Young adult novels for teens tired of Shakespeare

When I started this blog I was overwhelmed with the reading required for my major. My brain struggled to decode these older texts and by my 3rd year in college, I decided to mix in young adults novels in between reads.

Young adult novels have become very diverse and with the rise of Own Voices novels, I began to prefer these novels because I feel like they explore modern themes.

Not to hate on Shakespeare, but forbidden teenage romance like that of Romeo and Juliet do not speak to teens in the U.S as say Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give does.

The list I’ve complied contains YA books that hold similar plots and themes. Whether you’re in a book slump or looking for your next read, I hope you find this list helpful.

For Fans of I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter…

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

-Broken Mother Daughter relationship that is mended 

-First Gen

I am not your Perfect Mexican daughter is such a great read. So great it’s being made into a movie directed by my Latina idol, America Ferrera.

But You know what novel is just as great, Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X.

Very reminisce of the House on Mango Street as in this story is told through vignettes. The poetry in this novel is beautiful. I haven’t written poems in a while, but this book inspired me to pen some more. I recommend listening to this as an audiobook for the true poetic experience.

The Poet X is a coming of age story about a 1st gen Dominican teen looking for her space in the world. Xiomara loves poetry but never gave slam poetry much of a thought until her teacher convinces her to join the school’s team.

The Poet X is telenovela worthy, in my opinion, and a great audiobook experience. Check out my full review for it.

For fans of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas try Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Common Themes:

  • police brutality
  • BLM

The Hate U Give is a novel about suffering, oppression, and the knowledge that white supremacy is a long battle. When I first read this novel,  I laughed, I cried, I screamed. 

Well, Dear Martin by Nic Stone follows the same theme of police brutality as The Hate U Give, and it’s another novel that could replace those dusty old racist novels high school English teachers require students to read.

This novels is told through Justyce’s POV and through letters to Dr. King. Justyce, grapples with the knowledge that he cannot escape the racial injustice and stereotypes that come with being Black in America. Despite being a gifted student and on track to an Ivy League, none of those things protected him from the cop who slapped handcuffs on him.

Then just as Justyce seems to get his friend Manny to understand the thoughts in his head, a tragic shooting puts both boys in the crosshairs. 

Check out my review of Dear Martin on this blog.

If you loved Love and Gelato by Jenna Evan Lynch you’ll love

For fans of Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

  • international romance
  • Healing and Grief

Love and Gelato is an adorable international romance starring a young teen, Lina, who just lost her mother. Lina is sent to Italy to bond with a father she’s never met. While there she’s given her mother’s old journal, and soon Lina is uncovering a hidden side of Italy. Right by her side is her cute Italian American neighbor.

Salty, Bitter, Sweet by Mayra Cuevas

Isabella fields flies to the French countryside for the summer to compete for a spot as an apprentice in a world-famous restaurant. Isabella could use the distraction as she’s just lost her grandmother and witnessed her parent’s messy divorce. Staying with her father and her pregnant stepmother Isabella ends up butting heads with Diego, an annoying Spaniard, and her roommate for the summer.

Both novels feature international romances and grief. What I loved about Salty Bitter Sweet were the delicious descriptions of food and the adorable doggy sidekick.

Read my fully review on Salty, Bitter, Sweet 

If you love the bad boys next door Trope then you’ll love

I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristen Forest

Chole Pierce dreams of landing a spot at the dance conservatory of her dreams, but her mother forbids her to apply. Chole decides to go anyways, and her pesky neighbor Eli and his gassy dog hitch a ride.

Chole is the only Black girl in her ballet class, but she dreams of dancing with Avery Johnson’s all Black conservatory. After finishing this novel, I came across The Swan Dreams Project by Aesha Ash, a retired ballerina who took her tutu and took photos in inner-city Rochester with the hope that she could inspire other Black girls to study Ballet.

The article about Ash has some similarities to Chole’s journey in this book, so I thought it was worthwhile to include it.

My last rec is more of an honorable mention for those who hate reading. And hate the word “Shy”

If you’re skating by with the power of God and Anime on your side, try the manga series Princess Jellyfish.

Princess Jellyfish by Akiko Higashimura

This manga series is light-hearted and humorous; it follows a group of friends with severe social anxiety who love to hang out and obsess over their hobbies.

One night, Tsukimi encounters a beautiful Princess and together they save a Jellyfish from a pet store. Tsukimi befriends this princess and later they create a fashion brand to save her neighborhood from the redevelopment.
The manga is silly and has some mature themes that would probably propel it more towards new adults but I thought I would include it because of its overall theme.

By the end of the series the friends not only learn to feel confident in themselves, but they also make unexpected friends.

I have reviewed all 9 volumes of this manga and if you want a deeper summary find it here.

I have more novels I want to rec but I wanted to start off with these novels. All these novels on this list follow similar themes that high schoolers already dissect but I did sneak in some novels that I felt where important for teens to read.

What novels would you add to this list?

until next time you can find me living in libros,


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4 thoughts on “Young adult novels for teens tired of Shakespeare

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  1. Love this!! Shakespeare had his moment centuries ago, I really want teens today to know and read about the amazing books there are available today that they can actually relate to! This is a great list to start!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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