Please recommend books for my almost teenage niece
November 16, 2012 3:03 PM   Subscribe

Which book(s) should I get my niece for Christmas?

Christmas is coming, my family needs gifts. Please tell me which books the teenage girls in your family have loved, and why. I'm open to suggestions.
posted by ZipRibbons to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: These are some YA/teen SF/F books from 2012 that have been especially well-received at Goodreads:

David Levithan, Every Day
Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone
Sarah Rees Brennan, Unspoken
Margo Lanagan, The Brides of Rollrock Island

But I'd get her a gift certificate and maybe just list some suggestions.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 3:10 PM on November 16, 2012

Books that teenage girls in my family have loved include The Bell Jar, Crime and Punishment, and Being and Nothingness.

(Welcome to my family. But, for reals. We'll need to know more about this girl to make proper recommendations.)
posted by tapesonthefloor at 3:14 PM on November 16, 2012

No two teenage girls are the same. What do you know about your niece's interests?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:15 PM on November 16, 2012

Best answer: The Freedom Maze, by Delia Sherman, is pretty great, as is Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor.

Going back a bit, Joan Aiken's books were favorites of mine in my tween years.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:16 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Almost teenage" would seem to be a crucial distinction. "Being And Nothingness" for a 12 year-old? OK.

"Griffin & Sabine" by Nick Bantock?
posted by rhizome at 3:24 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I liked The Last Unicorn a lot - it's actually a very witty book. I think I read it when I was 9 or so, but reread it at intervals since.
posted by Frowner at 3:24 PM on November 16, 2012

Best answer: Eva by Peter Dickinson. Superb writing and evocative.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:37 PM on November 16, 2012

Does she like to read, or are you trying to get her excited about reading? If she already likes to read, a gift card might be a better choice. When I was 12, I decided to read through all of the books mentioned in the Oxford Illustrated History of English Literature and if someone had given me YA, I would not have reacted very graciously. As a teacher, I've seen students who read only fantasy, and others who only want to read YA with protagonists they can "relate" to.
posted by betweenthebars at 5:46 PM on November 16, 2012

How almost teenage is she, and what are her likes?

If she likes fantasy, then The Blue Sword is a classic. Other options would be Sabriel, or The Goose Girl.
posted by gudrun at 6:17 PM on November 16, 2012

This is what I read and loved as a teen:

Everything by Betty Smith
"" Louisa may Alcott
"" Kurt Vonnegut
John Steinbeck
1984 and Animal Farm
Brave New World
The Cheerleader by Ruth Doan MacDougal
The Great Gatsby
Peyton Place
The first two Earth's Children books
To Kill a Mockingbird
Gone With the Wind
The Member of the Wedding
everything by Erica Jong
" " Norma Klein
A Clockwork Orange
LM Montgomery
John Irving....
posted by brujita at 8:37 PM on November 16, 2012

These are old-school, but: when I was 12 my grandmother gave me two lesser-known books by Louisa May Alcott: Eight Cousins, and Rose in Bloom.

Eight Cousins was a fun romp, nothing not to like. But Rose in Bloom was amazing. I still love that book. It's about a young woman coming of age, learning to establish a role for herself in a community and choose her kind of influence, and also about selecting partners. It's Victorian in all the best ways; it's dated, but I never forgot a single lesson in that book. Highly recommend.
posted by Miko at 8:49 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Teenagers love Edward Gorey.
posted by BibiRose at 9:56 PM on November 16, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions, that's a great help. I deliberately didn't tell you about her interests because I wanted you to go wide... and you did!

So, in the interests of narrowing things down a bit, she's closer to The Last Unicorn territory than she is to The Great Gatsby.

What I really want is a book that will conquer her habit of reading the first page and a half and then "getting bored". You know the way you read the first sentence of Northern Lights / The Golden Compass and then can't stop reading until you know more?

posted by ZipRibbons at 10:40 PM on November 16, 2012

Best answer: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

These all received rave reviews from the 12-14 year old girls we gave them to.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:04 PM on November 16, 2012

Another 2012 YA book that went over well on Goodreads: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I'm not a teenage girl (anymore), but it GRABBED me and I had to stay up way later than I planned to finish it. It goes to some pretty dark places (without getting terribly graphic about it), so you'd definitely have to assess the maturity of your almost-teenager, but I strongly recommend it if you're aiming at the older end of the range.
posted by sigmagalator at 11:32 PM on November 16, 2012

Ah - I really enjoyed the series called The Mysterious Benedict Society too! I was 16 when I read it but I just had to hunt them all down and religiously check the library catalogue. Highly recommended, and it's one of those few examples of teen/YA fiction that deals with relatively innocent themes like family and friendship, but in a way that is relatively deep for children's fiction.
posted by undue influence at 3:00 AM on November 17, 2012

Rachel Hartman's Seraphina is a lovely, literary fantasy with great reviews.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a tightly written sci-fi/futuristic retelling of Cinderella.
If she likes voice-y, very "girl" books with a spy spin, try Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.
Marissa Burt's Storybound, about a girl who gets sucked into a world of fairy tale characters, is fun and sweet.
Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me is far and away the best middle grade novel of the last couple years, IMO, while The Penderwicks is another all time fave MG for me.
Melina Marchetta has some great contemporary titles about friendships and family and culture and, of course, boys.
Having said all that, I would probably still concur with the gift card suggestion, if that's within your parameters. Choosing books is such a personal thing.
posted by weeyin at 10:29 AM on November 17, 2012

Maggie Stiefvater is getting better and better. I'd recommend The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys.
posted by BibiRose at 12:23 PM on November 17, 2012

Response by poster: Many thanks, everyone. I now have enough to solve Xmas and her birthday. Wouldn't have found them without you.
posted by ZipRibbons at 5:12 AM on November 18, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is excellent.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:57 PM on November 28, 2012

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