Chelmsford Public Library 25 Boston Road Chelmsford, MA 01824 978.256.5521

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Tough Stuff

Tough Stuff for Teens

* Conversation Starters
* Curiosity Quenchers
* Empathy Builders
* Interest Sparkers

Tough Stuff for Teens was created for readers in grades 6 and up. Not every subject or book is appropriate for every reader so consider, read, share and discuss!

Tough Stuff categories are broken up into 3 categories based on content (not reading level):

* Tough — the tamest category is appropriate for *most* middle school readers.
* Tougher — this category is slightly more challenging and is geared toward young high school readers.
* Toughest — this category is probably best suited for mature high school students and adults.

*These categories are completely subjective. If you have questions or concerns,
please email Jen.*

Tough Stuff contains recommendations for books on

Family
Sex & Pregnancy
Body Image
Religion
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender issues
Illness & Therapy
Disabilities
War
Bullying
Violence
Abuse
Rape
Suicide
Death

 See all Tough Stuff Books in one big list.

Family

Tough

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Heaven is Paved with Oreos by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

My Most Excellent Year  by S. Kluger

Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan

Tougher

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhart

Afrika by Colleen Craig

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

Blue Plate Special by Michelle Kwasney

Born Confused by T.D. Hidier

Dead Ends by Erin Jade Lange

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel

 Heat by Mike Lupica

 Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti

Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

Keeping Corner by K. Sheth

 Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

 Monsoon Summer by M. Perkins

 Notes from the Midnight Driverby Jordan Sonnenblick

 Peak by Roland Smith

Pearl by Jo Knowles

Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie

Pop by Gordon Korman

Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto by Eric Luper

Shine Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Stay  by Deb Caletti

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach

Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington

The Indigo Notebook by Laura Resau

The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston

The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis

Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

What I Call Life by Jill Wolfson

Without Tess by Marcella Pixley

Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi

Toughest

Bitter Melon by Cara Chow

Broken by CJ Lyons

Dead to You by Lisa McMann

Rotters by Daniel Kraus

Solace of the Road by S. Dowd

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Sex & Pregnancy

Tough

 Bloom by Elizabeth Scott

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

Ready or Not by Meg Cabot

Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler

Tougher

 A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

 Easy by Kerry Cohen Hoffmann

Every Little Thing in the World by Nina deGramont

 Exposed by Susan Vaught

Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn

 Harmless by Dana Reinhardt

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

 Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Kendra by Coe Booth

My Life as a Rhombusby Varian Johnson

 November Blues by S. Draper

Planet Pregnancy by Linda Oatman High

 Slam by Nick Hornby

Someone Like You by S. Dessen

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

 The First Part Last by Angela Johnson

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Toughest

After by Amy Efaw

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Body Image

Tough

Artichoke’s Heart by S. Supplee

Fat Cat by Robin Brande

Firegirl by Tony Abbott

 Huge by Sasha Paley

Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies by Erin Dionne

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Tougher

 45 Pounds by Kelly Barson

Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have by Allen Zadoff

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

 Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Mojo by Tim Tharp

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

 Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata

Perfect by Natasha Friend

Purge by Sarah Littman

Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban

Toughest

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Religion

Tough

The Red Blazer Girls by Michael D. Beil

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

 Zen and the Art of Faking it by Jordan Sonnenblick

Tougher

Alphabet of Dreams by Susan Fletcher

 Bloom by Elizabeth Scott

Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah 

 Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande

Godless by Pete Hautman

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

Scrambled Eggs at Midnight by Brad Barkley

Shine Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger

 Strange Relations by S. Levitin

 The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

 The God Box by Alex Sanchez

The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab

 Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Toughest

Madapple by C. Meldrum

Saint Iggy by K.L. Going

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LGBT

Tough

Annie on My Mind by N. Garden

Boy Meets Boy by D. Levithan

Geography Club by B. Hartinger

Pearl by Jo Knowles

 So Hard to Say by Alex Sanchez

Tougher

7 Days at the Hot Corner by Terry Trueman

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Boyfriends with Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez

Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger

I am J by Cris Beam

Luna by Julie Anne Peters

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

 Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger

Rage by Julie Anne Peters

 Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez

Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee

She Loves You She Loves You Not by Julie Anne Peters

Shine by Lauren Myracle

Sister Mischief by Laura Goode

Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom by Brendan Halpin

The Bermudez Triangleby Maureen Johnson

Totally Joe by James Howe

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green

Toughest

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher

Freaks and Revelations by Davida Wills Hurwin

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Illness & therapy

Tough

The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

Tougher

A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

Broken by CJ Lyons

Chloe Doe by Suzanne Phillips

Cold Hands, Warm Heart by Jill Wolfson

Cut by Patricia McCormack

Define “Normal” by J. A. Peters

Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught

Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Invisible by Pete Hautman

Ironman by Chris Crutcher

It’s kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott

 Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

Pop by Gordon Korman

Recovery Road by Blake Nelson

Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes

The Girls of No Return by Erin Saldin

The Off Season by C. Murdock

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

Trigger by Susan Vaught

Without Tess by Marcella Pixley

Toughest

Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Tweak by Nic Sheff

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Disabilities

Tough

A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Chicks with Sticks by E. Lenhard

