What are the best teen books about real problems?

asked by Anonymous
415 contributors
27 solutions
  1. 40

    #1Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

    Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
    Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl was written by Anne Frank, published from the diary she kept when she and her family were in hiding from the Nazis in the then German-occupied Netherlands.

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    Jacqueline Brown
    Written on May 7, 2018
    "I first read this book (the edited down version) when I was nine years old, I received the book as a gift, and again when I was twelve for school. I recently re-read the book (the new un-edited version) and coming from an entirely different perspective now that I am a thirty year old mother. First, I want to say that I absolutely believe that this book should still be included in school curriculum. The only thing 'new' about it is that pages and passages were added. Nothing was taken out and the translation was not changed. Reports that the book is so different that it's nothing like the original are false. Reports that the story is different are false. There is no reason for the edited version to still be used because children read Anne Frank's diary around ages 11-14 years old which was around age when Anne herself was writing the diary. Anything that could be seen as supposedly "inappropriate" can be seen on daytime television with a PG or maybe PG-13 rating. Especially these days, there's definitely nothing in there that is beyond the norm for the average tween-teen. I think that continuing to use an edited version is insulting to Anne Frank's memory. Not only that, but it provides valuable information about the time period and gives more relateability to the diary. The passages which are included in the new version are not anything that the average 8-12 year old girl does not already know about her own body and the "birds and the bees", and are so few and short that they comprise a tiny percentage of the work itself. The romance between herself and Peter is very chaste and nothing untoward happens in the story. (Spoiler: they hold hands and a kiss a few times. that's it.) The passages that some see as inappropriate are not at all titillating, a medical textbook is more erotic. Coming from a mom's point of view, I would definitely allow my daughter to read the unedited book. I think this should stay on school book lists because some kids these days see the Holocaust as something that happened a long time ago that is meaningless now, without realizing that genocides and racial motivated violence still happens every day. I think it seems to them like just another thing they have to learn about along with The Hundred Years War and the Crusades. Anne Frank's diary gives kids perspective and helps makes the tragic loss of life during WWII a tangible thing they can understand. The diary is so relate-able and reflects so many feelings that all teens have had, that she becomes three dimensional to them and no longer a just some person that died a long time ago. This sensitivity towards the loss of a life is what we need now in the times we live in. As we read the diary we see how much potential was lost not only in Anne but in her entire family. Anne Frank was an intelligent and well-read young woman who studied multiple languages and had an analytical mind. I believe we lost a shining beacon of women's intelligence when she died. She was an emerging feminist, activist, and writer! I think she would have been an amazing woman who would have gone on to do great things. All that potential was lost millions of times over during WWII, and this is what we feel deep in our hearts upon closing the book. Most of the book is about the privations and hardship of living hidden away in the "annex". There is very little coverage of the violence of the times or much that is going on in the outside world because they had little knowledge of it since they were hidden. I think this is partly why some schoolchildren report the diary is boring. It does get repetitive at times, which reflects the feelings of those living in hiding. They had to wait and wait in fear, not knowing what the next day would bring. There are many self-reflective passages where Anne laments being picked on by the adults in the annex, wondering if she will live up to the expectations they have for her, hoping she can reach her goals. There is a thread of hope apparent even in her most depressing writings. I think these are the parts I think teens find most relate-able because all teens want to achieve things, please their parents, and find hope in their moments of despair. Toward the end of the diary we see just how difficult things have become for the family which is not always accurately represented in the movie versions of the diary. They were starving, never full at meals, and having to exist off moldy and tasteless food. There was one bathroom for eight people and at times the toilet could not be flushed. They had threadbare, holey clothing which was too small. The cat used the bathroom wherever it wanted towards the end, and their helpers came less and less frequently as circumstances got worse and worse. Their conditions deteriorated in ways that children living in the comfort of the 21st century could never imagine. It's so important for kids to read about these conditions and contrast them with their own in order to not only feel grateful but to feel sympathy for those who lived in these terrible times. The Kindle version had fairly large print and worked just fine on my phone and tablet with no issues. The new version has a new introduction and I believe the epilogue has changed a bit as well. I enjoyed the footnotes feature which allows you to touch the number which takes you to the footnotes page, then when you touch the number again it takes you back to the page you were originally on. I had no problems purchasing or downloading. If you want to know more about what happened to Anne Frank after the diary, there is a book called "The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank" by Willy Lindwer which includes stories from people who met her in the camps."
  2. 36

    #2The Fault in Our Stars

    The Fault in Our Stars

    The Fault in Our Stars tells the love story of Hazel and August, cancer-afflicted patients who met in a support group and developed a deep relationship revolving their situation.


