Rad Reads

5 YA books your parents read that are still relatable today

Believe it or not, your parents were teenagers once too. That's right—they went to school, had chores and probably lived a life relatively similar to yours. Even though your parents may seem old school now, they once dealt with many of the same issues that you do today.

Because being young is such a universal experience, a book your mom read when she was 16 may contain themes that are just as fitting for you to read now. Since young adult books remain relatable for decades after they are published, we compiled a list of the *best* YA books that have transcended generations.

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Originally published in 1970, this bestseller is known for its explicit portrayal of a young woman coming of age. Judy Blume, who never shies away from the taboo, used this novel to normalize young girls' feelings about subjects not often discussed—like menstruation and female sexuality. Throughout the story, the novel's protagonist grapples with questions about religion, puberty and friendship. The content of this novel is as relevant today as it was when it was published 50 years ago. "There's this young generation, say 10-year-olds, who are reading it now. And they either love it or they don't read it. And it speaks to them maybe the way that it spoke to their mothers or grandmothers," said Blume in a 2020 interview with CBC Radio. Find it here: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume.

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TUCK EVERLASTING by Natalie Babbitt

Who hasn't wondered what it would be like to live forever? In this 1975 fantasy novel, Natalie Babbitt tells the story of 10-year-old Winnie Foster, who stumbles upon a an immortal family one day while going for a walk. The Tuck family, who were granted a life of immortality after drinking from a magical spring, realize that immortality is more of a curse than a blessing, and beg Winnie not to drink from the well. For over 500 years, history passes the Tuck family by as they are unable to age or die. Faced with the reality that an evil person plans to market the powers of the well, the Tuck family must band together to prevent the laws of nature from being further bent. This book discusses evergreen themes such as death, loyalty, love and family, that have kept the novel relevant for nearly 45 years. Find it here: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.


ANNIE ON MY MIND by Nancy Garden

This 1982 romance novel, regarded as one of the most influential books of the 20th century, is one of the first young adult books to depict queer sexuality in a positive light. Nancy Garden tells the story of Annie and Liza, two 17-year-old girls from New York City, who fall in love after meeting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This bestseller explores the intricacies of the girls' relationship as they navigate their feelings for eachother amidst cultural prejudice. Considered revolutionary for its time, the novel examines teenage sexuality, acceptance and love, themes in which literature often excluded members of the LGBTQ+ community. The way this book depicts of a loving, happy relationship between two girls makes it just as important now as it was at the time of its release. Find it here: Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden.

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FOREVER by Judy Blume

Originally published in 1975, this novel is known for its raw portrayal of young love, friendship and getting older. The story's protagonist, Katherine Danziger, is a senior in high school who is madly in love with her boyfriend, Michael. The novel follows the couple, as well as their friends, as they navigate their last semester of high school. Blume does not shy away from discussing mental health, relationships and other complex topics relevant to high schoolers both them and now. Although the problems of teenagers today differ some from those in 1975, many of the problems faced by the characters in this novel are as relevant today as they were when it was published. Find it here: Forever by Judy Blume.

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BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA by Katherine Paterson

This novel follows the steadfast friendship between Jess and Leslie, two young children who bond over their shared stake in creating Terabithia, an imaginary world inhabited by magical creatures. On Terabithia, Jesse and Leslie are king and queen, but outside of their kingdom, their personal lives are far than perfect. When tragedy strikes, Jess must use the skills he's acquired in Terabithia to cope with the unfathomable. Paterson's 1977 bestseller explores the complexities of conformity, childhood, gender roles and loss—themes that are as important today as they were when the book was published. Find it here: Bridge to Terabithia.

What's your fave YA book? Let us know and tag us @girlslifemag!


by Claire Hutto | 10/13/2020