I kind of had a slow introduction to YA. I didn’t even really know it was a thing until later on…I just knew there were different target reading ages, and that the books written for teenagers often had more risqué subject matter. Whenever I first started reading books that had sex or drugs in them, I remember feeling really rebellious, like I had to hide what I was reading from my family even though I don’t think anybody would have actually cared.
Today, I’m going to be doing a bit of a throwback and listing the first YA books that I remember reading. I was also reading middle-grade books at the same time as most of these, but those will not be included (so no Harry Potter, The Giver, or Holes). Let me know in the comments what your first YA read was, or which YA book was the first to have a major effect on you.
Today I’m linking up for a Top Ten Tuesday!
This week’s theme: throwback freebie
My theme: my first YA reads
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants // Ann Brashares
I think this is the first YA book that I ever read. And honestly, I only read it because my sister had read it and it had pants on the cover. I was in early 5th grade. Afterwards, I insisted on giving nicknames to my group of friends.(Sidenote: is that not the most early-2000s cover you’ve ever seen? The color, the typeface. Do people even wear blue jeans anymore?)
Go Ask Alice // Anonymous
I was too young when I read this book because I had no idea what was going on through most of it and was kinda scarred for life when she got hooked on drugs at a party. And I think she got raped? IDK…IT WAS WAY TOO MUCH FOR LITTLE 11-YEAR-OLD ME. And I totally thought it was a real diary and didn’t know until many years later that it was all fiction.
You Don’t Know Me // David Klass
I think I matured a lot between 6th and 7th grade because this was also kinda dark (though admittedly not as bad as Go Ask Alice), but I remember really liking it. I bought my own copy a few years back and need to reread it.
The Outsiders // S. E. Hinton
It’s kind of fitting that one of my first YA reads was actually one of the first YA books ever. I’ve talked about The Outsiders over and over, so just know that I loved it and Johnny is my everything.
Crank // Ellen Hopkins
I read this in 8th grade because my friend liked it and I thought the verse format was interesting. It got me on to a huge Ellen Hopkins kick that I didn’t shake until late high school. I liked Burned the best, but Crank is a good start. The story isn’t anything spectacular, but the format is so unique. (Also I apparently was much more comfortable reading about sex and drugs by 8th grade.)
Abarat // E. K. Johnston
I also read this in 8th grade because my friends read it. It hit me at just the right age. I still love the artwork.
Elsewhere // Gabrielle Zevin
I read this somewhere between middle school and high school and…sadly did not really like it. But I read Memoirs of Teenage Amnesiac a few years later and it was much better. This was just too…weird for me. A little Benjamin-Buttony.
The Lovely Bones // Alice Sebold
Apparently I went on a kick with dead narrators? I think I read this around the same time as Elsewhere (either because my sister or my sister’s friend had been reading it) and I remember liking it, though it doesn’t really feel like a YA.
Luna // Julie Anne Peters
This is another one that I talk about a lot, and I don’t know if it’s well-written or if I would still like it today, but it changed so many things for me. It introduced me to trans characters and made me more accepting of others. If I hadn’t read this when I did (around 9th grade), I’m afraid of the type of person I might have become (growing up in rural Missouri). It was a book I picked up on a whim because I liked the cover (it was all orange with a little cutout of a butterfly), but it ended up being so meaningful to me. (I also went on to read Keeping You a Secret, which features an f/f relationship).
Boy Meets Boy // David Levithan
I definitely remember hiding this one from family and classmates because I didn’t want to be judged for reading a book that was clearly about a gay couple. (I wouldn’t think twice about this now. I love LGBT+ themes and characters in books.) I loved it, though. The cute romance and the accepting world it is set in. Like with Luna, I’m glad I read it when I did.
currently listening to // Hello by Adele
What was the first YA book you remember reading?
What was the first YA book that had a major effect on you?