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#SJYALit: A Bibliography of MG and YA Lit Featuring Homeless Youth

Today as part of the Social Justice in YA Lit Project (#SJYALIt), Natalie Korsavidis has compiled for us a bibliography of books that talk about youth and homelessness. You can read all the #SJYALit posts here or by clicking on the tag at the bottom of this post.


Anthony, Joelle. The Right and the Real. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012

Homeless after her father kicks her out for refusing to join a cult, seventeen-year-old Jamie must find a way to survive on her own.

Bauer, Joan. Almost Home. Viking, 2012

When twelve-year-old Sugar’s grandfather dies and her gambling father takes off yet again, Sugar and her mother lose their home in Missouri. They head to Chicago for a fresh start, only to discover that fresh starts aren’t so easy to come by for the homeless.

Belcamino, Kristi. City of Angels. Polis Books, 2017

Nikki ends up on the streets of Los Angeles after her boyfriend reveals why he lured her there. Together with Rain, a destitute 12-year-old, she settles into a residential hotel above a punk rock bar. When Rain disappears, Nikki burrows deeper into the underbelly of a city that hides darkness beneath the glamour.

Bliss, Bryan. No Parking at End Times. Greenwillow Books, 2015

Abigail’s parents, believing the end of the world is near, sell their house, give the money to an end-of-times preacher, and drive from North Carolina to San Francisco where they remain homeless and destitute, as Abigail fights to keep her parents, her twin brother, and herself united against all odds.

Booth, Coe. Tyrell. Push, 2007

Tyrell is a young African-American teen who can’t get a break. He’s living (for now) with his spaced-out mother and little brother in a homeless shelter. His father’s in jail. His girlfriend supports him, but he doesn’t feel good enough for her and he seems to be always on the verge of doing the wrong thing around her.

Bowsher, Melodie. My Lost and Found Life. Holtzbrinck Publishers, 2006

When her mother is accused of embezzling a million dollars and vanishes, spoiled, selfish Ashley must fend for herself by finding a job and a place to live.

Bruchac, Joseph. The Long Run.  7th Generation, 2016

Travis Hawk runs away from his father and a Seattle homeless shelter to travel across the country, experiencing some bad situations and meeting some good people along his journey of survival and risk.

Carey, Janet Lee. The Double Life of Zoe Flynn. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004

When Zoe’s family has to live in their van for months after moving from California to Oregon so her father can find work, Zoe tries to keep her sixth-grade classmates from discovering that she is homeless.

Carroll, Sarah. The Girl in Between. Kathy Dawson Books, 2017

A homeless girl and her Ma, always hiding from the authorities, take shelter in an abandoned mill in the center of a big city, but when developers make plans to knock the mill down, everything changes, prompting the girl to wonder what kind of ghosts are haunting both the mill and her mother.

Cassidy, Sara. Skylark. Orca Book Publishers, 2014

Angie lives in an old car with her brother and mother. Homeless after their father left to find work, the family struggles to stay together and live as normally as possible.

Choyce, Leslie. Crash. Orca Book Publishers, 2013

Cameron’s parents split up just as he is trying to set his life straight, which leads to him living on the streets with his dog. He meets Mackenzie who is also homeless; they work together to survive and get Cameron’s life back on track.

Cupala, Holly. Don’t Breathe a Word. HarperTeen, 2011

Joy Delamere is suffocating from severe asthma, overprotective parents, and an emotionally-abusive boyfriend when she escapes to the streets of nearby Seattle and falls in with a “street family” that teaches her to use a strength she did not know she had.

Fensham, Elizabeth. Helicopter Man. Bloomsbury, 2005

Pete and his father have been on the run living on the fringe since Pete’s mother died six years ago. Pete’s father believes they are being pursued by a conspiracy. Every time a helicopter flies overhead, they hide or move on. Unsure why they are running or how long they’ll keep going, Pete knows he will always stay with his father.

Florence, Melanie. Rez Runaway. James Lorimer & Company, 2017

When he gets drunk and reveals that he is gay, life on the reservation becomes intolerable for Joe Littlechief–even his religious mother rejects him–so he takes off for Toronto, where he must survive on the streets with the help of two new friends.


“Everything and everybody that’s busted can be fixed. That’s what I think.”

Glasgow, Kathleen. Girl in Pieces. Random House Children’s Books, 2016

As she struggles to recover and survive, seventeen-year-old homeless Charlotte “Charlie” Davis cuts herself to dull the pain of abandonment and abuse.

