YA Book Lists: Hard Knock Life

[Printable book list]

Jaime Adoff / YP FIC ADOFF
The Death of Jayson Porter
In the Florida projects, sixteen-year-old Jayson struggles with the harsh realities of his life, which include an abusive mother, a drug-addicted father, and not fitting in at his predominately white school, and bring him to the brink of suicide.

Kevin Brooks / YP FIC BROOKS
Martyn Pig
Faced with the possibility of living with a dreadful aunt, fifteen-year-old Martyn Pig decides not to tell authorities when his alchholic father dies accidentally, instead asking a friend for her help in disposing of the body.

Kevin Brooks / YP FIC BROOKS
Dawn
Fifteen-year-old Dawn, who cares for her alcoholic mother, tries to suppress a painful childhood memory as she contemplates killing God, whom she blames for her father's disappearance.

Steven Brezenoff / YP FIC BREZENOF
|-1| (The Absolute Value of Negative One)
Four teenagers relate their experiences as they try to cope with problems in school and at home by smoking, drinking, using drugs, and running track.

Melvin Burgess / YP FIC BURGESS
Nicholas Dane
When his single mother dies of a heroin overdose, fourteen-year-old Nick is sent into England's institutional care system, where he endures harsh punishment, sexual abuse, and witnesses horrors on a daily basis before emerging, emotionally scarred but still alive. Loosely based on "Oliver Twist."

Thalia Chaltas / YP FIC CHALTAS
Because I Am Furniture
The youngest of three siblings, fourteen-year-old Anke feels both relieved and neglected that her father abuses her brother and sister but ignores her, but when she catches him with one of her friends, she finally becomes angry enough to take action.

YP FIC DIRTY
Dirty Laundry: Stories about Family Secrets
A collection of eleven short stories by various authors dealing with situations which a family or family member tries to keep secret because of an underlying problem.

Daniel Finn / YP FIC FINN
She Thief
When Demi — a master pickpocket working for the gang leader Fay--steals a ring, his partner in crime, Baz, soon finds herself alone and betrayed as police and the Barrio's crime boss close in on Fay and her den of child thieves.

Helen Frost / YP FIC FROST
Keesha's House
Seven teens facing such problems as pregnancy, closeted homosexuality, and abuse each describe in poetic forms what caused them to leave home and where they found home again.

K.L. Going / YP FIC GOING
Saint Iggy
Iggy Corso, who lives in city public housing, is caught physically and spiritually between good and bad when he is kicked out of high school, goes searching for his missing mother, and causes his friend to get involved with the same dangerous drug dealer who deals to his parents.

Shawn Goodman / YP FIC GOODMAN
Something Like Hope
Shavonne, a fierce, desperate seventeen year-old in juvenile lockup, wants to turn her life around before her eighteenth birthday, but corrupt guards, out-of-control girls, and shadows from her past make her task seem impossible.

Sonya Hartnett / YP FIC HARTNETT
Surrender
As he is dying, a twenty-year-old man known as Gabriel recounts his troubled childhood and his strange relationship with a dangerous counterpart named Finnigan.

Ellen Hopkins / YP FIC HOPKINS
Crank
Glass
Fallout
A trilogy of novels following the life of Kristina Snow and her family as it is torn apart by drug abuse.

Identical
Sixteen-year-old identical twin daughters of a district court judge and a candidate for the United States House of Representatives, Kaeleigh and Raeanne Gardella desperately struggle with secrets that have already torn them and their family apart.

Brian James / YP FIC JAMES
Dirty Liar
No longer able to tolerate living with his alcoholic mother and her abusive boyfriend, high schooler Benji, nicknamed Dogboy, has moved in with his emotionally distant father, stepmother, and stepsister, and strives to be invisible at home and at school until a series of events forces him to express himself.

Ronald Koertge / YP FIC KOERTGE
Margaux with an X
Margaux, known as a "tough chick" at her Los Angeles high school, makes a connection with Danny, who, like her, struggles with the emotional impact of family violence and abuse.

Nick Lake
In Darkness
In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, fifteen-year-old Shorty, a poor gang member from the slums of Site Soleil, is trapped in the rubble of a ruined hospital, and as he grows weaker he has visions and memories of his life of violence, his lost twin sister, and of Toussaint L'Ouverture, who liberated Haiti from French rule in the 1804.

Patricia McCormick / YP FIC MCCORMIC
Sold
Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi, though poor, enjoys her life until the Himalayan monsoons wash away her fmaily 's crops and she is sold to a brothel in India by her stepfather. She remembers her mother's wisdom "Simply to endure is to triumph," until the day comes that she can reclain her life.

Andy Mulligan / YP FIC MULLIGAN
Trash
Fourteen-year-olds Raphael and Gardo team up with a younger boy, Rat, to figure out the mysteries surrounding a bag Raphael finds during their daily life of sorting through trash in a third-world country's dump.

Han Nolan / YP FIC NOLAN
Crazy
Fifteen-year-old Jason has fallen upon bad times his mother has died and his father has succumbed to mental illness. As he tries to hold his crazy father and their crumbling home together, Jason relies on a host of imaginary friends for guidance.

Wendy Phillips / YP FIC PHILLIPS
Fishtailing
In a novel in verse, four troubled students--half-Japanese Tricia, Miguel, a Latin American refugee, Natalie, a new student with a painful past, and Kyle, a talented working-class boy — try to cope in spite of the responses of their poetry teacher.

Adam Rapp / YP FIC RAPP
Little Chicago
An eleven-year-old boy tries to cope with being sexually abused, neglected, and treated cruelly at school.

René Saldaña / YP FIC SALDANA
A Good Long Way
Three Mexican American teenagers in a small-town in Texas struggle with difficulties at home and at school as they try to attain the elusive status of adulthood.

Holly Schindler / YP FIC SCHINDLE
A Blue so Dark
As Missouri fifteen-year-old Aura struggles alone to cope with the increasingly severe symptoms of her mother's schizophrenia, she wishes only for a normal life, but fears that her artistic ability and genes will one day result in her own insanity.

Mark Schulman / YP FIC SCHULMAN
Scrawl
When eighth-grade school bully Tod and his friends get caught committing a crime on school property, his penalty--staying after school and writing in a journal under the eye of the school guidance counsellor — reveals aspects of himself that he prefers to keep hidden.

Carol Lynch Williams / YP FIC WILLIAMS
Glimpse
Living with their mother who earns money as a prostitute, two sisters take care of each other and when the older one attempts suicide, the younger one tries to uncover the reason.