Recommendation List: YA Books About Grief

Teens D.C.

Recommendation List: YA Books About Grief

Jojo Egbon shares her favorite young adult novels that deal with the hardship of losing a loved one

The books I will be writing about focus on teenagers and their experiences. They all deal with themes of frustration, choice, reality, loss, and grief. I find that these novels are very intriguing and contain beneficial moral lessons. Having each of these novels written from the perspective of a teen or focusing on the teen's life is awe-inspiring. I want to encourage my generation of teens to stay motivated, despite the indifference and battles faced. Reading these novels will allow you to learn different lessons in different situations.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds | also available as a graphic novel

Is Will going to retaliate and kill his brother's murderer? Or will he let that elevator ride change his mind? Find out in “Long Way Down” by Jason Reynolds.

This is a young adult novel written in free verse about a 15-year-old boy named Will battling to settle on a choice after his older brother Shawn is shot dead in the street. Will intends to look for revenge, yet before he can leave the elevator of his building, he is welcomed by a progression of ghosts who complicate his perspective on Shawn's death and the idea of killing someone as revenge.

I feel like everyone needs to read this book and take something away from it. It’s so relatable in everyday life decisions. Being in Will's position would be such a challenge. This book contains so many valuable life lessons. It’s for any age group, but I feel like many teenagers should take this book into account. 

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Will JB getting a girlfriend change the relationship between him and his brother Josh? Will their dad’s health worsen? Will the family become more broken or will they fix it? Find out in “The Crossover.”

Josh Bell is an eighth-grade student. He has a twin brother Jordan, or JB. The two of them are basketball players and best friends off the court. They have a very deep passion for basketball and hope to become professional players someday. Their dad, a former basketball player, guided them in basketball. When the boys become curious as to why their father doesn’t play anymore, they snoop through his box of memorabilia and discover his patellar tendonitis. 

I firstly love the way the book is styled and how the story went. To me, it added tension, suspicion, and eagerness as I read the book. It encouraged me to read more and more. I looked forward to seeing how the story concluded. It didn’t end in my favor, but I took something with me. I learned so many valuable tips and lessons from reading this novel. I feel that reading this is very easy and not overwhelming. It's a styled free verse novel, but you want to pay attention to what’s happening in this story.

Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Will Moss Jeffries' father die? Is anger a gift to Moss or did it lead him into violence? Find out in Anger Is a Gift.

Moss is a gay Black teenager living in West Oakland. He struggles daily with trauma from the death of his father. He witnessed his father's murder by police officers six years earlier in a case of mistaken identity. He battles panic attacks and anxiety but is supported by his mother Wanda and his friendship group. This novel portrays the daily issues faced in Oakland such as police brutality and racism. It also elaborates on the theme of grief, frustration, and choice, as Moss has to live with the witnessing of his father's death. 

I enjoyed the diversity of the characters in this book. It’s very inspirational from a young adult's perspective. Most of this novel expands on the police brutality and racism we face in today’s world. I loved this book's realities and different stories.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Will June’s uncle die from AIDS or will he find a cure? Was June in love with her uncle? Find out in “Tell The Wolves I’m Home.”

This novel is about a young girl named June who has an uncle named Finn. Finn is June’s number one uncle and godfather. He is found to have AIDS and is going to die. Finn was a world-renowned artist, but before his death, he painted a portrait of June and her sister Greta. She later learns he titled it “Tell the Wolves I’m Home.

The fact that this novel was written from a teenager's perspective is everything to me. This book was beyond interesting to me. I felt like an investigator trying to solve a case. This book is very good for teenagers to read; take note of what happens in the story.