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    These 21 Young Adult Books Were Popular In The '90s And Are Still Relevant Today

    From Cousins to The Face on the Milk Carton.

    Whether you grew up then or want to connect to past protagonists, nobody can deny that the '90s were a big time for Young Adult novels. These popular picks from that time now give modern readers a glimpse into the era.

    1. Finding My Voice by Marie G. Lee, 1992

    Purple book cover with illustration of an Asian American teen girl on the right side
    HarperTeen / Via amazon.com

    Widely considered to be the first YA novel with an Asian American protagonist, this touching novel follows Ellen Sung as she navigates a new town and discovers a life-changing love. 

    2. The Not-So-Star-Spangled Life of Sunita Sen by Mitali Perkins, 1993

    Orange and blue background with title text in center top; with two half photos of a teen girl in jeans and a tank and a traditional Sari
    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Revised edition (April 6, 2005) / Via amazon.com

    Thirteen-year-old Sunita is just living her normal life in California when her grandparents decided to visit. Her parents, fearing their judgment of their non-traditional life, causing them to implement some big changes. With heart, wit, and honesty, this novel covers the expectations we hold and the ways in which we learn to live authentically. 

    3. Cousins by Virginia Hamilton, 1990

    Close up photo of two Black teen girls smiling with title text above and author name below
    Open Road Media Teen & Tween / Via amazon.com

    Covering everything from eating disorders to family bonds, this introspective novel by the National Book Awarded author delves into the lives of two teen cousins and the loyalty and betrayal that tie them together.

    4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, 1990

    Book cover shows a photo of a girl with a gray tree obscuring her face
    Square Fish; Reprint edition / Via amazon.com

    When high school freshman Melinda Sordino is assaulted at an end-of-summer party and calls the police, she becomes ostracized by her peers. Unwilling to tell anybody what happened, she delves into her own head and eventually, learns how to confront what happened that night.

    5. Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen, 1998

    Photo of a glass jar with three butterflies flying around it; pink title text below and author name above
    Penguin Publishing Group / Via amazon.com

    Best friends Scarlette and Hailey couldn't be more different. When Scarlette's boyfriend dies and she learns she's pregnant, Hailey must step up and be there for her friend like never before. 

    6. Who's to Blame (Sweet Valley High #66) by Francine Pascal, 1996

    Vintage book cover shows red title text and illustration of a teen girl
    Random House / Via goodreads.com

    The popular book series was first published in 1983 and went on until 2003. Following sisters Jessica and Elizabeth, this installment centers around what happens when their parents separate. If you have the time, read all 181 novels in the series.

    7. A Time to Die (One Last Wish #1) by Lurlene McDaniel, 1992

    Book cover shows blond teen girl with autumnal leaves surrounding her and title text on bottom left corner
    Laurel Leaf; Reprint edition / Via amazon.com

    Sixteen-year-old Kara Fischer has cystic fibrosis. She develops a crush on Vince, a boy also dealing with cystic fibrosis. When she's granted a final wish by an anonymous donor, she starts to wonder if miracles really do exist.

    8. A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket, 1999

    Blue spine and yellow background with an illustration of main characters on the cover with title text below
    Scholastic Inc. / Via goodreads.com

    When Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire become orphans, they move in with their very odd distant relative, Count Olaf, and their life only continues to get worse. While this series was initially seen as a children's book, it has many Young Adult themes and appeals to a wider audience.   

    9. If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson, 1998

    Updated 2010 book cover with illustration of the two main characters in a pile of leaves and flowers; title text in swoopy green font
    Penguin Books; Reprint edition (January 7, 2010) / Via amazon.com

    Elisha is Jewish and Jeremiah is Black. Both attend Percy Academy, an elite private school where neither really fits in. They find solace and love within each other, but both are reluctant to share their newfound romance with family or friends. 

    10. The Face on the Milk Carton by Carolina B. Cooney, 1990

    Book cover shows shadow of a girl against an old fashioned milk carton with title text above and author name at bottom
    Ember; Reprint edition (May 22, 2012) / Via amazon.com

    After seeing her own face on a mission person's poster on the back of a milk carton, Janie Johnson becomes convinced she's a missing child and suspects that her own parents kidnapped her. As she works to uncover the truth, she must reconcile everything she thought she once knew about herself and her life.

