What are the best young adult books with a sad story?

asked by Anonymous
170 contributors
34 solutions
  1. 17

    #1Thirteen 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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    Ryan Hopkins
    Written on April 11, 2018
    "Whoa. This book was incredibly sad. As someone who has struggled with anger and depression in his high school years, this book hit very close to home. I feel like it was cathartic to read this but I would be slow to recommend it. "
  2. 15

    #2All the Bright Places

    All the Bright Places
    All the Bright Places is the New York Times' bestselling young adult romance novel written by Jenniver Niven. It is about the suicidal Theodore and his fateful meeting with the grief-stricken Violet. 

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    Barbara Smith
    Written on April 2, 2018
    "I love books with sad stories! And this one is super sad too!"
  3. 14



    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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    Rebecca Dixon
    Written on March 19, 2018
    "this is a great book for almost any one to read. it is highly rated with almost 5 stars with thousands of books sold. "
  1. 14

    #4The Notebook

    The Notebook

    The Notebook is a romance novel written by Nicholas Sparks published in 1996 which is about the love story of mill worker Noah Calhoun and rich girl Allie. It was adapted into a film of the same name in 2004. 


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    Esther Saldaña
    Written on April 13, 2018
    "Honestly I really hate this book. It's sappy and honestly kind of manipulative, and doesn't deserve nearly the level of credit it gets. No thank you."
  2. 13

    #5Dead Poets Society

    Dead Poets Society
    Dead Poets Society is a novel written by N. H. Kleinbau based on the multiple award-winning film of the same name. It is a coming-of-age story about a group of boys trying to make their lives memorable by reviving the Dead Poets Society club.

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    Mary Brooks
    Written on March 14, 2018
  3. 12

    #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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    Patrick Morales
    Written on May 3, 2018
    "This book shows the two sides of Jewish concentration camps. It's a heartfelt story of two boys from different sides of the spectrum. It's a coming of age tale that is heartfelt and devastating at times."
  4. 11

    #7The Storyteller

    The Storyteller
    The Storyteller tells the story of Sage Singer and her unlikely friendship with Josef Weber. Things change when Josef confesses to a terrible secret, and the both of them must choose between punishment and forgiveness.

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    Echo Du
    Written on March 8, 2018
    "The Storyteller is a young adult psychological thriller. It may be of interest to those looking for a more somber story."
  5. 10

    #8Bridge to Terabithia

    Bridge to Terabithia

    Jess and Leslie started a unique friendship. The other day, they were competing against each other. The next day, they were inseparable. Together, they created the magical world of Terabithia where imagination is their only limit.


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  6. 8

    #9The Probability of Miracles

    The Probability of Miracles

    The Probability of Miracles is a dramatic teen story and is the debut novel of Wendy Wunder. It is about the cancer-stricken Cam Cooper, who has set out to go to Promise, Maine, where she hopes to find miracles and enjoy before facing death.


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    Sharon Thompson
    Written on April 18, 2018
    "This is a great story for teens and young adults to read. It has a sad story aspect with the cancer part, but it's still enjoyable and easy to keep reading. "
  7. 7

    #10Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire

    Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire
    Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire is the fourth book in the Harry potter series. The story revolves around how Harry get past through Lord Voldemort once again. The quidditch cup is also happening and Harry will make sure he will see it. 

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    Jesse Willis
    Written on April 21, 2018
    "I really enjoyed reading this book. It definitely satisfies the category of 'young adult books', as many young adults were obliged to read it in that phase of life. I don't think it counts as a sad story, though. I won't spoil it, but I don't see it as sad."
  8. 5

    #11If 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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    Angela Huang
    Written on April 22, 2018
    "This book had me crying several times throughout as I rooted for Mia. The story is woven in between tragedy and a very difficult choice a 17 year has to make. I devoured the book in two days and it was so good."
  9. 4

