THe List 2020

40 of the best new fiction titles for your secondary school Library

The Teenage Book list is selected annually by librarians from the Schools Library Service and secondary schools, and is a list of recommended fiction to buy for your school library.

The teen list represents a selection of the best new fiction first published in paperback within the last 12 months, and aims to cover a diverse  range of subjects, genres, authors and interests.

Titles from the Teen and Primary lists will be chosen for the Tower Hamlets Book Award short list in July. Remember to let us know if you want to participate in this event!

Posters and Bookmarks for the 2020 booklists will be delivered a little later than normal this year – look out for them from September.

Please contact the library for more information on the Teen List or to request additional posters or bookmarks (subscribing schools only).

Click to view all of the books and blurbs
Title Author notes
You must be Layla! Yassmin Abdel-Magied Layla, Australian girl of Sudanese heritage, is ambitious and impulsive  When she takes up a scholarship in a prestigious new school her hijab singles her out and inevitably she faces more than educational challenges. She has to confront Islamaphobia and racism not to mention her own emotional journey in this entertaining and thoughtful story.
Internment Samira Ahmed One thing 17-year-old Layla Amin never thought she’d face in life was INTERNMENT by the American government simply because she and her family are Muslim. They join thousands of other Muslims at Camp Mobius in the Californian desert, but Layla is determined to fight back.
Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist David Almond Enter the strange world of writer David Almond and mixed media artist David McKean where there is much darkness and inexplicable happenings in a Tyneside council house.  Is there a poltergeist?  Is it a metaphor? Two boys on the brink of adulthood have much to discover…
The Crossover (graphic novel) Kwame Alexander Dynamic, rhythmic rapping basketball story that just pounds its way through your head like a running, bouncing ball. Josh and his twin brother are having a great winning season, can they keep up the momentum?  Graphic artist Dawud Anyabwile fits the illustrations to the drama brilliantly.
The Black Flamingo Dean Atta Michael is trying to find out who he is and where he fits in, but he struggles – mainly because he is gay and mixed-raced. Written in verse, Black Flamingo is a story of the bittersweet and exciting years of growing up – of heartbreak, dreams of fame, cute boys and making and losing friends.
Crossfire Malorie Blackman Set in the alternative world of Zafrica, the White underclass, the Noughts, encounter constant racial prejudice from the Black Crosses. Accused of a murder he insists he did not commit, Tobey, a Nought, asks his teenage sweetheart Callie-Rose, a Cross, to defend him. The two have a complicated past, and an even more dangerous present as they take it in turns to tell their side of a highly dramatic story.
The places I’ve cried in public Holly Bourne Amelie’s back story shows that she has so much potential for a full and rewarding life but clearly something went wrong.  She tries to work out how she got to a bad state by visiting places full of painful memories. On the way she charts how she ended up in a coercive and abusive relationship with Reese. This is a raw, honest story for upper teens.
Wranglestone Darren Charlton This post-apocalyptic zombie thriller has a gay romance at its heart. Set in a unique location by a frozen lake where the community have much to fear from outsiders, Peter puts lives in danger by an act of kindness.  Help comes from nearby rancher Cooper to overcome the dangers, to discover what is really going on and to show how true love can win through.
Chinglish Sue cheung English and Chinese merge in this story told by Jo Kwan in diary entries and doodles, a girl growing up in 1980’s Midlands above her family’s take away.  It’s not just about language mash ups, there’s humour and hard realities here too.  It’s clear Dad is a hiding a terrible secret – will Jo’s optimism see her through?
The M Word Brian Conaghan There are some dark places in Maggie’s life, coping with her mum’s depression, and issues of self harm and suicide. Talking to her best friend Moya helps…but what has happened to Moya? Starting art school and finding her way in a relationship may be a good start but as this is made very explicit, it ain’t gonna be easy.
You’re crushing it! Lex Croucher Social media sensation Lex gives her advice on to teens on how to live. It’s chatty, funny, helps you feel good about yourself when the whole world is telling you differently.
Becoming Dinah Kit de Waal Dinah feels compelled to flee everything she’s ever known.  After being home-schooled, a recent period in mainstream schooling has turned her world upside-down, as has turbulent upheavals at home. Becoming Dinah is a road-trip re-invention of Moby Dick with a gripping mystery about what Dinah is running from to find a place to call home.
