Sweet Home Chicago: Teen Books

Like all native Chicagoans, I proudly claim the city as my hometown. And when I say "the city" I mean within the city limits, not the suburbs. We're very specific about that. These teen fiction books chronicle daily life in Sweet Home Chicago.

One local author who perfectly captures the vibe of the Northwest Side is Jessie Ann Foley, whose latest book, Neighborhood Girls, takes place in Jefferson Park. I can also vouch for her accurate portrayal of life in an all-girls Catholic high school. 

I Am Not your Perfect Mexican Daughter depicts the life of a teen girl who lives in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood that the author never identifies. Is it Back of the Yards or Pilsen? Julia wants to become a writer and finds her happy place in a Wicker Park bookstore. 

Speaking of joyful experiences, I'd argue that the most uplifting teen book set in Chicago is superstar author John Green's collaboration with David Levithan, Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Reading about the two Wills meeting downtown and their pal Tiny Cooper's autobiographical musical will make you smile.

Another Chicago story involving the performing arts is Brandy Colbert's debut novel Pointe. Although it's set in the suburbs, I must include this gripping novel about a black ballet dancer's struggle to decide whether it's worth risking her professional dancing career to identify her friend's abductor.

For historical fiction fans, there's the 1940s drama Ten Cents A Dance. Ruby, who hates her job in a Back of the Yards meatpacking plant, takes a job at a dance hall to earn money for her family.   

What's your favorite teen novel set in Chicago? 

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Chicago Public Library