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Teen Reads: These mysteries will keep young adults guessing

YA titles to watch for include contemporary and historical mysteries.

Contributed / Park Rapids Area Library, Nov. 18, 2021

My reading this time of year tends toward mysteries. I enjoy the challenge in a good mystery: noticing clues in the story that tell me what will happen or what did. Trying to see if I can figure out who did the thing and why.

Here are a few titles that your favorite teen may enjoy!

“How We Fall Apart” by Katie Zhao is young adult (YA) contemporary mystery, which takes place in an elite prep school. Nancy Luo’s friends include Krystal, Akil, Alexander, and Jamie.

Jamie seems to have it all: money, popularity, and brilliance. She positively shines! She is the one person in their class with a higher GPA than Nancy. But appearances can deceive.

When word gets out that Jamie’s overbearing and abusive father has been cheating in his business, everyone distances themselves from the family. Everyone including Nancy and her friends.


Then Jamie goes missing and there is talk on social media – talk that points the finger right at this group of friends. What happened to Jamie and what are the consequences for them? They will need to join forces to discover what happened before person by person their deepest, darkest secrets are revealed.

We’ll stay in the same genre with “The Ivies” by Alexa Donne. The Ivies of the title are five girls, friends who are trying to get into Ivy League schools.

It’s highly competitive, so Avery, Emma, Sierra, Margot, and Livie each choose different schools and do whatever they can, by whatever means possible, to give one another an edge over their competitors.

When there is a death at the school, Livie senses that she is a suspect, and decides to investigate the murder. What she discovers brings into question whether the other Ivies are truly her friends.

As she gets closer to finding the answers she seeks, she finds that she is being threatened through a series of text messages. She will need to act fast or she just may discover that she is the next victim.

“The Perfect Place to Die” by Bryce Moore is a YA historical mystery. Zuretta and her sister, Ruby, live with their parents. Ruby has had enough of their father’s abusive behavior, and their mother’s inability to do anything about it.

She decides to run away to create a new life in Chicago, and she encourages Zuretta to come with her. But Zuretta doesn’t want to abandon their mother. She lives for the letters Ruby sends her about her life in Chicago – until the day Ruby’s letters stop coming, and Zuretta suffers recurring nightmares that lead her to Chicago and on a search for Ruby.

Etta, as she is known in Chicago, tracks Ruby to the hotel where she worked. Soon Etta is working there as a maid. It is a strange place that leaves Etta feeling hopeless. Worst of all, Etta’s nightmares have worsened.


The question now isn’t whether Etta will find Ruby, but whether Etta will survive the experience herself.

Mary Schwartz works in the Park Rapids Area Library’s young adult section, ordering books and creating programming. On the Literary Mary channel on YouTube, her videos explore books, STEM, creativity and family history research. She also enjoys hiking and exploring the woods with her camera and her husband, Kevin.

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