TGIF ✌ Today, I wanted to share with you my top 5 YA fictional books ~ the ones that are not afraid to highlight ethical issues and tackle them in a real way.
1. Go Ask Alice
I read this book when I was a teenager, and it was so chilling to me. Before this book, peers had painted drug use as this fun, experimental thing– and you were just such a prude if you weren’t on board with it.
Of course, now I know better. I’ve unfortunately seen many of my friends from my hometown succumb to pill addiction.
Go Ask Alice is raw and gritty, and it tackles the realities of drug use head-on. It doesn’t mince words, but it is also not preachy. The diary format gives it a very personal feel. Short and to-the-point, I’m glad to see more schools assign this book.
The parental reviews on this book are 50/50. Some say middle schoolers are too young for this book. Some say it tackles a difficult issue that kids should know about.
The sex is not graphic, in my opinion, and the reviewers that say “it’s too depressing” should know that… well, that’s kind of what happens, isn’t it? Rape is a sad, complicated, trauma-inducing scenario that could happen to tweens and teens, and this book tackles this issue directly.
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
This book captures the joys, pitfalls, confusion, highs, and lows of going from childhood to teenhood to adulthood. It is painfully realistic and bittersweet. For being such a small book, I found it to be full of wisdom.
And in my opinion, the movie was wonderfully made and executed, and I would recommend it too.
Parents tend to shy away from this one because of the difficult issues it covers, but I imagine those parents have forgotten what it was like being in middle school and high school. These issues do come up in real life, and The Perks touches upon these topics in a beautiful way.
4. The Hunger Games (triology)
You may be asking, what the heck is this on the list for?? Though it is part of pop culture and not generally seen as a profound book, I found The Hunger Games to be a meaningful story about self-sacrifice and defiance.
Who can forget Katniss jumping out from the crowd and yelling “I volunteer as tribute!” It’s a deeply emotional scene and shows something teens may not have yet encountered in life– self-sacrifice.
It also highlights defiance in the face of oppression. What about when your oppressors rule over you? I’ve always found it important to know when to follow directions and when to say NO. It is so dangerous to teach kids/teens to just follow what the adults say. What if that adult is not to be trusted? That is why The Hunger Games is on this list. There is a time to stand up and be defiant.
I’ll be honest with you, I absolutely love all of Ellen Hopkins’ books. Crank is a book of poems that can be read in bite-sized pieces, or all at once. The book itself is creatively made, without the dry rhyme-this-and-that of other poetry, which YA readers might find boring.
The story begins well enough and it escalates with each poem, following Kristina Snow’s experience trying out crank (meth) and slowly being consumed by it.
It touches upon the subject in a creative, engaging, and realistic way. Though I’ve never even considered doing meth, I found this book eye-opening, and suddenly I gathered a whole new level of empathy for those who might be going through an addiction.
What are some of the YA ethical books on your list? Don’t be shy, share in the comments the books I didn’t mention✌
Also, click on each book to see it on Amazon. No, there are no affiliate links in this post, just links to Amazon in case you want to check out these books 😘
Take good care and read on,
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