13 Teen Death Novels From The ’90s That Actually Exist

You know you want to pick up a Lurlene McDaniel book about high schoolers dealing with their mortality, but which one do you chose?

1. Maybe you’re in the mood for a teenage love story. With cancer.

Why does Julie’s life suck?
-No one understands that she and her boyfriend will be together forever
-Also, he has cancer

ID: 813653

2. You could try one that suggests a possible positive ending.

Why does Megan’s life suck?
-Her best friend is dead
-She has a crush on a cute boy, but he’s in liver failure

ID: 813666

3. Maybe mix things up, and pick one where both teens are terminally ill. Also, a wedding!

Why does April’s life suck?
-She has an inoperable brain tumor
-Her husband has cystic fibrosis
-Her husband is in a race car accident
-Race car accidents are not good for people with cystic fibrosis

ID: 815868

4. You might want one with the inevitable end up front.

Why does Elly’s life suck?
-Her sister is so popular she makes her feel lame by comparison
-Her sister died

ID: 815928

5. Or you could need a little hope mixed in with your crushing despair.

Why does Katie’s life suck?
-She needs a heart transplant
-Because she needs the transplant she can’t run track

ID: 815979

6. Try one where the protagonist is in no immediate danger of dying (but to keep the balance everyone else has to kick it.)

Why does Beth’s life suck?
-Her whole family is dead
-She has to move in with her aunt and cousin
-Her cousin is kind of a jerk
-On the other hand, neither she nor her boyfriend have a terminal illness

ID: 816037

7. Or a story about a high schooler giving his girlfriend the best present ever-a spare kidney?

Why does Jessica’s life suck
-Her kidneys are failing
-Her boyfriend kindly offers one of his, but his parents aren’t onboard

ID: 816163

8. Or would you rather one with slightly confusing stakes?

Why does Dawn’s life suck?
-She has cancer
-Her best friend has cancer

ID: 816246

9. Or one that asks a question with a seemingly obvious answer?

Why does Sarah’s life suck?
-She has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant
-She can’t get one from her parents because she was adopted
-She can’t get one from her birth mother because she has cancer too
-She can’t get one from her birth father because he’s dead

ID: 816459

10. One whose title serves as a complete summary is always a good bet.

Why does Anne’s life suck?
-She’s HIV positive
-She’s getting worse
-She’s met a cute boy, but can’t bring herself to tell him about her condition.

ID: 816718

11. Maybe one that boasts both an upfront death and the threat of a teen’s demise?

Why does Erin’s life suck?
-Her little sister is dead
-Her head, really, really hurts
-Whenever she’s around this one super hot, popular guy, her head kills. He’s basically her Voldemort. But really cute.

ID: 816788

12. You could read one that’s very straightforward.

What makes Kara’s life suck?
-She’s dying of cystic fibrosis
-She’s made a new friend who’s also dying of cystic fibrosis

ID: 816814

13. Better go with the most inappropriately upbeat cover.

What makes Desi’s life suck?
-Well baby Alicia, who lives at a childcare center where Desi works is dying, for one (of AIDS)
-She feels emotionally disconnected from her mom (a void she tries to fill with dying baby Alicia’s love)

ID: 816098

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