Backlist compiled by Niki Turner
Young adult (YA) fiction is hotter than ever. As bloggers list their favorite books of 2010, YA releases are mixed up in traditionally grown-up territory. These days, the YA label is as likely to attract readers outside its target market as it is to keep them away. Some noteworthy mentions that have breached the generation gap this year include the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld, and Suzanne Collins' dystopian Hunger Games series.
The surge in YA popularity provides a prime opportunity to dip into the wealth of inspirational YA fiction available today. Inspirational YA fiction isn't limited to sweet romances or gentle historicals, either. These stories are gritty, edgy, and address difficult subjects, both natural and spiritual. In fact, some of them are addressing issues adult inspirational fiction has tended to avoid.
(By the way... while working on this list, I discovered a new feature on Christian Book Distributors: ebook downloads! Many of these backlisted books are already available for download.)
Prolific Christian author Melody Carlson has created multiple series geared toward teens as they journey through adolescence and find their own individual relationships with Christ. Check out the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the Carter House Girls, TrueColors, and The Secret Life of Samantha MacGregor.
Robin Jones Gunn is another celebrated inspirational author, with a wide variety of YA fiction under her belt. You might start with her Christy Miller series (two brand new releases are scheduled for 2011, so you better get caught up!). Also available: the Sierra Jensen series, and Christy & Todd: College Years for a slightly older audience. Gunn is also the author of the popular Sisterchicks series, for the more "mature" among us.
"Some doors are better left unopened. Some doors, you don't want to find out what lies behind them. In the Forbidden Doors series by bestselling author Bill Myers, teenager Rebecca "Becka" Williams, her younger brother Scott, and her friend Ryan Riordan are swept into heart-stopping encounters with an all-too-real invisible world-a world fraught with deception and spiritual adversaries that promise goodness and enlightenment but will stop at nothing to destroy life, sanity, and human souls."
Ted Dekker's Lost series combines spiritual truth with the taste of fantasy and dystopian reality so prominent in secular teen fiction. The series of six books is available as a collectible slip-cased set this year, or can be purchased individually.
Robert Liparulo. Liparulo writes for adults and young adults, and his books look like up-all-night-close-the-curtains stories. The Dreamhouse Kings series is geared toward teens, and as of this writing, there are six volumes available. The website is awesome, too, if you want to check things out (click on the author's name above).
Michelle Sutton's name. She's the founder of the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers network. What you may not know is that Sutton's first published books were YA fiction: It's Not About Me and It's Not About Him. They come with a "mature content" warning on CBD.com, so be aware. As one reviewer said, "It's Not About Him deals with issues such as alcoholism, abortion, rape, and sex in a way that is relevant and real for today's young adults"
Virginia Smith's two-book series about a girl learning to accept Christ and the church learning to accept the girl starts with Just As I Am and continues with Sincerely, Mayla. You may also be familiar with Smith's recent Love Inspired Suspense releases, or her Sister-to-Sister series.
The Enemy Has a Face, by Gloria D. Miklowitz, tackles Middle Eastern relationships through the eyes of a 14-year-old girl.
Nancy Rue's 'Nama Beach High series addresses teens dealing with the challenges, problems and excitement of becoming young women of faith.
Wendy Lawton's Real TV series is based on the popularity of reality television shows. “The reason we love these makeover shows,” Wendy says, “Is that deep inside we yearn to experience real transformation.” She draws the connection between makeover and transformation in each book in the series. (quote from her website)
Anne Dayton and May Vanderbuilt collaborated on the three-volume Miracle Girls series for FaithWords Publishing to create stories about surviving high school, from a faith perspective.
Whew. I had no idea how difficult it was to put one of these backlists together! Kudos to the Inkies who have gone before me!
Hopefully, if you've discovered, or rediscovered, an affinity for YA fiction, this backlist will give you some inspirational options to fill your to-be-read shelves in the new year! And remember, if you like an inspirational read, pass it on to friends and family members who might be seeking the Lord and searching out the truth. A book that preaches the Gospel might just be exactly what they need to understand the mysteries of the faith.