    11. Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff, 1993

    Square Fish; First edition (May 2, 2006) / Via amazon.com

    Fourteen-year-old LaVaughn can't wait to go to college, but knows she needs money to get there, so she starts babysitting for Jolly, a 17-year-old mother of two. Written in stunning verse, this Young Adult novel revolves around self-discovery and growing up.

    12. Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix, 1999

    Book cover shows close up of a girl in a tiara with author name at top in blue and title text in black and white cursive script and a tagline that reads "Happily never after..."
    Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 1, 2001) / Via amazon.com

    Ella finally has the life she wants — or does she? After escaping her evil stepmother and marrying the prince, she thinks she's set for life, only to realize the prince is boring and this life is full of rules and restrictions. As she starts to connect with her tutor, Jed, she realizes princess life isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    13. The Skin I'm In by Sharon Flake, 1998

    Close up photo of a Black teen girl, yellow title text at top and author name at bottom
    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 20th Anniversary ed. edition (October 16, 2018) / Via amazon.com

    Maleeka is constantly taunted for the color of her dark skin, and when a new teacher shows up with a startling white mark on her face, Maleeka expects she'll get made fun of too. But Miss Saunders loves the skin she's in, and this challenges Maleeka to find self-acceptance within herself.  

    14. The Bride by D.E. Athkins, 1996

    Illustration of a ghostly bride with red eyes and title text in morbid black font above
    Point (June 1, 1996) / Via amazon.com

    Supermodel Blaine Harrod is excited for her wedding, which is set to be the event of the season until she comes to discover a vengeful ghost is sabotaging her big day. 

    15. Girl, A Novel by Blake Nelson, 1994

    Black and white photo of a girl with bold pink title text at top of cover
    Touchstone (September 13, 1994) / Via amazon.com

    Author Blake Nelson paints a convincing and authentic portrayal of a teen girl, Andrea Mar, as she immerses herself in the underground music scene in Seattle.

    16. Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy by Sonya Sones, 1999

    Book cover shows blurry self portrait of a woman holding a camera at top with title text in bold letters and author name below
    HarperTeen; Reprint edition (July 12, 2016) / Via amazon.com

    Based on the author's own true story, this heartbreaking novel tells the story of Cookie and the impact her older sister's mental breakdown has on her and her family. Written in verse, the profoundly moving story covers family grief, fear, mental health connotations, and ultimately, self-acceptance. 

    17. A Cage of Butterflies by Brian Caswell, 1992

    Book cover shows a purple detailed butterfly wing covering the entire page with a smaller box print of a bald headed person with a yellow butterfly over their eyes; title text in small red font with author title above in white font
    University of Queensland Press (January 1, 1992) / Via amazon.com

    Mikki lives at "the farm," an advanced learning facility, and is surrounded by kids with very high IQs. This unique, compelling story takes readers on a journey as Mikki investigates what really goes on at the farm. 

    18. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison, 1996

    Book cover shows protagonist Georgia and pet cat sitting on a green couch; title text in bold font on top of cover
    HarperTeen (April 11, 2006) / Via amazon.com

    Told in a brash and heartfelt voice, this witty novel centers around Georgia Nicolson as she navigates school, her friends, and first-time crushes. 

    19. A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson, 1997

    Book cover shows a sepia filtered picture of a girl holding a flower with title text in bottom right corner
    Speak; Reprint edition (May 10, 2007) / Via amazon.com

    Set in the landscape of Australia during World War II, 18-year-old Ellen comes to discover herself and a new, wild world at a private school in Australia.

    20. Toning the Sweep by Angela Johnson, 1993

    Scholastic Paperbacks; First (24--14) edition (August 1, 1994) / Via amazon.com

    This incredible novel follows three generations of African American women as they reconcile their past, their present, and their shared history. The Coretta Scott King awarded novel is both heartbreaking and empowering in equal measures. 

    21. The Giver by Lois Lowry, 1993

    Book cover shows photo of an elderly man with title text in orange script and a burned section of the book in lower left corner
    Ember; Reissue edition (January 24, 2006) / Via amazon.com

    Set in a deceptively utopian society, The Giver is a classic we've all read at one point in our lives. Following 12-year-old Jonah, as he navigates a world lacking emotional depth (dubbed Sameness), he goes on a transformative journey when he's gifted memories from before his time. 

    What's your favorite YA book from the '90s?

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