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Screen ‘Em: 7 Movies Perfect for YA Readers

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Annika Barranti Klein

Staff Writer

Annika Barranti Klein likes books, obviously.   Twitter: @noirbettie

There are many YA novels adapted to film (and TV), but for some readers and movie enthusiasts there are just not enough. Maybe the wait for your favorite book to be adapted is too long, or maybe it’s already happened and now that you’ve seen it, you feel a black hole in your TBW (to be watched).

Perhaps you’ll enjoy some of these movies and series that, while not adapted from books, should appeal to readers of YA. Some are specifically aimed at teens, while others are more for general audiences or even adults, but with obvious crossover appeal. Most of these are rated R, which I think says something about media that’s made about teens, but is not necessarily accessible to teens—but that’s a longer conversation, and one I don’t feel qualified to start. A lot of them are also directed by men, and most of them are directed by white people.

I haven’t seen all of these myself, so I’ve included descriptions from IMDb in quotes, with my own notes accompanying them. Please hit up the comments with any other suggestions!

Thoroughbreds (2017), d. Cory Finley

“Two upper-class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. Together, they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems—no matter what the cost.”

This is the movie that inspired the post—Book Riot editor Kelly Jensen suggested building a list based off of it, and I jumped at the idea! Rated R.

Eighth Grade (2018), d. Bo Burnham

“An introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth grade year before leaving to start high school.”

Also Kelly’s suggestion, this one looks like it might hit a liiiiittle too close to home for me. Rated R.

The Edge of Seventeen (2016), d. Kelly Fremon Craig

“High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.”

FINALLY a female director, wow a lot of men make movies about teenage girls wtf. (Related: where are the movies for/about teen boys?) Rated R.

Mustang (2015), d. Deniz Gamze Ergüven

“When five orphan girls are seen innocently playing with boys on a beach, their scandalized conservative guardians confine them while forced marriages are arranged.”

While this deals with heavier topics, the movie is rated PG-13, making it accessible to the teens it is for.

Lady Bird (2017), d. Greta Gerwig

“In 2002, an artistically inclined seventeen-year-old girl comes of age in Sacramento, California.”

There is an argument to be made that coming-of-age stories told in the past are not YA. I won’t bother making that argument, though. Rated R.

The To Do List (2013), d. Maggie Carey

“Feeling pressured to become more sexually experienced before she goes to college, Brandy Klark makes a list of things to accomplish before hitting campus in the fall.”

Ummm I must see this Aubrey Plaza–starring movie IMMEDIATELY. Rated R.



And coming soon:

Sierra Burgess is a Loser (September, 2018), d. Ian Samuels

“A case of mistaken identity results in unexpected romance when the most popular girl in high school and the biggest loser must come together to win over their crushes.”

This Netflix original retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac already has me excited—I hope it lives up to my own personal hype! PG-13.

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