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6 YA Books That Make You Wish You Went to Boarding School

I’ll admit it: boarding schools are my number one favorite trope in YA literature. I spent most of my teen years longing to be able to escape to the relatively unsupervised paradise I imagined a boarding school would be. Dorm rooms! Secret societies! Midnight rendezvous on the quad! 

Unfortunately, I grew up in a rural area where they only time you stayed at school overnight was when it snowed too much to drive home, so I had to live vicariously through characters in books (like most of us!). Fortunately for me, there are so many to choose from! Here are six boarding school books to get you through the rest of winter.


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truly devious coverTruly Devious by Maureen Johnson

A boarding school with a mysterious acceptance process in a remote location with limited internet access? A whodunnit mystery and true crime just waiting to be solved? Some swoonworthy kissing? YES PLEASE. Filled with Johnson’s trademark quirky humor, this book had me laughing out loud and racing to turn the pages so I could know what happened next... and already longing for the second book in the series.



disreputable coverThe Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

The ultimate girl power boarding school book, Lockhart takes the old boys club stereotype associated with elite boarding schools and flips it. Frankie Landau-Banks is the kind of heroine you cheer for even when you can tell that she’s getting way in over her head. It’s impossible not to root for Frankie as she tries to infiltrate her school’s all-male secret society, and starts asking tough questions about gender, power, and love.


tmd coverThe Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz

Not only is this a boarding school book, it’s a ballet boarding school book. Two things I wanted so badly and would never be able to have (I am a terrible dancer)! If you like your boarding school books spooky and mysterious (and really, who doesn’t?), then this is perfect read for you. Penny, a talented young dancer at the Grande Teatro in a remote corner of Italy, is desperate to escape the controlling Master, but to do so, she must uncover secrets about her own past along the way.


french kiss coverAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

I have one word for you: Paris. The city of lights is practically its own character in this funny, charming novel about Anna, who unwillingly enrolls in boarding school in Paris and befriends a quirky cast of characters. Luckily, Anna gets over her unwillingness quickly (I mean...boarding school! In Paris!) and readers get to spend the rest of the book swooning over cute boys and eating French pastries with her, even if it’s only in our heads.



alaska coverLooking for Alaska by John Green

Boarding school books are so often about teenagers figuring out who they are when they are away from their parents, their hometown, and everyone they grew up with, and none more so than John Green’s classic first novel. Based on Green’s own experience at a boarding school, this heart-wrenching story about a boy obsessed with last words will make you laugh and cry in equal measures.



terribly beauty coverA Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Boarding school with a historical twist, plus magic? Count me in. The first book in the Gemma Doyle series is so beautiful and haunting, and the characters have stuck with me long past the end of the final book. While this may not be a boarding school I’d actually want to attend (ugh, finishing school), it makes for an amazing gothic setting, perfect for reading with a blanket and a big mug of tea.




How about you, Swooners? Any YA favorites set at a boarding school?

Author spotlight

Rachel D.

Growing up in rural Oregon, books were my way out. Now, books are my way of reconnecting with my home. ...

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