When fact is better than fiction: 5 YA memoirs that should be on your TBR

Memoirs are generally seen as the realm of celeb books and monstrous hardbacks – there’s nothing of the YA about them, right? Wrong.


Like YA fiction, YA memoirs are some of the most important, powerful and just plain excellent reads. If you’re new to them, get stuck into these beauties:

elena-vanishingElena Vanishing by Elena Dunkle

Co-written with her mum, ‘Elena Vanishing’ is the story of Elena disappearing through her battles with anorexia. Using food to control her anxiety, every day is a day consuming fewer calories and wasting further away. It’s shocking, powerful and incredibly important because it’s ultimately about hope and overcoming your demons.

51-pl9bj7il-_sx331_bo1204203200_Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson 

Told in verse, Jacqueline tells the story of what it was like growing up in South Carolina and New York during the 60s and 70s. This book looks at living through the Civil Rights Movement and exploring a love of writing with emotion and a powerful punch.

This book won both the National Book Award and a Newbery Honor! It’s essential reading.

41hhlko6yjl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince

Liz Prince has always been in the middle – not a girly girl but not one of the boys. Throughout middle school and high school, parents, friends and romance, that wasn’t always the easiest place to be.

Liz is an author and artist and she explores what it means to her to be a girl with poignancy and honesty, but always humour.

51fntwweqol-_sx331_bo1204203200_I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda 

When Caitlin’s class sent a letter to a student in far flung places across the globe, she picked Zimbabwe as it sounded like the most exotic place she’d ever heard of.

Martin was the top student in his class so got the first letter, even though only a quarter of his class actually received a letter.


That letter led to a 6-year correspondence that changed their lives, all documented in this fascinating dual memoir of culture and friendship.

every-falling-starEvery Falling Star by Sungju Lee and Elizabeth McClelland 

‘Every Falling Star’ the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who was forced to live on the streets and fend for himself at only 12 years old. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains.

This riveting memoir is the first time contemporary North Korea has been explored for younger readers, allowing them to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.

Grab yourself a copy of ‘Every Falling Star’ right here!

Have you caught the memoir bug? Tell us which reads changed your life in the comments below.

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Written by Laura Fulton

Book Channel Editor at MaxPop! Have a thing for the sea and pretty paperbacks. Saved by amazing grace.

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