    #12The 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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    Theresa Armstrong
    Written on May 1, 2018
    "There are so many coming-of-age books available, but this book is truly one I enjoyed reading. It is written using letters to share the main character's perspective on high school, family, dating, sex, all things in a teenagers world. Sometimes I was uncertain if Charlie were a spectator of his own life or a participant in it. Perhaps that is how all teenagers feel."
  10. 4

    #13Before 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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    Andrea Freeman
    Written on May 10, 2018
    "Before I Fall is a heartbreaking story. It's very well-written and really sucks the reader in. The protagonist, isn't the most likeable, but the character development is great."
  11. 1

    #14A Summer to Die

    A Summer to Die
    A Summer to Die is a young adult fictio nnovel written by Lois Lowry and was illustrated by Jenni Oliver. This book was originally published in 1977. It tells the story of Meg and her father who resigned from his work to write a book.

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    Brittany Sanders
    Written on March 30, 2018
    "While this was a sad book, it was a moving and can see why it is so popular with young readers. Since it was written decades ago, some of the things that were considered scandalous back then are no longer seen as so life altering today, but for a teenager it's still valid."
  12. 1

    #15The Book Thief

    The Book Thief
    The Book Thief is a young adult novel by Markus Zusak set in Germany during the height of the Nazi regime which centers on a young girl named Liesel who is close to her foster parents, friends, and a Jewish fist fighter.

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    Debra Freeman
    Written on May 14, 2018
    "This is a well written book, the movie isn't bad as well. But it is sad and some younger people might not want to read it."
  13. 0

    #16Ways to Live Forever

    Ways to Live Forever

    Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nichols is a children's literature novel first published in 2008. This diary book follows the compelling story of Sam, an 11-year-old boy suffering from leukemia.


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    Javier Zepeda
    Written on April 27, 2018
    "This solution is great because it is a highly popular book. Readers enjoyed this book and is has good ratings."
  14. 0

    #17Iron Earth, Copper Sky

    Iron Earth, Copper Sky

    Iron Earth, Copper Sky is a book by Yashar Kemal that tells the story of mountain villagers. They are poor and only gets income in picking cotton, but the climate seemed to be bad for them.  


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    Joyce Henderson
    Written on April 19, 2018
    "Younger readers who enjoy shedding a tear or two will want to pick up a copy. It's quality writing and it flows so well you won't put it down. It tells a wonderful story that everyone can relate to."
  15. 0

    #18Before I Let Go

    Before I Let Go

    Before I Let Go is a New York Times bestseller book written by Marieke Nijkamp and it was published in January 2018. This young adult fiction novel tells the tragic story of Corey and Kyra - friends separated by death.


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    Ronald Hopkins
    Written on April 15, 2018
    "Here's the thing, not all best sellers are actually good as they seem to be advertised. A lot of people seem to be mixed reviewing this book specifically, I would not consider this one of the best books to recommend for the said problem so I would say I am not impressed."
  16. 0

    #19The Diamond Girls

    The Diamond Girls
    The Diamond Girls is a book by written by Jacqueline Wilson. Originally published in 2004, The Diamond Girls focuses on the story of the Diamond family, particularly Dixie, the youngest member of the Diamonds.

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  17. 0

    #20Bastard Out of Carolina

    Bastard Out of Carolina

    Bastard Out of Carolina is a coming of age novel written by Dorothy Allison which centers on Ruth Anna Boatwright who lives a happy life with her mother, aunt, and little sister Reece, but soon they live with Glen Waddell that change her life. 


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    Janet Mitchell
    Written on April 29, 2018
    "This is a difficult subject to read. I wouldn't recommend it for kids who are too young because of the sexual nature of it."
  18. 0

    #21The One in A Million Boy

    The One in A Million Boy

    The One-in-a-Million Boy is the drama novel for young adults written by Monica Wood and was published in April 2016. It is about a father who tried to make it up to his dead son by completing his unfinished Boy Scout badge.


