Notable New Novels for Young Adults

Young adult novels appeal to teen readers, but a compelling YA story is terrific for adults, too. Here are a few fabulous picks that will keep the readers in your family turning the pages.

Lost by Jacqueline Davies

In the early 1900’s many young girls from immigrant families worked in factories. Essie knows there is something different about the new girl Harriet. Essie’s quest to find out the truth about Harriet deflects the pain of her own losses. Essie’s mother, depressed and angry since the death of her husband, has allowed Essie to be the primary caretaker of her baby sister. Essie’s obsession with her baby sister is only quelled by her curiosity about Harriet. The author incorporates tragic historical events in a seamless, compelling drama. Immigrant life is far from glamorized, but the strength of Essie’s character is a symbol of hope in difficult times.

When the Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton

The unique setting of a West Virginia railroad town in the 1940’s sets the tone for a heartfelt coming of age novel. Each chapter visits Jimmy on All Hallows’ Eve, beginning with 1943. Jimmy grows-up in the town he loves, and longs for the day when he can work on the trains and join the secret Society along with the other men in town, including his older brothers and his father. Jimmy plays pranks with his friends, football at school, and forms friendships with unbreakable bonds. His strained but loving relationship with his father is both heartwarming and melancholy. The history of the railroad, including the price of progress, is beautifully woven in the story. Jimmy’s voice is honest, refreshing, and believable.

Tillmon County Fire by Pamela Ehrenberg

A multi-dimentional, thought-provoking story of small town life in Appalachia, Tillmon County Fire will draw readers in with a gripping plot. When an act of arson results in the loss of an expensive lake home everyone wants the crime to be solved. The truth of the event, and the back stories leading up to it, unfold in alternating views among several characters. Ultimately, everyone must come to terms with the crime that has been committed, and the impact the event has had on them all. The unique cast of characters and the stories they share will keep readers turning the pages.

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Like A Maccabee – This middle grade chapter book tells the story of Ben, a 10-year-old boy who is gearing up for a championship soccer game while adjusting to the changes in his family that have occurred since his grandfather moved in. Ben faces challenges at school, including the bully from the opposing soccer team, and frustrations at home.

About Barbara Bietz

Barbara is a writer from Oak Park, California. Her favorite pastime is reading children’s books. She enjoys writing for adults and children. Her work has appeared in numerous publications. Visit Barbara’s website at and blog – Talking about great kid’s books and sharing ideas about writing for kids.
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Some of the books reviewed have been provided by the author or publisher in order to present the most accurate information possible.

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Barbara Bietz

Barbara Bietz, -Childrens' Books and Movie Section, is a children's author, magazine writer, children's book reviewer, and past chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. She loves talking about the creative process, books and the craft of writing. Her middle-grade chapter book, LIKE a MACCABEE,(Yotzeret Publishing) is a PJ Library selection. Barbara reviews books and movies and has contributed to numerous print and online publications. She also teaches writing classes for adults. Learn more about Barbara at
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