Sometimes you’re born into a family, and sometimes you have to create your own. That becomes even more apparent as soon as we come of age and define our own values, which are sometimes separate from those that raised us–or as we discover a family when we don’t have any nearby. These 15 YA books showcase some of the best examples of found family across genres, so if you’ve ever felt alone, pick up one of these books for a bit of comfort-reading.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
In this found family fantasy book, six strangers are assembled because of their particular talents, with one very important mission: pull off a heist against a hostile foreign nation. Although these six young people are from very different walks of life, they must learn how to trust and depend on one another if they’re to make it through alive.
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
Sunny is caught between worlds–she’s Nigerian, albino, and she doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere, until she discovers that she possesses magical powers, and must join three other students with magic to track down a dangerous criminal who is ready to turn on them. If you like the found-family aspect of Harry Potter, you definitely need to pick up this book!
The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis
In this western-inspired fantasy, five young women are living in a “welcome house” when one of them kills a bad man, and they all must go on the run in order to survive. With no one to rely on by themselves, and no destination save rumors of a safe haven that might not even exist, they must battle human and inhuman monsters in order to survive.
The Dengenerates by J. Albert Mann
Four abandoned young women in 1928 Boston find each other in one of the worst possible place–a school for “feebleminded” girls where they’ve all been imprisoned. London is the newest inmate, and she quickly falls in with Maxine, Rose, and Alice. They have each other’s backs and look out for one another, but London is determined to run away. But the longer she stays, the harder it is to abandon her friends, and she must find a way for all of them to escape.
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
In this first book in the Wayward Children series, Nancy tumbled out of our world and into another…but then she came back. Lost and confused, she’s sent to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, a school for kids who’ve gone to other worlds but come back, and need help adjusting. Throughout the series, an eclectic group of teens find comfort in each other, and look for their lost worlds along the way.
Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, and Brooke A. Allen
Jo, April, Mal, Ripley, and Molly are five BFF’s living in Cabin Roanoke at their summer camp for “hardcore lady types” where strange happenings and supernatural occurrences are the norm. Throughout their numerous hijinks and misadventures, they never forget what’s most important–friendship to the max. This is a fun comics series about friends who are as close as family!
Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
In this first in a trilogy, Lee has a secret: she can sense when gold is near. At the dawn of the Gold Rush, she finds her parents killed and must go on the run to California in order to stay one step ahead of their killer. Joined by her best friend, she and the rest of their company headed west form a tight bond as they outrun danger, and Lee tries to hide her gift in order to protect her new family–but using it may be the only way to keep them all alive.
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
If you like high-stakes found family fantasy books, pick up this excellent magical book set in Paris in 1889. Séverin Montagnet-Alarie is a wealthy hotelier who is offered a chance to to track down a dark artifact in exchange for his true inheritance. And so he assembled a team of unlikely people to assist him, and together they uncover dark secrets.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Blue has always been told she’s destined to kill the boy she falls in love with, but that always seemed like a distant worry until she meets Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah: the Raven Boys. They’re on a mission, led by Gansey, to find a lost Welsh king, and Blue joins them, not knowing what dangers await them. This series is as much about Blue finding the Raven Boys as it is about the Raven Boys finding each other.
Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens
Billie lives in a small town where she feels like an outcast as the preacher’s daughter…but at least she has her solid group of friends: Woods, Mash, Davey, Fifty, and Janie Lee. But when Janie Lee confesses that she’s got a crush on Woods, Billie realizes that she does, too…and she also likes Janie Lee. This is a complicated book about friendship, family, and small town living, with a solid friend group at its heart.
Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
In this action-packed sci-fi series, a group of teens in a tucked-away corner of the galaxy find themselves thrown together when a shady corporation attacks an illegal mining operation on a small planet. Out of necessity and tragedy, this unlikely group must learn how to trust each other and take care of each other as they fight to outmaneuver their enemies.
On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden
In this stunning and dreamy graphic novel, two timelines play out: In the present, Mia is the newest member of tight-knit crew of restorers, whose job is to break down and repurpose abandoned space stations throughout the galaxy. But Mia is haunted by her past. When she was at a space station boarding school years earlier, she made a friend who disappeared one night. Mia wants to find her, no matter the danger–and her newfound family might be able to help.
Mariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim
In this road trip adventure, Mariam is excited to spend her summer after freshman year of college reconnecting and hanging out with her two best friends, Ghazala and Umar. But when Ghazala does something that makes her parents furious, the three decide to skip town and hit the road for New Orleans for a formative trip that has them reconsidering family and appreciative of the people you choose in your life.
Seafire by Natalie C. Parker
Caledonia Styx has no one after a warlord kills her family. She builds a new life for herself aboard the Mors Navis, where she captains a crew of others who are orphaned and abandoned. But when her best friend is nearly killed, only to be saved by a defector looking to join them, Caledonia must decide if she’s willing to risk her found family for revenge.
Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
When Mila Flores’s best friend dies, she’s devastated–and no way does she believe for a single second that Riley died by suicide. So she performs a ritual to bring Riley back–and she ends up bringing back two high school mean girls as well. Now the four of them must band together and rely on each other in order to figure out who really killed all three of them–and Mila must figure out how to open herself up to new friendships and possibilities.
Looking for more excellent YA book recommendations? We’ve got you covered. And if you’re hoping for more recommendations on specific topics, such as found family YA books, check out TBR: Tailored Book Recommendations. TBR is a great service that offers quarterly personalized book recommendations based on what you want to read more of. All you have to do to get started is fill out our reader survey, and then you’ll be matched with an expert Bibliologist who will hand-pick three books just for you, and write you a recommendation letter. Receive your recommendation letter via email in about two weeks, or you can opt to receive your letter and your recommended books from our partner, Print: A Bookstore in Portland, ME in 3-4 weeks! Learn more and get started today!