7 Deep and Meaningful MG and YA Books

Greetings! I hope all of you are doing well. Some of you are probably dying of boredom, while others have just as much to do as usual. Either way, book recommendations can’t hurt, right?

These are some books that I’ve found quite thought-provoking/deep/meaningful/wholesome. They’re the books that really resonate with you and make you think about the world around you in a different way. Many of these are dystopian, but those books really do make you reflect.

A Monster Calls


An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting – he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.

I went into this book blind, not expecting the raw, heart wrenching story I found in those beautifully illustrated pages. I was expecting more of a thriller. I wasn’t disappointed in the least, but I thought I should throw that out there.

Conor’s story is a touching one indeed, and also very different. Prepare to cry and not be able to stop thinking about this after you finish. The dark and dramatic illustrations make the themes of life, death, and grief hit you even harder. So definitely read that edition.

A Time to Die


How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?

Parvin Blackwater has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside.

In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence.

What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.

This entire trilogy is life-changing. The themes are super important, and the way Nadine Brandes tackles them in her books continues to inspire me as a writer. This book isn’t preachy, but it boldly woven with powerful truths. With a strong and relatable cast of characters, a gripping plot, and rich world, what’s there not to love? It stands out among the many shallow, hopeless dystopian books out there. No matter what genres you typically read, I urge you to pick this trilogy up.

The Hunger Games



In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and once girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weight survival against humanity and life against love.

At first, I wasn’t interested in reading this wildly hyped trilogy because I thought it would just be senseless killing for an entertainment. I was wrong. It is a darker read with killing and other tragedies, but it is very thought-provoking. As for A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I have yet to read it. But I look forward to seeing what it has to add to this iconic series.

Anne of Green Gables


As soon as Anne Shirley arrives at the snug white farmhouse called Green Gables, she is sure she wants to stay forever . . . but will the Cuthberts send her back to to the orphanage? Anne knows she’s not what they expected—a skinny girl with fiery red hair and a temper to match. If only she can convince them to let her stay, she’ll try very hard not to keep rushing headlong into scrapes and blurting out the first thing that comes to her mind. Anne is not like anyone else, the Cuthberts agree; she is special—a girl with an enormous imagination. This orphan girl dreams of the day when she can call herself Anne of Green Gables.

I read this for the first time as a teenager, but I found it just as lovable. Anne’s vivid personality makes her a believable protagonist you can’t help but root for. Reading about her as she grew up felt quite nostalgic and sweet. Anne’s love for life and joy found in the simple things had me reflecting on our world and wanting to think a little more like her.

Salt to the Sea


While the Titanic and Lusitania are both well-documented disasters, the single greatest tragedy in maritime history is the little-known January 30, 1945 sinking in the Baltic Sea by a Soviet submarine of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German cruise liner that was supposed to ferry wartime personnel and refugees to safety from the advancing Red Army. The ship was overcrowded with more than 10,500 passengers — the intended capacity was approximately 1,800 — and more than 9,000 people, including 5,000 children, lost their lives.

Sepetys (writer of ‘Between Shades of Gray’) crafts four fictionalized but historically accurate voices to convey the real-life tragedy. Joana, a Lithuanian with nursing experience; Florian, a Prussian soldier fleeing the Nazis with stolen treasure; and Emilia, a Polish girl close to the end of her pregnancy, converge on their escape journeys as Russian troops advance; each will eventually meet Albert, a Nazi peon with delusions of grandeur, assigned to the Gustloff decks.

It’s been a long time since I read this book, but I remember that it was heartbreaking. This overlooked tragedy should really be taught to people. Ruta Sepetys wrote about these distinct characters in such a real way that you could never be truly prepared for the end. This is a beautiful novel that I will definitely be revisiting in the (hopefully) near future.

In 27 Days


Hadley Jamison is shocked when she hears that her classmate, Archer Morales, has committed suicide. She didn’t know the quiet, reserved guy very well, but that doesn’t stop her from feeling there was something she could have done to help him.

