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Best YA books about real life problems

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Books that vividly portray the issues many teens experience. 

Looking for Alaska

The unmissable first novel from bestselling and award-winning author of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words - and tired of his safe, boring and rather lonely life at home. He leaves for boarding school filled with cautious optimism, to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps. Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. Poignant, funny, heartbreaking, compelling.

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up. Now a major motion picture starring Emma Watson and Logan Lerman. Charlie is a freshman. And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix-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. But Charlie can't stay on the sideline forever. 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.

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Speak

The first ten lies they tell you in high school. "Speak up for yourself--we want to know what you have to say." From the first moment of her freshman year at Merryweather High, Melinda knows this is a big fat lie, part of the nonsense of high school. She is friendless, outcast, because she busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so now nobody will talk to her, let alone listen to her. As time passes, she becomes increasingly isolated and practically stops talking altogether. Only her art class offers any solace, and it is through her work on an art project that she is finally able to face what really happened at that terrible party: she was raped by an upperclassman, a guy who still attends Merryweather and is still a threat to her. Her healing process has just begun when she has another violent encounter with him. But this time Melinda fights back, refuses to be silent, and thereby achieves a measure of vindication. In Laurie Halse Anderson's powerful novel, an utterly believable heroine with a bitterly ironic voice delivers a blow to the hypocritical world of high school. She speaks for many a disenfranchised teenager while demonstrating the importance of speaking up for oneself. Speak was a 1999 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature.

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Thirteen Reasons Why

Clay Jensen returns home to find a strange package with his name on it. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and first love - who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice explains there are thirteen reasons why she killed herself. Clay is one of them. If he listen, he'll find out why. All through the night, Clay keeps listening - and what he discovers changes his life... Forever.

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All the Bright Places

This is a compelling and beautiful story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die. "If you're looking for the next The Fault in Our Stars, this is it." (Guardian). This is a New York Times best-seller. Soon to be a major film starring Elle Fanning. Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death. When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it's unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the 'natural wonders' of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It's only with Violet that Finch can be himself - a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who's not such a freak after all. And it's only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet's world grows, Finch's begins to shrink. How far will Violet go to save the boy she has come to love? An intense, gripping novel, perfect for fans of John Green, Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, Gayle Forman and Jenny Downham. "This book is amazing - I couldn't put it down." (Zoe Sugg aka Zoella). "A searingly honest and heartbreakingly poignant tale about the power and beauty of love." (Heat). "Sparkling." (Entertainment Weekly).

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Go Ask Alice: A Real Diary

A teen plunges into a downward spiral of addiction in this classic cautionary tale.
January 24th
After you've had it, there isn't even life without drugs....
It started when she was served a soft drink laced with LSD in a dangerous party game. Within months, she was hooked, trapped in a downward spiral that took her from her comfortable home and loving family to the mean streets of an unforgiving city. It was a journey that would rob her of her innocence, her youth -- and ultimately her life.
Read her diary.
Enter her world.
You will never forget her.
For thirty-five years, the acclaimed, bestselling first-person account of a teenage girl's harrowing decent into the nightmarish world of drugs has left an indelible mark on generations of teen readers. As powerful -- and as timely -- today as ever, Go Ask Alice remains the definitive book on the horrors of addiction.

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Love Letters to the Dead

Sometimes the best letters are the ones that go unansweredIt begins as an assignment for English class: write a letter to a dead person - any dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain - he died young, and so did Laurel's sister May - so maybe he'll understand a bit of what Laurel is going through. Soon Laurel is writing letters to lots of dead people - Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, River Phoenix, Amelia Earhart...it's like she can't stop. And she'd certainly never dream of handing them in to her teacher. She writes about what it's like going to a new high school, meeting new friends, falling in love for the first time - and how her family has shattered since May died. But much as Laurel might find writing the letters cathartic, she can't keep real life out forever. The ghosts of her past won't be contained between the lines of a page, and she will have to come to terms with growing up, the agony of losing a beloved sister, and the realisation that only you can shape your destiny. A lyrical, haunting and stunning debut from the protege of Stephen Chbosky (THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER).

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Hate List

5 months ago Valerie Leftman's boyfriend opened fire on their school cafeteria, killing five students and one teacher before turning the gun on himself. Valerie, who was shot trying to stop him, is initially implicated in the shootings because of the hate list she helped create. The hate list her boyfriend used to pick his targets.As Valerie integrates back into school, more of an outsider than she ever thought she was before, she is forced to confront her feelings of guilt and loneliness. Exploring the gray area between hero and villain, she navigates the rocky relationships with her family, her former friends, with the memory of the boyfriend she still loves, and with the girl whose life she saved five months ago. As she moves toward graduation and the year anniversary of the shooting, Valerie must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it all in order to make amends and move on with her life.

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My Heart and Other Black Holes

A brilliant and heartbreaking new novel for fans of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars and Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park, about two strangers who want to die...and, in meeting each other, learn how to live. I'm getting higher and higher and I feel the swing set creak. 'Be careful,' he says. 'Why?' I'm not thinking about being careful. I'm thinking about one last push, of letting go, of flying, and of falling. 'You aren't allowed to die without me,' he whispers. Aysel and Roman are practically strangers, but they've been drawn into an unthinkable partnership. In a month's time, they plan to commit suicide - together. Aysel knows why she wants to die: being the daughter of a murderer doesn't equal normal, well-adjusted teenager. But she can't figure out why handsome, popular Roman wants to end it all...and why he's even more determined than she is. With the deadline getting closer, something starts to grow between Aysel and Roman - a feeling she never thought she would experience. It seems there might be something to live for, after all - but is Aysel in so deep she can't turn back?

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