Teen Booklist 2023

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 for the 2023 booklists will be delivered to subscribing schools!

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

See the full list of books
Only on the Weekends Dean Atta  Mack is a hopeless romantic . He has liked Karim for as long as he can remember, and is ecstatic when Karim becomes his boyfriend. But when Mack’s dad gets a job on a film in Scotland, Mack has to move, and soon he discovers how painful love can be. It’s horrible being so far away from Karim, but the worst part is that Karim doesn’t make the effort to visit. Love shouldn’t be only on the weekends.Then, when Mack meets actor Finlay on a film set, he experiences something powerful, a feeling like love at first sight. How long until he tells Karim?
Galaxy : The prettiest star

(Graphic novel)

Jadzia Axelrod Every day in Taylor Barzelay’s life might seem perfect…but every day is torture. Taylor is actually the Galaxy Crowned, an alien princess from the planet Cyandii, and one of the few survivors of an intergalactic war. For six long, painful years, Taylor has accepted her duty to remain in hiding as a boy on Earth.
Lionheart Girl Yaba Badoe Lionheart Girl follows Sheba, a descendant of West African witches, who grows up to discover she has powers – her touch allows her to view other people’s thoughts, memories and secrets. As she embraces her power she slowly uncovers the murderous truth about her stolen childhood and steels herself for the future. She must protect the hunted from the hunter – her mother.
When I see blue Lily Bailey Sometimes Ben’s brain makes him count to 4 to prevent bad things happening. Sometimes it makes him tap or blink in 4s. Mostly it makes the smallest things feel impossible. And with a new school, a moody big brother, an absent dad and a mum battling her own demons, Ben feels more out of control than ever. But then he meets April, and with his new friend, Ben might finally figure out how to stand up to the bully in his brain, once and for all.
Starlet Rivals Puneet Bhandal 12-year-old Bela has always dreamed about becoming a famous Bollywood star, and now the opportunity might finally be within her grasp. When a reality TV show gives her the chance to dance in front of the nation, she knows that she is performing for a place at the most prestigious stage school in Mumbai. And will child star Monica, the most “in” girl at school, see her as a friend or a rival?
When shadows fall Sita Brahmachari This is a multi-layered novel which speaks the importance of urban green spaces and community. While it is Kai’s story and his fall into darkness that is at the heart of the story, we also hear the voices of his friends Orla, Zak and Omid. This highly original novel perfectly captures raw adolescent emotions and fills the reader with empathy and understanding.
Medusa : The girl behind the myth Jessie Burton Burton retelling turns the story of myth of Medusa on its head. It is not the stereotypical fixation of a monster deployed as an opponent in a hero’s golden quest. Medusa is now is a vividly drawn young woman, wronged , fearful and lonely, who is on a journey to discover herself and find acceptance for what she has become.
Swimming on the moon Brian Conaghan Twelve-year-old Anna’s parents are going through a rough patch, but Anna can’t let them split up. Not when it might mean living apart from Anto, her twin brother. Anto might be a boy, and he might only speak using Lego bricks, but that doesn’t stop the two of them being like peas in a pod.
Tell me no lies Andrea Contos Nora and Sophie Linden may be sisters, but they’re not friends. Not since the party last month. Not since the night Sophie’s boyfriend, Garrett, disappeared. Half the town thinks Garrett is dead, the other half believes he ran away, but Sophie knows something no one else does
Things I know Helena Close 18-year-old Saoirse can’t wait to leave school – but just before the Leaving Cert her ex-boyfriend dies by suicide. Everyone blames Saoirse – even Saoirse herself, who cheated on him with his best friend. She is shunned by her schoolmates and suffers unbearable levels of anxiety. Everything becomes too much, and on the night of the school Debs, Saoirse throws herself into the river – and wakes up in a psychiatric hospital.
Grown : The black girls’ guide to glowing up Melissa Cummings-Quarry & Natalie A. Carter In the era of Black Lives Matter and Child Q, it can be hard for Black female teenagers growing up in the UK. They  don’t always see themselves  represented in the books they  read, the films they  watch, the adverts they  see or the history they are taught.
Grown is a rich mixture of self-help manual, political manifesto, lived experience and health guide, with Illustrations and accredited quotes throughout.
The King is Dead Benjamin Dean James has been a prince all his life, and since he was born, he’s been thrust into the spotlight as the first Black heir to the throne. But when his father dies unexpectedly, James is crowned king at the age of seventeen, and his life irrevocably changes.
Sade and her shadow monsters Rachel Faturoti Twelve-year-old Sade has been escaping to an imaginary world ever since her mum passed away. But soon she discovers that frightening shadow beasts live here too and they are seeping into the real world. Luckily, when her sister signs her up to a grief counselling group, Sade finds her anxiety gets better. But then she’s asked to perform spoken word in the talent show, and the beasts won’t let her get on stage
The eternal return of Clara Hart Louise Finch After witnessing the death of Clara, Spence finds himself caught in an endless time loop where he is forced to relive and re-evaluate the same 24 hours. This is  a hard-hitting coming-of-age story which is intelligent and persuasive. The novel plays with time and philosophy to highlight the dangers of everyday sexism, the ways this can be perpetuated and the culture of toxic masculinity.
Aftershocks Anne Fine A family mix-up means Louie has to tag along with his engineer father and his team as they head for a routine job in the farthest flung and most neglected province of the Federation. A massive earthquake, with ensuing tsunami, devastates the entire region. Aftershocks explores the ways in which grief can affect not only individuals, but communities at large.
Gay Club Simon James Green Barney’s a shoo-in for his school’s LGBTQ+ Society President at the club’s next election. But when the vote is opened up to the entire student body, the whole school starts paying attention. How low will the candidates go to win? Buckle up for some serious shade, scandals and sleazy shenanigans. It isn’t long before it’s National Coming Out Day – for everyone’s secrets!
Baby Teeth Meg Grehan Immy has been in love before – many times, across many lifetimes. But never as deeply, as intensely as this. This is a fresh, dark take on the vampire myth and desire, Baby Teeth shows vampires haunted by their pasts and memories, where immortality is not one long life but a broken patchwork of different experiences. It will twine around your heart and bite, ever so gently.
Welcome to St. Hell