Hoping to find some sense of closure, Hadley attends Archer’s funeral. There, Hadley is approached by a man who calls himself Death and offers her a deal. If Hadley accepts, she will be sent back 27 days in time to prevent Archer from killing himself. But when Hadley agrees to Death’s terms and goes back to right the past, she quickly learns her mission is harder than she ever could have known.

Hadley soon discovers Archer’s reasons for being alone, and Archer realizes that having someone to confide in isn’t as bad as he’d always thought. But when a series of dangerous accidents starts pushing them apart, Hadley must decide whether she is ready to risk everything – including her life – to keep Archer safe.

This book was probably my favorite I read last year, and definitely on my favorite-books-of-all-time list. It is so wholesome and meaningful and I fell in love from the beginning. We rave about this one a lot here on the blog, but for good reason.

The City of Ember


Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness…

But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them? 

The most prominent way this book was meaningful to me was appreciating the world and opportunities we have. The plot and characters were fun and engaging. Despite the dark, bare setting it takes place in, the book was ultimately hopeful. I admit to crying happy tears over the lovely and impacting ending.

Thank you so much for reading this lengthy post! I hope that if you end up reading these books, they mean something to you. Have a lovely day,

16 thoughts on “7 Deep and Meaningful MG and YA Books

  1. Merie Shen June 13, 2020 / 10:01 am


    The Out of Time trilogy was really good (as is everything by Nadine Brandes)! I thought In 27 Days was just okay, not very memorable– but that's just me and my unpopular opinion 😉 Everyone's telling me to go read THG trilogy and I'm planning to SOON, as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. And I REALLY want to read Salt to the Sea!! Great list!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mya Gray June 13, 2020 / 10:03 am

      I can kinda see how not everyone would fall in love with In 27 Days, so don’t feel bad about that. 😛 I hope you enjoy those, and thanks fren!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Skipper June 13, 2020 / 11:41 am

    I read the first book in the Out of Time trilogy and absolutely loved it! I love the way Nadine Brandes uses the series to explore what it means to truly live, and to live for Christ. Parvin’s struggles were so relate-able, I’m sure I’ve had the same thoughts Parvin did throughout the story at many different points in time. The theme of being bringers of shalom really resonated with me, too. Reading the Out of Time trilogy has definitely been life-changing for me. ^_^

    I can’t wait to try out the other books now too! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mya Gray June 13, 2020 / 10:33 pm

      I’m so glad you had the same thoughts! Thanks, let me know what you think of them. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hannah M. June 13, 2020 / 12:12 pm


    There are so many books (especially YA) that aren’t meaningful and thought provoking. I’ve only read a few books on this list, although a lot of them are on my TBR list. It’s so hard to find meaningful books that have themes and lessons, so I thank you for making this list. Awesome post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mya Gray June 13, 2020 / 10:36 pm

      Thank you! I’m happy to see there are others out there who are looking for more meaningful ya books.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. NexusFox June 13, 2020 / 8:46 pm

    -LE GASPE- “The City of Ember” is a book?! :O I’ve seen the movie but didn’t think to see if it was also a book xD

    Anyways, I’m gonna temporarily bookmark this page so that I can look for most of these books when the library fully reopens! “A Time to Die” seems extremely interesting, especially

    And yeah, I say most, ’cause I’ve already read a couple of books on the list…I actually own a copy of “The Hunger Games” 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mya Gray June 13, 2020 / 10:40 pm

      Yep, it is! I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve read the first two books in the series. Book two wasn’t quite so good in my opinion, but it still had some good themes.
      Haha, the libraries need to open soon. I hope your’s has some of these books. That’s cool that you read THG!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jorja Ayres June 14, 2020 / 3:17 am

    Great list! I’ll be sure to add some of these to my TBR!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Diamond June 14, 2020 / 3:54 am

    This is a cool list. Some of these books were oned I’ve read, some were ones I want to read, and others were ones I’ve never heard of.
    I’ll definitelly be checking some of these out.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Emily @frappesandfiction July 3, 2020 / 3:22 am

    wow you just brought back so many memories with The City of Ember- I haven’t thought about that series since 5th grade but I used to love it so much!

    Liked by 1 person

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