The Choice is Yours
The growth of a young person is often tested by the decisions they make. When the outcome of a choice could have long lasting effects, the question of "What Would You Do" becomes an interesting one. The following young adult books feature lead characters in decision making scenarios where the outcome greatly impacts their lives moving forward.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
The rules are simple, Crying? Don't. Snitching? Never. Revenge? Always. Fifteen-year-old Will Holloman lost his brother, Shawn, to street violence and has set out to follow "The Code." It is a vicious cycle which has claimed the lives of many, but is nonetheless carried out with a sense of duty and obligation. As Will commits to seeking out his brother's killer, he encounters several spirits who were alive at one point to know him personally. With each passing floor on the elevator ride down, he is encouraged to break the cycle of following The Code—but will he?
Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings
At the time of this book's release, Jazz Jennings (age 15) had been in the news because her parents allowed her to transition at a very early age—far too soon from the perspective of many. This memoir shows an openly transgendered young lady navigate adolescence like any other teen; however, with a national spotlight underscoring transphobic viewpoints. Living life as the opposite gender is most certainly a life-altering decision for anyone; read more about Jazz and her incredible decision to transition as a teenager, which has sparked great debate in our country today.
The Shadow of Ghadames by Joelle Stolz
Malika is a Muslim girl approaching her 12th birthday in 19th century Ghadames, a Libyan city in North Africa. According to societal norms, this particular birthday is the beginning of womanhood for young girls of Muslim culture; however, Malika is not so eager to embrace as this is a time when men can marry young girls and relegate their lives to long standing gender roles. Malika falls in love with the lifestyle of her father who is a traveling merchant across Libya. Although her goal is forbidden by a conservative mother, Malika continues to dream of being her own woman one day. Is defying your mother worth the pursuit of happiness?
When by Victoria Laurie
Being able to see the death date of anyone would probably classify as more of a curse than a gift—insert Maddie Flynn, the psychic. She possesses a unique ability that only a select few know about; her mother exploits this ability by having her conduct readings for money to help support the household and to feed an alcohol addiction. When a young boy disappears on the same day that Maddie predicted to his mother he would die, the FBI is notified with Maddie becoming a person of interest. She must now decide to either reveal her secret to federal agents and risk being wrongly accused, or withhold critical information that could lead to solving the case.
Hunter X Hunter by Yoshihiro Togashi
You probably won't find a more driven, motivated or likable 12-year-old than Gon Freecss. His goal is to join the Hunter's Association to become one of the greatest treasure hunters of all time like his father, Ging. The ambition of Ging led him to abandon his family and Gon as an infant; however, Gon chooses to forgive him and still aspires to be just like his dad. But should he? Would you?
Bright Lights, Dark Nights by Stephen Edmond
Walter is a white student in the 12th grade who has endured his parents' divorce and the relocation that resulted from it. At his new school, he becomes attracted to Naomi, an intelligent, witty and fun-loving black girl who renews his faith in positive male-and-female relationships. As the two become an item, controversy begins to surface as Walter's police officer dad is involved in the racial profiling of a young black man. The situation shines a bright light on the relationship between Walter and Naomi in a town divided by controversy; will they decide to continue seeing each other despite hostile times?
Lifted by Wendy Toliver
Fifteen-year-old Poppy Browne can be classified as an outsider who keeps company with the wrong crowd. She embodies the classic lone-wolf personality at her new school until two popular girls, Mary Jane and Whitney, take to her uniqueness. The trio begins to spend their free time together when it becomes apparent they have one thing in common—the adrenaline rush of shoplifting at the local mall. One innocent pair of jeans turn into multiple articles of clothing and a new bad habit. This is a definitely the type of story that makes you ask the question, if you could get away with something that benefits you, but is morally wrong, would you still do it?