WIth Female Protagonist

Our top ten best youth books with strong female main characters. If you do not find a book in the list yet, you can check out the best youth books of 2018 or our lists of best Young Adult books ever or best Young Adult series. Are you curious what to expect in the field of Young Adult reading then you can also look at our is expected list for books that will soon be published.

If you prefer to search by age group, you can look at the top 10 lists for children's books for 12 to 15 and 15+ Young Adult books.

1

The Hate U Give

+15
published February 28, 2017

Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books.

The Hate U Give

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

And don't miss On the Come Up, Angie Thomas's powerful follow-up to The Hate U Give.

2

Fallen Academy: Year One

Fallen Academy Series 1
+15
published August 10, 2018

Leia Stone

Leia Stone is the USA Today bestselling author of the Matefinder series which is optioned for film. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance with sassy kick-butt heroines and irresistible love interests. She lives in Arizona with her irresistible husband and sassy kick-butt children. 

Fallen Academy: Year One (Volume 1)

Brielle Atwater isn't sure of much, but she knows a few things: 1. Having black wings is not normal. 2. Selling her soul to the demons was a mistake. 3. Lincoln Grey is the biggest asshole she's ever met … but not falling in love with him might prove impossible. When angels fell from the sky to war with the demons that ravaged Earth, their combined powers infected humanity. Now, the humans are assigned one of two fates, being either demon gifted or angel blessed. After wings sprout from Brielle's back at her awakening ceremony, she's sure she's an angel blessed celestial. It's not until she sees black wings that she realizes something is terribly wrong. Having sold her contract at a young age to save her father's life means she should be bound for Tainted Academy. That is, until a fallen angel unexpectedly fights for her to be accepted into Fallen Academy, the elite school for those that inhabit Angel City. She's immediately matched with her impossibly handsome celestial teacher, Lincoln Grey. Laying eyes on him, her first thought is that her time at the academy might actually be fun, but this theory quickly fades when she and Lincoln clash on day one. To further prove her admission into Fallen Academy is cursed, the entire school is thrown into chaos when an Abrus demon reveals that he knows Brielle's secret. Now, above all else, Lincoln must fight to protect her. To his surprise, the only thing more difficult than trying to save her … is trying not to fall for her.

3

Kingdom of Ash

Throne of Glass 7
+15
published October 23, 2018

Sarah J. Maas

Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series, as well as A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury. A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog.

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass)

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas's #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius's journey from slave to king's assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world. . .

Aelin has risked everything to save her people-but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they've gathered to battle Erawan's hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation-and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen-before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

4

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Betty Smith
+15
published May 30, 2006
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick

The beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century.

From the moment she entered the world, Francie needed to be made of stern stuff, for the often harsh life of Williamsburg demanded fortitude, precocity, and strength of spirit. Often scorned by neighbors for her family’s erratic and eccentric behavior—such as her father Johnny’s taste for alcohol and Aunt Sissy’s habit of marrying serially without the formality of divorce—no one, least of all Francie, could say that the Nolans’ life lacked drama. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the Nolans’ daily experiences are tenderly threaded with family connectedness and raw with honesty. Betty Smith has, in the pages of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, captured the joys of humble Williamsburg life-from “junk day” on Saturdays, when the children of Francie’s neighborhood traded their weekly take for pennies, to the special excitement of holidays, bringing cause for celebration and revelry. Betty Smith has artfully caught this sense of exciting life in a novel of childhood, replete with incredibly rich moments of universal experiences—a truly remarkable achievement for any writer.

5

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Erika L. Sánchez
+15
published March 5, 2019
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

National Book Award Finalist!
Instant New York Times Bestseller!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian meets Jane the Virgin in this poignant but often laugh-out-loud funny contemporary YA about losing a sister and finding yourself amid the pressures, expectations, and stereotypes of growing up in a Mexican American home. 
 
Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.
 
But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role. 
 
Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.
 
