The Best Gifts for YA Readers This Holiday Season

The holiday season is a wonderful and stressful time, filled with merriment and reflection—and moments of waffling on what gift best reflects the strength and tenor of your relationships with family and friends.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We’re here to help, with guaranteed knockout picks for every YA fan on your list.

A Map of Days, by Ransom Riggs
The adventures of Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children continue in their fourth book together, the first in a new story arc. This time,Jacob Portman has brought his peculiar pals across the pond (and through time) to modern-day Florida. While the peculiars attempt to fit in with beachgoing normals from another century, Jacob finds a bunker that reveals as many questions as answers about the secret life of his grandfather, Abe. The atmospherically eerie photographs that serve as a hallmark for this series are still here, but this time, they’re in color.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han
For those who fell in love with Lara Jean Song Covey (and her various loves) thanks to the darling Netflix adaptation, it’s time to fall head over heels again by reading the source material. Five of Lara Jean’s secret love letters are mailed to five boys from her past, creating a messy situation and an even messier coverup. For those at home wondering: yes, Peter Kavinsky is swoon-worthy in any medium, and Lara Jean is as charmingly awkward on the page as she is onscreen.

Dear Evan Hansen, by Val Emmich (with Steven Levenson, Benji Pasek, and Justin Paul)
The novelization of the Tony Award–winning Broadway musical hits all the same high notes in its depiction of Evan Hansen, a teen struggling with severe social anxiety. With the encouragement of his therapist, Evan writes affirming letters to himself each day. When one of those letters finds its way to Connor Murphy, who later dies by suicide, Evan is mistakenly perceived to be Connor’s bereaved best friend. Evan’s newfound notoriety serves as a profound meditation on grief and on loneliness.

What If It’s Us, by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Two esteemed YA writers team up for this sweet and salty New York City romcom. Their two main characters, drawn together in an interrupted meet-cute, are a study in contrasts. Heartbroken Ben, a native New Yorker and Puerto Rican, is fresh out of a relationship and toiling away in summer school. Meanwhile, Arthur, a chatty, bubbly Jewish kid, is visiting New York as he ponders his Ivy League future. After their chance encounter, the two wonder if they’ll ever find each other again—and if they do, whether they’re right for each other.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika L. Sánchez
Julia’s older sister, Olga, was their mother’s perfect child: she listened to her parents and always seemed to meet their expectations for what a young lady should do. When Olga is killed in accident, the mantle of being the perfect daughter falls to Julia, who is unable and unwilling to conform to parental wishes. Struggling with both depression and grief, Julia begins to dig into Olga’s life and discovers her sister may have had secrets of her own. This remarkable debut provides an intersectional look at Julia’s life and identity.

The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black
For those who crave something dark and elegant, consider this fantasy series starter that spirits readers away to the realm of Faerie. As a young girl, Jude saw her parents murdered—by the man who became her adoptive Faerie father. Grown fierce and resilient on her upbringing in the volatile Faerie court, Jude becomes ensnared by court intrigue and the object of the titular cruel prince Cardan’s attention. The story that follows isn’t a heartwarmer, but it certainly is a page-turner.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea, by Tahereh Mafi
Longlisted for the National Book Award, A Very Large Expanse of Sea is Mafi’s first contemporary novel. Set in 2002, the story centers on Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl trying to wall herself off emotionally amid the rampant Islamophobia of post-9/11 America, whose release comes in the form of breakdancing. But when she meets Ocean James, her protective shell begins to crack. Their journey to get to know each other in a world that doesn’t want them together paints an intimate, important portrait.

Sadie, by Courtney Summers
Sadie is perfect both for YA fans and for those always on the hunt for a new true crime podcast. Told in alternating narratives, the story follows Sadie’s search for her sister’s killer. We see things from Sadie’s point of view, as well as that of the podcast The Girls, which chronicles producer West McCray’s own quest to find Sadie a year after she goes missing while on the trail of a murderer. It’s a haunting, complex novel that will stick with you long after you turn the final page.

Impostors, by Scott Westerfield
Although it’s set in the same universe as Westerfield’s revered Uglies series, Impostors doesn’t require any prior knowledge of the world or setting to immediately absorb you in its premise. Frey and Rafi are twin sisters, though the people of their city-state Shreve, ruled by their wealthy father, don’t know that. Rough-and-tumble Frey acts as the body double to the famous Rafi. At her father’s behest, Frey is sent in Rafi’s place to ink a deal with a rival city. There she’ll meet a group of rebels that will upend the delicate sisterly dance she’s grown used to.

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