving to a tiny oceanside town before her senior year. Like discovering there's a secret being kept from her and knowing it's a life-changer. 

After experiencing vivid visions of her absentee father, Meara decides she deserves answers. With the help of her new friend Evan, a guy she happens to be falling for, she embarks on a journey in the hopes of unlocking family history and finding her true self. But when she meets a handsome stranger at a local club who knows far more about her than he should, her world is again shaken. In him, Meara may have uncovered the key to the very secret that will reveal not only who she is... but what she is.

M Is for Autism

By The Student Of Limpsfield Grange School, Vicky Martin,

Book cover of M Is for Autism

M. is an autistic teen girl who desperately wants to be just like everyone else. Who longs to know the proper things to say and do.

And this was me. I was an undiagnosed autistic girl who longed to know the “right” ways to be/talk/act/feel, who never could quite de-code social situations or feel like I fit in.

Written collaboratively with the autistic girls who attend the Limpsfield-Grange School and their teacher, Vicky Martin, this book captured something special about the tricky social dilemmas of young teendom, something that resonated so deeply in me – I loved its truth-telling, and how funny and sad it was in turns – that’s how I write, too.

Who am I?

I grew up undiagnosed autistic. I got excellent grades and never caused much trouble, so no one could tell what was going on inside. But sensory overload and confusion over social dynamics kept me in a bewildering muddle. Books and stories are what helped me through! But there were no stories featuring neurodivergent kids like me, so, as an adult, I resolved to write some. I want to bust stigmas and write honest, fun, heartfelt stories for kids who might be going through their own ‘bewildering muddles.’ Now, I'm an award-winning author of several children's novels and a picture book. I'm also co-founder/editor of A Novel Mind, a web resource on mental health and neurodiversity in children's literature.

I wrote...

The Someday Birds

By Sally J. Pla, Julie McLaughlin (illustrator),

Book cover of The Someday Birds

What is my book about?

Twelve-year-old Charlie is a bird-loving autistic boy on a cross-country trip with his siblings – and under the care of a strange young woman named Ludmila, who is taking them to reunite with Charlie’s war-injured dad. Charlie tries to spot the birds that he and his dad had once hoped to find together someday — their “Someday” birds list. He hopes it can be like a gift he can give his dad, to help him feel better. But in the amazing, unexpected adventures along the way, Charlie discovers that “sometimes the birds you look for… are not the birds you find.”

Hailed as “a triumphant debut with the resonance and depth of an instant classic” and translated into many languages, this award-winner is beloved by readers young and old.

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