Picks and Pans Review: Great Reads

updated 05/29/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/29/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT

>Young Adult Fiction

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.

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