my first YA reads.

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


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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. 


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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?


  1. Leslie
    September 12, 2017

    Hi! I really enjoyed the Traveling Pants series. If I don’t count books I read as a teen, the book that got me started in YA was The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. Perks of Being a Wallflower was the one that got me back into it when I fell into a reading lull. 🙂
    My TTT

    1. Emily @ Mixed Margins
      September 18, 2017

      Perks is a great choice. It’s kind of become a YA classic of sorts, but still doesn’t feel outdated to me. I liked the first two Traveling Pants books, but I lost interested while reading the 3rd and never finished, sadly.

  2. Cait @ Paper Fury
    September 12, 2017

    Oh I love The Outsiders too!! ❤️ And I didn’t like Elsewhere so I hear you there. 😂 Omg I struggle to remember what were my first YA books because before I had goodreads…like haaaa to my brain that thinks it can retain knowledge.😂 I DO know that I really got into YA at about 16 (or 17?) and The Hunger Games was one of my very firsts, closely followed by The Scorpio Races! Before that I read a lot of middle-grade like Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket and Ranger’s Apprentice. I also read Perks of Being A Wallflower right when I started getting into YA!! Such a beautiful and amazing book ajfkdslad.

    1. Emily @ Mixed Margins
      September 18, 2017

      I love how Goodreads keeps track of everything now. My life in books at my fingertips! It was easier to keep track of things when I was still in grade school, but now that I’m out of college everything completely runs together. It still feels like 2014 to me.

  3. Kyra Morris
    September 12, 2017

    I only started reading YA books when I started my book blog at the age of 13. I had only really read from the middle-grade section of my library and I never really ventured into the teenage section. I did read some of Meg Cabot’s books and I also read the first two books of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants when I was twelve but that was it. However, when I started blogging I started learning about all the amazing YA books. I began venturing into the teen section and that’s when I started reading mainly YA. Some of the first YA books I remember getting into was Divergent, The Hunger Games, Clockwork Angel etc. I’m so glad I discovered the genre!

    1. Emily @ Mixed Margins
      September 18, 2017

      The genre certainly seems to have more variety now than when I first started reading it. Or maybe I’m just more aware of it now. 🙂 It sounds like you read some pretty great books starting out! I think 13 is a good age to start YA…at least it was for me. Before that I felt a little bit overwhelmed.

  4. Jeanna
    September 12, 2017

    The Lovely Bones is one of my favorite books of all time! The first YA book I’ve ever read was probably the Vampire Diaries series, I think. It’s hard to pinpoint which book was my first since I didn’t start doing Goodreads until after a few years I started reading avidly. This topic is so much fun this week; it’s awesome to think back to some of the older YA books. Fantastic list; happy reading!

    Here’s my Top Ten Tuesday!

    1. Emily @ Mixed Margins
      September 18, 2017

      Thanks! Where would we be without Goodreads? Whenever I first signed up, I tried to think back to all the books I had read and mark them with the approximate year. I’m glad I did that then, because I would have no idea now. Everything blends together. XD

  5. Jo
    September 13, 2017

    I liked The Traveling Pants books when I was a teen. I don’t know exactly what my first ever YA book was, I know I read Noughts and Crosses quite early on, and the Skulduggery Pleasant books.
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    1. Emily @ Mixed Margins
      September 18, 2017

      I haven’t read those but I know a lot of people like the Skulduggery Pleasant books. 🙂

  6. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight
    September 26, 2017

    Oooh this is so fun! When I first read YA, I don’t even think it was called YA, so I suppose I am aging myself here 😉 The only books I read for teens while I was a teen were Lurlene McDaniel books. I think she still writes them, even. They’re all about death and illness and basically any horrible thing. My mom thought there was something seriously wrong with me bwhaahah. The first marketed-YA book I read was The Hunger Games, and I suppose I never looked back!
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    1. Emily @ Mixed Margins
      October 11, 2017

      Yeah, it’s kind of hard to find a YA that’s not about horrible things. (I see your transition into the Hunger Games probably made a lot of sense.) But they certainly make interesting stories!


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