Books for Teens

Annie on My Mind

Annie On My MindIn 2007, the publisher of my best-known novel for teens, Annie on My Mind, celebrated the book's 25th year in print with a commemorative edition that has the lovely cover you see here. In addition to the novel itself, the new edition also contains a conversation between yours truly and Kathleen T. Horning, Director of the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her questions are very perceptive and were lots of fun to answer.

Annie on My Mind audiobookAnd now you can hear that interview at the end of the new Listening Library (Random House) audio book of Annie, on which the whole novel is read by the award-winning acress Rebecca Lowman!

The Story and the Book:
The story is about high school senior Liza, who falls in deeply love with Annie, whose school is as rough as Liza's is sheltered. Not only does Liza have to come to terms with her own feelings, but she also has to deal with the reactions of her parents and her school's administration.

Annie, considered a breakthrough book when it was published in 1982, was initially very well received. But in 1993, it was burned in Kansas City and removed from school libraries in several districts. Finally, it was the subject of a First Amendment lawsuit when a group of courageous teens sued to have it returned to school library shelves. After a trial in 1995, a federal district court judge ruled in the book's favor.

Annie was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and is for people 12 and up. It's been on many "Best" lists: ALA Best Books for Young Adults; ALA/YALSA Best of the Best; Booklist Best; Booksellers' Choice; ALA/YALSA 100 Best Books for YAs, etc. It has also been written about in books that are about books, in articles--and even in student theses and dissertations. It's been taught in both high school and college courses, too. (ISBN 13: 978-0-374-40011-8; ISBN 10: 0-374-40011-3)

For more information about the court case involving Annie, please email me at


Hear Us Out

Hear Us OutHear Us Out: Lesbian and Gay Stories of Struggle, Progress, and Hope from 1950 to the Present is both history and fiction combined. Putting this book together was exciting for me, for I've lived throughout the eras represented and have participated in various ways in some of the events I've described. Writing the final history section was especially exciting—and especially frustrating—for LGBT history was being made as fast as I wrote about it. By the time you read the final chapter, it'll have changed again—I hope mostly for the better!

Here's how Hear Us Out works. It's divided into sections, one for each decade from 1950 to the present. You'll find two stories in each section, plus an introductory essay about LGBT history—with, when possible, an emphasis on how that decade's history affected (or affects!) teens. The stories all feature lesbian or gay main characters who are dealing with situations that could have arisen in the same decade. Feel free to read just the stories, just the essays, or both as you wish; the book will work either way. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; ISBN 13: 978-0-374-31759-1; ISBN 10: 0-374-31759-3)

Hear Us Out is on several notable book lists: The Rainbow Project’s 2008 list of books dealing with GLBTQ issues; the 2008 list of CCBC Choices; the 2007 Rainbow List for the GLBT Round Table of the American Library Association; and VOYA’s Annual Nonfiction Honor List.



EndgameEndgame is for teens 14 and up. It was inspired by the terrible shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in 1999 in which 23 people were wounded and 13 people were killed (15 if you count the two shooters, who committed suicide). Reporters, law enforcement personnel, educators, and just about everyone who was stunned by the tragedy and by similar events both before and after it struggled to understand what makes some kids turn guns on their fellow students and on teachers. Like many people, I wished there were something I could do to add to the understanding of what had happened, especially because I believed understanding it and similar events might help prevent school shootings from happening again.

As time went on, one causal factor stood out to me in news reports and analyses, especially because although it was mentioned over and over again, it was never (until quite recently) emphasized. That factor is bullying. Just about all the shooters I read about had been the victims of severe, repeated bullying. I'd been bullied myself as a child, and know a little about how it feels—and I decided to write a novel focused on bullying and the tragic consequences it can have on both bullier and bullied. Endgame is the result. It's been named a 2006 Best Book by School Library Journal, and a 2007 New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. (Harcourt; ISBN 13: 978-0-15-205416-8).

ENDGAME's paperback edition has a new cover:


and was published by the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt imprint Graphia, in 2012. (ISBN: 978-0-15-206377-1).

For a brief look at Endgame, visit the Book Excerpt section.

And if you'd like to listen to Endgame, you can hear it read aloud by Danny Gerard on an audio version produced in 2010 by Audible, Inc.  It's live on all Audible channels, including iTunes,,,, and


Good Moon Rising

Good Moon RisingJan is deeply committed to theater and, after her first summer in a professional stock company, is sure she will get the part she wants in her school's production of Arthur Miller's famous play, The Crucible. But a new girl, Kerry, gets it, and Jan has to coach her. Much to her surprise, though, Jan finds herself falling in love with Kerry, and before long they are both targets of homophobia at their school. A Lambda Book Award winner; a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age; a Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux.)

