Teen booklist 2021

33 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 covers 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 2021 booklists will be being delivered soon to subscribing schools!

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

Click to view the books!
Clap when you land Elizabeth Acevedo Two 16-year old half-sisters, one living in New York and the other in the Dominican Republic, discover each other and hidden family secrets when their beloved Papa dies in a plane crash. With both girls’ families crushed – but in different ways – by the tragedy, and amidst bitter feelings of anger, betrayal, grief and guilt, Camino and Yahaira meet each other in Dominica to bury Papa, and search for a way forward.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance Tomi Adeyemi In this gripping sequel to Children of Blood and Bone, Zélie has achieved her goal of returning magic to the magi but it has made the people of Orisha more divided than ever before. Both Zélie and Amari want to fix what they have done and unite the people, but they end up having very different ways of going about it.
Cinderella is Dead Kalynn Bayron It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again. This fresh take on the classic tale roots for girls to break down the gender constructs of the world around them.
Song beneath the tides Beverely Birch While on holiday in Africa with her family, Ally begins an intense friendship with Leli, a local teenager.  Set against the backdrop of Ally and Leli’s tender love story, Song Beneath the Tides is a sophisticated story that both looks back at colonialism, and also explores the modern issues pf poverty and cultural devastation caused by big business and mass tourism.
The Short knife Elen Caldecott It is the year 454AD. Mai has been kept safe by her father and her sister, Haf. But when Saxon warriors arrive at their farm, the family is forced to flee to the hills where British warlords lie in wait. A stunning novel that celebrates difference and finding your own way, when even speaking your mother tongue can be dangerous.
Tiger Heart Penny Chrimes Fly never meant to end up in a cage with a man-eating tiger. And though she’s sure she’s no princess, when the tiger addresses her as ‘your majesty’, she can’t help but vow to free him and return him home. But the bird-filled jungles and cloud-topped mountains of the tiger’s homeland are an ocean away. And not everyone wants the tiger – or Fly – to get there alive.
Blood Moon Lucy Cuthew During Frankie’s first sexual experience with Benjamin, she gets her period. It’s only blood, they agree. No shame. Then a graphic meme goes viral, turning their intimacy into something mortifying and damaging. As the online shaming takes on a horrifying life of its own, her universe implodes. But can laughter, bravery and the fiercest of friends help Frankie find her way out of the darkness?
On Midnight beach Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick Donegal, 1976. When a dolphin takes up residence in Carrig Cove, Emer and her best friend feel like they have an instant connection with it. Then Dog Cullen and his sidekick, Kit, turn up, and the four friends begin to sneak out at midnight to go down to the beach, daring each other to swim closer and closer to the creature. As the summer days get longer and hotter the fame and fortune the dolphin brings to thevillage builds resentment amongst their neighbours across the bay, and simmering tensions erupt into something worse…
The Life I’m In Sharon G Flake Char is not a good person, a bully who has made lives a misery. Thrown out of her home, she boards a bus and sets out to find her own path, but finds herself trapped in a web of human trafficking. Trapped in an underbelly of society that exploits the vulnerable, Char will need to direct all her strength and determination to help herself and her fellow victims.
The Gilded Ones Namina Forna Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity – and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death .The Gilded Ones is a empowering fantasy tale that deals racism, misogyny, inequality and much more.
The Lost Soul Atlas Zana Fraillon Told in both the past and present, Twiggy wakes up in the Afterlife with no memories, a raven for a guide and a mysterious Atlas to guide him along his path. We then go on to learn about Twiggy’s missing father and his life on the street in a glorious questing tale of fantasy, family, love and belonging which shines a light on homelessness and poverty.
Deeplight Frances Hardinge Good money can be made from relics of the gods, and these are plentiful beneath the waves if you are brave enough to dive down and get them.  But there are people who want to do more with the relics than just sell them – they want to ressurrect the gods themselves, regardless of the danger.  Hark realises he has to stop them…
The Deathless Girls Kiran Millwood Hargrave In their traveller community, divining day is the day young people find out their destiny, but twins Lil and Kizzy are captured and enslaved before they can learn theirs.  In the harsh and brutal castle kitchens of the cruel Boyar Valcar, Lil meets Mira, a fellow slave and learns about the Dragon, a terrifying creature who takes girls as gifts…
Hijab and Red Lipstick Yousra Imram Being a teenager isn’t easy. And it doesn’t help when you have a mega strict Egyptian dad who tells you that everything is “haram” – forbidden. All Sara wants to do is experiment with makeup and fashion, but her dad’s conservative interpretation of Islam makes it impossible. Things get even harder when her dad lands himself a job in the Arabian Gulf and moves his family to a country where the patriarchy rules supreme.
Mic Drop Sharna Jackson It is October half-term and the pop star TrojKat is filming a music video in the The Tri.Sister  super-slueths Nik and Norva set out to solve the case when a mysterious tragedy strikes the singer, in this exhilarating sequel to the phenomenal High Rise Mystery.
Henna Wars Adiba Jaigirdar When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants – as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to lose her family, but she also doesn’t want to hide who she is, which only gets harder once Flávia walks into her life.
The Boy I Am K. L. Kettle Jude is running out of time, ever since the death of his best friend at the hands of the all-powerful Chancellor, Jude has been desperate to escape the path set out for him. Once a year, lucky young men in the House of Boys are auctioned to the female elite. But if Jude fails to be selected before he turns seventeen, a future deep underground in the mines awaits.
