The American Library Association's 2008 List of The Top 10 Best Books for Young Adults

shelved under Best of... and Young Adult & Teen

The American Library Association's "Young Adult Library Services Association" puts out an annual list of the 10 best books recommended for those ages 12-18. Here's the list for 2008. Enjoy.


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

by Sherman Alexie

Sarah Mae Harper says:

I read this book at the airport and I kept getting strange looks as I alternately laughed and cried over Junior's attempts to survive in his white high school while staying true to his Native American heritage. I couldn't put it down.


A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

by Ishmael Beah

Rebbie Macintyre says:

I've read a few other books about child soldiers, written by people other than the children, and they're very good, but having read this one by a man who, as a boy, actually had the experience of being abducted provides the insights and details that only a person of that experience can give. Ishmael's innocent voice is astounding. Even after being brainwashed to murder, even after becoming addicted to the drugs provided by his abductors, even after losing all his family, he somehow never lost the innocence of his experience. It's a heartbreaking read, but a very hopeful read, also. Ishmael's story has a happy ending. He broke free of the drugs and the brainwashing. He was a victim. And one fact comes through loud and clear: the United States, and his sponsor here, saved him. He is humble and grateful for that, and for that reason, I think this book should be read by anyone who thinks the US is the "bad guy" of the world.

This book also appears on Peter Steinberg's Reading List


Before I Die

by Jenny Downham

Tessa from Surrey, England says:

I was lucky enough to read this before publication. It's a funny, real, celebratory book about teenagers — quite how it manages to be feel-good (given the subject matter) I don't know, but believe me, it is.

This book also appears on Some Favorite Books of Gotham Gal


Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath

by Stephanie Hemphill

Christie from Minneapolis says:

This book is a good way to get into Plath's poetry, which can sometimes be hard to "get." The author writes her own poetry, in various voices, to accompany Plath's poems and provide another angle on the events of Plath's life at the time of the writing. Overall, it's interesting from a writing-process standpoint, and a comfortable read.


Mister Pip

by Lloyd Jones

Nina Sankovitch says:

Sorrow and loss are rendered here in vivid detail, and just as vividly, the power of literature is shown in its ability to help with the pain of living. Not only can a great book change a person, as Great Expectations changes our narrator, but it can help her, providing comfort and release. The book — and the man who brings the book and all its possibilities to her — acts as the mirror to her own experiences of despair, abandonment, and fear, and thus both the book and the man are her inspiration to live beyond these experiences, to reach, as Pip does, for something more in her life than just the memories of her past.

This book also appears on A Collection of Books on Sorrow and Loss


Skulduggery Pleasant

by Derek Landy, illustrated by Tom Percival

Amy Ward from Lawrence County, OH says:

Hilarious and action-packed! Loved the witty banter and sarcasm... a butt-kicking skeleton, what more could you ask for?


Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal

by Mal Peet

Berkeley Brown from Bermuda says:

This was honestly one of the best books I've read in a very long time. Mal Peet skillfully weaves the loves and losses of the main characters — Tamar, a fearless Dutch Resistance decoder transmitting messages in World War Two while tragically trying to protect his one true love, Marijke, the beautiful but fearless and tragically loyal lover of Tamar, Dart, another decoder in the Dutch Resistance battling boredom and tragically and ignorantly in love with Marijke, ready to risk his only real friendship for her love — as we switch back and forth between Holland in 1945 and England in 1995 where Tamar, the granddaughter of her dead grandfather, who tries to uncover the mysteries of her grandfather's past whilst finding her lost father and discovering the true, more beautiful Tamar within. Wonderfully complex (almost as complex as my last paragraph!) and a book that will make your heart drop pushing you to the very edge of your seat with every turn of the page, Tamar: A novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal is just that. It is truly flashlight worthy.


American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China

by Matthew Polly

Marie Cloutier from Cambridge, MA says:

It's an engaging fish-out-of-water story about a young American man traveling to China to learn martial arts. He recounts his adventures in the Shaolin monastery — everything from living conditions, athletic training, dating, and just being an American in China. Polly is a lively, self-deprecating writer who will make you laugh and make you think.


The Invention of Hugo Cabret

written and illustrated by Brian Selznick

Stephanie from Arizona says:

We read this book for our book club, and it was loved by all. It's a huge book that may seem like too much for some readers, but it's a story told partially in pictures. It's not a babyish picture book either. The drawings are beautiful and really add to the story. At the book club, I was able to show the movie mentioned in the book (which made everybody laugh since they'd never seen a silent movie), plus we looked at some real life automatons. Overall, a great read and a great book club book.

This book also appears on Every Single Caldecott Medal Winner


The Arrival

by Shaun Tan

Sammy Perlmutter says:

The author, Shaun Tan, transports the common immigrant story to a foreign planet with strange creatures, monsters and vegetation. He depicts billboards, newspapers and other signs with an alien language, making the only letters in the book completely illegible. In this way, Tan elicits an incredible level of empathy for his protagonist, as the reader experiences some of the same confusion as the story's hero.