When I meet a teen who isn’t sure what to read next, and I know she (or he, if he’s one of those males that doesn’t scorn “girl books”) likes very dialogue-driven or journal-style books (think Louise Rennison or Lauren Myracle), my go-to suggestion is the books of Jaclyn Moriarty. Most of her books (except the most recent, which will be part of a series and is a fantasy) take place in the same high school in Australia. Characters overlap from book to book, so if the reader likes reading series, they are related enough to satisfy, but there aren’t spoilers if you read them in the “wrong” order.
The best of Moriarty’s books is The Year of Secret Assignments. Through regular narrative, passed notes, writing exercise entries, letters, and other scraps we learn what happens when three girls from one high school write to three boys from another school as part of a pen pal assignment – and things get completely out of hand. I can’t really explain much of the plot without ruining it, but what makes this book appealing is the individual personalities of the characters, who are exactly what teenagers really are – the perfect combination of charming, self-centered, endearing, annoying, stupid, vulnerable, and absolutely right about everything. The three girls are the kind of friends you wish you had in high school, and the boys rise to the occasion and help out their new pen pals in their time of need.
Related books by Jaclyn Moriarty:
The Murder of Bindy MacKenzie
Feeling Sorry for Celia
The Ghosts of Ashbury High
Unrelated books by Moriarty that are also good:
The Spell Book of Listen Taylor
A Corner of White (first in a series – I am eagerly awaiting #2)