It's a growing category, but who are YA novels really for? The scoop on some new titles:
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini The hipster Be More Chill author takes on teen depression. Not for your average 12-year-old (herpes is mentioned on page 1) but the wise, witty narrator and sensitive handling of a hot topic should win over older teens—and their parents.
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen A cut above chick lit, Dessen's tale of an It girl who only seems to have it all has sharply drawn characters, serious themes (anorexia, rape) and a page-turner of a plot. Aimed at high schoolers, it has Mom appeal too.
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock An engaging coming-of-age story that incorporates family secrets, a major crush and a hearty dose of football, told by a self-deprecating Wisconsin tomboy. Wholesome fun for sophisticated middle schoolers.
Becoming Chloe by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Two abused, homeless teens seek redemption—and reclaim a kind of innocence—on a cross-country trek. Another page 1 tip-off: sexual themes ahead. But it's a lovely ride.