The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. Andrew Peterson is the C.S. Lewis of our day, retelling the Christian Story with beauty and transcendence in fiction as well as in his music. The Wingfeather series is a fantastical tale of three siblings who learn they are princes and princess in a high kingdom and who must journey to take their rightful places.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. True masterpieces, both novels deal with the lingering effects of slavery, colonialism, and European missions in both Africa (Nigeria and Ghana, respectively) and the United States. The authors share a gift for characterization that will leave you wanting to meet the people they have created.
Peace like a River by Leif Enger. This recommendation was echoed by several members of the Rooted team. A favorite for anyone who reads it.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. “I loved it when I read it in ninth grade and it was the first book where “Christ figure” as a literary tool made sense to me.”
News of the World by Paulette Jiles. A traveling news reader tries to return a young captive to her family after she has lived among a Kiowa tribe for four years. Beautifully written, morally complex, a haunting story about taking risks and learning to love.
The Complete Short Stories of Flannery O’Conner by Flannery O’Conner. This collection of thirty-one stories will introduce your teen to one of America’s finest writers. A keen observer of human nature, O’Conner longed to glorify God through her craft. This is the woman who observed, “I don’t deserve any credit for turning the other cheek as my tongue is always in it.” Young people will appreciate reading this witty, challenging believer.
The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy. One way to introduce your teenager to great Russian literature: give him or her a very short first novel that will challenge them to wrestle with questions they are already beginning to ask. On his deathbed, Ilych wonders what gives life and death real meaning, and begins to find true comfort and meaning in the kindness of his servant Gerasim.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Learn where the term “Scrooge” comes from, and enjoy one of the world’s best-loved stories.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. “Substitutionary atonement” is a theological term that sounds awfully fancy, but Christians love the beauty of what Jesus did for us on the cross. This novel depicts this truth in a story of the French Revolution; you will remember it for years. Check out Hard Times by Dickens too.
Perelandra by C.S. Lewis. What would the world have looked like if Adam and Eve had NOT eaten the apple?
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Capturing warnings from Ecclesiastes, this book clearly outlines the emptiness of a pursuing the American Dream rather than Christ. Beautifully written classic.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. Great story about the pitfalls of legalism and prejudice.
Meals From Mars by Ben Sciacca. A modern parable that brings an African-American youth from the projects and a wealthy white businessman together for one desperate night.
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger. A coming-of-age story with a minister-father as wise as Atticus Finch himself. Amidst real-life struggles with death, addiction, and prejudice, two very different brothers learn to see the perfect grace of God as it touches the imperfect beauty of their family.