There’s a slightly obvious parallel to Green’s narrative here, as a young girl (Rachel) is diagnosed with leukaemia and starts to undergo treatment. Just as Hazel is helped through her illness by Gus, Rachel has the slightly more dubious support of best pals Greg and Earl, who decide to make a film about her. The comedic elements stop it from being ‘just’ a book about terminal illness, along with Greg’s self-deprecating first-person narrative and a hefty dose of teen awkwardness that young readers may identify with. Don’t let that fool you though; it’s very sad, too.
This fascinating thriller is told from the perspective of Laureth, a blind British teenager, as she sets off with her younger brother to find their father, who has mysteriously gone missing while researching his book. Relying on her other senses (and her brother, of course) for direction, the reader is offered a unique and convincing insight into how it feels to live without sight. Laureth’s blindness really shapes the narrative as there isn’t a single visual detail throughout, and we get an overwhelming sense that she is more than her condition – much like John Green’s Hazel.
Eleanor Douglas and Park Sheridan are two teenagers growing up in 1980s Omaha, who fall in love over their shared love of comics and music during their bus rides to school. But this isn’t any old teen romance; the duo faces difficult challenges along the way, including racism, bullying and child abuse. An honest teen romance that’s as charming as it is heart-breaking, and a brilliant debut from Rainbow Rowell.
Perhaps the most similar to The Fault in Our Stars is A.J. Betts’ novel about Zac and Mia, two teenagers undergoing cancer treatment at hospital who start to form a relationship when their beds are moved next door to each other. Both dealing with their conditions in different ways, they form a deep bond that lasts beyond the hospital, as they try to rebuild their lives. Told through the voices of both characters, Betts writes their emotions and his depiction of cancer with convincing authenticity.
Amy Curry has to move the family car across the country from California to Connecticut; but since her father died in a car accident she has become terrified of driving. Cue Roger, an old family friend who is called upon to help. As they journey home together along the Loneliest Road in America, will they start to become more than just friends? Matson’s book provides us with a unique format that includes drawings, pictures, receipts and even playlists from their road trip, making this an interesting and refreshing read.
How would it feel to wake up every day in a different body? A different life? That’s what has happened to ‘A’ each and every day of his/her life (we never actually know what gender A is!) But when A wakes up one morning in Justin’s body and falls in love with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon, suddenly the only thing that matters is finding a way to get back to her, no matter whose body A inhabits. Expect an unconventional literary romance and an intriguing, difficult-to-grasp concept that discusses what it means to be human.
Seventeen-year-old Mia Hall is a girl who has it all: a loving family, a cool boyfriend and a promising musical career ahead of her. But when that all changes because of one unfortunate event, she finds that life will never be the same again and has some important decisions to make. Told through a series of flashbacks, If I Stay deals with choices, life and death, and the reality of growing up. A great book if you enjoy a tear-jerker!
There’s no romantic clichés in this one, and Sutter Keely isn’t the most likeable of protagonists; he’s the popular kid at school, a bit of a ladies’ man and has no ambitions for the future. When he wakes up on a stranger’s lawn the morning after a party, he finds himself taking the shy Aimme Finecky under his wing and introducing her to a world of parties and drinking. But it soon becomes evident this lifestyle won’t solve either of their problems, and Sutter soon finds himself in way over his head…
Nastya is just trying to get through high school without anybody discovering her past, and Josh has had to deal with everyone he loves dying before he even turned seventeen. As Nastya starts to become more and more of a force in Josh’s life, their relationship deepens and secrets start to reveal themselves. An intense, imaginative story about second chances and two lonely and emotionally-fragile teens – one that will stay with you long after you put it down.
Although it was released in 1999, the themes of this moving love story are as relevant for today’s teens as they were then. The book opens with a prologue from Landan Carter, a 57-year-old looking back on his time as a teenager in 1950s North Carolina, while the rest of the narrative is described through his teenage voice. The last girl young Landan thought he would be interested in was the preacher’s daughter – a shy type who always carried her Bible around with her – but when they unexpectedly become each other’s date for the homecoming dance, things can never be the same for Landan again, as he learns what it means to truly become a man.
Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go is a brilliant dystopic sci-fi novel that has won numerous awards and was named Time’s Best Novel of 2005 – so we had to include it on our list. It’s also first and foremost a story about love and friendship; Kathy, Ruth and Tommy are pupils at Hailsham boarding school and develop a close and complicated relationship, with Ruth and Tommy falling for each other romantically. But when it is revealed that they are all part of a scheme to harvest their organs in a cycle of ‘donations,’ the trio seek to find ways to prolong their lives.
We couldn’t help but include another John Green book on our list! This coming-of-age novel focuses on narrator and protagonist Quentin ‘Q’ Jacobsen, who develops a fascination with his adventurous neighbour, Margo Roth Spiegelman. So when Margot asks him to help her complete one last prank before they finish high school, he can’t help but get caught up in her desire for revenge… and start to discover the real girl behind the one he thought he knew.