Meat Market Juno Dawson When 16-year-old Jana Novak is scouted at Thorpe Park, she decides to take up a modelling career.  Jana’s story does not shy away from the dark underbelly of the fashion industry.  Of course, modelling can be a very glamorous career, especially for a working class girl for whom other opportunities may be scarce, but there is a price to be paid for the glitz and glamour.
Monsters Sharon Dogar An intricate historical romance.  Two teenage stepsisters run away to Switzerland and join a scandalous circle of poets.  In this passionate hothouse Mary Shelley draws upon the monstrous elements in her own life to write the novel Frankenstein and challenges the way we think about faith, science and life forever.
Good Hawk Joseph Elliott On a Scottish island Agatha, a girl with Down Syndrome, is a Hawk, keeping watch for the safety of the clan, and Jaime is an Angler, though he hates the sea.  When danger arrives from a rival clan they must put their worries aside and find new strengths to fight for survival.  A thrilling, historical fantasy full of Gaelic and Old Norse references and told as a dual narrative.
Only Mostly Devastated Sophie Gonzales Smart and funny high school gay romcom which is a reimagining of Grease.  It’s about Ollie and Will, one out and proud, the other in the closet at school and struggling.  How’s it going to work out?  With some sassy support from three school girl friends, love may find a way in those summer days…
Boy Meets Ghoul Birdie Milano Dylan is packed off to football camp at half term, just when he had planned to hook up with Leo, a gorgeous would-be ballet dancer. Add to the mix the arrival of a former crush, and best friend Kayla’s mission to see her favourite band, Deathsplash Nightmares, and the result is a funny, warm hearted delight.
Pieces of ourselves Maggie Harcourt You know the plot, girl bumps into boy, girl hates boy, boy likes girl, girl starts to think maybe he’s not so bad after all. Throw into the mix the fact she’s struggling with bipolar, and he’s researching the mystery of a missing soldier in WW1, and together they uncover the story of a lost love and just maybe the start of their own.
Wink Rob Harrell Just when Ross thought he had enough troubles fitting in at school he’s thrown a real curved ball – diagnosis of a rare eye cancer – which means he stands out even more. But this is a warm hearted story of the ups and downs of friendship, and how to cope with life’s problems both small and life threatening.
A Pinch of Magic Michelle Harrison Betty Widdershins is reckless and rebellious and longs to break free from the island of Crowstone.  Betty convinces her sisters Fliss and Charlie to help her end the Widdershins Curse, which forces them to remain in Crowstone
I Am Not a Number Lisa Heathfield Dystopian story set in the present day when The Traditionals are voted into power and start eroding civil liberties.  Life gets harder for those like Ruby who don’t fit in, labour camps are set up, and the real horror begins.  With references to the Holocaust and history repeating itself, there are present day references to set you thinking.
Unpregnant Jenni Hendriks Veronica with her best-friend-but-weird Bailey sets off to get an abortion nine hundred miles away and they have a roller coaster adventure on the way.  Of course it’s not really light hearted – there are serious issues of women’s rights and moral judgements – and it sure makes for a road trip with a difference.
Isles of Storm and Sorrow:  Viper Bex Hogan Pirates, murder and action abound in this absorbing fantasy.  Marianne must fight to save the Twelve Isles from Viper who prowls the seas and kills all in his way.  She is destined to succeed him but can she overcome this merciless man, who just happens to be her father?
Floodworld / dustroad Tom Huddleston In the aftermath of climate change London is flooded and and Kara and Joe have to live as best they can in a dangerous sunken city.  The finding of a mysterious map leads to danger from cops, robbers and pirates in high tec submarines.  A gripping story in an all too believable world.  Followed by DustRoad, where adventures continue in USA.
High Rise Mystery Sharna Jackson When their community art teacher Hugo is murdered, sisters Nik and Norva are determined to use their super sleuth skills (which are mighty) to solve the case. There are suspects aplenty. Horribly, one of them is their lovely dad who had a public row with Hugo the night before he died!
That Asian Kid Savita Kalhan It’s hard to shine in class when your teacher hates you – and Jeevan is convinced he is a victim of racial prejudice.  But coming upon his teacher in the woods outside school in a compromising situation with another teacher, he films the scene on his phone and gleefully thinks he can get his own back at last – but does he dare upload it to social media – would the consequences be too dreadful after all?
