Book suggestions for 15/16yo girls and their moms that are meaty enough for discussion?

My teen and I have been in a mother-daughter book club that is beginning its eighth year. Our annual “big reveal” of book choices (we each pick one) is in a week and we are still struggling, as we do every year, to find the perfect books. Book suggestions for 15/16yo girls and their moms that are meaty enough for discussion?

155 Answers

  • Laurie Halse Anderson has several good ones, but subjects are tough (think eating disorders, recovery from assault). I’ve read both Speak and Wintergirls, though the former was the one I read more than once.

    • Just got Wintergirls yesterday. We haven’t done anything about eating disorders, so this one is on my radar.

    • Speak is great. Winter girls is about eating disorders. I am currently read the impossible knife of mystery and it’s awesome

  • One of us is lying by Karen McManus or Everything I never told you by Celeste Ng.

  • Secret Life of Bees, Invention of Wings, The Last Lecture, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Traitor’s Wife

    • We did the audio version of this one. One of the best audiobooks we’ve ever heard– so bizarrely and wonderfully done.

  • Might be hard for some but “Lovely Bones” or “Sister’s Keeper”

  • Hate List or Torn Away by Jennifer Brown. Both are amazing books

  • Becoming Mrs. Burton by Susan Burton. This is about prison and incarceration, so it is tough, but overall uplifting and lots to talk about.

  • Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner or The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

    • It is excellent and important and has so much to discuss. But Goodbye Days may be equally as important at your daughter’s age–especially if she’s about to or has just started driving.

    • My daughter and I listened to it together on a drive during spring break. We cried together and sat parked in the car to hear the end.

  • I read this in high school and loved it! It deals with death, grief, and what could happen in the afterlife.

  • Wonder, by R. J. Palacio Eight years in a mother-daughter book club? AWESOME!

  • Amanda prowse The food of love.
    Covers eating disorders and pressure from being a teenager. X

  • You might have already read this one but I love The Giver by Lois Lowry

    • I love “Number the Stars” by her, although it is for younger readers.

  • Nickeled and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America for non-fiction, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands for fiction. Both are very meaty, so I’d add something light in there too!

    • Ooh! My son did Nickel & Dimed in his Econ class and really liked it! I wouldn’t have thought of it, thank you!

    • “The sun could have melted the blue right off the sky. Then the sky could be as miserable as I was.” This sentence made me cry. One of my favorite lines in all literature.

    • My daughter finished this two days ago! (It ticked her off so much– because she knows how true so much of it is– made her hate it and love it. So she started re-reading it, lol.)

  • First, this is so wonderful that you are doing this!! What great ways to introduce some teachable moments! My suggestions: Hunger by Roxanne Gay (discusses obesity and loving yourself, body positivity etc) Wild by Cheryl Strayed (def adult/mature themes) Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson, Orphan Train (love!) Kindred by Octavia Butler, Maus & Maus II (graphic novels dealing with the holocaust), The Most Dangerous Place on Earth, The Abosolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, A tale for the time being

  • Edward Bloor writes fantastic novels for teens. Both “Crusader” and “Tangerine” would be great. There’s a lot of ethical components in his books.

    • Tangerine might be too young for 15/16 year olds. My sixth grade students would devour it. Crusader I don’t know.

    • You’re probably right. I read it in 8th grade and it was below my typical reading level.

    • And with classic I will add The Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

    • I really liked that book- I think that the humor may make it easier to discuss some of the issues it raises.

  • What a wonderful idea for a book group. I imagine your discussions must be very provocative and revealing. Does anyone post or record the discussions?

    • Ha! No. The girls are– in their words– very private and would never say a word if they knew we were keeping records, lol. Some books are definitely more revealing than others. Unfortunately for them, the moms really like to dispense excellent advice. 😉

  • Sophie’s World by Jisteen Gaarder. Will teach the history of philosophy in an enchanting novel.

  • Any Barbara Kingsolver. When Molly Was a Harvey Girl. Agatha Christie, Maisie Dobbs. The Uglies. Daphne Du Maurier.

  • Between the Lines by Samantha Van Leer and Jodi Picoult. Mother-daughter writing team.

    • Picoult has written the screen play and this is being made into a musical for live performance opening in Kansas City, MO next month!

  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It’s a children’s book, but a must read for people of all ages.

  • Adventure to Destiny, The Unity Objective Series. Great! Discuses history, economy, global things like ulternent fuels plus great science fiction action adventure with aliens and hero’s and magic. Great first book in the series . next big thing. 5 stars

  • Asking for It by Louise O Neill.Set in rural Ireland,some points are particular to the setting but the high school experience described and the dodgy situations are pretty much universal.
    Knocked my socks off

  • 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Panic by Sharon M Draper (both have tough content but necessary to discuss) Skinny by Donna Cooner

  • I am curious , because I love this idea, your daughter was 7-8 when you started? How many other mom/daughters? How often do you meet? How is it structured? My daughter is four but I definitely see doing this in a couple years 💜

    • This could be a lengthy discussion, but I’ll give you the basics, lol. We started with a group of 8 girls and moms when the girls were 7-9. (And we used to vote on book choices.) We would meet one Friday night a month during the school year for a book-related craft or game, dinner (also book-related if possible), book discussion and socializing. As the years progressed, our numbers have dwindled (first to 7 girls, then 4, then at the present 3 where we’ve been for the last two years). We usually meet at the house of the mom who started it all, but each girl is always welcome to have one (or more) meetings at her house. We always do the December meeting, but I love not having to clean more often than that!) 😉

