Teen Novels Set in Chicago

The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann FoleyThe Carnival At Bray book cover

YA FOLEY, J.

It’s 1993, and Generation X pulses to the beat of Kurt Cobain and the grunge movement. Sixteen-year-old Maggie Lynch is uprooted from big-city Chicago to a windswept town on the Irish Sea. Surviving on care packages of Spin magazine and Twizzlers from her rocker uncle Kevin, she wonders if she’ll ever find her place in this new world. When first love and sudden death simultaneously strike, a naive but determined Maggie embarks on a forbidden pilgrimage that will take her to a seedy part of Dublin and on to a life-altering night in Rome to fulfill a dying wish. Through it all, Maggie discovers an untapped inner strength to do the most difficult but rewarding thing of all– live.

off yearAn Off Year by Claire Zulkey

YA ZULKEY, C.

Upon arriving at her dorm room, eighteen-year-old Cecily decides to postpone her freshman year of college and return to her Chicago home, where she spends a year pondering what went wrong while forging new relationships with family and friends.

 

the esspressologist book cover

YA SPRINGER, K.

While working part-time as a barista in a Chicago coffee bar, high school senior Jane dabbles in matchmaking after observing the coffee preferences of her customers.

The Comeback Seasonthe comeback season book cover by Jennifer E. Smith

YA SMITH, J.

High school freshman Ryan Walsh, a Chicago Cubs fan, meets Nick when they both skip school on opening day, and their blossoming relationship becomes difficult for Ryan when she discovers that Nick is seriously ill and she again feels the pain of losing her father five years earlier.

The Rock and the Riverthe rock and the river book cover by Kekla Magoon

YA MAGOON, K.

It’s 1968, and Chicago teen Sam is torn. He’s always looked up to his father, a civil rights leader dedicated to nonviolence. His older brother Stick, however, has left home to join the revolutionary Black Panther Party. At first Sam is skeptical of the Panthers’ militant approach to ending racial injustice, but after one of his friends is brutally beaten by the police, Sam starts to question his father’s nonviolent beliefs.

virtuosityVirtuosity by Jessica Martinez

YA MARTINEZ, J.

Just before the most important violin competition of her career, seventeen-year-old prodigy Carmen faces critical decisions about her anti-anxiety drug addiction, her controlling mother, and a potential romance with her most talented rival.

CharlysEpicFiascosCharly’s Epic Fiascos by Kelli London

YA LONDON, K.

Sixteen-year-old aspiring actress Charly St. James, who works as a waitress to help support her dysfunctional mother and younger sister, leaves a Chicago suburb for New York to live with her aunt and audition for a reality television show.

art of secretsThe Art of Secrets by James Klise

YA KLISE, J.

When some quirky art donated to a school fundraising effort to help a Pakistani American family, victims of a possible hate crime, is revealed to be an unknown work by a famous outsider artist, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, adults and teenagers alike debate who should get the money and begin to question each other’s motivations.

world awayA World Away by Nancy Grossman

YA GROSSMAN, N.

Sixteen-year-old Eliza, an Amish girl, goes to work for an “English” family as a nanny to two young children in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, and must then choose between two entirely different ways of life.

WillGraysonWill Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green
YA GREEN, J.

When two teens, one gay and one straight, meet accidentally and discover that they share the same name, their lives become intertwined as one begins dating the other’s best friend, who produces a play revealing his relationship with them both.

LoveLikeaDogLove Like a Dog by Anne Calcagno

YA CALCAGNO, A.

Set in contemporary Chicago, it is the harrowing story of Dirk, a young motherless man desperate for his self-centered father’s approval. A rescued pit bull alters their lives irrevocably, embroiling them in the terrible misuses to which the breed is prey. As Dirk’s father grows increasingly entangled in criminal activity, Dirk must quickly come to terms with a series of legal and moral crises and determine for himself what it truly means to be a man.

ColdFuryCold Fury by T. M. Goeglein

YA GOEGLEIN, T.

Sixteen-year-old Chicago preparatory school student Sara Jane Rispoli must unravel a web of complex mysteries after her family goes missing and she is pursued by unknown enemies.

SadStoriesSad Stories of the Death of Kings by Barry Gifford

YA GIFFORD, B.

Collects stories centering on a boy named Roy and the people he encounters growing up without a father in postwar Chicago.

angelinmypocketAn Angel in My Pocket by Ilene Cooper

YA COOPER, I.

When seventh-grader Bette finds an angel coin she puts it in her pocket and forgets it but soon the mysterious and kind Gabby moves into her building and helps her face her major losses, and then the coin connects her with three classmates who all find new ways to believe in themselves.

PullPull by B. A. Binns

YA BINNS, B.

After his father kills his mother, seventeen-year-old David struggles to take care of his two sisters–and himself–while dealing with his grief, guilt, and trying to fit in at a tough new school while hiding his past.

StoreBoughtBabyStore-Bought Baby by Sandra Belton

YA BELTON, S.

The death of Leah’s beloved older brother, and her parents’ reactions to the tragedy, raise questions for Leah about the meaning of family and about her place in her own.

CatGirlsDayOffCat Girl’s Day Off by Kimberly Pauley

YA PAULEY, K.

High schooler Natalie Ng has always kept secret her talent for talking with cats, but when she learns– from a cat– that a celebrity has been replace by an imposter, she and her friends investigate, becoming movie extras to get the scoop.

permanent recordPermanent Record by Leslie Stella

YA STELLA, L.

Being yourself can be such a bad idea. For sixteen-year-old Badi Hessamizadeh, life is a series of humiliations. After withdrawing from public school under mysterious circumstances, Badi enters Magnificat Academy. To make things “easier,” his dad has even given him a new name: Bud Hess. Grappling with his Iranian-American identity, clinical depression, bullying, and a barely bottled rage, Bud is an outcast who copes by resorting to small revenges and covert acts of defiance, but the pressures of his home life, plummeting grades, and the unrequited affection of his new friend, Nikki, prime him for a more dangerous revolution. Strange letters to the editor begin to appear in Magnificat’s newspaper, hinting that some tragedy will befall the school. Suspicion falls on Bud, and he and Nikki struggle to uncover the real culprit and clear Bud’s name.