From struggles with mental illness to coping with tragedy and complicated family dynamics, each of these books is profound and deeply moving. The lessons you’ll learn will linger with you long after you’ve turned the last page, and they will change your life forever!

Must-Read Books That Will Change Your Life Forever

The Other Talk by Brendan Kiely 

By sharing his own upbringing, Brendan begins a very necessary conversation about racism and allyship with young adults. It’s very rare that you see direct conversations like this in literature, especially ones presented in such an honest and relatable way. This book will force you to confront your privilege; hopefully helping you start your journey to becoming an ally to all people of color.


Ain’t Burned all the Bright by Jason Reynolds; illustrated by Jason Griffin

This might be the shortest novel you’ve ever read, but it’s also one of the most impactful. 2020 changed the world and told us to sit down and pay attention to the inequality in the justice system, climate change, and our healthcare systems. With the COVID-19 pandemic robbing us of our daily distractions and giving us all the time in the world to watch what’s happening around us, readers are able to use this book to reflect on how 2020 changed our lives forever.


When We Were Infinite by Kelly Loy Gilbert

We’ve all had a friend (or group of friends) that became our identity as a young adult. During the all-important early years of our lives our friends can seem like the only safe space, one that we hope we’ll have forever – just like Beth in When We Were Infinite. Beth has been forced to navigate change in every relationship she has held dear for as long as she could remember. Will she be able to keep those same relationships forever, or is change an inevitable consequence of time?


Turning by Joy L. Smith

Have you ever experienced an event that felt completely life-shattering? Was it a big break up? Not getting into your dream college? Whatever it was, Genie is here to show you that life is truly all about what you make out of the challenges you face. Life has put this aspiring professional dancer on a track that she never expected, and it’s forced her to face life in a way she never planned to.


Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

In Long Way Down Will experiences a loss that will define how the rest of his life turns out: the death of his older brother, Shawn. Thanks to the pressure Will faces from his community after this live-changing tragedy, he’s forced to decide what kind of man he wants to be a lot sooner than he expected, and without the one person he thought would show him what to do. Shawn and Will’s relationship will change how you feel about your siblings forever.


Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi

While we’re talking about life changing sibling bonds, we have to visit the story of Jayne and June Baek. If you don’t have a sister, this book will make you wish you did, and if you do have a sister, you’ll want to run and hug her. Jayne and June’s relationship transforms throughout this book, going from family, to enemies, to strangers, and finally, to heroes. A lot of us may be stuck in the competitive stage with our siblings, or we might be indifferent towards one another, but this novel will absolutely have you looking at your sibling in a different light.


When Can We Go Back to America? by Susan H. Kamei

All of us are familiar with the happenings of World War II, but many of may not know that during those horrible times, the United States government forcibly removed more than 120,000 persons of Japanese descent from the Pacific Coast and kept them in detention camps until the end of World War II. Though these atrocities happened years ago, they changed how billions view America and its history, and there are still individuals who question their racial identity and struggle with what it means to be an immigrant in America. This book honors those individuals by offering a platform for the voices of more than 130 people who were unconstitutionally incarcerated.


Need another book recommendation? Take a look at these books that will help you start a conversation about social change.