      The biggest thing to making this successful is the buy-in and involvement of the moms. The moms and daughters have separate social time, but we all read the books and everyone participates in the discussion. As you can imagine, that was tricky with a big, young group, but we interspersed discussion with jokes and kept it moving. It definitely had growing pains, but from the very beginning, this has been one of my daughter’s favorite things we do together and it’s only gotten better as the books have gotten heavier (both literally and figuratively!) Most of the moms and daughters read the book separately (at least as they’ve gotten older), but my daughter and I still read them aloud together– usually while one of us cleans our room or cooks dinner, etc. (That’s because SHE doesn’t want to stop– not ’cause I make her!)

      I cannot recommend this experience enough. It’s been wonderful for both of us. I’m happy to share any other info you want to know or our past book lists.

    • I would love to see your past book lists, especially when they were much younger. Ty

    • Same here. My oldest will be 7 in December, I’d love to start this with her and some of her friends.

    • FYI- the first year, our lead mom chose the books, the next couple years each pair suggested three books and we voted by secret ballot for one from each pair, the last few years we each pick a book (and usually add a classic and a non-fiction that our lead mom picks). So sometimes the picks are not particularly discussion-worthy, and I definitely would have never read a few of them, but at least it was fair, lol!

    • y’all are serious! There are some meaty important books on that list! I’m beyond impressed!!!

  • This is a fantastic book club idea! My daughter expressed an interest in To Kill a Mockingbird. Also, I haven’t read it yet, but she read 13 Reasons Why for freshman English and loved it. I think that one could generate some discussion

  • Just Listen is a young adult fiction book that my book club used and it would be a perfect fit!

  • Crash and Burn By: Michael Hassan being made into a Hulu series. Deals with depression, adhd and school violence sure to bring up the opportunity for discussion and advice

  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon is a YA novel that’s loved equally by adults and teens. Both laugh out loud funny and thought-provoking.

  • We Were Liars – really hard hitting, great discussion opportunities and enjoyable to read. Also, if you’re not afraid to address choice issues, either Unwind by Neil Shusterman or When She Woke by Hillary Jordan. Hillary Jordan also wrote an amazing book about race and poverty in postww2 called Mudbound that everybody might enjoy. (It’s less awful then that sounds, and more awful in other ways). Finally, there’s a book called I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak that I thought was fabulous.

    • We loved Unwind and Zusak’s Book Thief. She & I listened to We Were Liars a few years ago without any idea what it was about and definitely before she was ready for it. She still hasn’t gotten over how disturbing it was– but she DID recently give it another star on Goodreads because she figured if it was so memorable she’s still thinking about it then it can’t be all bad, lol. Will check out the other suggestions, thanks!

    • I think part of the reason I want teens to read we were liars is so they understand how important they are to the people who love them, to take care of themselves and others and not invite unnecessary risk into their lives. I cried and cried when I finally understood, and I’m an *old* woman. She might also enjoy John Green’s books, and David Levitan’s Every Day. And I can’t believe I forgot to mention Nation by Terry Pratchett, lots to discuss there and incredibly well done, and Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, which is classified as juvy but deals with some bigger issues (as does Moonrise over Manifest, and Sheila Turnages wonderful Tupelo Falls series (Third time Lucky is the first.) Can you tell I still love to read kids books?

  • Between shades of gray by Ruta Sepetys. Excellent YA novel.

  • For non-fiction, it might be interesting to read a parenting book together. I’m thinking Girls And Sex by Peggy Orenstein. It would probably be good info for both of you at her age and might help prepare both of you for problems and situations she might face as she gets older. It would open the door for lots of discussion, I’m sure.

    • Or Saving Ophelia by… Mary Pipher? I read it at 18 so a bit older but found it very powerful.

    • Reviving Ophelia? I enjoyed that one as well but it’s been so long since I read it I don’t remember it well. I also found Schoolgirls (also by Orenstein) to be a very important read.

  • So this suggestion is for the spring before they go off to college, “I Am Charlotte Simmons” by Tom Wolfe. LOTS to discuss.

  • I just read The Day the World Came to Town with my sisters book club. It would be a good choice! Check it out!

  • A Northern Light or Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks

  • The Red Tent, She’s Come Undone and White Oleander are books that I remember being hard to put down and they would be good to discuss

  • AK by Peter Dickinson is a terrific YA novel about a 12 year old boy growing up in a fictional war torn African nation. A great catalyst for imagining and discussing a vastly different youth experience. It won the Whitbread Award.

    • We did this one two years ago. It ended up being one of our favorite books. We started out thinking it was just a fun book and it led to a great discussion of a woman’s role in society and the “qualifications” required to be a feminist.

  • “Everything I Never Told You” by Celetse Ng. …(or is that too disturbing, other readers??)

  • Thanks again for all your suggestions, everyone! Here’s the list we came up with for the year:
    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn- Smith
    The Handmaid’s Tale- Atwood
    The Help- Stockett
    The Hate U Give- Thomas
    The Code of the Woosters- Wodehouse
    Wintergirls- Anderson
    The Elegance of the Hedgehog- Barbery
    Where’d You Go, Bernadette- Semple

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