Divorce. The word is common, but that doesn’t mean it’s readily understood. For teens who know what the word itself means, they may still feel caught in the middle, lonely, confused and hurt. This is where books may be helpful. At Lift Legal, we’ve assembled the following list of books suitable for teens (ages 13–17).
Stories of families going through separation and divorce allow children to connect with characters whose feelings and experiences mirror their own. When looking for books for teens, seek out stories whose characters face their situations with grit, imagination, humor, sensitivity and bravery. These types of relatable tales can help your teen better understand changing family dynamics, moving to a different community or a different school, and making new friends. It can also help him or her deal with parallel parenting, new living situations and new relationships.
The Divorce Express (Puffin; 208 pages)
No one wants to ride the bus from Woodstock into New York City every weekend, especially ninth‑grader Phoebe, who is less than happy to be living in the country with her dad. She must ride the bus, which she calls the Divorce Express, into the city to see her mom. Caught between two places and feeling as though she doesn’t belong in either, Phoebe tries to juggle all the pieces of her hectic life. With a new friend and a cause to fight for at school, she is managing fine. That is, until her mom makes a decision that will change everything again. Hilarious and genuine, this book by Paula Danziger follows Phoebe as she struggles to find out whether she can be herself and still be part of both her parents’ worlds.
Face-Off (Thunder Horse Press; 110 pages)
Twin brothers Brad and T.J., both hockey players, compete not only to be captain of the high school team, but also for friends and the same girl. They come head to head at home, too, where they grapple with divorcing parents and a troubled younger brother. The entire school is hoping for a big double‑strength win on the ice. Little do their classmates know that Brad and T.J. are going head to head off the ice as well. This action-packed, compelling coming-of-age story by Stacy Juba centres on the issues of sibling rivalry, family relationships and divorce. At the same time, it underlines the importance of sportsmanship and family.
Sophie’s Smile: A Novel (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 272 pages)
Sophie is jaded by her peers and social structure, while her friend Liam is struggling with the fallout from his parents’ divorce. As pre-teens, the pair are lost in depression, emptiness and distress. When, in their twenties, their paths once again cross, their lives intertwine in a sweet and inspirational love story that allows them to appreciate life in a way they never thought possible. Author Sheena Harper artfully describes a how email, social media, text messages, letters and poems combine to chronicle twenty-first century love, loss, and the confusion and feelings that naturally stem from it all.
Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters (Books We Love; 180 pages)
With a good family, two best friends, a love of cheerleading and a champion quarter horse mare, life for 13-year-old Alyson Joanne Devlin, or AJ, is nothing to complain about. This may help explain why, when a new girl moves to town, AJ thinks little of it. That is, until her best friends Julie and Jaime begin ignoring her. Why is this new girl, Celine, hellbent on destroying everything important to her? However, before AJ can get even with Celine, she must first deal with her parents’ unexpected divorce and her now tenuous relationship with her father. She must also negotiate a new and shaky relationship with one of her former best friends and learn to cope with a blindsiding tragedy. Written by Mikki Sadil, this book deals sensitively with such themes as friendship, bullying, divorce, death and the realization that, in life, things don’t always turn out the way we hope.
The Cupcake Queen (Speak; 256 pages)
It’s bad enough that Penny Lane must move from Hog’s Hollow to New York City, where her mom runs a cupcake bakery and she’s stuck helping out. She had to leave her dad behind and now has to deal with resident mean girl Charity, who plays nasty pranks almost daily. Even with all of this to contend with, Penny still manages to find some positive in her situation, accept her new life and discover who she is—just at a time her parents ask her to make a choice that will turn everything upside-down again. Author Heather Hepler writes a sweet story about love, creativity and accepting life’s unexpected turns.
Bone Deep (Spencer Hill Contemporary; 328 pages)
In this suspenseful novel by Kim O’Brien, 17-year-old Paige Patterson travels to Arizona to stay with her father, hoping to ask him some pointed questions. Why did he choose his career in archeology over family? Why did her parents divorce? Why did he never bother fighting for custody? Although she is expecting answers from her dad, more questions arise when Paige’s best friend Emily Linton suddenly vanishes. As the search takes Paige from the Cliffside ruins of prehistoric Native Americans to the Navajo Nation, Paige must face the horrifying possibility that the answer is much closer to home. As she digs deeper into Emily’s disappearance, Paige realizes that uncovering the truth may cost her everything, including her life.
Keep reading fun. Everyone enjoys levity and humour, and children are no exception. They appreciate stories—good stories—that are fun to read.
Look for books that aren’t necessarily about divorce. Your son or daughter may find books about children whose parents aren’t together, or books about children in stressful situations, equally useful. The more children find books and stories relatable, the less isolated, sad and fearful they will feel.
Remember, too, that not every book your child reads has to be tied to a real-life situation. Reading is meant for fun, learning, exploration and stretching the imagination. Let your child escape from time to time.
Do you have a book recommendation you’d like to see included on a future book list? Drop us a line with a short description or review.