Twins for the Win: Young Adult Edition
Back in September 2019, I wrote a list of children’s books about twins, which you can find here. I still haven’t achieved my fifth-grade dream of acquiring a twin, or discovered any other long lost relatives. Regardless, sibling dynamics continue to fascinate me. What if my brother had been older, or younger, or my parents had a girl instead? These young adult novels are all about twins as they grow, whether it’s closer or further, together or apart.
Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
Twins Mara and Owen may share a unique bond, but Mara’s other friendships are still important to her. She has her own life including running Empowered, a feminist magazine, and navigating her relationship with her ex-girlfriend, Charlie. Owen is dating one of Mara’s best friends Hannah, which should make hanging out together easier, until one party changes everything. When Hannah accuses Owen of rape, the flood of emotions that hits Mara leave her working through her own trauma and feeling torn between her brother and her best friend.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Ever since fifth grade, Xiomara’s curvy body has stood out in her Harlem neighborhood, and she’s tried to be inconspicuous and quiet. On her twelfth birthday, her twin brother Xavier gave her an outlet: a notebook. Frustrated by the attention she gets from men and the constant pressure from her mother to be steadfast in her faith to the church, Xiomara begins to write poetry. When Xiomara’s sophomore English teacher Ms. Galiano encourages her to join the school’s slam poetry club, Xiomara is thrilled to find other people who share her passion, but she quickly learns how risky it is. Poetry club is on the same day as her Confirmation classes, and on top of that, Xiomara is doing exactly what her mother doesn’t want: developing romantic feelings for a boy at school. Will Xiomara be silent forever, or will she learn how to share her voice with the world?
You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
For the past four years, fraternal Jewish twin sisters, Adina and Tovah, have watched Huntington’s disease transform their Israeli mother into someone they barely know. As they turn eighteen, musical prodigy Adina begins to stray from religion and form a romantic relationship with an older man. Devout Tovah is planning to attend John Hopkins’ University and become a doctor. The twins are no longer close, but despite her misgivings, Adina agrees to undergo testing for Huntingon’s disease on their eighteenth birthday. When Adina tests positive, will the results finally bring the girls together, or drive them further apart?
The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk
The Beauty That Remains explores what happens when three teenagers, one of whom is a twin, lose people who are close to them and struggle with their mental health. Shay recently lost her twin sister Sasha to cancer, Logan’s ex-boyfriend Bram committed suicide, and Autumn’s Latinx best friend Tavia was killed in a car accident. In addition to each suffering a recent loss, the three also share connections to the indie band Unraveling Lovely, and Bram and Autumn still have lingering questions. If Logan had stayed with Bram, would he still have committed suicide? If Autumn had gone to the party, would Tavia still be alive? Meanwhile, Shay is still adjusting to life without her sister. Will music be enough to help these characters navigate the depths of their losses?
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
Jay Coles’ novel Tyler Johnson Was Here explores how police brutality impacts teens and will especially appeal to readers who enjoyed The Hate U Give. Marvin and Tyler Johnson are rising high school seniors. Marvin is planning on college and he and his friends have nerdy interests, such as video games and Harry Potter. Tyler, on the other hand, is going through a more rebellious phase. The twins are no stranger to racism, and when video footage reveals that Tyler was shot by a white police officer, Marvin is devastated. Suddenly, Marvin must learn to cope with loss, Tyler’s friendship with a drug dealer, and the community struggles between Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter.
Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
Sadie, mother of Ellery and her twin brother Ezra, grew up in Echo Ridge, Vermont. Sadie has a twin sister named Lacey who disappeared twenty-three years ago. When their mother’s court-appointed rehab forces Ellery and Ezra to move to Echo Ridge to live with their grandmother, they don’t realize the upheaval the small town is about to experience. Instead of having a quiet first night, the pair discovers the body of the high school biology teacher. In addition to these disappearances and murders, five years ago the town’s homecoming queen, Lacey Kilduff, was found dead at the local Halloween theme park. Not only does true crime enthusiast Ellery begin to investigate the disappearance of her aunt and the murder of Lacey, she also becomes friends with Malcolm, the younger brother of Lacey’s suspected murderer. When homecoming season rolls around, Ellery finds herself more immersed in the town’s crimes than ever. Suddenly she and the other girls on the homecoming court start receiving threats. Can Ellery uncover the town's mysteries and still protect herself?
The Second Life of Ava Rivers by Faith Gardner
Vera barely knows her twin sister Ava, but it’s not exactly a Parent Trap situation. Ava disappeared when the girls were only six years old, and the girls’ family didn’t take it well. Their brother became distant, their father quits his job, and their mother immerses herself in philanthropic organizations. When Vera is eighteen and about to leave for college, Ava turns up at a local hospital. All of a sudden, their family starts to feel like a family again, and AVa reconnects with Max, her childhood best friend. Even so, there are still unanswered questions. Where has Ava been this entire time, and why won’t she talk about it?
Wicked Like A Wildfire by Lana Popovic
Iris and Malina and their controlling mother Jasmina are all witches who have the gleam that allows them to manipulate beauty. Throughout their lives in Montenegro, the girls have never met other witches, or their Japanese father. Jasmina’s baked goods allow people to recall certain places; the way Iris sees flowers allows her to create glasswork; and Malina can influence other peoples’ moods with her music. There are two things that Jasmina has told the girls not to do: share their gifts with others or fall in love. Although Jasmina is hardly the kindest of parents, when she is attacked and left in a state that is not quite alive or dead, the two must find a way to start using their powers and break a family curse.
Black Wings Beating by Alex London
Readers who prefer fantasy might gravitate towards Black Wings Beating, set in a world where falcons are revered by the Uztari people. After their abusive father is killed by a dangerous falcon, twins Brysen and Kylee are more determined than ever to pursue their dreams. Despite her natural gift for falconry, Kylee wants to move far away from the Six Villages, and Brysen wants to become a revered falconer in hopes of selling birds and paying off their father’s gambling debt. When Brysen’s boyfriend is endangered because of his own gambling debts, Brysen is more determined than ever to catch the same falcon that killed his father.
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
In this retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic novel, Victor Frankenstein may have a cocky, rash personality and complicated feelings towards his twin brother Konrad, but when Konrad falls mysteriously and gravely ill, Victor is determined to find a cure. Victor’s parents believe that doctors can cure Konrad, but Victor goes against their wishes and consults a secret room in the Frankenstein family chateau called the Dark Library, where he and his friends Henry and Elizabeth find a recipe from dubious sources for the Elixir of Life that could either help or kill Konrad. With the help of a disreputable alchemist, the three friends set out on a mission that will test their relationships and put their lives in grave danger.