With an onslaught of great middle grade books to read, my favorite way to get through young adult literature is YA audiobooks! As you know by now, my sweet spot is contemporary, realistic YA and that’s what you’ll find on this list. The joy of audiobooks is tied to the quality of the narrator(s) and how they bring the story to life. The narrators of these YA audiobooks get pronunciations right and have superb voice acting skills.
Where to Find YA Audiobooks
I’ve shared my favorite ways to listen to audiobooks, but just in case you were wondering, here are some places to find audiobooks (besides your library, which often uses Libby):
- Scribd: This is a subcription-based service where you pay a monthly fee and get unlimited access to a vast library of new and classic audiobooks for all ages. Signing up with this link gives you two months free (and gives me one month free).
- Chirp: Chirp is a subscription-free audiobook service that brings you amazing limited-time deals on popular audiobooks, including New York Times bestsellers. When you subscribe to their daily deals email, you’ll get the deals (as low as $1.99) delivered straight to your inbox. These titles will always be yours (unlike with Scribd). Get 30% off your first purchase on Chirp when you use the promo code READINGMIDDLEGRADE30.
- Audible: This is another subscription + purchase style service. You get one credit each month (which is a free audiobook) and then you’ll need to purchase any other audiobooks out of pocket. Audible is my least favorite option as you can imagine.
20 Best YA Audiobooks to Listen to Today
Whether you like romance, family drama, or an action-packed thriller, there’s an audiobook pick on this list for you. I’ve also listened to all of these choices and can personally recommend the narration. Here are 20 best YA audiobooks to listen to today:
Charming As a Verb
Narrated by: James Fouhey
Charming As a Verb is a charming (pun intended), realistic young adult novel about finding one’s place in the world. This is a longer story and I loved getting to listen to it vs reading it. I did lots of chores so I could keep listening to this one. Ben Phillipe’s sophomore YA book tackles several themes from the immigrant experience, familial expectations, the pressure of college admission season, and finding a person with whom we can be our truest selves. The protagonist and his love interest are dynamic and relatable — you’ll be rooting for them by the end of the story.
One True Loves
Narrated by: Joniece Abbott-Pratt
Never has a narrator matched a YA character so well! The narrator sounded just like I imagined Lenore would and I often felt like I was watching a movie, not reading the book. One True Loves is a swoony, multi-layered young adult novel about making room for vulnerability, redefining Black excellence, and finding the courage to be one’s true self. Set aboard a Mediterranean cruise, this sweet romance is a delight for travel lovers and books about summer romances. It also features common teen issues such as figuring out what to do in college, building real friendships, and managing relationships with siblings. If you have a chance to listen to this on audio, DO IT! The narrator is PHENOMENAL!
Narrated by: Greta Jung
Greta Jung is an OG audiobook narrator and she does an excellent job in this book as well. XOXO is a swoon-worthy, adorable YA romance set in South Korea. Following two musicians — one a cellist and the other the lead singer of a K-Pop band — this book will appeal to lovers of YA books about music, Asian YA novels, and stories about teens and their grandparents. If you love to travel on the page, don’t miss this YA novel set in Seoul.
As If on Cue
Narrated by: Tara Sands
The narrator does a great job of conveying the protagonist’s type-A nature and also narrates younger versions of both teens convincingly. As If on Cue is an entertaining enemies-to-lovers young adult novel full of love for music and the arts. With a realistically drawn female protagonist, a supportive family with parents in the arts, healthy friendships, and adorable love interest, this one makes for enjoyable reading. If you’re on the hunt for YA that centers Jewish culture, religion, and characters, don’t miss this one.
Where the Rhythm Takes You
Narrated by: Antonevia Ocho-Coultes
I adored this audiobook because it’s actually narrated by a Trinidadian with the right accent to match the protagonist. I felt like I was in Trinidad for real. Where the Rhythm Takes You is an alluring and immersive YA coming-of-age story with a heartwarming second-chance romance. Featuring a heroine grieving the loss of her mother and caught between carrying a burdensome legacy or following her dreams, this YA novel will resonate with one who’s ever felt stuck in life.
The Hate U Give
Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
I mean, it’s Bahni Turpin. This audiobook is action-packed and highly emotional. It helps that it’s a great story already, but the audiobook narrator definitely elevates it.
Narrated by: Joniece Abbott-Pratt
I was hooked on this audiobook — as it is with Jackson’s books. Grown is a powerful addition to a growing list of books about sexual misconduct, inspired by the events of the R. Kelly case. This mature young adult novel (seriously, best for older teens and young adults) is timely and important and would have saved many young women a lot of heartaches if they had a book like it as teens. I would recommend this for anyone who can handle reading about such gritty topics (see content warnings), those who enjoy YA books about music, and anyone who is a fan of Jackson’s writing.