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    Written on March 28, 2018
    "The Fault in Our Stars deals with pretty heavy stuff. Sickness and death is something that plagues young people, too, it's not something exclusive to the old and geriatric. I think it's good that this book for young adults is able to tackle problems like this with sensitivity."
  3. 35

    #3My Sister's Keeper

    My Sister's Keeper

    My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult centers on Anna, who was conceived for the sole purpose of providing bone marrow for her sister Kate, who is suffering from leukemia. Anna questions her life's purpose and starts to decide on her own.


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    Devansh Balasubramanium
    Written on May 8, 2018
    "A book about a very difficult subject matter. Certainly for someone wishing to read a harsh and realistic story. "
  1. 32

    #4The Perks of Being a Wallflower

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a book by Stephen Chbosky that tells the story of Charlie. The book revolves around Charlie's writings in his diary. His struggle as a unique teen, trying to live his life happily. 


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    Virginia Coleman
    Written on April 27, 2018
    "Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up."
  2. 30

    #5Thirteen Reasons Why

    Thirteen Reasons Why
    Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher narrates how Clay Jensen learns about the reasons why his classmate, workmate, and crush, Hannah Baker took her own life. Hannah Baker left cassette tapes so Clay and everyone involved could listen and discover why.

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    Parakram Sen
    Written on April 14, 2018
    "Thirteen Reasons Why is a great read. It is an intense and intriguing adventure. You can really immerse yourself in the reading."
  3. 28

    #6The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

    Bruno returns home after a school day in the Berlin of 1942, when he discovers that his family should move to another house close to a tall fence where he can see strange people in the distance. Bruno discovers there a desolate place where he'll make a friendship, with devastating consequences. 


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    Johnny Johnson
    Written on May 5, 2018
    "This is a book everyone should read. It will change your point of view. A lot of great reviews back this up. "
  4. 28

    #7Just Listen

    Just Listen
    Just Listen is a book by It tells the story of Annabel from a girl who has everything to a girl who has nothing. Her best friend dumped her, and her sister is anorexic. She feels unwanted. Her life starts to change when she meets a tall, dark and music lover Owen Armstrong.

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    Michelle Young
    Written on April 8, 2018
    "Just Listen is an easy read for those enjoying teen girl lore. Sadly, the topics are depressing and touch on the oppression of women and girls...meaning rape and anorexia. The love aspect is a bit tiresome, expected in this genre, though a coming of age and young woman blazing her own trail without needing a male partner would have been more refreshing. "
  5. 24

    #8The Catcher in the Rye

    The Catcher in the Rye

    The Catcher in the Rye is J.D. Salinger's 1951 classic about teenager Holden Caulfield, who was used as an icon of teenage angst and rebellion. The controversial book has caused debates, mainly because of its vulgar language and themes.


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    Raymundo Meléndez
    Written on April 19, 2018
    "Its interesting to read but I can not suggest it for children. "
  6. 22

    #9If I Stay

    If I Stay
    If I Stay is a young adult fiction book by Gayle Forman that tells the story of Mia, who was the only survivor of a car accident that killed her family. Critically injured, Mia must decide whether to stay and live or follow her family.

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    Kathy Day
    Written on April 24, 2018
    "If I Stay by Gayle Forman is a great book about real problems that is relevant to any age. I really enjoyed the story and it definitely triggers self examination. It does a great job of putting small problems into perspective and forces you to examine the important things in life. Mia is a very interesting character and her relationship with Adam is quite complicated. I recommend reading this one."
  7. 20


    Dreamland by Sarah Dessen is published in 2000. This young adult novel tells the story of Caitlin who forgets everything whenever she is with Rogerson. Caitlin is stuck in a quite unreal semiconscious dreamland.

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    Elena Saldaña
    Written on April 25, 2018
    "Dreamland is a quirky love story. It is fun and an easy read and details real problems that teens face. It is not your typical love story though. It is the story of a young woman trying to find herself after an unexpected turn of events. She meets the love of her life and we read along as she finds herself and learns to forgive at the same time. You will be totally engrossed in this book and won't be able to put it down until the last page. "
  8. 20

    #11Paper Towns

    Paper Towns
    Paper Towns is a book by JohnGreen that tells a story about Margo and Quentin. Margo is famous in their university but her friends betrayed her so she asked for Quentin's help to prank them, but the next day she's gone missing.

