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Best of 2023: Teen

Updated: January 26, 2024

The best books of the year, as selected by Los Angeles Public Library staff. Perfect for holiday gift-giving! More books for teens are at LAPL Teen Web.

Book cover of Blood debts
Blood Debts
Benton-Walker, Terry J.
Call Number: YA

This magic-infused novel is about murder, family secrets, brutal events, and a mystery that twins Clement and Cristina must resolve in order to discover who is after their magical family before it's too late. The first book in a new series.

Book cover for Chaos theory
Chaos theory
Stone, Nic
Call Number: YA

Two teens, Shelbi and Andy, relate and support each other in this heartbreaking novel of self discovery, as they learn to overcome deeply felt grief and misunderstanding. They soon realize that there is a light at the end and the sun will rise again.

Book cover for The Davenports
The Davenports
Marquis, Krystal

Join the Davenports, one of the wealthiest Black families in Chicago, as they find their path through love, life and strife in 1910. Romance, activism and family bonds will pull you into the lives of this family in this first installment of a new series.

Book cover for Delicious monsters
Delicious Monsters
Sambury, Liselle
Call Number: YA

Daisy sees ghosts everywhere. When her mother inherits a family home, she can feel there are secrets waiting to be ucovered that might involve heartbreak, family and friendship. A decade later, Brittney is forging her own path by making a documentary about the Miracle Mansion and what happened so long ago.

Book cover of I feed her to the beast and the beast is me
I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast is Me
Shea, Jamison
Call Number: YA

A very intense story about Laure, an excellent ballerina constantly overlooked because of her skin color, and how hard she will work to attain her goal. This is part realistic fiction, part fantasy and part horror.


Book cover of Kween
Chum, Vichet
Call Number: YA

A powerful, lyrical novel about Soma, a sixteen-year-old Cambodian American girl from Lowell, Massachusetts, home to the second largest Cambodian community in the United States. Soma’s father has been deported to Cambodia and her mother has traveled to join him, claiming she’ll return in time for her sister’s upcoming wedding. Her sister has returned home and insists on taking on the disciplinary role of Ma and Ba, much to Soma’s annoyance. Soma turns to her spoken-word poetry as she learns to deal with her father’s absence.

Book cover of The lost year
The Lost Year
Marsh, Katherine
Call Number: YA

Thirteen-year-old Matthew is stuck at home in New Jersey with his mom and great-grandmother during the Covid pandemic, while his father, a newspaper correspondent, is away and cannot return because of the border closures. His great-grandmother, nicknamed GG, has never talked about her childhood, but Matthew finds out she survived a harrowing time known as the Holodomor, a terrible famine that killed millions of Ukrainians and was subsequently covered up by the Soviet regime. Inspired by the author’s own family history, Marsh expertly weaves a story of the Soviet Ukraine of the 1930s and the present-day United States.

book cover
My Dear Henry: A Jekyll & Hyde Remix
Bayron, Kalynn
Call Number: YA

In this retelling of the gothic novel Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, a teen in 1885 England tries to figure out why his best friend disappeared, and who is this new young man he meets. You'll grow to love Gabriel, Henry and even Hyde as you delve into the this new version of an old classic.

Book cover for The mysteries of Thorn Manor
The mysteries of Thorn Manor
Rogerson, Margaret
Call Number: YA

In this sequel to Sorcery of Thorns, Elisabeth's and Nathaniel's story continues in this novella that focuses more on Elisabeth. The manor itself is not happy with Nathaniel and is showing it's displeasure.


Book cover of Night of the living queers
Night of the living queers
Call Number: YA

Heartbreaking, scary and classic tales for a spooky night that will have you looking over your shoulder at dark corners. There's something for everyone including jump scares and scary flashes in the dark.

Book cover of Saints of the household
Saints of the Household
Tison, Ari
Call Number: YA

Max and Jay are two Bribri American brothers trying to survive an abusive father. When they try to help a friend, suddenly violence erupts and their future is threatened. Will they be able to overcome their family, community and have the strength they need to move on? The novel is told in alternating voices and poetry.


Book cover of The spirit bares its teeth
The Spirit Bares its Teeth
White, Andrew Joseph
Call Number: YA

In this exquisite, pulse-pounding story, you'll meet Silas, a boy who lands in a finishing school to become a perfect wife after being diagnosed with Veil sickness, a disease that sends some women into madness.

Book cover of Their vicious games
Their Vicious Games
Wellington, Joelle
Call Number: YA

After unfairly losing her spot at Yale, high school senior Adina enters The Finish, a mysterious competition that promises wealth and power to the winner. The Finish isn't an ordinary competition, and Adina finds herself in a life-or-death power struggle. The novel is packed with action and sharp social commentary.

Book cover of Transmogrify! : 14 fantastical tales of trans magic
Transmogrify!: 14 Fantastical Tales of Trans Magic
Davis, G. Haron (editor)
Call Number: YA

Embark on fourteen fabulous fantasy stories in celebration of trans and nonconforming voices. Magic is for all, so submerge yourself in these stories and perhaps discover a new favorite author.

Book cover of Warrior girl unearthed
Warrior Girl Unearthed
Boulley, Angeline
Call Number: YA

16-year-old Perry Firekeeper-Birch has to intern at the tribal museum for the summer to pay off debts she owes to her Aunt Daunis.  While visiting the college museum, she learns about NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act). Since its passage in 1990, the museum has not returned any ancestral remains to the tribe. Perry is introduced to Warrior Girl and resolves to get her back, even if it means she has to steal her.


Book cover of Women who built Hollywood : 12 trailblazers in front of and behind the camera
Women who built Hollywood : 12 trailblazers in front of and behind the camera
Rubin, Susan Goldman
Call Number: 812.09 R896

Some women in the film industry are well known, such as Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Hattie McDaniels, Anna May Wong, but others are not. This is a history of 12 women who were groundbreakers in Old Hollywood, and paved the way for today's women in the industry.


Book cover of The year my life went down the toilet
The year my life went down the toilet
Arlow, Jake Maia
Call Number: YA

Twelve-year-old Al is diagnosed with Crohn's Disease while also trying to manage middle school woes, such as first likes, best friend drama, and her mom being super overprotective. She ends up joining a support group for other kids who have Inflammatory Bowel Disorders, where bathroom troubles are normalized! A truly heartwarming and candid book about poop.