Rules for vanishing Kate Alice Marshall Once a year, a road appears in the forest, and at the end of it, the ghost of Lucy Gallows beckons. It’s been exactly one year since Sara’s sister, Becca, disappeared, and Sara knows that the only way to find her is to follow the road when she has the chance– but is she brave enough?
No fixed address Susan Nielsen Felix Knutsson lives with his mother and pet gerbil Horatio and is brilliant at memorising facts and trivia. But Felix and his mom Astrid have a secret: they are living in a stolen van. Astrid promises it’s only for a while until she finds a new job. But Felix has a plan to turn their lives around: he’s going to go on his favourite game show Who, What, Where, When and win the cash prize.
Wain: LGBT reimaginings of scottish folklore Rachel Plummer The poems in this collection are delightful and magical, perfectly balancing a contemporary sensibility and approach to gender and sexuality with a deep familiarity with the original stories, using language carefully and deliberately to create something beautiful and thought-provoking.
Heartstream Tom Pollock Cat is in love. She can’t believe that she’s actually dating a pop star. But the fandom can’t know – they would eat her alive. Amy uses Heartstream, a social media app that allows others to feel your emotions. She broadcasted every moment of her mother’s degenerative illness and death, but on the day of the funeral, Amy finds a strange woman in her kitchen. Who is she? What does she want? Amy and Cat are about to discover how far true obsession can go.
Jelly Clare Rees Martha and her friends have been drifting on a giant killer jellyfish, finding life incredibly boring, ever since sea levels rose and the world ended. They are tantalisingly close to the shore and safety, or so they think, but what is waiting for them on the shore?  In this era of environmental hazards and plastic oceans, a thought-provoking read.
Patron saints of nothing Randy Ribay A coming-of-age story about grief, guilt and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder.  Jay Reguero finds out that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. When no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.
Wilder Girls Rory Power You will change.  You might survive.  A boarding school is in lockdown as a deadly virus kills the teachers one by one and school girls’ bodies change into something sick and foreign. When Hetty’s best friend Byatt goes missing she has to break out and confront whatever horrors lie beyond the fence. Compelling, shocking and brilliant.
Are you watching? Vincent Ralph Jess takes part in a reality series on YouTube as a way of finding out who killed her mother when she was seven.  The murderer went on to kill many more…and now is watching Jess.  Fascinating and scary thriller which makes clever use of social media.
The Tzar’s curious runaways Robin Scott-Elliot Katinka, a dazzling ballerina with a hunched back, and her friends Alexei the Giant and Nikolai the dwarf are different – which is why they are part of Tzar Peter the Great’s Circus of Curiosities. But it’s not the only life she’s known, and when the Tzar dies and they must flee the Winter Palace, Katinka is determined to guide her friends to the safety of her erstwhile home far away across the Russian Steppe.
Watch Us Rise  Renée Watson Jasmine and Chelsea’s “Write Like a Girl” club has gone viral, with its messages of women’s rights and gender and racial equality – but as well as acclaim, there are trolls and people who want to silence them – are they prepared for trial by social media?
The Wren Hunt Mary Watson Every winter, Wren Silke is chased through the forest in a warped version of a childhood game. The boys who hunt her are judges, powerful and frightening pursuers, who know nothing of her true identity. If they knew she was an augur, their sworn enemy, the game would turn deadly…
Dancing the Charleston Jacqueline Wilson It’s the 1920s, and Mona’s life in a little cottage on the edge of the Somerset estate with her dressmaker aunt changes when things change up at the big house.  Suddenly she is invited to dazzling balls, dinners of delicious food and on glamorous trips to London – but there is something about Mona’s past that really ought to stay hidden…
Jemima Small Versus the Universe Tamsin Winter Being forced to join the school’s healthy eating club (aka the fat club) as well as all the snide comments made by others does nothing for Jemima’s self-esteem.  Can she find a way to rise above the bullying and shine ?
Kerb Stain boys Alex Wheatle Home’s not good for Briggy. Mum and Dad are always fighting. Briggy’s older bruv, Kingsley, wants out – he can’t stand Mum and Dad “cursing the tonsils outta each other”. School’s no better than home. His best bredrin, Terror, suddenly announces a plan to jack the local Post Office to impress Caldonia, the coolest chick in  Year 10 …


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