Here is a preview of selected 2017 titles that take on tough topics:
American Street by Ibi Zoboi (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray). Haitian immigrant Fabiola Toussaint is left to fend for herself—and to figure out school and love—when her mother is detained by U.S. immigration. The issues: immigration, drugs, violence.
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson (HarperCollins/Tegen). Mary, a black teenager who at age nine was convicted of murdering a white baby, now lives in a group home and is pregnant. Faced with the prospect of having her own child taken away, she tries to set the record straight. The issues: race, class, mental health in the criminal-justice system.
Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor (HMH, Apr.). The lives of three teens intersect in a small town, revealing that there is little straightforward about friendship and love. The issues: teen pregnancy, depression, the side effects of antidepressants, and psychotherapy.
Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi (Loft, May). In the wake of her sister’s suicide, 16-year-old Kai is sent to “grief camp.” The issues: suicide, grief/loss, drug and alcohol abuse.
A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstron (Poppy, Feb.). A new relationship has 16-year-old Mel trying her best to hide her bipolar disorder. The issues: bipolar disorder, disability, grief/loss.
Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot (FSG/Ferguson, Feb.). The story of how love helps one girl as she works to recover from avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. The issues: eating disorders and recovery.
The Free by Lauren McLaughlin (Soho Teen, Feb.). Isaac steals in order to provide more for his younger sister than he feels his alcoholic mother can; he winds up in a juvenile detention center. The issues: poverty, alcoholism, crime, the juvenile criminal-justice system.
The Dead Inside by Cyndy Etler (Sourcebooks Fire, Apr.). In this memoir, young Cyndy spends 16 months in a “tough-love” program that uses some troubling methods in the name of rehabilitation. The issues: child abuse, troubled teens, abusive treatment programs.
Bang by Barry Lyga (Little, Brown, Apr.). Ten years after accidentally shooting his infant sister, 14-year-old Sebastian Cody still struggles with the guilt. The issues: gun violence, tragedy, death, depression, suicide, prejudice, racism, grief/loss.
YA Authors Turn Advocates: reaching teens by addressing difficult subjects
Ellen Hopkins: Author as Confessor, a look at the author and the genre she helped pioneer—issue-based teen fictio