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

 Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser

 Things Not Seen by A. Clements

Tougher

 A Small White Scar by K.A. Nuzum

Accidents of Nature by Harriet McBryde Johnson

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

Blindsided by Priscilla Cummings

Dead Ends by Erin Jade Lange

Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork

Rules by Cynthia Lord

 So B. It by Sarah Weeks

 Stoner & Spaz by Ron Koertge

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Throat by R.A. Nelson

Toughest

Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman

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Rape

Tough

Safe by Susan Shaw

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Tougher

After the Momentby Garrett Freymann-Weyr

Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Madapple by Christina Meldrum

Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Sandpiper by Ellen Wittlinger

Sold by Patricia McCormick

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith

Wait for Me by An Na

Toughest

Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

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Suicide

Tough

Cracked by K.M. Walton

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar

Tougher

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern

Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Hold Still by Nina LaCour

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

Looking for Alaska by J. Green

 Tangled by Carolyn Mackler

 Tears of a Tiger by Sharon Draper

The Burn Journals by Runyon (362.28 RUN)

The Death of Jayson Porter by Jaime Adoff

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

 Trigger by Susan Vaught

 What Happened to Cass McBride? by Gail Giles

Whirligig by Paul Fleischman

Toughest

By the Time You Read This I’ll be Dead by Julie Ann Peters

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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Death

Tough

Antsy Does Time by Neal Shusterman

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Jane in Bloom by D. Lytton

The Leanin’ Dog by K.A. Nuzum

The Summer I learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt

Tougher

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

 A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

 A Northern Light by J. Donnelly

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Cures for a Heartbreak by Margo Rabb

Freefall by Ariela Anhalt

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

 Love, Aubrey by S. LaFleur

Mockingbird by Katherine Erskine

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Newes From the Dead by Mary Hooper

Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Rotters by Daniel Kraus

The Language Inside by Holly Thompson

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork

The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard

The Sledding Hill by C. Crutcher

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

Willow by Julia Hoban

Without Tess by Marcella Pixley

Toughest

Deadline by Chris Crutcher

If I Stay by Gail Forman

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War

Tough

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

Inside Out and Back again by Thanhha Lai

Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt

 When My Name was Keoko  by Linda Sue Park

Tougher

All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg

Annexed by Sharon Dogar

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins

Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez

Between Shades of Gray by Ruth Sepetys

Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer

Blood Red Horse by K.M. Grant

Chains by L. Halse Anderson

Child of Dandelions by Shenaaz Nanji

Cracker by Cynthia Kadohata

 Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson

Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie

Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick

 Revolution is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine

 Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers

 The Boy Who Dared by S. Campbell Bartoletti

The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt

Tree Girl by Ben Mikaelsen

Weedflower by C. Kadohata

Toughest

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

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Bullying

Tough

 Freak by Marcella Pixley

Schooled by Gordon Korman

The Girls by A. Goldman Koss

Tougher

Battle of Jericho by Sharon Draper

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco

Borderline by Allan Stratton

Bystander by James Preller

Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller

Cruise Control by Terry Trueman

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught

Hero Type by Barry Lyga

Mojo by Tim Tharp

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

Poison Ivy by Amy Goldman Koss

 Shattering Glass by Gail Giles

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga

 The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci

 The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk

The Skin I’m in by Sharon Flake

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban

 Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

 Twisted by L. Halse Anderson

Until It Hurts To Stop by Jennifer Hubbard

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

Toughest

Endgame by Nancy Garden

Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

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Violence

Tough

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

 Escape Under  the Forever Sky by Eve Yohalem

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Tougher

Acceleration by G. McNamee

Autobiography of My Dead Brother by Walter Dean Myers

 Bang by Sharon Flake

Borderline by Allan Stratton

Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn

Grace by Elizabeth Scott

Hunger Games by S. Collins

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Lord of the Flies by W. Golding

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

Right Behind You by Gail Giles

 Shooter by Walter Dean Myers

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Tangerine by Edward Bloor

 The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson

Toughest

 Freaks and Revelations by Davida Wills Hurwin

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

I am the Messenger by M. Zusak

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

The Monstrumologist by Richard Yancey

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Abuse

Tough

Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas

Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin

Tougher

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Ma (B MAH)

 Chloe Doe by Suzanne Phillips

 Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles

Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen

My Tiki Girl by J. McMahon

 Rage by Julie Ann Peters

Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

Split by Swati Avasthi

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

 The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

Where People Like Us Live by Patricia Cumbie

Toughest

A Child Called “It”  by David Pelzer (362.7 PEL)

 Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

 Tenderness by Robert Cormier

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