Our Favorite Teen Books Set in Chicago

It's always fun to escape into a book set in a tropical paradise or a magical fantasy realm. But sometimes, the most interesting stories take place right next door. From Rogers Park to Hegewisch, from Austin to the Loop, our unique city has exciting plotlines and complicated characters waiting around every corner. And, as we celebrate the library's 150th birthday in 2023, we can't forget all of the fascinating events that took place in the past. Whether you're a fan of mystery, romance, drama or historical fiction, one of these books set in Chicago should be just what you're looking for.

In James Klise's novel I'll Take Everything You Have, Joe Garbe arrives in town in the summer of 1934 determined to save his family farm. Luckily (depending on how you look at it), his cousin Bernie has a sketchy get-rich-quick scheme. But as Joe finds himself drawn into the city's criminal underbelly, he also finds himself romantically entangled with Eddie, a delivery driver, and Raymond, a carefree rich kid. Whether Joe pulls off his scheme or loses it all, this summer will change everything.

If the two boyfriends in I'll Take Everything You Have aren't enough, try The 99 Boyfriends of Micah Summers by Adam Sass. Micah is too shy to ask out his many crushes, but he runs a popular Instagram account where he anonymously posts drawings of them. After he has a meet-cute with a guy on the L and almost works up the courage to get his number, Micah and his friends go on a madcap adventure around the Loop to find him again.

Named one of CPL's Best of the Best teen titles for 2022, Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed deftly showcases the dangers of racism and xenophobia through a gripping mystery. When a high school freshman is murdered, his ghost leads aspiring journalist Safiya Mirza to his body in Jackson Park. Safiya is determined to bring about justice, but her investigation into the murder leads her closer to home than she ever imagined.

Historical mystery The City Beautiful takes us all the way back to 1893, when the World's Fair rolls into town. Alter just wants to raise enough money to bring his family over from Romania, but he unwittingly finds himself drawn into a murder mystery when several other Jewish boys wind up dead. After the body of his friend Yakov is found, a dybbuk (a wandering spirit from Jewish folklore) begins to possess Alter, propelling him to a deadly hunt for the serial killer.

In The Revolution of Birdie Randolph, Dove, also known as Birdie, is torn between wanting to be the perfect daughter for her strict parents and a newfound desire to rebel. She's been hiding her romance with Booker, a nice guy who made a mistake and wound up in juvenile detention, and forming a connection with her estranged aunt who suffers from addiction. When a family secret is uncovered and changes everything, Dove has to figure out whether she can fit the disparate pieces of her life together.

When Mari takes an Uber to Lollapalooza in The Pick-Up, the last thing she expects to find in her rideshare is romance. After all, Mari just witnessed her parents get divorced, and she doesn't believe in dating. But when Mari meets TJ, they both feel an instant spark before they're separated by the festival crowd. Now, they have to find each other again to see if their connection is the start of something that could last beyond the weekend.

What is your favorite teen book set in Chicago?