Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Debut Novels (EVER!)


top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Top Ten Debut Novels (EVER!)

We strayed from the assigned topic a bit today, but we really wanted to share our favorite debut novels ever.


1. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

This is one of my favorite young adult novels, and I can’t believe it is Ruta’s first! I will admit that I stole it from Kellee’s list (see below). It is hard to believe that Ruta worked in the music industry before she started writing because this novel seems to be authored by a seasoned  writer. Amazing (as I shake my head in disbelief).

2. Looking for Alaska by John Green

Who wins the Printz Award on his/her debut novel? This guy. Looking for Alaska is an incredible book that offers invaluable lessons to teens. Years after reading this book, I still find myself comparing other books and characters to it. I imagine that many of the readers of this blog have read this book, but if you haven’t—read it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

3. Ball Don’t Lie by Matt de la Peña

I received this book in my first ALAN Workshop box. When I got home from the conference, I picked it up to read it and fell in love. I immediately searched for his other books and was disappointed to find that this was the only one that existed! Since then, I have read every book by this man. He is an incredible author. (I should add that he sent me ten personalized books to my students who were most at-risk of dropping out. Isn’t he wonderful?)

4. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

I have been trying very hard to keep this book off of my TTT lists to show variety. I can’t help myself this time. Even if you don’t love fantasy, you will fall in love with this book. It is accessible to people of all ages (and both genders, I might add). I see that Kellee includes it on her list below. We are both addicted to Kristin Cashore.

5. Divergent by Veronica Roth

I still can’t believe Veronica Roth wrote this book when she was a senior in college. It shows her innate talent at writing. After The Hunger Games came out, I had difficulty getting students to find other books they would enjoy. When this came out, it was a perfect choice. I found it to be intellectually more complex and a great next book on the ladder after The Hunger Games. (By the way, if you don’t know the term “ladder,” you should check out Teri Lesesne’s Reading Ladders—an excellent book for teachers of reading.)


This was a tough one to determine as I wasn’t always sure when a book was a debut novel. These 5 are ones I know are debut novels and are just wonderful–you would never know they are debuts!

1. Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby

Portia is looking for her family, but ends up finding a place in the least likely places- a “freak show” touring around the midwest during Depression-era America. The author seamlessly intertwines Portia’s story with the story of the traveling show even mixing up points of views and narrators during the story. Although it sounds like it should definitely not work, it does. And it does beautifully. This book is mostly about heart, family, and home. Portia’s story is so enthralling and her transformation is amazing to be part of.

2. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

This is such a powerful story with characters that you grow to love as they are put through hell. What makes the hell even more grotesque is that it is based off of stories that really happened during a time of history that does not get spoken of too often. Like Holocaust books, this book is one that will rip you apart as you read it. And all of it is based off of Ruta Sepetys’s family history!

3. Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

This book is a beautiful book in verse that not only has a touching narrative, but has exquisite verse. The narrative deals with a topic that many readers will have some sort of connection with, cancer, as well has coming of age in a household where the disease has struck. But what makes this book different than other stories about the effects of cancer is that it also tells the story of growing up as a Mexican-American here in America.

4. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

High fantasy can be intimidating because of having to completely immerse yourself in an invented world and sometimes I find it hard to imagine somewhere that doesn’t exist; however, with Graceling, the characters are so strong that the original confusion with the setting didn’t even bother me and then by the time I thought about it, I’d lost all confusion and was in Katsa’s world.

5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

What can you say about this one?! Harry Potter was J.K. Rowling’s first try at a novel. Wow.

Which are your favorite debut novels?

RickiSigand Signature


9 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Debut Novels (EVER!)”

  1. Hard to believe that they were the first ones, isn’t it? I have one to share! A former colleague’s husband was writing when she taught with us, and then they moved to another part of Colorado, but his debut book was a National Book Award finalist, and he’s gone on to publish others. He is Paolo Bacigalupi & his debut novel is Shipbreaker. Someday, hope you can find & read it-it’s good!

  2. I love this premise! I don’t keep track of upcoming debuts to be honest, so I didn’t even attempt this week’s TTT. And OF COURSE I absolutely adore all the debuts on this list!

  3. Great list! Yeah, it is amazing how great people’s debut novels can be. They must’ve written a ton before they were ever published, but it’s still just mind boggling. My personal favorite first (and only) novel is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. The epitome of an American classic, an amazing story; and her first and only book!


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