Private School Directory

Summer Reading: Ten Books for Teens

Emily Burnett
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Abigail Poag

Abigail Poag, a rising senior at St. John's School, recommends Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

I love to read but during the school year, I often feel too busy to sit down and enjoy a book. I tend to read a lot more during the summer. Here are 10 fun recommendations for teens to consider this summer, including some of my personal favorites. 

Rhea Kamat, a rising senior at St. John’s School, recommends A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. This fiction novel features an old, grumpy man whose life changes when a young family moves in next door. Rhea says she loves this book because it is “simultaneously heartwarming and heart-wrenching” and it “teaches the reader that life can get better and that people can be redeemed.”

Emma Dickey, a rising senior at Houston Christian High School, suggests The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani, which is the first in this young adult series. In this book, best friends Sophie and Agatha are sent to the School for Good & Evil. However, Agatha is sent to the School for Good and Sophie is sent to the School of Evil, the opposite of how they think it should be. Emma says she likes this book because of its “compelling, imaginative, and unique” narrative.

Abigail Poag, a rising senior at St. John’s School, recommends the novel Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Set in the 1970s, this story is about a Chinese-American family who loses their favorite daughter. Abigail says, “Everything I Never Told You is serious and thought-provoking while also being impossible to put down - I think I read it in one or two sittings. The characters are all interesting and flawed, and I fell in love with Ng’s writing. The book made me cry more than anything I had read in a long time.”

Maggie McCarthy, a rising senior at St. Agnes Academy, recommends the historical fiction novel Fountains of Silence by Ruth Sepetys. Set in 1957 in fascist-controlled Spain, the book follows 18-year-old Daniel, a photographer and the difficult decisions he must make to protect those he cares about. Maggie says she loves the book because “it’s very well written, and because it’s told in alternating perspective you don’t get the full picture/know the truth until the very end.”

Katherine Ochs, a rising freshman at Memorial High School, likes Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch. In this fiction novel, the main character, Lina, is going to Italy for the summer because her mom’s dying wish was that she gets to know her father. Once there, she discovers her mom’s old diary, which leads her to uncover a shocking secret. Katherine says she enjoyed this book because it is “full of surprises.”

Here are a few of my personal favorites, all of which are YA fiction: 

  • The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater: This series, which begins with The Raven Boys, follows Blue, the only non-psychic in her family, as she becomes friends with four students at Aglionby Academy, the local private school, during their quest to find a dead Welsh king. I love this series for many reasons, but I especially love the characters and their relationships and interactions.
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: Six of Crows follows six teenage criminals from the fictional city of Ketterdam as they try to complete an almost impossible heist. It takes place in the Grishaverse, which includes the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Nikolai duology, of which only the first book is out so far. I thought the plot of this book was fun - I loved seeing how they were going to try to pull off the heist. Also, the characters are well-developed and likable.
  • A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer: A modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, this story follows Rhen, the prince of Emberfall, and Harper, a girl from modern-day Washington, DC brought there to try and break a curse. I love fairytale retellings, and this one is done very well. I liked seeing what Harper thought of Emberfall and how different it was from her modern world.
  • The Empirium Trilogy by Claire Legrand: This series, starting with Furyborn, follows Rielle, one of two prophesied queens, and Eliana, a bounty hunter for the empire, centuries apart. Rielle must prove that she is the Sun Queen, who will save the kingdom, and not the Blood Queen, who will destroy it. A thousand years later, Eliana works for the empire, but has to reconsider her loyalties when her mother disappears. I loved this book and its sequel. Both points of view kept me interested, and the series weaves them together well. I am very excited for the last book in the trilogy, which comes out in October.
  • To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo: The siren princess Lira is turned into a human as punishment and must kill Prince Elian soon or she will have to remain human forever. Prince Elian is heir to a kingdom, but all he wants to do is hunt sirens. He saves a woman from drowning and learns that she might have the key to defeating the sirens for good. I loved the fictional world Christo created and the character development felt very genuine. 

Editor’s note: For more on book recommendations, see Buzz Reads, a monthly column of book suggestions, and Page Turners, a weekly book column, both by Cindy Burnett. 

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