The Farrar, Straus edition of Good Moon Rising went out of print a while back, as some of you probably have discovered. Because so many people told me they wanted copies of it and couldn't find them, I arranged to have the book reprinted through the Authors Guild Backinprint program with It's a "print-on-demand" edition, which means copies are printed when they're ordered from
(ISBN 13: 978-0-595-34767-4; ISBN 10: 0-595-34767-3)

Good Moon RisingHere's what the new cover looks like.




The Year They Burned the Books

The Year They Burned the BooksThe Year They Burned the Books, Jamie Crawford, editor of her high school newspaper, supports her town's new health ed curriculum, but a new school committee member and her supporters oppose it. A war of words develops in which all sides express their views with increasing vehemence. The school paper's beloved faculty adviser is suspended, and Jamie and most of her staff start an alternative paper. The school and the town become increasingly polarized, and the war of words turns violent. It is only after books are burned and Jamie and two friends are gay-bashed that the town cools off enough to vote on a solution. A Lambda Book Award finalist; on the Tayshas High School Reading List of the YA Round Table, Texas Library Association. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; ISBN: 0-374-38667-6)

NOTE: Fans of Annie on My Mind, Good Moon Rising, The Year They Burned the Books, and my other books with gay and lesbian characters and themes might want to visit some of the websites listed under LGBTQ Organizations and Services on my LINKS page.


Dove and Sword: A Novel of Joan of Arc

Dove and SwordMy historical novel, Dove and Sword: A Novel of Joan of Arc, takes place in 15th-century France. Gabrielle, the fictional main character, travels with Joan of Arc on her campaigns, becomes a healer, falls in love with a soldier, takes refuge in a convent for a while--and learns that war isn't the glorious adventure that she originally imagined. A New York Public Library Book for the Teenage; a New York Public Library Children's Book. (For ages 10 and up. Farrar, Straus & Giroux; ISBN: 0-374-34476-0; also Scholastic.)


Lark in the Morning

Lark in the MorningGillian, who has just graduated from high school, is very sure of her future career as a forester and her future life as her girlfriend Suzanne's partner. But during the summer, before going to college far away in Oregon, Gillian meets Lark, a young, suicidal runaway, and Jackie, Lark's little brother, and she finds she must go against the wishes and warnings of everyone she knows--even Suzanne--in order to guide the two battered siblings to safety. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)



Peace, O River

Peace, O RiverKate and her family have just moved back to their old hometown, River View, after several years away. Now Kate joins her best friend, Jon, at the regional high school their town shares with Hastings Bay, the town across the river. But Kate finds that the kids from the two towns are rivals--and soon the adults are, too, because the state wants to put a nuclear waste dump in one town or the other. Kate, who becomes friends with a girl from Hastings Bay and soon begins to date her brother, tries to heal the rift, but is nearly stopped by tragedy. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)


The Loners

The LonersPaul's best friend is his grandfather, and when his grandfather dies, Paul feels completely alienated from his family and cut off from his peers--until he meets a sweet, strange girl named Jenny and falls in love. But Jenny turns out to have longstanding mental problems complicated by her use of drugs, and Paul wants desperately to save her. (Viking)


Book Excerpt

"Gonna be better, gonna be better here," Gray Wilton thinks when he and his family move and he starts high school in a new town and a new state.

But in less than a year, he finds himself in a juvenile detention center...


Six sides.

The wire mesh embedded in the window glass formed little six-sided figures.

Yeah, hexagons.

Gray stared at them.

But so what? It didn't matter.

Nothing much mattered anymore. Had it ever?

Yeah, maybe. Long ago.

The glass was so thick and dirty that by a trick of light, Gray could see his reflection in it, in hexagon after hexagon.

It made him mad that the secure rooms, the ones like his, had wire hexagons in the window glass and dead bolts in the heavy steel doors, and that the doors had little steel sliding windows so they could spy on you and shove food through without coming in, like you were too dirty to get close to. It made him even madder that the secure rooms were right on the quad. That was extra torture, probably on purpose, so when you heard the other losers playing basketball you had to remember that you weren't going to get outside till they finally scheduled your trial.


Six sides to a hexagon.

How many sides to a loser?

How many sides to me?

Son, brother. Friend? Archer. Drummer.

That's five.

What about six? The sixth side.

Come on, the sixth side!

As if he were dreaming, Gray saw his reflected face morph into Lindsay's: friendly, then worried, then scared; then into Zorro's: disdainful, jeering, finally incredulous.

Son, brother, friend. Archer. Drummer.


Copyright © 2006 by Nancy Garden. Published by Harcourt, Inc., and reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.



Annie on My Mind
Hear Us Out
Good Moon Rising
The Year They
  Burned the Books

Dove and Sword
Lark in the Morning
Peace, O River
The Loners
Book Excerpt
Young Teens
Middle Grades
Young Children
Book List


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Copyright © 2011 by Nancy Garden. All rights reserved.