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TODAY contributor
updated 6/14/2011 4:17:28 PM ET 2011-06-14T20:17:28

Suicide, pregnancy, murder and adultery: These are probably the last topics you’d expect to find as you peruse the young adult section of the bookstore. Yet all of these grown-up topics are approached with humor and depth in books geared toward the 14-and-older set. It's no wonder more and more fiction writers are trying their hand at this genre; between teens and adults, the market for these books is huge. Conversely, many authors who have found success with young audiences are choosing to revisit their characters in adulthood, an extra treat for readers who have grown up with a series.

Young adult novels are quick to draw you in, as they’re easy reads, and surprisingly absorbing: You'll find yourself polishing them off in just a few sittings, and racing to the bookstore for the next installment. Here are a few to get lost in this summer.


Sisterhood Everlasting (Random House)
In "Sisterhood Everlasting", New York Times best-selling author Ann Brashares visits the four protagonists of her popular series, "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," in their adulthood. Carmen, Lena, Bridget and Tibby are all approaching 30 and barely in touch when Tibby sends them plane tickets to reunite in Greece. The girls are excited to be back together, but tragedy cuts their reunion short, and they must once again rely on the power of their friendship to get them through. Brashares makes a powerful and moving transition into adult fiction for readers who have grown up with her beloved characters.

Stranger than fiction: 8 celebrity novelists


Spoiled (Poppy)
Fans of Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks, the hilariously caustic duo behind the popular Hollywood fashion blog “GoFugYourself,” will not be disappointed with their debut novel. "Spoiled"is packed with all the Hollywood snark and pop-culture references readers of their blog have come to expect — plus an impressive amount of pathos for what could otherwise be a bubblegum novel.

Brooke and Molly, both 16, get the surprising news that they share a father, movie star Brick Berlin. So Molly moves to Beverly Hills and war erupts as the girls tussle with each other for clothes, tabloid spreads and, most of all, their father’s affection.


Slam (Putnam Juvenile)
Beloved British novelist Nick Hornby, author of "High Fidelity" and "About A Boy," made his young adult debut in 2007 with "Slam," a laugh-out-loud book about teen pregnancy. Despite the topic, an after-school special this is not: Protagonist Sam is a loveable skater, more confused by his sudden fatherhood than disgruntled by it. The adult characters are just as flawed as the teens, and Hornby ties the whole book together with a truly imaginative conceit: Sam’s best friend is a poster of legendary Tony Hawk, who talks back to him (or rather quotes Hawk’s autobiography).

Slam is like visiting Hornby’s lost-boy adult characters in younger form — and the result is deeply endearing.


The Hunger Games Trilogy (Scholastic)
This fantasy trilogy by Suzanne Collins has managed to have the same fanatic affect on adults that the "Twilight" series has on tweens. The story follows 16 year-old Katniss, a hard-edged young girl who is chosen to represent her village in the ruthless and cruel Hunger Games. Katniss must kill or be killed by the other contestants in order to win food for her family.
The book is sometimes brutal, sometimes tender, and always fast paced. Grown-up readers will want to polish off the trilogy in one weekend — and then join the growing number of adult fans who are eagerly anticipating the movie version, due out next winter.


Sweet Valley Confidential (St. Martin’s Press)
Fans of “Sweet Valley High”, the popular Francine Pascal book series that dominated young adult bookshelves from 1983 on, will be thrilled to be reunited with Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. Now 27, Elizabeth is working at a theater magazine in New York, after discovering that Jessica has been having an on-off affair for five years with Elizabeth’s childhood sweetheart, Todd. The book is every bit as soapy as the original Sweet Valley incarnations, but fans of the series shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the dramatic Wakefield twins, all grown up.

Sweet Valley twins' return causes fan frenzy


Divergent  (Katherine Tegen Books)
Beatrice Powell is a young girl living in a dystopian Chicago, where society is divided into five groups based on virtues: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On her 16th birthday, Beatrice must choose which faction to join — should she follow her true talents, even if it means being separated from her family?

Divergent is the latest young adult fantasy series to capture the imagination of adult readers with its strong female protagonist, thrilling dystopian scenarios and surprisingly romantic moments.

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