Young Adult (YA) literature is the top choice for teenagers who still have a hobby of reading books. These kinds of literature talk about the life of characters who are also teenagers – making their readers easily relate and empathize with the story and what the characters are going through. Most of the time, teenage readers apply what they have read in YA books to their real life.
A promising genre of literature that teenagers nowadays must definitely peruse through is multicultural YA books. Teenage readers can have the opportunity to learn about growing up in a culture and society that is not their own. Here are some examples of excellent YA literature that teenagers will both learn from and enjoy.
Cara Chow’s Bitter Melon
Teenage readers will be able to relate with the central conflict in this book – that of a parent’s expectations and a teenager’s efforts to attain personal freedom. However, the main character, Frances, has been born as a Chinese American. Although opportunities and promise await in the land of dreams, Frances has been raised with the traditional discipline by her mother, who expects her to become an affluent doctor. Frances struggle between independence and her loyalty and duty to her family.
Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s Under the Mesquite
Lupita is the eldest child in a family with ten members. Managing various aspects of their lives is a struggle that a lot of teenagers face. Although in Lupita’ case, the problems of a high school student, having friends who misunderstand, and being the star of the school play is all piled on top of her mother’s struggle with cancer. Since her father is taking care of her mother, she must take care of her younger siblings. Throughout all these difficulties, Lupita finds comfort in writing under a marvelous Mesquite tree.
Trent Reedy’s Words in the Dust
The book offers young adults with the experiences of being a young woman in a very conservative culture ruled by a patriarchal society. Zulaikha was born with a cleft lip and struggled to find confidence and self-worth despite a culture where women are valued based on their marriage prospects. She thinks of the kind of dowry that she will bring to her family when she was born with a facial deformity. Zulaikha finds new opportunities when a professor called Meena teaches her how to read, and American soldiers arrive with the possibility of surgery for her lip.
Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch
Young adult readers can empathize with the struggles of twenty-one-year-old Sunny, who is trying to find her place in the world despite her circumstances. She is an albino woman with African features who is presently living Nigeria although she was raised as an American. Sunny is also a magnificent athlete and absolutely loves soccer but is, unfortunately, unable to play the game under the sun. Sunny’s struggle is surrounded by the book’s fantastic elements as the protagonist discovers that she has magical powers, meets other magic students, and studies to improve their abilities to change their current reality.