The best YA books for Easter

Tales about the Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011, the Second World War and the life of a carer are among the best reads for young adults this Easter, writes Hannah Sycamore

Tsunami Girl, written by Julian Sedgwick and illustrated by Chie Kutsuwada

From the 2020 Carnegie Medal-winning author Anthony McGowan comes an emotive new title, I am the Minotaur (Oxford University Press, £7.99). Matthew is a young carer, and feels like an outsider and outcast. More than anything, he wants to fit in. When the bike of one of the coolest girls in school is stolen, he sees a chance to help and maybe make a good impression. Weaving Greek mythology with the reality of bullying, child poverty and the life of a young carer, McGowan has created an enthralling and moving story of strength and hope.

A gorgeously illustrated graphic novel, The Sad Ghost Club by Liz Meddings (Hachette, £12.99) is a heartfelt story with relatable characters. The novel celebrates friendship with sensitivity and humour, but also explores challenging themes including anxiety, loneliness and depression in a gentle and tender way. With its core message of speaking out and sharing how you feel, this book is needed now more than ever. Many teenagers will relate to its charming and endearing characters, but so will adults.

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Another must-read graphic novel is Tsunami Girl, written by Julian Sedgwick and illustrated by Chie Kutsuwada (Guppy Books, £9.99). Inspired by the events of the 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, it is a coming of age tale like no other. The story focuses on survivor Yuki Hara Jones, and her experience of events and the aftermath of the disaster. Through art and the creation of a manga superhero called Half-Wave, Yuki is able to process her grief and begin to embrace her future. Sedgwick’s prose is heart-warming and heart wrenching in equal measure, and Kutsuwada’s illustrations really bring Half-Ware to life.

Sad Ghost Club

When the World was Ours by Liz Kessler (Simon and Schuster, £12.99) is an incredibly moving and profound piece of historical fiction. Set across Europe during WWII, it follows the lives of three young people. Beginning in 1936, their friendship is strong and fast, but as the world changes around them, they are torn apart by events they do not fully understand. Their stories and life experiences diverge, but each clings to the memory of their friendship. When the World was Ours is a masterful piece of storytelling, drawing the reader into each character’s story and immersing us in a brutal and unforgiving world, and Kessler sensitively portrays how ordinary people can become part of a brutal and horrific regime. This is by no means an easy read, but an important one.

Another important read for young people is Gut Feelings by CG Moore (UCLan Publishing, £7.99). Told in narrative verse, it is a powerful coming of age story which shines a light on chronic illness. Based on the authors’ personal experience, the novel is raw and honest, exploring the darkest depths of a teenager coming to terms with a life-changing diagnosis. A tale of hope and resilience, and of learning to embrace and accept oneself, this is perfect for fans of Louisa Reid and Dean Atta. A gripping and empowering read, Gut Feelings will stay with readers long after they turn the final page.

For an uplifting read, look no further than Living the Confidence Code by Katty Kay, Claire Shipman and JillEllyn Riley (Harper Collins, £10.99). This engrossing non-fiction title is perfect for fans of the bestselling The Confidence Code for Girls. These are real stories of how young women have overcome adversity, challenges and setbacks. From Amika George who fought against period poverty, to Autism rights activist Ciara-Beth Griffin, the stories featured in this book are sure to inspire and empower.

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When the World Was Ours by Liz Kessler

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Gut Feelings by CG Moore
Living the Confidence Code