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    Pamela Pena
    Written on April 8, 2018
    "There are books that are so compelling that you read them as quickly as possible to find out what happens next. This isn't one of them: this book is compelling in a way that demands you read slowly, savoring every word. I didn't want this book to end...it is absolutely beautiful. Each character is perfectly shaped and believable; any one of them could walk right off the page and into life. I wish they would: I'd love to meet them."
  19. 0

    #22Saving Francesca

    Saving Francesca

    Saving Francesca is a young adult novel by award-winning author Melina Marchetta. It tells the story of Francesca, who struggles with her mother's depression, her failing social life, and her sense of self.


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    Julia Medina
    Written on April 17, 2018
    "Reviews from the readers have all mentioned that this book is very endearing. It has met most of the expectations of the readers for a real life-like relatable scenario. The story is a perfect coming of age tale for young adult readers and more, with a less than perfect realism. This book is definitely an introduction and hails potential for more good reads for this genre by the same author."
  20. 0

    #23Diary: A Novel

    Diary: A Novel
    Diary: A Novel is a young adult novel written by the famous author Chuck Palahniuk, creator of hit books like Fight Club and Damned. This story is about a failed artist who rekindled her interest in painting after some challenges in life.

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    Diane Payne
    Written on April 8, 2018
    "Wow, a wife has a husband who tries to commit suicide and then she is being sued because he wrote bad stuff on walls of houses he remodeled. She starts painting again to deal with the stress. Interesting story!"
  21. 0

    #24American Flowers

    American Flowers
    American Flowers is a contemporary young adult novel by Michael A. McLellan. It tells the story of two teenagers, Chris and Allie, who turn to drugs to escape from the world of neglect they grew up in.

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    Justin Hayes
    Written on April 12, 2018
    "Very powerful book. I couldn't put it down after about halfway through! There are a few typos and whatnot here and there, but the impact of the story more than made up for any editing quibbles I had! Time to order some more kleenex..."
  22. 0

    #25Pushkin Hills

    Pushkin Hills
    Pushkin Hills is a dramatic inspirational heart-warming novel for adults written by Sergei Dovlatov. It was released on March 17, 2015. It is about a struggling writer trying to regain control of his life.

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    Beverly Lucas
    Written on April 29, 2018
    "A well written young adult novel, which is both sad and heart warming. It is a great fit if you are looking for something that will make you cry."
  23. 0

    #26An Unlikely Friendship

    An Unlikely Friendship
    An Unlikely Friendship is a book by Ann Rinaldi that tells the story of Abraham Lincoln's wife and her black seamstress. Their closeness is questionable because there seemed to be no connection between them.

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    Craig Jackson
    Written on April 30, 2018
    "This was an enjoyable take on Miss Bingley! Since the loss of both parents, the Bingley children were raised alongside Darcy and Georgiana at Pemberley which would have an impact on her personality to some degree. Being so close, as they grew older, Caroline was very protective of her 'family'. Unfortunately, Louisa didn't listen when they tried to persuade her not to marry Mr. Hurst. "
  24. 0

    #27Fate Twister

    Fate Twister

    Fate Twister: The Story of Wayne Gamm is a young adult novel written by Owen Jones. The book was published in August 2014. It tells the story of Wayne Gamm, a boy who struggled to live an ordinary life because of his family's extraordinary past.


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    Gregory Franklin
    Written on March 19, 2018
    "this is a very nice novel, contains good story."
  25. 0


    Belles is the first book in Jen Calonita's drama and inspirational coming-of-age trilogy for young adults, the Belles series. It was originally released in 2012. it is about a 15-year-old girl being sent to her uncle after losing her parents.

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    Roger Vasquez
    Written on May 4, 2018
    "I was given this book as it definitely isn't the style of book I normally read, but I found it was pretty good. Definitely a cliché, rags to riches type story, but I found it was well written and an easy read that actually kept me interested. I feel this would be a great book for older children and young adults, especially girls as it could be inspirational to them."
  26. 0

    #29Counting on Grace

    Counting on Grace

    Counting on Grace is a standalone historical fiction novel written by Elizabeth Winthrop which follows the story of 12-year-old Grace and her best friend Arthur who go to work as doffer on their mothers' looms after coming home from school. 


