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The Best YA Books to Help You Survive the Holiday Season

We love the holiday season! But there are times when the most wonderful time of the year can seem like a lot—a lot of people, a lot of errands, a lot of socializing, a lot of shopping, and a lot of food.

When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, we recommend sneaking away for a few hours and escaping into the pages of a great YA book. Call it self-care. Call it research for gift giving. Call it trying to hit your Goodreads goal by December 31. We’ve made a list of some not-so-jolly holiday feelings you might experience, along with the best YA holiday books we think will get back in the spirit in no time!

When you can’t stand your family anymore, read Family of Liars by E. Lockhart.

Family of Liars

Family of Liars

Whether it’s sibling chaos because everyone’s home from school or old grudges revisited at a family get-together, sometimes it’s nice to know your family isn’t the only one that gets a little crazy around the holidays. We recommend reading about a fictional family for some coping strategies. Family of Liars by E. Lockhart is the prequel to We Were Liars and delves into the story of how the Sinclair family came to be. Spoiler alert: they were always liars.

When you can’t listen to one more Christmas carol, read Who Put This Song On? by Morgan Parker.

Who Put This Song On?

Who Put This Song On?

When every public space seems to have “Santa Baby” playing on repeat, take a break and pick up a YA book that will have you singing a different tune. Who Put This Song On? by Morgan Parker is about a teenage girl trapped in small-town suburbia. Morgan struggles with issues of identity, self-confidence, and mental health. She feels like she’s listening to the same terrible track on repeat and wonders: When can she turn this song off and begin living for herself?

When you find yourself signed up for yet another gift exchange, read Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus.

Nothing More to Tell

Nothing More to Tell

Hooray for the holiday gift exchange! But after you receive your assigned name, you have to solve one of the great mysteries of the holiday season: What will they love that’s under $20? We’ve cracked the case! Buy them a copy of the YA novel Nothing More to Tell by Karen M. McManus, a story about a true-crime show intern trying to solve her favorite high school teacher’s unsolved murder. Just as you think you know who pulled your name for the gift exchange, she thinks she knows who can identify the killer . . . but is she right? And while you’re there, grab a copy for yourself. That way, when dinner feels like detention, you’ll have an escape plan.

When getting to the bottom of your to-do list seems like an impossible dream, read Skyward by Brandon Sanderson.

Skyward

Skyward

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson is a fantasy set in space that will inspire you to muster your last shred of energy and tackle those tasks! In this YA fantasy book, the last of the human race are trapped on a planet that’s under constant attack by aliens. When Spensa finds the wreckage of an ancient spaceship, she realizes that her dream to be a pilot could actually come true . . . if she can repair the spacecraft, survive flight school, and persuade the ship to help her.

When you need a good cry, read Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon.

Instructions for Dancing

Instructions for Dancing

All joking aside, sometimes the holidays bring up painful memories or unresolved feelings. If you think a cathartic cry might help, try the YA book Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon, a story about Evie Thomas who doesn’t believe in love anymore. Be sure to add tissues to that shopping list; you’ll need them.

When you need to remember that you really do love your loved ones, read Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak.

Bridge of Clay

Bridge of Clay

Yes, the holidays can bring you and your loved ones closer together, but sometimes all that togetherness gets tricky. Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak is the story of five brothers who discover the secret behind their father’s disappearance. It’s an unforgettable book about the bonds of family and how they can sustain us through all the ups and downs of life.

Did you enjoy this article on the best YA holiday books? Find more book recommendations here and get social with us at @getunderlined!

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