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Take 5: Australian YA

It’s no secret that Australian YA tends to be amazing. For me, it all started in 2001/2002 with two books: Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty and Sleeping Dogs by Sonya Hartnett. I read the Moriarty book while working at The Children’s Book Shop in Brookline, Massachusetts (aka my favorite job ever) and was blown away. I read the Hartnett title around the same time for a course in graduate school at Simmons College and found it astoundingly brilliant. Together with my group of Simmons friends, we read and shared more and more Australian titles (at one point trying to put together a group independent study course of Aussie YA). Since then, I’ve continued to be a voracious reader of any Australian YA I can get my hands on. With very rare exception, I am never let down. New to reading Australian YA? Here are 5 of my favorite titles  to get you started (summaries from the publishers). See the end of the post for links to more posts talking about Aussie YA. 


Take 5: Australian YA


Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

ISBN-13: 9780312287368

Publisher: St Martin’s Press

Publication date: 1/10/2002


Life is pretty complicated for Elizabeth Clarry. Her best friend Celia keeps disappearing, her absent father suddenly reappears, and her communication with her mother consists entirely of wacky notes left on the fridge. On top of everything else, because her English teacher wants to rekindle the “Joy of the Envelope,” a Complete and Utter Stranger knows more about Elizabeth than anyone else.

But Elizabeth is on the verge of some major changes. She may lose her best friend, find a wonderful new friend, kiss the sexiest guy alive, and run in a marathon.
So much can happen in the time it takes to write a letter…

A #1 bestseller in Australia, this fabulous debut is a funny, touching, revealing story written entirely in the form of letters, messages, postcards–and bizarre missives from imaginary organizations like The Cold Hard Truth Association.

Feeling Sorry for Celia captures, with rare acuity, female friendship and the bonding and parting that occurs as we grow. Jaclyn Moriarty’s hilariously candid novel shows that the roller coaster ride of being a teenager is every bit as fun as we remember–and every bit as harrowing.


Sleeping Dogs by Sonya Hartnett 

ISBN-13: 9780670865031

Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated

Publication date: 8/12/1995


When a stranger enters a family’s midst and insists on discovering all of their darkest secrets, the family begins a slow and painful descent into decay and madness.



Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

ISBN-13: 9780375869532

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Publication date: 2/14/2012


Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she’s going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He’s out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy’s stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she’s managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they’re suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.


Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta 

ISBN-13: 9780375829826

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Publication date: 9/28/2004


Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys’ school that pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom.  Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an impossibly dorky accordion player.  The boys are no better, from Thomas, who specializes in musical burping, to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t seem to stop thinking about.

Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is.  Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life, and—hardest of all—herself.


Pink by Lili Wilkinson

ISBN-13: 9780061926532

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 2/8/2011


Ava is tired of her ultracool attitude, ultraradical politics, and ultrablack clothing. She’s ready to try something new—she’s even ready to be someone new. Someone who fits in, someone with a gorgeous boyfriend, someone who wears pink.

But Ava soon finds that changing herself is more complicated than changing her wardrobe. Even getting involved in the school musical raises issues she never imagined. As she faces surprising choices and unforeseen consequences, Ava wonders if she will ever figure out who she really wants to be.

Pink received an American Library Association Stonewall Award Honor for exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience.


If you would like to recommend additional titles on this topic, please leave us a comment. We always look forward to hearing what books others value and recommend.


For more suggestions of Australian YA titles, check out:

Epic Reads, “17 Australian YA Authors You Need to Read.” 

Inkcrush, “Aussie YA.”

Buzzfeed, “27 Awesome Australian Books Every YA Fan Should Read.” 



  1. Shelley Diaz says

    Anything by Fiona Wood, Simmone Howell, Melina Marchetta. The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner, Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey, The Minnow by Diana Sweeney, and Zac and Mia by AJ Betts are all tearjerkers.

  2. Amanda MacGregor Amanda MacGregor says

    Those are great additions, Shelley! I really loved Wildlife and Girl Defective.

  3. Definitely Stolen by Lucy Christopher, Wildlife, Jasper Jones, and I think Christine Hinwood, author of The Returning, is Australian as well, although the book may not be set there.

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