Indian YA novels

A relatively new genre, Indian YA has been trying to create its own unique space in the already heavily occupied literary pie of India over the past few years. As a result, Indian YA has seen some amazing stories come to life – stories that not only talk of adventure or magic, but also the problems that young adults face daily. Due to this, we have books that focus on LGBTQIA+, Kashmir and infanticide issues, as well as YA novels that focus on friendship and family relationships. From historical fiction to fantasy, these Indian YA novels will keep you entertained for days.


Talking Of Muskaan

Himanjali Sankar

Muskaan is a bright student, but when she suddenly lands up in the hospital after a suicide attempt, questions and suspicions arise. Himanjali Sankar’s Talking Of Muskaan is literally a talk about Muskaan by three people who are a part of her life – her former best friend Aaliya, the attractive Prateek and the smart Subhojoy. They talk about life in school, their teenage dramas and the secrets that they carry. As they slowly reveal the truth, we learn why Muskaan tried to kill herself. Dealing with bullying, the pressures of school and peers, and homosexuality within an Indian context, this YA book is a must read.

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Slightly Burnt

Payal Dhar

Sahil and Komal have always been joined at the hip. But Komal panics when Sahil tells her that he has some urgent news. She thinks Sahil is asking her out, and she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship and break his heart. A shock awaits her though, since Sahil’s news comes as a complete shock for Komal and has the potential to change their lives forever. A coming-of-age story of teens who just want to be accepted, this story will hold up a mirror to contemporary Indian society and its prejudices.  

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Faces In The Water

Ranjit Lal

The Diwanchand family has a special ‘gift’ that ensures that their lineage gets only blessed with boys. This is due to a well that brings them good luck. Gurmi, one of the boys in the Diwanchand family, is given a strict warning from his mother to not go near the well. But Gurmi cannot escape the temptation. He is shocked to see the faces of three girls staring back at him when he looks into the well. Through them, Gurmi comes to know of his family’s terrible secret, and how the girls, or rather, the ghosts of the well will help him get the revenge they deserve. Hard-hitting yet important, Ranjit Lal’s YA novel sadly rings true even today.

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No Guns At My Son’s Funeral

Paro Anand

Adults might be able to cope with the terror and violence they experience around them daily, but these encounters can have a lasting effect on the easily-moulded minds of children. In Paro Anand’s novel, Aftab leads a double life. While he remains the cheerful and friendly neighbourhood kid during the day, he sneaks away every night to mentor under Akram, who is training him in militancy. Awed by his mentor, Aftab is willing to do anything it takes to get in Akram’s good graces, but does he truly understand the consequences of his decisions? Today, the children of Kashmir are dealing with trials they shouldn’t have to, and this book portrays their situation in a heartfelt manner.

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Gravepyres School For The Recently Deceased

Anita Roy

Joseph Srinivas is the latest transitioner at Gravepyres School, and is learning Mathamythics, practising Cloudforming, understanding Decomposition, and how to ‘see’. However, he would much rather learn how to get back to his parents and his younger sister. He believes to have found an answer to this when he stumbles upon the secret of the Eternal Spring and the custodians of ancient knowledge – the vultures. Joseph and his loyal friend Mishi set out on the adventure of a lifetime as they scale the mysterious mountains of Kozitsthereistan. As the fate of the world hangs on their success, will they be able to save the notyetis and make it back to the Land of the Living?

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Daddy Come Lately

Rupa Gulab

Priya is a carefree 13-year-old, until her dad, whom she believed to be dead, comes to visit. Not only is he visiting, he wants to get to know Priya and even have her take math tuitions. This annoys Priya and she refuses to let her father ruin her perfectly planned life. But, when her mother starts getting giggly around her father, and Priya’s friends fill her ears will talk of siblings, Priya knows she has to do something before the situation goes out of hand. A hilarious story of teenage angst, this book will resonate with every teen, and even make grownups remember their teenage years.

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Queen Of Ice

Devika Rangachari

Didda, the princess of Lohara, was both beautiful and smart, but all anyone could focus on was her disability, which led to her dealing with an unloving father and mockery. As a result, she was married off at a very young age, but the taunts continued. Yet Didda, with her keen mind and ambition, persisted and ruled justly. In this YA historical fiction novel, Devika Rangachari expertly mixes fact with fiction to bring us the ultimate story of resilience. 

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Asmara’s Summer

Andaleeb Wajid

17-year-old Asmara is the cool kid in her college, and she wants to keep it that way. Her life, though, has other plans. Due to unforeseen circumstances, she has to now spend her entire summer with her grandparents who live on Tannery Road, an area popular for its lower-middle-class population. To top it off, there is no Wi-Fi, and her grandparents are wary of her way of living. How is Asmara to survive? Funny and fiercely entertaining, Asmara’s Summer will be an interesting read for all teenagers.

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What Maya Saw: A Tale of Shadows, Secrets, Clues

Shabnam Minwalla

Maya thought a summer course on the history of Bombay at the prestigious St. Paul’s College would be a thrilling experience. While she is, indeed, in for a thrilling experience, it’s just not the way she’d hoped. First, there are a bunch of students willing to resort to any means, including murder, to keep their beauty, and second, she is the only one who can see them. To solve the mystery, she has to undertake the most dangerous mission of her life, a series of clues left across the city, one that will also uncover the history of Bombay itself. Blending elements of history and a thriller in one, this YA novel is a treat for those who love a good mystery and the city of Bombay.

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Half The Field Is Mine

Swati Sengupta

Champa and Oli are inseparable. Even the fact that Champa is the daughter of Oli’s maid doesn’t matter in their friendship. These fierce friends are also avid footballers in the mixed football teams. One day, the boys decide that the girls can no longer play with them. The girls are still determined to keep playing, and Oli even finds them a coach. But Oli and Champa’s friendship is now being tested, as Champa has secrets that cast a dark cloud over her life. This coming-of-age story of navigating friendships and adolescence is one that will touch hearts everywhere.

Buy it here.

Prasanna is a human (probably) who makes stuff up for a living. When she’s not sleeping or eating, you’ll find her in the quietest corner of the library, devouring yet another hardbound book. She vastly prefers the imaginary world to the real one, but grudgingly emerges from her writing cave on occasion. If you do see her, it’s best not to approach her before she’s had her coffee.

She writes at The Curious Reader. You can read her articles here