Hearts Broken and Mended

Staff PicksSouthwest Library

Hearts Broken and Mended

Stories of Grief in YA Fiction

A complicated emotion, grief is one we all experience and respond to differently. These young adult novels take grief and show its transformative power in a number of different circumstances. From a girl fighting demons within and without to a summer vacation full of boys meant to distract from the one who can’t be there, these books offer heartbreaking and heart-mending stories.

Note: All titles are linked to their physical copies unless otherwise noted, and many are available as library e-books and/or e-audiobooks with OverDrive.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
After her mother passes unexpectedly, Bree is still determined to attend a program for high school students at UNC-Chapel Hill. But when she arrives, she’s thrown into an existential battle between demons and a secret society descended from Arthurian legend. Now wrapped up in this fraternity of sorts, Bree is put to the test as she discovers secrets about her own ancestry and perhaps a shocking revelation about the circumstances of her mother’s death. 

A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
Lila can hardly believe it when her family ships her off to England following the death of her beloved grandmother. Steeping in grief, she gets to work at her aunt’s bed and breakfast, throwing herself into the baking she loves so much. Then she meets Orion, whose family supplies the B&B with tea. With a little bit of love -- for England, baking, and Orion, Lila can just maybe heal her broken heart.

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Massive tragedy has a way of changing people, and Marin has taken it to the extreme. With zero contact with anyone from before, Marin has totally isolated herself even from her best friend. Now that winter break is approaching, Marin will finally have to confront everything she’s protected herself from since she left when Mabel comes to visit. 

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
The best way to get over grief is to vacation. At least that’s what Anna and Frankie think. Frankie’s brother’s death has wrecked them both, and the best way Frankie can think of to heal is to meet a new boy every day that they are in Zanzibar Bay. After all, Anna has to have her first romance. Except -- she’s already had one with Frankie’s brother. 

The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson
As if it’s not enough to deal with the emotions that come after a shooting at her school, May is also contending with having lost her brother to the violence. Now back in school, she is trying to move on, even as classmates try to understand why she was the only one to survive the shooting in the band room. Meanwhile, Zach has lost something, too; his lawyer mother has taken up defending the shooter in court. Even if he doesn’t support this, he’s going to meet the consequences at school. Can Liz and Zach find each other through their grief?

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante
Marisol will do whatever it takes to keep her and her sister safe from the gang violence that killed her brother in El Salvador. Even if it means entering an experiment that will transfer the grief of another to her. Shouldering the grief of a privileged girl who lost her brother in a bombing, Marisol is exhausted. But between her desperate need for safety as a refugee and the feelings she’s developing for Ray, she must push through the pain unless it kills her.