All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This World War II book intertwines two distinct stories— one about a blind girl named Marie-Laure whose father works at the local museum in Paris and the other about a young orphan named Werner who is destined to work in the mines but instead goes to a Hitler Youth school. This book teaches readers about the importance of thinking for oneself and following one’s own moral compass. Also, Marie-Laure shows readers that every obstacle, no matter how daunting, can be overcome. Even though Marie-Laure is blind, she is an exceptional young woman who show all readers the value of persistence and determination. Lastly, both characters are able to teach readers that sometimes the little things can mean a lot to others. The domino sequence of events throughout the story shows the great impact that a simple favor or kind gesture can have on the greater future This reminds all readers to be more aware of their actions because they never know the good or bad effects they may have on others in the future.
Every Last Word by Tamara Stone
Samantha is a high schooler who is diagnosed with OCD and suffers from daily thought spirals. Despite her internal struggles, Samantha keeps this part of herself from her friends. In this book, Samantha attempts to find a group of peers who are supportive, so that she can finally be herself. When she meets a group of kids passionate about poetry, Samantha finds a way to express herself and her thoughts in a healthy manner, which also allows her to deal with her diagnosis. This book teaches young girls the value of leaving behind toxic relationships for more nurturing friendships and the importance of embracing oneself—quirks and all.
Defy Me Series by Tahereh Mafi
This fantasy series—that is still in progress—features a young girl named Juliette who has been ostracized by society and lives in complete isolation because her touch has the ability to kill anyone. Without the support of a loving family or friends, Juliette suffers from extreme self-loathing and constantly berates herself for being a monster in the eyes of her community. However, as the novels continue, Juliette learns to accept who she truly is and begins to reach out to others that are just like her. Even though this book contains fantastical elements of supernatural powers, the messages of self love and empowerment are in no way lessened. At one point or another everyone finds themselves in a bad place, and these books tell the heroic story of climbing oneself out of that dark hole through learning to embrace your individuality and finding a more understanding community for support.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
When Starr’s childhood friend is wrongfully killed by a cop after his hairbrush is mistaken for a gun, Starr learns to use her own voice to advocate for her beliefs. Starr struggles to realize her identity throughout the novel as she does not want to be seen as too “ghetto” at her upscale private school and does not want to seem to “white” in her home neighborhood. But as the novel progresses, Starr begins to embrace her unique identity and background. The author, Angie Thomas, provides readers with the image of a strong teenage girl who is able to confront racial and socioeconomic barriers and push against societal pressures to stay silent in the face of injustice.