If you’re a teen (or just young at heart) looking for a book to read while you’re stuck at home, here are some fun young adult titles to try out. Now with bonus Jewish content!
- Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed: A shy Jewish boy and a Muslim girl whose best friend is about to move away work together on a local state senate election. Sweet storytelling, and fun dual points of view.
- In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan: The adventures of the grouchiest boy in fantasyland. Elliot Schafer goes from his life in England up into the Borderlands, where he joins a school to train diplomats and warriors. Laugh-out-loud humor, deep insights, and a gripping coming-of-age story.
- Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein: Rose is an American pilot working in the British Air Transport Auxiliary during WWII, and after her plane is shot down, ends up at Ravensbruck concentration camp. A masterful and powerful story, a fine companion piece to Code Name Verity.
- In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton: Ruth and her family move to Atlanta, and she is finding that she can be Jewish or popular, but not both. She tries to play down her religious identity, and she is fitting in, but a hate crime draws the different parts of her identity into conflict, and she has to make some hard choices.
- Color Me In by Natasha Diaz: Having grown up in an affluent household, Nevaeh never stopped to consider her biracial roots. But after her parents split up, she has to relocate to her mom’s family home in Harlem, and confront who she really is.
- Screen Queens by Lori Goldstein: Three teenage girls get into the super-competitive ValleySmart tech incubator program. The competition is fierce, and the interpersonal challenges – a first love, an ex turned enemy, and more – drive a compulsive and fun plot.
- You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman – a driven high school senior has been working towards crafting the ideal high school career to get into his top college – violinist, volunteer, active temple goer… but his valedictorian status is challenged by one bad grade, and then he meets his tutor Amir, who he may be interested in. Can he balance a relationship on top of everything else?
- It’s a Whole Spiel, edited by Katherine Locke and Laura Silverman – an anthology of Jewish stories, ranging from rom-coms to confronting Jewish identity, these stories say yeah, we’re Jews, but we’re also disabled, queer, political, artistic, and so much more. With an intro by Mayim Bialik!
And a few graphic novels as well:
- Maus by Art Spiegelman: The modern classic tale of a Jewish cartoonist connecting with his father over his stories of how he survived the Holocaust, told with humanoid animal characters. Brilliant and moving – check out Metamaus when you’re done for a making of story and retrospective.
- Hereville series by Barry Deutsch: Mirka is living in an Orthodox Jewish community, but mostly just wants to fight dragons with her sword. A fun mix of fantasy, adventure, cultural traditions, and chaos. This is a three book series so far!
- Superman Isn’t Jewish, but I Am (Kinda) by Jimmy Bemon: An intimate and humorous autobiography of a boy’s quest for identity as he struggles with his heritage and his heroes. Fairly autobiographical, with lively art.