(Graphic novel)

Lewis Hancox Lewis has a few things to say to his younger teen self.

He knows she’s confused about who to snog.

He knows she’s really a he and will ultimately realize this…

But she’s going to go through a whole lot of mess (some of it funny, some of it not funny at all) to get to that point. Lewis is trying to tell her this … but she’s refusing to listen.

When our worlds collided Danielle Jawando When fourteen-year-old Shaq is stabbed outside of a busy shopping centre in Manchester, three teenagers from very different walks of life are unexpectedly brought together. What follows flips their worlds upside down and makes Chantelle, Jackson, and Marc question the deep-rooted prejudice and racism that exists within the police, the media, and the rest of society.
Nine Liars Maureen Johnson  In 1995, nine friends from Cambridge University went to a country house and played a drunken game of hide-and-seek. Two were found in the woodshed the next day, murdered with an axe. Now a new group of students reopen this cold case and discover that someone’s still lying about what happened…

(Graphic novel)

Victor LaVelle When the ice caps melted, most of humanity was lost to the hidden disease that was released. Now, a mysterious girl named Eve has awoken in secret and must deal with a world that’s nothing like the virtual reality she was raised in. In order to save her father and accompanied only by Wexler, her robotic caretaker and protector sheathed in her favorite teddy bear, Eve must embark on a deadly quest across the country.
The Elemental detectives Patrice Lawrence Step into a London lit up by the Elemental spirits: the fiery Dragons, the airy Fumis, the watery Chads and the earthbound Magogs. But humans have been causing chaos for centuries, trampling through the landscape trailing noise, mess and pollution. What if the Elements could slow down this new world… or stop it all together?
Needle Patrice Lawrence Charlene is a demon knitter. It’s the only thing she enjoys and the only thing she believes she’s really good at. When her foster mum’s son destroys her latest creation, Charlene stabs him in the hand with her knitting needle and is arrested. . Award-winning author Patrice Lawrence explores the harsh reality of the criminal justice system for young people in this riveting teen drama.
Rebel Skies Ann Sei Lin Kurara has always been a lowly servant but when her party trick of making paper come to life turns out to be a treasured power, she becomes a Crafter.
Rebel Skies is a pacy adventure, set in a world of flying ships, sky cities and powerful paper spirits. It is Inspired by Japanese origami and explores themes of empire, slavery and freedom.
Time will tell Barry Lyga In the present day, four teens: Elayah, Liam, Marcie, and Jorja, dig up the time capsule their parents’ generation had buried during their high school days in the 1980s. But in addition to the expected usual ephemera: mix-tapes, Walkmans, photographs, letters, action figures, and other miscellaneous junk, they discover something more sinister-a large hunting knife wrapped with a note: “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to kill anyone.”
Tin Man Justin Madson A girl and her brother befriend the titular Tin Man with unexpected results. Solar is in her last year of high school and is reeling from thedeath of her grandmother. Her little brother doesn’t understand why she’s changed. The tin man longs for more, and decides to seek out a heart, believing that one will change his life.
Out of the Rubble Sally Nicholls It’s early 1945, the War is nearly over and across the country, evacuees are returning home.

Judy is excited to be back in London, reunited with her mum. But when she arrives, she finds everything has changed. Her house has been destroyed, her mum seems distant, and her dad is still away with the army. And all around her, London is different too

The blue book of Nebo Manan Steffan Ros The Blue Book of Nebo is at once heart-warming and gut-wrenching. Taking the form of alternating diary entries by fourteen-year-old Dylan and his mam, Rowenna, it follows the story of a small family trying to survive in post-apocalyptic Wales. The changing perspective allows the reader to see this strange world through interchangeably curious and jaded eyes, with the contrast regularly presenting moments of poignancy.
Grave things like love Sara Bennett Wealer Elaine’s home is a bit . . . different. It’s a funeral home that has been in her family since the 1800s—and it’s why everyone calls her Funeral Girl. And even though she’s lived there her whole life, there are still secrets to be found. When Xander, a cute new boy with a penchant for ghost hunting, arrives in town, Elaine feels an instant spark. After heconvinces her to stage a seance one night, Elaine discovers that her home might be haunted by a kindred spirit.
Kemosha of the Caribbean Alex Wheatle Kemosha and her brother have lived their whole lives in slavery. Sold away to work in lawless Port Royal, Jamaica, Kemosha takes her chance to escape her brutal treatment.
This is a beautiful story of a woman willing to do whatever it takes to keep her family together, while still hoping & praying for freedom and peace.


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