Gray, PJ. Trippin’. Saddleback Educational Publishing, 2015

Unhappy in a foster home and doing poorly in school, Troy runs away and ends up living in a homeless shelter in a nearby city, where he makes friends with Justin, another homeless young man.

Graziana. E. Breaking Faith. Second Story Press, 2017

Living in a dysfunctional family, Faith resorts to drugs, which seems to keep the Darkness at bay, but leads her to live on the street. The determination to find love and comfort that lures Faith to drugs is ultimately what can drive her to recover.

Griffin, Paul. Ten Mile River. Dial Books, 2008

Having escaped from juvenile detention centers and foster care, two teenaged boys live on their own in an abandoned shack in a New York City park, making their way by stealing, occasionally working, and trying to keep from being arrested.

Halahmy, Miriam. Behind Closed Doors. Holiday House, 2017

In alternating chapters, teens Tasha and Josie tell how each becomes temporarily homeless and how they find strength and friendship together as they try to regain control of their lives.

Hyde, Catherine Ryan. Becoming Chloe. Random House, 2006

A gay teenage boy and a fragile teenage girl meet while living on the streets of New York City and eventually decide to take a road trip across America to discover whether or not the world is a beautiful place.

Leavitt, Martine. Heck, Superhero. FrontStreet, 2004

When Hector’s mother forgets to pay the rent they are evicted from their home. She asks him to stay with his best friend for a few days, and then she disappears. Instead of staying with his friend he decides to hide out in an abandoned car, and discovers what reality on the streets is really like.

Moe, Laura. Breakfast with Neruda. Merit Press, 2016

Leaving his chaotic home to live in a 1982 station wagon, teenaged Michael is perfoming mandatory community service when he meets Shelly, a girl with a past, who may be special enough to unmask Michael’s deepest secrets and reveal his immense heart.

Moses, Sheila P. Joseph. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008

Fourteen-year-old Joseph tries to avoid trouble and keep in touch with his father, who is serving in Iraq, as he and his alcoholic, drug-addicted mother move from one homeless shelter to another.

Quick, Matthew. Sorta Like a Rockstar. Little, Brown, 2010

Although seventeen-year-old Amber Appleton is homeless, living in a school bus with her unfit mother, she is a relentless optimist who visits the elderly at a nursing home, teaches English to Korean Catholic women with the use of rhythm and blues music, and befriends a solitary Vietnam veteran and his dog, but eventually she experiences one burden more than she can bear and slips into a deep depression.

Rapp, Adam. 33 Snowfish. Candlewick Press, 2003

A homeless boy, running from the police with a fifteen-year-old, drug-addicted prostitute, her boyfriend who just killed his own parents, and a baby, gets the chance to make a better life for himself.

Ryan, Darlene. Pieces of Me. Orca Book Publishers, 2012

Maddie is living on the streets with her boyfriend, Q, when she meets a six-year-old boy, Dylan. She agrees to watch Dylan but when Dylan’s parents never return she and Q are left to try to look after themselves and Dylan.

Strasser, Todd. No Place. Simon & Schuster, 2014

When Dan and his parents can no longer pay their mortgage, they end up homeless and living in a local tent city. It’s a bad situation, and it only gets worse when the leader of the tent city is brutally beaten. Who is trying to shut down the tent city, and why.

Thomas, Jacquelin. Split Ends. Gallery Books, 2010

Kylie Sanderson isn’t looking for a handout or anyone’s charity. What she needs, as she summons up her courage outside the Crowning Glory Hair Salon, is a job. Tired of moving, currently homeless, she’s learned to depend on herself, not her hard-partying and irresponsible mother, which is why she’s quit school and is desperate to work.


“It’s a cold, hard, cruel fact that my mother loved heroin more than she loved me.”

Van Draanen, Wendelin. Runaway. Alfred A. Knopf, 2006

After running away from her fifth foster home, Holly, a twelve-year-old orphan, travels across the country.

Walters, Eric. Sketches. Viking Children’s Books, 2007

After running away from home, fifteen-year-old Dana finds friends on the Toronto streets, and, eventually, a way to come to terms with what has happened to her.

Wyss, Thelma Hatch. Ten Miles from Winnemucca. HarperTrophy, 2003

When his mother and her new husband take off on a long honeymoon and his new stepbrother throws his belongings out the window, sixteen-year-old Martin J. Miller takes off in his Jeep and settles in Red Rock, Idaho, where he finds a job, enrolls in school, and suffers from loneliness.


  1. Elizabeth Lucas says

    Saving Red by Sonya Sones is another one.

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