But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend, Lorena, and her first love (first everything), Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?...Age Range:Teen

6

I Am Malala

How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World
+15
published June 14, 2016
I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World

The bestselling memoir by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

I Am Malala. This is my story.

Malala Yousafzai was only ten years old when the Taliban took control of her region. They said music was a crime. They said women weren't allowed to go to the market. They said girls couldn't go to school.

Raised in a once-peaceful area of Pakistan transformed by terrorism, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. So she fought for her right to be educated. And on October 9, 2012, she nearly lost her life for the cause: She was shot point-blank while riding the bus on her way home from school.

No one expected her to survive.

Now Malala is an international symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner. In this Young Readers Edition of her bestselling memoir, which has been reimagined specifically for a younger audience and includes exclusive photos and material, we hear firsthand the remarkable story of a girl who knew from a young age that she wanted to change the world -- and did.

Malala's powerful story will open your eyes to another world and will make you believe in hope, truth, miracles and the possibility that one person -- one young person -- can inspire change in her community and beyond.

7

Cinder

Lunar Chronicles Series Book 1
+12
published January 8, 2013

Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer is a fangirl at heart, with a closet full of costumes, a Harry Potter wand on her desk, and a Tuxedo Mask doll hanging from her rear view mirror. Han and Leia are still her OTP. She may or may not be a cyborg. Marissa writes books for teens, including the NYT bestselling series: The Lunar Chronicles.

Cinder

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future.

With high-stakes action and a smart, resourceful heroine, Cinder is a Cinderella retelling that is at once classic and strikingly original.

8

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

+12
published January 26, 2016

Jenny Han

Jenny Han is the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series; Shug; the Burn for Burn trilogy, cowritten with Siobhan Vivian; and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You. She is also the author of the chapter book Clara Lee and The Apple Pie Dream. A former children’s bookseller, she earned her MFA in creative writing at the New School. 

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is now a major motion picture streaming on Netflix!

Lara Jean’s love life gets complicated in this New York Times bestselling “lovely, lighthearted romance” (School Library Journal) from the bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

9

Fever 1793

+15
published March 1, 2002

Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity. Her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Chains and Speak, were National Book Award finalists.

Fever 1793

An epidemic of fever sweeps through the streets of 1793 Philadelphia in this novel from Laurie Halse Anderson where "the plot rages like the epidemic itself" (The New York Times Book Review).

During the summer of 1793, Mattie Cook lives above the family coffee shop with her widowed mother and grandfather. Mattie spends her days avoiding chores and making plans to turn the family business into the finest Philadelphia has ever seen. But then the fever breaks out.

Disease sweeps the streets, destroying everything in its path and turning Mattie's world upside down. At her feverish mother's insistence, Mattie flees the city with her grandfather. But she soon discovers that the sickness is everywhere, and Mattie must learn quickly how to survive in a city turned frantic with disease.

10

Heartless

+12
published May 1, 2018

Marissa Meyer

Marissa Meyer is a fangirl at heart, with a closet full of costumes, a Harry Potter wand on her desk, and a Tuxedo Mask doll hanging from her rear view mirror. Han and Leia are still her OTP. She may or may not be a cyborg. Marissa writes books for teens, including the NYT bestselling series: The Lunar Chronicles.

Heartless

From Marissa Meyer, the #1 New York Times–bestselling story of Wonderland's most notorious villain: the Queen of Hearts.

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland―the infamous Queen of Hearts―she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author of the Lunar Chronicles dazzles us with a prequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

11

Little Fires Everywhere

Celeste Ng
+15
published May 7, 2019
Little Fires Everywhere

“To say I love this book is an understatement. It’s a deep psychological mystery about the power of motherhood, the intensity of teenage love, and the danger of perfection. It moved me to tears.” —Reese Witherspoon

“Extraordinary . . . books like Little Fires Everywhere don't come along often.” —John Green

From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned—from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren—an enigmatic artist and single mother—who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town—and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood—and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

12

Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass Book 1
+15
published May 7, 2013

Sarah J. Maas

Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series, as well as A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury. A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog.