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    Tyler Lucas
    Written on February 28, 2018
    "This book is quite good and I'm being honest here. Sure, it is not as highly rated or as acclaimed as "The Fault in Our Stars" by the same author - John Green, and maybe it really is inferior in substance department as well but it is not fair to compare Paper Towns to the other books and form your impression according to that comparison. It still stands on its own and tells a nice and compelling story! "
  9. 18


    Cut is a  young adult and realistic fiction novel written by Patrick McCormick. It was published February 1, 2002 by PUSH. It closely follows the struggle of a person with mental challenges.

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    Hansika Chatterjee
    Written on April 24, 2018
    "This was an interesting read. It revolves around the main character having mental challenges and follows the journey and struggles that come with that. Decently paced and easy to follow."
  10. 15



    Impulse is a young adult fiction novel written in verse by Ellen Hopkins. This is the first novel in the Impulse series, and it was first published in 2007.


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    Aanya Tata
    Written on April 19, 2018
    "This looks very interesting. I think the plot and the reviews make this a good suggestion."
  11. 13

    #14The Truth About Forever

    The Truth About Forever
    The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen tells the story of a young girl named Macy who is grieving for her father's loss. Things happen unexpectedly when she meets an artistic and talented boy named Wes. 

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    Henry Lynch
    Written on March 19, 2018
    "My son enjoyed it, and that's who I got it for. He has been going through typical teen growing up and this book helped him get an idea of how to deal with his problems."
  12. 10

    #15Before I Fall

    Before I Fall

    Before I Fall is a fiction novel for young adults written by Lauren Oliver. This book was originally published in February 2010 by Harper Collins. It has a film adaptation released in 2017.


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    Walter Carr
    Written on May 14, 2018
    "No one imagined that the book "Before I Fall" would be that much successful when the young adults were talking about it at first. The real struggles, love, death, the real thought-provoking questions are written in such a way that it has become very popular in a very short time. "
  13. 7

    #16It's Kind of a Funny Story

    It's Kind of a Funny Story

    It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini is published in 2007. In 2010, it was adapted into a film with the same title. It tells the story of a suicidal teenage guy who gets into a mental hospital wherein he learns stories of other people.


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    Lauren Warren
    Written on April 24, 2018
    "This book was amazing. It started out a bit like a normal kids life. It told the story of Craig and how he coped with life dealing with his parents, school sister, and his friends. But the surprise was the journey of him silently struggling with his depression and anxiety. It also showed the darker side to someone secretly suffering from these mental illnesses. It really opens the readers eyes to what it really is like to be inside of a person eyes and life who suffers from this. It also gives the insight of how it is to go through treatement when you turn to help from a hospital when you want to kill yourself."
  14. 6


    An anorexic Lia Overbrook harms herself after finding out that her best friend Cassie died of bulimia. She blames herself for not being with Cassie during the time she needed her the most and the idea to live becomes even more difficult for her.


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    Diana Rogers
    Written on April 12, 2018
    "Wintergirls is a teen book that tells the story of two friends that deal with serious problems teens are facing in real life today. The story shows the dangers of bulimia and helps warn teens what the outcome can be. Wintergirls deals with how a friend copes with the death of another friend that she feels responsible for. Wintergirls is a good book to help give teens an avenue of advice without information coming directly from an adult. "
  15. 3



    Speak is the multi-award winning novel by Laurie Halse Anderson. It is a harrowing young adult story about rape, post-traumatic stress disorder, and isolation in teens. It was published in 1999 and was adapted to film in 2004.


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    Shirley Wang
    Written on March 11, 2018
  16. 1

    #19So Not Happening (The Charmed Life)

    So Not Happening (The Charmed Life)

    So Not Happening is a novel about the struggles of Isabella Kirkwood in moving to a different town. Forced by the circumstance that her parents separated ways, she will be facing her new world alone.


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    Howard Washington
    Written on March 9, 2018
    "If you have a teen and want to get them a book they can possibly relate to, So Not Happening (The Charmed Life) might be a good pick. It deals with the struggles of moving to different towns and the separation of parents. If these are relatable, I highly recommend the book."
  17. 0

    #2013 Reasons Why

    13 Reasons Why

    13 Reasons Why is a realistic fiction book published on December 27, 2016 by Razorbill. It tells the story of Clay Jensen who listens to recorded tapes of Hannah Baker after she commits suicide.


