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Best of 2019: Teen

Updated: February 13, 2020

The best books of the year, as selected by Los Angeles Public Library staff. Perfect for holiday gift-giving! More books for young adults are at LAPL Teen Web.

Book cover for The Bone Houses
The Bone Houses
Lloyd-Jones, Emily,
Call Number: YA

The dead are rising, and two teens, who both have much to lose, are on a quest to find out why. This is an atmospheric story steeped in Welsh myth, featuring a boy and girl worth cheering for.

Book cover for The Bridge Home
The Bridge Home
Venkatraman, Padma
Call Number: YA

Viji and her sister Rukku run away from an abusive home in this slim middle grade read that brims with love and hope. The streets are hard and dangerous where the two sisters are befriended by two boys in the same dire circumstances. When two of the four fall ill, will they be brave enough to ask for help in a city teeming with danger? You will fall in love with these characters.

Book cover for Death Prefers Blondes
Death Prefers Blondes
Roehrig, Caleb
Call Number: YA

Known to the world as "Mad Margo,” a spoiled rich girl and heir to the Manning fortune, Margo Manning is not your typical teen socialite or party girl, but a teenage rebel leading a double life. While others are busy trying to be trendsetters and influencers, she and her friends have turned their skills and interests into pulling off some of the biggest heists in the world. There's no challenge too daring for her and her team of drag queens. However, when she targets Arkady Petrenko, she may have bitten off more than she can chew. This Ocean’s 8 type of novel is a fun read, filled with nonstop action and mystery that will leave you wanting more.

Book cover for Destroy all Monsters
Destroy all Monsters
Miller, Sam J.
Call Number: YA

Beautifully paced novel about love and trauma. Two best friends with a traumatic past: one can't remember and the other gets pulled into another world where he must be the hero he needs in life. Is the Darkside real or a manifestation? Join Solomon and Ash as they fight their way back to each other.  

Book cover for The Downstairs Girl
The Downstairs Girl
Lee, Stacey (Stacey Heather)
Call Number: YA

This historical novel is set in 19th century Atlanta, Georgia where Jo Kuan lives under the radar of the whites in the community, while working hard at making hats. When she is let go because of racism, she goes back to her childhood home to become a lady's maid. Nobody knows that she moonlights as "Miss Sweetie," the incredibly popular newspaper advice columnist. Will she be able to keep her lives and secrets to herself? Full of love, hope and heartbreaking secrets.

Book cover for Frankly in love : a novel
Frankly in love : a novel
Yoon, David,
Call Number: YA

Frank Li is caught between his traditional Korean parents and being an American-born teenager. When Frank falls for a white girl, he fakes a relationship with a Korean girl, in a similar position, to please his parents, but it's never that easy. Frank's sarcasm and sense of humor add laugh out loud moments to this romantic coming-of-age story.


Book cover for A Good Kind of Trouble
A Good Kind of Trouble
Ramee, Lisa Moore
Call Number: YA

Shayla is a 12-year-old who likes to follow the rules and is nervous about junior high. After experiencing a protest and seeing her sister working hard for Black Lives Matter, Shayla starts paying more attention to her community. Seeing that some rules are meant to be broken, she wears an armband in support of the Black Lives movement.


Book cover for Hello girls
Hello girls
Cavallaro, Brittany,
Call Number: YA

Two girls from vastly different backgrounds cross paths and become fast, but secret, friends.  Embarking on a mission to help each other survive abuse at home, the ending will leave the readers wanting more.

Book cover for Hungry hearts : 13 tales of food & love
Hungry hearts : 13 tales of food & love
Call Number: YA

A short story collection by diverse YA authors dealing with all forms of hunger, not just about food. Go visit Hungry Hearts Row to experience a new dish with a side of intrigue. Your favorite authors write about murder, heartbreak and hunger, not necessarily in that order to leave a reader full and satiated. 

Book cover for King of scars
King of scars
Bardugo, Leigh.
Call Number: YA

The first book in a new series set in the Grisha universe developed in Leigh Bardugo’s other YA novels. A king with a monsterous curse and his terrifying bodyguard work to lift the curse and save his kingdom. A young woman on an undercover mission tries to save women with superpowers from a military and religious order intent on turning them into slaves. The storytelling and dialogue are excellent. 

Book cover for Let Me Hear a Rhyme
Let Me Hear a Rhyme
Jackson, Tiffany D.
Call Number: YA

When aspiring emcee Steph is killed, his day ones plot to send him off by pretending he's still alive and making him into a rap star. Jackson's mystery chops add drama to this realistic period piece -- and as someone who vividly remembers the day Biggie died, I can attest this book is authentic to the look, feel, and sound of that time. Listen well / Jackson got a story to tell.

Book cover for Lovely War
Lovely War
Berry, Julie
Call Number: YA

Spellbinding from page one, this multilayered saga of love, war and fate is told from the point of view of the Greek gods and goddesses who relay the story of the unlikely romances of two young couples that span countries and the ongoing pressures of World War I. A beautiful mix of historical fiction and romance that covers themes of race, music, prejudice and survival about four individuals during World War I and beyond. Teens and adults will be swept up in the story.


Book cover for Once & Future
Once & Future
Capetta, Amy Rose
Call Number: YA

This LGBTQ retelling of the King Arthur legend Is spectacular, with the story set in the future! Merlin is awakened with each reincarnation of King Arthur. However, this time King Arthur is a female. In addition, Merlin is getting younger each time he re-awakens and is a teenager. The author manages to weave all of these aspects together and has created a unique story that is captivating and stimulating.

Book cover for Permanent record
Permanent record
Choi, Mary H. K,
Call Number: YA

Choi perfectly captures the voices, obsessions, and tastes of post-college beginner-adults. YA for the Desus & Mero set.

Book cover for Shout : the true story of a survivor who refused to be silenced
Shout : the true story of a survivor who refused to be silenced
Anderson, Laurie Halse.
Call Number: 811 A54683A

Shout is based on the true events that inspired the YA classic, Speak, and is a louder declaration of how a life can be impacted by one traumatic event. Anderson presents snapshots from her life that range from searing to tender, never letting readers forget she is a whole and human person. 

Book cover for To Night Owl from Dogfish
To Night Owl from Dogfish
Sloan, Holly Goldberg
Call Number: YA

This wonderful middle-grade read is full of love, laughter, and tears about two girls, Avery and Bett, who definitely do not want their respective families to grow. When their dads start dating and send the two girls to a camp in hopes they bond, adventures ensue.

Book cover for Unpregnant
Hendriks, Jenni,
Call Number: YA

A funny story about abortion, friendship, and discovering how a teen learns how to be true to herself and others.

Book cover for With the Fire on High
With the Fire on High
Acevedo, Elizabeth
Call Number: YA

A touching and positive story about a teen mom, Emoni, the unconditional love of a grandmother, and where Emoni’s inventive culinary gifts take her. High school senior Emoni aspires to be a professional chef and knows her cooking is amazing. She juggles the demands of the culinary program, for the chance of an apprenticeship in Spain, and being a responsible young mom to her 3-year-old daughter. Acevedo's second novel is beautifully heartwarming.