The Silence Between Us
Narrated by: Chloe Donladis
The Silence Between Us is a rousing young adult novel with a Deaf protagonist who never lets her disability set her back. It explores the challenges of a Deaf/hearing relationship and addresses the strain a sibling’s chronic illness can have on a family. The excellent narration definitely enriched my experience of this book. For example, when Maya lip-reads, the narrator abruptly breaks up the sentences so we can only hear what Maya understands. And I could feel the second-hand frustration when people talked too fast and she couldn’t decipher their sentences. I also learned that ASL follows no grammar rules whatsoever, which for some reason makes it so appealing to me.
To Be Honest
Narrated by: Eileen Stevens
To Be Honest is a powerful fat-positive story featuring a strong sisterhood bond, solid female friendships, and a sweet romance. If you’re looking for a young-adult novel featuring an anti-diet-culture message and/or a teen navigating their parents’ divorce, To Be Honest may just be the pick for you. I liked this audiobook a lot!
We Are the Perfect Girl
Narrated by: Holly Linneman
Funny, engaging narration. I really liked this book — so many elements all worked together. We Are the Perfect Girl is a clever young adult novel that dissects the idea of conventional beauty and attraction. With two strong female protagonists, this novel is an ode to childhood friendships. If you’re interested in psychology, books about body dysmorphia, or books with female rowers, you’ll enjoy this book!
Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance
Narrated by: Mayuri Bhandari and Neil Shah
There are two narrators in this one, which is always a delight when a story is told from two POVs! Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance creates the perfect Bollywood-dance romance, with a focus on family, Indian food and culture, and pursuing one’s dreams. This book also zooms in on the struggle of dealing with anxiety and panic attacks (which Radha has) and highlights how loved ones can be supportive. If you like entertaining YA that addresses plenty of “heart” topics — with a generous serving of Indian food and dance, this one is up your alley!
Better Than the Movies
Narrated by: Jessie Vilinsky
Jessie Vilinsky is a pro narrator. This is SO GOOD! The audio, the love story, everything was perfect. I didn’t want it to end. Hopeless romantic, Liz Buxbaum attempts to secure a happily-ever-after moment with her forever crush, but finds herself reluctantly drawn to the boy next door.
Bookish Boyfriends: A Date with Darcy
Narrated by: Jessie Gill
This is a fun young YA novel — although a tad dramatic. It’s a take on Pride and Prejudice with very well-developed characters, insightful commentary on classic literature, and (have I mentioned?) lots of drama. This one may not be for you if you roll your eyes a lot at YA in general. But YA lovers, you’ll enjoy this one!
Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
Wildly entertaining — narrated again by the great Bahni Turpin! This book is so well done, but I dare say, the audiobook is even better. Just read it or listen to it or whatever. It’s nice to have a good book that just leaves your heart pounding and your head spinning.
Far from the Tree
Narrated by: Julia Whelan
I called this one This Is Us for teens (apparently, the publisher agrees!) and I stand by it. My heart swelled and contracted throughout the (beautiful) narration of this book (well done Julia Whelan!!!). Heartwarming, arresting, and full of hope, FAR FROM THE TREE explores what real family means and shows that there’s a seat at the family table for everyone.
The Lines We Cross
Narrated by: Tim Pocock and Candice Moll
This is another one with two narrators, which is super impactful for the story. The author deftly maneuvers the conversation about Islamophobia and tolerance without sounding preachy. She also shows how difficult it can be to move in the opposite direction of our deeply ingrained beliefs. I especially love the idea that people who are “nice and kind sometimes” can also be racists.
Overall, very mature teenagers in this novel with a good amount of social media featuring — something which novelists can seem to ignore exists in their stories. Incisive, enlightening, and engaging novel! Highly recommended for high schoolers and older.
The Poet X
Narrated by: Elizabeth Acevedo(!)
Acevedo is a spoken word poet and her narration in this audiobook speaks to that. This book won numerous awards and if you still haven’t read it, definitely put it on your TBR.
When Dimple Met Rishi
Narrated by: Sneha Mathan and Vikas Adam
This was one of the first YA audiobooks I listened to and enjoyed. It captures the chemistry that’s so palpable in this story and I loved that the story is narrated by actors of Indian descent. Vikas Adam is fantastic and always does a great job.
You Can Go Your Own Way
Narrated by: Natalie Naudus and Sunil Malhotra
This story — about best friends turned enemies and then lovers — has two narrators and is so full of emotion. If you like an angsty YA love story, this is for you.
Tokyo Ever After
Narrated by: Ali Ahn
The narrator channels the protagonist’s youth and naivete so well in this book! Tokyo Ever After is a royal coming-of-age story perfect for fans of The Princess Diaries. Set in Tokyo and Kyoto, this young adult romance provides an immersive armchair travel experience. With a sweet, smart, relatable protagonist, and an endearing love interest this is a guaranteed favorite for fans of young adult romances. I would highly recommend this for teens and adults looking for an escapist read that tackles tough topics like parental illness, the impact of media, and finding a sense of belonging.
There they are: 20 of the best YA audiobooks for teens and adults! Which ones have you listened to — and what did I miss?