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The U.S. celebrates Grandparents Day this weekend, and while it’s not as prevalent as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, it’s a great opportunity to show your love and appreciation for your grandparents when they are in your life. I lost all four of my grandparents when I was 13, so I really regret not being able to meet them when I grew up. I love reading about YA books where grandparents play an active role in the protagonists’ lives because our elders can teach us so much about ourselves, our families and life, but I think we often tend to forgetting how influential they can be. Here are five YA books with great grandparents that you shouldn’t miss!

Cover of With the Fire on High

With the fire at the height of Elizabeth Acevedo

Emoni Santiago is a teenage mom who has grown used to making difficult decisions since she was one year pregnant. Now she’s a high school graduate, and the pressure is on. She has to think about what she will do after school and it has to be something that supports her child because her Abuela who raised her is not getting any younger and Emoni cannot expect her to help forever. Emoni loves cooking, and as impractical as it may seem, she has a real knack for taste and aroma. But will it be enough to take a risk to pursue their dreams? I loved that the relationship between Emoni and her grandmother was a complex one, dealing with boundaries and expectations, while Abuela supported Emoni and her daughter, even if that support sometimes looked like she was stepping back in order for Emoni to find a solution could find their own problems.

Now I've found you cover

Now I’ve found you from Kristina Forest

Evie is the granddaughter of Evelyn Conaway, a Hollywood film legend whose breakthrough role is considered a classic. But just as Evie is about to start her own exciting career, one mistake breaks everything down. Evie travels to New York City to get her grandmother’s help to get things going again. She discovers that her reclusive grandmother has a very cute teenager named Milo who lives in her guest room, and just as Evie begins to worry that he’s taking advantage of him, her grandmother disappears. Now it’s Evie’s job, with Milo’s help, to track her down before the time runs out for her new chance. I think this is an excellent book on how a teenager begins to see an adult in their life as a different person, prone to mistakes and misunderstandings, and I really enjoyed how Evie’s journey got them to do that to reconcile what she knew about Evelyn Conaway as a grandmother and mother, a famous movie star and person.

Love is a revolution cover

Love is a revolution by Renée Watson

Nala has big summer plans, and that includes hanging out with friends, doing Netflix marathons, and eating as much ice cream as possible. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with Tye, the cute community organizer she meets through her cousin’s activism work. To impress Tye, Nala implies that she works in her grandmother’s senior citizen community, helping provide enrichment opportunities for seniors. In reality, she just loves hanging out with her grandma and friends. But it helps Tye impress, and soon Nala has spun a web of lies and half-truths about her summer activities that threaten to ensnare her and topple her new romance. I loved that Nala has this very laid back, laid back relationship with her grandmother and that she primarily spends time with her, and that her grandmother obviously loves hanging out with her but also holds Nala accountable for her mistakes.

Cover picture of Darius the Great is out of order by Adib Khorram

Darius the Great is not okay by Adib Khorram

Darius is a Persian-American teenager who grew up in the United States and feels like he doesn’t even fit into his own family. When his family receives news that his grandfather is sick, they pack their bags and travel to Iran, possibly to see him for the last time. It is also the first time for Darius to visit his mother’s home country and his first opportunity to meet his maternal grandparents IRL. In Iran, Darius experiences a mixture of joy when he finally sees that the parts of himself are not accepted in the USA, but here, too, he doesn’t seem Persian enough. By getting to know his grandparents better, finding a friendship with their teenage neighbor and finally coming into contact with his father, Darius learns important truths about himself and his family. I enjoyed the scenes with Darius and his grandparents, because even if they don’t always get along, you can feel their love for him and their joy at finally being personally connected.

The Wide Starlight cover

The broad starlight from Nicole Lesperance

On the surface, I’m not sure if anyone would rate the grandmother in Nicole Lesperance’s YA debut as loving or wonderful, but I picked this book because of the nuances in her character. Ellie’s mother was swept away by the northern lights ten years ago, but no one believed her. Now at 16, Ellie’s mother seems to have returned to her, but she is no longer the same. When she disappears just as mysteriously, Ellie and her father travel to their mother’s homeland, Norway, where they find Ellie’s estranged grandmother. She seems stiff, hostile, and impatient at first, but the more time Ellie spends trying to find out what happened to her mother, the more she learns about her grandmother. I loved the scenes where Ellie and her grandmother bond over a shared passion for knitting and how they both understand that doing something for someone is a beautiful expression of love.

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