Skulduggery Pleasant : Bedlam Derek Landy On a desperate journey to recover her sister’s lost soul, Valkyrie Cain goes up against the High Sanctuary itself, and there’s nothing Skulduggery Pleasant can do to stop her. Or help her. And with Abyssinia’s grand plan about to kick off in a night of magic, terror, and bloodshed, it falls to the hapless Omen Darkly to save the lives of thousands of innocent people.
Boy Queen George Lester Robin Cooper’s life is falling apart. While his friends prepare to head off to University, Robin is looking at a pile of rejection letters and facing a future without the people he loves the most. Unsure about what to do next, he and his best friends go and drown their sorrows at a local drag show, where Robin realizes there might be a different, more sequinned path for him…
A Kind of spark Elle Macnicoll 11-year-old Addie campaigns for a memorial in memory of the witch trials that took place in her Scottish hometown. Addie knows there’s more to the story of these ‘witches’, just like there is more to hers. Can Addie challenge how the people in her town see her, and her autism, and make her voice heard. A engrossing story of friendship, courage and self-belief.
Run Rebel Manjeet Mann Amber is trapped – by her father’s rules, by his expectations, by her own fears. Now she’s ready to fight – for her mother, for her sister, for herself. But freedom always comes at a price.
Gut Feelings C. G. Moore This is the story of Chris, of what happened to him at age eleven and how that would change the rest of his life. A life-affirming and powerful coming of age verse novel that explores chronic illness, who we are and how we live.
Burn Patrick Ness On a cold Sunday evening in early 1957, Sarah Dewhurst waits with her father in the parking lot of a gas station for the dragon he has hired to work on their failing farm. Sarah is mixed race and faces awful discrimination in her tiny backwards town of Frome, but the dragon, called Kazimir, is about to change her life forever.
And the ocean was our sky Patrick Ness With harpoons strapped to their backs, the proud whales of Bathsheba’s pod live are engaged in an ongoing war against the world of men. With stunning illustrations by Rovina Cai , this book is a unique reverse retelling of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick , published in 2019 to celebrate the bicentennial of  Melville’s birth.
The Black Kids Christina Hammonds Reed Los Angeles, 1992, and everything changes one afternoon in April, when four police officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids. As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble.
Forever Ends on Friday Justin A. Reynolds Jamal’s best friend, Q, doesn’t know that he died, and that he’s about to die again. He doesn’t know that Jamal tried to save him. And that the reason they haven’t been friends for two years is because Jamal blames Q for the accident that killed his parents. But what if Jamal could have a second chance? A new technology allows Q to be reanimated for a few weeks before he dies – permanently. And Q’s mom is not about to let anyone ruin this miracle by telling Q about his impending death. So how can Jamal fix everything if he can’t tell Q the truth?
Concrete Rose Angie Thomas For seventeen-year-old Maverick ‘Mav’ Carter, the son of a former gang legend, it is not easy to sell dope, finish school, and raise a child. In this prequel to  Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart in  this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.
Girl boy sea Chris Vick Bill narrowly survives the sinking of his yacht in a storm off the coast of Morocco. After many days alone, he rescues another survivor, a girl called Aya, from the nomadic Berber tribe, whose migrant ship was destroyed by the same storm. Hungry, sunburned, and with no idea what will happen next – Aya tells Bill the tales of Shahrazad of the Arabian Nights, who told 1000 stories to quell the murderous desire of the Persian King.  What starts out as a thrilling nautical survival story soon transforms into something much more mystical.
Other words for home Jasmine Warga Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives. American movies haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US – and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises. New friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.
The Enigma Game Elizabeth Wein It is 1940 and Louisa just lost her parents to the war. Louisa is part Jamaican and struggles with the racism of the time, and the added difficulty this causes for her in finding work. When she moves to Scotland for a new job, Louisa immediately becomes a member of a secret spy operation, in this exciting war time adventure. I hand Elizabeth Wein my heart on a platter every time I begin one of her stories, and she smashes it to a pulp each time with characters and stories full of love and feeling and the immeasurable sense of loss and destruction that WW2 brought with it.
And the stars were burning brightly Danielle Jawando When fifteen-year-old Nathan discovers that his older brother Al, has taken his own life, his whole world is torn apart. Al was special, talented. He had so many dreams, so why did he do it? Convinced that his brother was in trouble, Nathan decides to retrace Al’s footsteps. As he does, he meets Megan, Al’s former classmate, who is as determined as Nathan to keep Al’s memory alive.
Genesis Begins Again Ailcia D Williams There are ninety-six reasons why thirteen-year-old Genesis dislikes herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. She is determined to fix her family, and she’s willing to try anything to do so… even if it means harming herself in the process. But when Genesis starts to find a thing or two she actually likes about herself, she discovers that changing her own attitude is the first step in helping change others.
Windrush child Benjamin Zephaniah Leonard is torn from his idyllic childhood home and beloved Grandmother to start a new life in Manchester. Then, as we know, the streets are not paved with the promised gold and there are many struggles for a black boy growing up in a racist environment. A very personal story following the life of Leonard from 1947, when he was born in Maroon Town Jamaica, until 2018 at the height of the Windrush scandal in Britain.

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