9 Must-Reads for Teens this Winter Break

We've all been there: you've spent the whole year working hard and now you're scrambling to get some reading in before it all starts over. Youth Services has teamed up to give you a short list of stellar Young Adult Fiction books to read over a restful break. We've got something for everyone here! 


Cover of Six of Crows by Leigh BardugoAnyone who loves a good heist with a ragtag group of characters will enjoy Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone: a convict with a thirst for revenge, a sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager, a runaway with a privileged past, a spy known as the Wraith, a Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums, a thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first. This book gives out some serious steampunk and fantasy vibes with all the twists and turns you never see coming in a good heist story. You can read it at the library in print, eBook, and audiobook. If you've read this one, try the sequel Crooked Kingdom. These books are due to be on your screen as Shadow and Bone on Netflix! 


Cover of Woven in Moonlight by Isabel IbanezIn this historical fiction and fantasy fusion, the politics and history of Bolivia are brought to life. Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight. When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place. Will Ximena's weaving ability help her find the tapestry and empower the resistance? Or will Ximena have to give up revenge to overthrow the usurper without war? Shady guys with dark powers, arrogant vigilantes, smooth talkers, and some sweet magical powers are a few reasons to love this book. Woven in Moonlight is available in print and eBook. If you've already read this one, put a hold on the sequel, Written in Starlight, due out in January 2021. 


Cover of Faith Taking Flight by Julie MurphyFaith Herbert is a pretty regular teen. When she's not hanging out with her two best friends, Matt and Ches, she's volunteering at the local animal shelter or obsessing over the long-running teen drama The Grove. So far, her senior year has been spent trying to sort out her feelings for her maybe-crush Johnny and making plans to stay close to Grandma Lou after graduation. Of course, there's also that small matter of recently discovering she can fly. When the fictional world of The Grove crashes into Faith's reality as the show relocates to her town, she can't believe it when TV heroine Dakota Ash takes a romantic interest in her. But her fandom-fueled daydreams aren't enough to distract Faith from the fact that first animals, then people, have begun to vanish from the town. And only Faith seems able to connect the dots. This is an inspirational novel that has some sci-fi, but it is mostly about this incredible person named Faith, who learns how to be a hero. This heart-warming story is available in print, eBook, and eAudiobook.


Cover of You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah JohnsonThis is contemporary fiction with Black and LQBTQIA+ representation. Liz Lighty has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor. But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz's plans come crashing down until she's reminded of her school's scholarship for prom king and queen. There's nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she's willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington. The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She's smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams or make them come true? You Should See Me in a Crown is available in print, eBook, and eAudiobook.


Cover of Throne of Glass by Sarah J MaasBeware, once you start these books, you'll be hooked! After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. He offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. If she wins, she'll serve the kingdom for four years, then be granted her freedom. Her training sessions with the captain of the guard are challenging and exhilarating, but life at court is dull. Things get more interesting as the prince starts to show an interest in her...but it's her gruff trainer that seems to understand her best. It gets even more interesting when other contestants turn up dead. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before it finds her? What follows this question is an epic series of adventure, betrayal, love, and the question of destiny. Check out our review for more details. You can read it at your library in print, audiobook, and eBook


Cover of Skyward by Brandon SandersonIf you're looking for a book to get back into reading and you like sci-fi, this Skyward by Brandon Sanderson is it! The raw energy of this tale is palpable and the character development is captivating. Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul. Skyward is available to checkout in print and eBook format.



Cover of Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker--she thinks nothing can scare her. But when her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, she's quickly packed off to live with a grandmother she's never met in Harrow Lake, the eerie town where her father's most iconic horror movie was shot. The locals are weirdly obsessed with the film that put their town on the map--and there are strange disappearances, which the police seem determined to explain away. And there's someone--or something--stalking her every move.
The more Lola discovers about the town, the more terrifying it becomes. Because Lola's got secrets of her own. And if she can't find a way out of Harrow Lake, they might just be the death of her. Read more about Harrow Lake in our book review. It is available to check out in print, eBook, and eAudiobook.


Cover of Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Caden is your average fifteen year old. He is likable, has friends, and can generally get on with his classes and his peers. The book starts at the beginning of his first psychotic episode, but Caden doesn't know it. Shusterman expertly navigates us from reality to the way that Caden is perceiving reality in each chapter. Readers follow Caden's descent into each episode very slowly. Anyone who has loved someone or experienced mental illness can relate to this slow decline and then immediate rush into danger. The highs and lows are painfully, accurately portrayed. Caden jumps back and forth between knowing that he is in a mental rehabililtation center to believing that he is a crewmate on a ship of misfits led by a one-eyed Captain and his talking parrot. As the story goes on, you begin to realize that the people on the ship are representative of real people in Caden's life. There is a content warning for suicide in this book as Caden struggles with suicide as do other characters in the story. If you are interested in learning more, read our review. It is available in print, eBook, and eAudiobook from your library. 


Cover of Long Way Down by Jason ReynoldsThis award-winning story takes place in sixty seconds, but it will stay with you for long after. Long Way Down is about fifteen year old Will, who is on an elevator ride to get revenge for the murder of his brother. It's what he has to do in his neighborhood. Or so he thinks. With each floor of the elevator, it stops and Will must reckon with a truth from someone connected to his brother. Told in fierce, short staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a haunting story about gun violence in the United States from New York Times bestelling author Jason Reynolds. It is incredibly powerful, emotional, and heartbreaking. This is a must read for readers of all ages. You can get it at your library in graphic novel, print, eBook, and eAudiobook.



As a bonus, we'd like to add the January Teen/Tween Book Club pick in case one of your resolutions is to read more next year. Book clubs can be a great way to hold yourself accountable for reading goals.


Cover of Other Words for Home by Jasmine WargaJude is a tweleve year old girl from Syria, and this story chronicles her life from before the war, during the war, and when her and her mother are forced to leave Syria, her father, and her brother for Cinncinnati, Ohio. Jude always loved American movies and was one of the best in class at English, but neither of those prepared her for her new life. In America, Jude takes on some new identities: new student, Middle-Eastern, English for Speakers of Other Languages student, and immigrant. Readers will find that the most important identities are the ones that Jude chooses herself.

Told in verse, Other Words for Home is a 2020 Newbery Honor book that you'll find hard to put down. Jude is a brave and honest narrator who expertly navigates the difficulties of a first generation immigrant and middle-school life. You can it read in print, eBook, and eAudiobook. Create an account and join us on Goodreads to share your thoughts!