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    Frank Jones
    Written on April 29, 2018
    "I read this with my 7 year old daughter. It has some challenging subjects that needed to be discussed as we read through the book, and the specialized vocabulary when explaining the mill was a bit tough. I had to use google a few times to really get a grasp of what the author was explaining. All in All though, a good book. I would recommend it. My daughter struggled a bit, as I said, but ended up liking it when we were through. Child labor was the main topic, and the effects on the family and why the families may have madd the choices they did during that time."
  27. 0

    #30Revolution 2020

    Revolution 2020

    Revolution 2020 by Chetan Bhagat is a realistic fiction novel first published in 2011. This book tells the story of three childhood friends facing three different challenges: love, corruption, and ambition.


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    Chen Yao
    Written on March 17, 2018
    "After reading the plot for this story, it does present itself as a potential interesting and amusing read. The general story has definitely seen before, but the fact that it's a compelling one could work in its benefit. This is the type of book I would really need to sit down and read in order to give more of a better review."
  28. 0

    #31Here We Are Now

    Here We Are Now

    Here We Are Now is a coming-of-age romantic novel for young adults written by Jasmine Waga. It was originally published in November 2017. It is about a young lady trying to find his father and grandfather with the help of an indie rock star.


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    Roy Williamson
    Written on April 29, 2018
    "Here We Are Now is truly a sad story of a young adult and I would have to say it is one of the best novel that I can say I have read. Filled with sadness but also a bit of happiness, this novel focus on a young lady who is off on an adventure of self discovery while looking for someone she has been missing when she was a child, her father. I enjoy the character a lot since she reminds me of myself who is a bit of a tough person and rarely let people in since we're quite cautious of how people will affect us. A truly heart whelming story that I would recommend."
  29. 0


    Pillbillies is a suspense novel by bestselling author K.L Randis. It tells the story of Jared Vorcelli, who gets in trouble with the law after his drug addiction causes the death of his 3-year-old sister.

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    Eric Hayes
    Written on April 12, 2018
    "I am not a big fan of books dedicated to the subject of drug/alcohol abuse and this one has the added element of a death of a child, which makes the material even harder for me to digest. the book at whole is not bad and is the first in a series. The subject matter of the book is why I have to give this book only two stars since many readers will find it too disturbing to read. "
  30. 0

    #33The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance

    The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance

    The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance is a young adult novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde. It tells the story of Cynnie, a 13-year-old girl with an alcoholic mother and a 3-year-old brother with Down syndrome.


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    Kyle Lucas
    Written on April 13, 2018
    "I tried reading this boring book but couldn't get past the third chapter. It is meant for people still in middle school. "
  31. 0

    #34Because of Anya

    Because of Anya

    Because of Anya is a speculative fiction novel written by Margaret Peterson Haddix. This book was first published in 2002 by the Simon & Schuster Books. It tells the daily struggles of a girl suffering from alopecia.


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    Gerald Nelson
    Written on May 14, 2018
    "This book is short and sweet, but I thought it was a bit cliche. The plot was predictable; however, the characters and the settings are very well developed and is worth a read."


Best What are the best young adult books with a sad story
1Thirteen Reasons WhyBooks 17 Paid
2All the Bright PlacesBooks 15 Paid
3SpeakBooks 14 Paid
4The NotebookBooks 14 Paid
5Dead Poets SocietyBooks 13 Paid
6The Boy in the Striped PajamasBooks 12 Paid
7The StorytellerBooks 11 Paid
8Bridge to TerabithiaBooks 10 Paid
9The Probability of MiraclesBooks 8 Paid
10Harry Potter And The Goblet Of FireBooks 7 Paid

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