Throne of Glass

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

13

On The Come Up

+15
published February 5, 2019

Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books.

On The Come Up

This is the highly anticipated second novel by Angie Thomas, the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling, award-winning The Hate U Give.

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.

But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons.

Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.  

Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn’t always free.

14

The Queen's Alpha Series Box Set

Books #1-3
+15
published July 14, 2021
The Queen's Alpha Series Box Set

USA Today Bestselling Author, W.J. May brings her international bestselling series together in a box set limited edition collection! The Queen's Alpha brings you deeper into the world of shifters, fae, and magic.The Queen's Alpha Box Set Books #1-3

ETERNAL - Book 1 She will fight for what is hers. When the king is murdered, Katerina, his only daughter, must flee for her life. She finds herself on a strange and dangerous path. Alone for the first time, she's forced to rely upon her wits and the kindness of strangers, while protecting her royal secret at the same time.Because she alone knows the truth. It was her brother who killed the king. And he's coming for her next.Alone and struggling, she finds herself an instant target until a mysterious protector comes to her aid. Together, and with a collection of the most unlikely friends, the group must navigate through an enchanted world just as fantastical as it can be deadly. But time is not on their side.With her brother's assassins closing in at every turn, Katerina must unlock a secret that's hidden deep inside her. The only thing strong enough to keep the darkness at bay.Can she find the answers she needs? Will she ever take her rightful place on the throne?Only one thing is certain: she's running out of time. Be careful who you trust. Even the devil was once an angel.

EVERLASTING - Book 2 I will fight for those I love. When the crown prince puts a bounty on her head, Katerina and the gang find themselves facing trouble at every turn. It's a race to get the safe house in time, but will they pull together to work as a team, or will their differences pull them apart?Strengths and weaknesses are put to the test, as Katerina is plunged headfirst into a magical world she never knew existed. Fiction becomes reality, as the characters from her childhood fairytales come to life, bringing with them secrets she could never have imagined.Her bloodline gives her the right to call herself their queen, but is the division between the royal family and the magical kingdom too great? How can she mend the damage of the past?More importantly…can she be the one to unite her people?

UNCEASING - Book 3 She will fight for what is hers. When their sanctuary suddenly becomes a prison, Katerina and the gang must work together to save not only themselves, but everyone else in the remote, alpine retreat.Secrets are revealed and new identities are discovered as the princess delves into her past, uncovering things she never thought possible. Awakening a hidden power buried within.The stakes have never been so high, and everyone's a target. Can the princess unlock the ancient magic in time? Can they find a way off the mountain before disaster strikes? Most importantly, in a world where everyone's out to get them……Who can they trust?

15

The Killing Fog

The Grave Kingdom 1
+13
published March 1, 2020
The Killing Fog (The Grave Kingdom)

The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Kingfountain series conjures an epic, adventurous world of ancient myth and magic as a young woman’s battle with infinite evil begins.

Survivor of a combat school, the orphaned Bingmei belongs to a band of mercenaries employed by a local ruler. Now the nobleman, and collector of rare artifacts, has entrusted Bingmei and the skilled team with a treacherous assignment: brave the wilderness’s dangers to retrieve the treasures of a lost palace buried in a glacier valley. But upsetting its tombs has a price.

Echion, emperor of the Grave Kingdom, ruler of darkness, Dragon of Night, has long been entombed. Now Bingmei has unwittingly awakened him and is answerable to a legendary prophecy. Destroying the dark lord before he reclaims the kingdoms of the living is her inherited mission. Killing Bingmei before she fulfills it is Echion’s.

Thrust unprepared into the role of savior, urged on by a renegade prince, and possessing a magic that is her destiny, Bingmei knows what she must do. But what must she risk to honor her ancestors? Bingmei’s fateful choice is one that neither her friends nor her enemies can foretell, as Echion’s dark war for control unfolds.