We Recommend: Fantasy for 14-Year-Old Aspie Girl? NO ROMANCE!

It's We Recommend! So here's how it works: a person writes in with a request for a book for someone, and we, who used to be believe we had superpowers in this area but have since been humbled, try to find the perfect choice. Need a recommendation? Tell us the age of the reader, likes and dislikes, and anything else you think we might need to know. You can write to us at thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com. Here's the key: the best suggestions are in the comments.

OK, people, I've got one you can really sink your teeth into. Which actually sounds much creepier than I meant it, but I am tired so I am leaving it there. Here we go:

I insist on buying all my nieces and nephews books for Christmas & birthdays every year, and I put in a lot of effort to pick things I think they'll like.

Lately I've been striking out with my 14-year-old niece though. She's very smart, reads at a good level, but I am having trouble picking books for her. She hasn't been officially diagnosed but fits the Asperger's profile. She doesn't have any friends, nor really mind that too much. She really likes fantasy books – primarily with talking animals or magic. She is NOT into romance etc, since she's really not into that in real life either. So most YA novels which end up with a girl getting some guy are not really her cup of tea. So, she's mature in her reading ability but not in her content capability. I've broached the subject of classic literature – given its tendency away from hot & heavy scenes – but she has given me a flat "not interested." I do like to get her books with female protagonists just as a role-model/aspirational type of thing. She also doesn't like anything scary or too gritty — books are her place to escape. Google searching suggestions for "books for girls with Asperger's" just brings me books ABOUT girls with Asperger's.

Would love any help!

Well. Fantasy, but not too scary. Grown up, but no romance. Solitary, but welcoming. This is a girl after my own heart.

So I read this out loud on the couch, and Strider said "Discworld!" which makes a lot of sense. But. But!

I knew I had to ask Diana. Because I had a hunch she would just KNOW.

And I think she really did. Ta da!


Bonus: Down the road (it's the first in a series), one of the books follows a boy who is autistic. But truthfully, it doesn't matter who you are or what you read, per Diana: this series is awesome. AND, she notes, romance is delayed till later on in the series (phew!). And even then, she says, it's not so bad.

But the truth is: this is all Diana. I am following (and trusting) in her eminently good path. But what I'm really excited for? Are your suggestions in the comments. Think of it! There's a solitary 14-year-old girl who needs something great to read! To arms!

26 thoughts on “We Recommend: Fantasy for 14-Year-Old Aspie Girl? NO ROMANCE!

  1. The author Tamora Pierce! Dozens of books, most in quartets. Female protagonists, for the most part, and many of the series relate to each other (main character of one series then is a mentor to main character of other series). There’s never much romance, and when there is, it’s definitely to the side, and friendship is far more important than the mushy stuff. If she’s really into magic, the Circle of Magic is a good place to start.


  2. Also, what about Brian Jaque’s Redwall series. Not too many girls till later in the series, but heavy on the talking animals.


  3. This doesn’t fit the fantasy profile totally, but check out Kiki Strike. Strong female protagonist, not too scary, no romance I can recall, the characters are all quirky/a bit outsiders and there are multiple books.


  4. My vote is Hero and the Crown and the Blue Sword – there is a teeny tiny bit of romance but mainly it’s about the strong female protagonists being completely badass.


  5. What about Emily the Strange? It’s not exactly a “high” reading level, because of it’s format, but it’s wicked fun to read, a total lack of boys and not scary, but very strange. Hehe


  6. Diana Wynne Jones! She’s the best!My first choice for this reader would be the Pinhoe Egg. None of the Chrestomanci books have much romance (though a couple of non-main, adult characters do pair up), but the protagonist of the Pinhoe Egg is a smart, powerful teenage girl (who is a “magic user”). Backup choice: House of Many Ways. It’s not the best in the Howl’s Moving Castle trilogy, but it has the least romance and stars a somewhat prickly girl that does her own thing no matter what others around her tell her she should do.


  7. My anti-romance young/teen girl also loved Kiki Strike and Emily the Strange titles. Her absolute favorite though was the books that took place in Tortall I think (not the Circle of Magic).
    First Test/Page/Squire/Lady Knight
    Song of the Lioness quartet which begins with Alanna: The First Adventure
    Can also recommend: Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce or The Diamond in the Window by Jane Langton


  8. Sabriel (first book in the Abhorsen Series) by Garth Nix–Female necromancer who fights for good in the old kingdom. A bit of romance, but not until the end.


  9. Yeah, I hear you on that, but it’s how the aunt in question titled her request, and while it’s not how I would phrase it, I wanted to acknowledge it that way, particularly because of her reference to google searches for a book for her. I don’t know, I went back and forth on it, but then I thought: that was the wording of the request, so I went with it.


  10. Aunt here — really excited to see all the suggestions – thanks everyone! Not to go off track of the books, but just wanted to say I didn’t mean to be offensive in any way and I apologize if I was – when I kept googling various ways of describing my niece in my hunt for books she might like, that is a descriptor phrase that kept coming back by self-proclaimed folks. no harm meant.


  11. She might like Seraphina by Rachel Hartman– fantasy w a very smart female protagonist. A little hint of romance but hardly any, and it’s not the main focus at all.


  12. I am a children’s librarian with Asperger’s. We call ourselves “Aspies” simply because it’s easier to say than “Person with Asperger’s Syndrome.” It’s not at all pejorative.
    I have a deep and burning love for both The Diamond in the Window and Tom’s Midnight Garden, but I would also like to suggest Kristin Cashore’s Graceling. Yes, there is some romance in the book, but it’s subsidiary to the main plot, and there is no heroine stronger than Katsa. Bonus: We Aspies often feel like outsiders, and Katsa is a model for someone who uses her differences to carve out a non-traditional place for herself in the world.


  13. Before I even got to the end of the description I was all, “YOUNG WIZARDS.” And of course Diana was there ahead of me. Yay Diana! I would love to see a collection of her recommendations over the years…I think she’s got amazing judgement. (And also, selfishly, it would make shopping for my daughter extremely easy. They seem to have parallel taste.)


  14. Amen to Kiki Strike… What about the Theodosia series by RL LaFevers? The first one is Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos. Also, Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins, and Other Nasties: A Practical Guide by Miss Edythe McFate by Leslie MM Blume. It is this weird/awesome mix of guidebook and short stories. I cannot recommend it enough.


  15. I’d suggest either the Bartemeus series by Jonathan Stroud – Lots of clever action and zero romance
    The Lionboy trilogy by Zizou Corder
    Neither has a TON of female protagonists, but they are enormously good fun.


  16. I second the Diana Wynne-Jones recommendation…Charmed Life doesn’t have any romance at all.
    The other books I would recommend are by Francis Hardinge – Fly By Night and the follow up, Twilight Robbery. A Face Like Glass is also very good. Very much fantasy, and Hardinge is what I like to call a writer’s writer. Her stories have the same quirkiness that you find in Wynne-Jones’ books. No romance in any of those. At all.


  17. I don’t know why I didn’t think of these before but I would also recommend Leisl and Po by Lauren Oliver, The Spindlers also by Lauren Oliver, and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.


  18. Another vote for Jones; many super books by her. Also, Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles which showcases a very strong and independent heroine. She has written other good books, too.


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