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    Joshua Boyd
    Written on May 12, 2018
    "13 Reasons Why is a book written by Jay Asher. The book tells a story that is all too true, but not recognized often enough regarding the bullying experienced by so many. The book also features cover art from the Netflix original series."
  18. 0

    #21Isabel's Hand-Me-Down Dreams

    Isabel's Hand-Me-Down Dreams

    Isabel's Hand-Me-Down Dreams: A Memoir is an autobiography written by Puerto Rican author Isabel Lopez. It was first published in October 2011 and contains a light memoir on her struggles as a Puerto Rican in America.


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    Rachel Porter
    Written on April 5, 2018
    "While I enjoyed this book, I wouldn't consider it a teen book. Her story is interesting, heartbreaking, and honest- but somewhat unrelatable to those of us in the Midwest. Her depiction of Puerto Rico and Harlem are detailed, if not one-sided. It would add depth to a high-school class study on culture and it's impacts on the individual."
  19. 0

    #22Very Far Away from Anywhere Else

    Very Far Away from Anywhere Else

    Very Far Away From Anywhere Else is an inspirational novel for young adults written by award-winning science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin.  This book was published in October 2004. It is a coming-of-age story of a teen boy.


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    Joe Gardner
    Written on March 23, 2018
    "This book is great! Le Guin's writing is down to earth and I felt like I could relate to the situations in the book verbatim! The overall story and plotline really grasped me and felt like I was reading about a person's life!"
  20. 0

    #23Too Much Too Soon

    Too Much Too Soon

    Too Much Too Soon is the first book in the young adult teen series Seniors written by Eileen Goudge which follows four friends studying at California's Glenwood High School who os discovering things and experiences. 


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    Jason Lucas
    Written on April 28, 2018
    "This is one of the best teen books I have ever read .It has a very engaging story about four friends at California Glen wood school who pass through struggles and real problems.This are well brought out in this book."
  21. 0

    #24Soldier's Heart

    Soldier's Heart

    Soldier's Heart is a coming-of-age, dramatic, action novel written by Newbery Honor winner Gary Paulsen. The book was first published in September 2000. It is about a 15-year-old boy learning the real horrors of the Civil War.


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    Teresa Anderson
    Written on April 7, 2018
    "I've read several books by Gary Paulsen, and this is a good one too. My teen daughter read it and enjoyed reading it."
  22. 0

    #25The Lost Wife

    The Lost Wife

    The Lost Wife is a historical romance fiction for young adults written by Alyson Richman. It was published in October 2011. It is about teenage lovers in Prague who were separated when the Nazis began their occupation in World War II.


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    Shaurya Pillai
    Written on April 13, 2018
    "This book has a great setup ... young lovers in Prague separated by the Nazi occupation, only to meet again years late in New York. Exceedingly well reviewed by both critics and regular folks, this book is well worth your time."
  23. 0

    #26Elkhorn Tavern

    Elkhorn Tavern
    Elkhorn Tavern is an iconic and dramatic historical fiction written by three-time Golden Spur Award winner Douglas C. Jones. It was first released in September 1980.   


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    Phillip Powell
    Written on April 23, 2018
    "the art in the cover grabs your attention right away , good book "
  24. 0

    #27The Volunteer

    The Volunteer

    The Volunteer is a young adult novel written by D.H. Jonathan. This edition was published in July 2016. It tells the story of a female college student who volunteered to be the model of a nudist study to keep her scholarship.


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    Gerald Hudson
    Written on March 22, 2018
    "If you're looking for one of the best teen books about real problems, then I'd suggest you might want to pick up The Volunteer by D.H. Jonathan. Considering it's about a college student who volunteers to model for a nude study so she can keep her scholarship, it might turnoff some that the real problem here is pretty niche. Trust me, though, this young adult novel is truly relatable, and it helped me cope with almost losing my scholarship. I mean, it's common for teens to be on the cusp of losing their scholarship (as I was), and it's a common reaction for them to do almost anything to keep it (as I was willing to do); their future is at risk, after all. Published in 2016, the novel is very relevant, too. "


Best What are the best teen books about real problems
1Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young GirlBooks 40 Paid
2The Fault in Our StarsBooks 36 Paid
3My Sister's KeeperBooks 35 Paid
4The Perks of Being a WallflowerBooks 32 Paid
5Thirteen Reasons WhyBooks 30 Paid
6The Boy in the Striped PajamasBooks 28 Paid
7Just ListenBooks 28 Paid
8The Catcher in the RyeBooks 24 Paid
9If I StayBooks 22 Paid
10DreamlandBooks 20 Paid

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