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Great Book Gift Ideas for Your Teenager

12/19/2014 01:55 EST | Updated 02/18/2015 05:59 EST
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When I was a teenager my mother gave me a pink, puffy coat. Being the ungrateful brat that I was, I threw it on the floor and refused to wear it. In my defense, the coat was wrong for so many reasons. Besides being puffy and pink, it was shiny in a non-metallic way, and it came down to my knees. Oh, and we lived in Los Angeles at the time and it never got frigid enough to wear a sleeping bag with buttons. When I wrote "new coat" on my Christmas list, I had been hoping for something leather, or at least a jean jacket.

Let's face it: teens are tough to buy for. Unless we parents are willing to shell out a small fortune for the latest technology, equip them with the newest gear, or stuff their stockings with gift cards to trendy stores, they probably won't be interested in what we pick out for them. And whatever you do, don't try to buy them clothes, no matter how hip you consider your taste. My 10-year-old doesn't even trust me to do that any more.

As a blogger of Young Adult literature and a professional book reviewer, I read a lot. There are tons of great books out there if you are looking to purchase your teen a gift of the literary sort (and of reasonable cost). But don't pick something randomly, or the book may end up on the floor next to my pink coat. Consider your teen's interests and s/he will be far more likely to actually read it. The following are my top picks for 2014, based on quality and overall likeability.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. An entitled family; a private island; four teenagers whose lives change in a moment. They're called Liars for a reason. Interests: family dynamics, friendship, romance, secrets, mystery

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon. Black boy, white shooter. Numerous witnesses, numerous accounts of what happened. Truth is only a concept, after all. Interests: social justice, race relations, gang mentality, media studies

The Terminals by Royce Buckingham. A terminally ill young man joins an elite team of spies who carry out highly dangerous and covert missions. You've been told that you have one year left to live. What would you do? Interests: survival, adventure, danger, physical skills, conspiracy

Like No Other by Una LaMarche. First loves are complicated, especially for a Hasidic girl and black boy in Brooklyn. A predestined future compromised by a forbidden relationship. How much would you sacrifice to be with your one true love? Interests: religion, romance, familial expectations

This One Summer a graphic novel by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki. One summer two adolescent girls decide that spying on the local teens is far more entertaining than building forts. Ah, puberty; don't you miss it? Interests: graphic novels, cottaging, friendship, coming-of-age stories

Soldier Doll by Jennifer Gold. A last-minute purchase at a Toronto yard sale turns out to be a long-lost relic from the early 1900s. Who knew a doll could keep so many secrets? Interests: historical fiction, war, history, quests

Happy holidays! May your season be filled with good cheer and great reads.

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