Subscribe to SLJ
Follow This Blog: RSS feed
A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

My Way Or The Highway

There’s a recent news story about a high school senior who has sued her parents for financial support. If you want more details, this is her local paper that first reported on it and this is an update on the case. I’m not going into specifics here, because, well, it’s a messy, complicated, sad situation for everyone and I don’t want to add to it by talking about the particulars or names or schools or towns.

But, it got me thinking.

If you start reading the comments to the articles about this, roughly ninety percent of them call the high school senior spoiled, entitled, and why doesn’t she just get a job already. I confess, my first reaction was a “are you kidding me.” But, man, some of the comments are vicious.

And it got me thinking about how our society views teenagers, and whether they are children or adults, and when they have to obey parents and when they have to support themselves. And it got me thinking about the stories written for teens, and how scared some adults are of those stories. (A.S. King’s post, Who’s Afraid of A.S. King, explores adult reactions to teen books and soft censorship, and I think it’s a good, thoughtful article on adults and teen books.)

Is part of the reason for the reaction of adults to this story of “spoiled brat” because it’s a story about a teenager?

Is her version of the story dismissed because she’s eighteen?

Are the comments to the stories the reality of what many teens face when they attempt to share their reality with the adults in their lives?

And then it got me thinking: this would make a great book.

Except, of course — it has. There are many books about teens who leave home, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and try to make it on their own.

Here’s the list I’ve begun, and includes suggestions from people on Twitter and Fadebook. If a description is in parenthesis, that’s from the person who suggested it.

One thing stands out as I read this list: almost all of these are extremely sympathetic to the teen who is no longer at home. Abuse or neglect is present at home. Often, the socioeconomic background is such that there really isn’t anything for a teen to sue a parent for.

What would you add?

Edges by Lena Roy

A Room on Lorelie Street by Mary Pearson — main character tries to live on her own, in part because of neglectful, alcoholic parent

SPLIT by Swati Avasthi (teenage boy being kicked out of the house by his abusive father)

Leap of Faith by Jamie Blair (she runs away with her Mom’s baby)

Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt — main character wants to move in with her boyfriend; later gets her own place

THE PINK HOTEL by Anna Stothard (unnamed narrator is 18, on her own in LA)

White Lines by Jennifer Banash (1980’s club scene girl can’t live with Mom because of abuse)

Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Promise Me Something by Sara Kocek (has a character who runs away)

Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston — main character’s father dies, leaving her and her brother to fend for themselves

KICKED OUT, edited by Sassafras Lowrey (non fiction)

Slake’s Limbo by Felice Holman (kid runs away and lives in NYC subway)

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Teenage Runaway by John Benton (novel amalgamated from true stories of teens rescued by his ministry)

Canada by Richard Ford

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (older sister kicked out)

Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten (older sister kicked out)

True Confessions of a Heartless Girl by Martha Brooks

Can’t Get There From Here by Todd Strasser

King of the Screw Ups by KL Going

Breaking Night by Liz Murray (nonfiction)

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Stotan by Chris Crutcher

Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff

Girlbomb by Janice Eribaum

Go Ask Alice

Dr Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos — main character’s sister gets thrown out of house

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross — main character runs away from home to Paris to avoid an arranged marriage

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick — main character’s mother has moved out of the home

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater — one character pays his own tuition, and later moves out of parents home

Hideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill — Mary runs way to be with her true love, Percy


About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is


  1. I LOVED Slake’s Limbo -so glad to see it turn up here. Got to shout out my own book here The Other Way Around about a kid who runs away with a group of dumpster-diving, street performers.

  2. Kat Kan says:

    A graphic novel that belongs on this list: The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot, in which the teen girl (in London) runs away because her father has been sexually abusing her and her mother takes the father’s side.

  3. This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers. Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan.