Jaws. By Peter Benchley. 1974. Ballantine,
Benchley’s tale of a beach-town-terrorizing shark hasn’t aged a day since its
publication, and its mix of horror and real-life hanging at the beach is pure teen gold.
The House on Mango Street. By Sandra
Cisneros. 1984. Random/Vintage, $11.95
Cisneros’ vignettes of autobiographical
fiction, written in a loose, prose-poetic
style, convincingly represent the reflections of a young Latinx girl growing up
in a Chicago neighborhood.
The Complete Maus. By Art Spiegelman.
1986. Pantheon, $35 (9780679406419).
Spiegelman’s two-part graphic novel,
a classic of the genre, is a retelling of his
father’s survival of the Holocaust and an
approachable, accessible, and immediately
Beloved. By Toni Morrison. 1987.
Random/Vintage, $16 (9781400033416).
Teen readers will be deeply affected by
Morrison’s story, told through Sethe and
her children, both living and dead, of the
agony, violence, and sexual abuse of slavery and the struggle to escape it.
The Joy Luck Club. By Amy Tan. 1989.
Penguin, $16 (9780143038092).
Tan’s novel centers on four Chinese
women who, after fleeing to San Fran-
50 Years of
The Booklist adult department
crashes the #50Yearsof YA
party—but not empty-handed.
BY ANNIE BOSTROM
Booklist’s Youth editors have had a great 2017, celebrat- ing the anniversary of young adult books as defined by the 1967 publication of S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders.
We in the Adult Books department were thrilled to join the
#50YearsofYA party with this list of the best adult books with
YA appeal that were published in that same 50-year span.
(Booklist, we’re proud to say, has been recommending adult
books for young adults since before YA as we know it existed.
In the mid-1950s, then Young People’s Books Assistant Barbara Duree—who would go on to serve Booklist and the entire
burgeoning YA genre for decades to come—would “read,
evaluate, and annotate for the adult section some of those
adult books judged to have wide appeal among teenagers.”)
Some books you might expect to see here, like The Catcher in the Rye, A Separate Peace, and To Kill a Mockingbird,
were published too early to include. And we’ve skipped
some titles that have had their day on many a list like this
one: Carrie, we still think you’re a shoo-in for teen readers.
Of course, in theory and in practice, any adult book that interests a young adult reader can be a crossover (and vice
versa—but that’s a different list), and thus our wonderful
dilemma was having far, far too many books to choose from.
We hope our list, organized chronologically by publication
year, includes some perennial favorites, along with a few that
may have slipped slightly outside the mainstream.