We may not have known it at the time, but the 90s will forever be cemented as a historic decade. It was the last period without the imposition of the Internet, reality TV and handheld devices. Many Millennials, Gen Xers and beyond will see it as the last “normal” decade before social media took over and changed us forever. Though it is distinguished in its own right as a moment filled with music legends, pop culture icons and radical transformation of social dynamics. These books will transport you, hit that nostalgia sweet spot and teach us so much about today’s adults.

Big Girl by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

Set in 90s Harlem, Malaya is going through the struggles of growing up in a body that is constantly being critiqued. Dragged to Weight Watchers by her mother and suffering under the pressures of her predominantly white prep school, she is forced to contend with her own desires on a daily basis. As she grows up, so do the numbers on her scale until a family tragedy forces her to come to terms with herself and the way the world sees her. Set to the soundtrack of Biggie Smalls and Aaliyah, this coming-of-age story will make you feel all the pain and the joy of entering womanhood.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

The Richardson family is living a seemingly perfect life in a 90s-era suburban town. When Mia and her daughter Pearl move into their guest house, the Richardson children are drawn to the single mother and her teenager. As their lives become evermore intertwined, the two mothers find themselves on opposing sides of a town conflict and Elena Richardson is turned inside out as she attempts to unbury Mia’s secrets.

The Black Kids

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

It’s 1992 in Los Angeles and Ashley Bennett and her friends are living a charmed life as they indulge in their senior year of high school. Things take a turn from the idyllic beach trips, however, when a man named Rodney King is nearly beaten to death by officers in the LAPD who are then acquitted of the charges. Built around one of the most notorious events at the end of the 20th century, Ashley has to contend with her own identity as a black teenager.

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

In November 1991, Charlie Jordan finds herself sharing a car ride with a stranger. With a head full of movies and Nirvana on the radio, Charlie begins to pick apart the details this stranger is feeding her as they make their trek. Interweaving her experience with the films she loves, Charlie begins to question whether her imagination has gone wild or if she’s in the car with a serial killer.

You Heart, My Sky

Your Heart, My Sky by Margarita Engle

During the 90s in Cuba, the government declared this time el período especial en tiempos de paz. For the people, however, it was hardly a time of peace. Instead, it was a period marked by starvation. Courageous Liana dares to defy the “voluntary” farm labor and meets Amado. The two are drawn to one another by hope and hunger and together face down the reality of whether or not they can survive this moment in history.

The People We Keep

The People We Keep by Allison Larkin

April’s life in 1994 Little River, New York is a game of survival. She lives in a motorhome her father won in a poker game and is left to fend for herself in order to survive. When she attends an open mic and discovers how much more there is to offer in the world, she takes off looking for her place in it. Landing in Ithaca, April begins to build a community, but she doesn’t trust herself around her new friends. Chronicling her newfound life in her songs, April eases her way through the process of building a life of her own, free from the shackles of her life in Little River.

This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub

Alice is turning forty and, for the most part, is content in the different areas of her life. Her biggest struggle is her ailing father and the pain that comes with watching a parent deteriorate. When she wakes up and it’s suddenly 1996 and she’s in her sixteen-year-old body, Alice is given the gift of perspective as well as a second chance with her father. The past takes on new meaning as she sees her teenage years through adult eyes.

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

Casey has arrived in Massachusetts in the summer of 1997 trailing a string of tragedies. Her mother just died tragically and she’s leaving behind a devastating love affair. A former golf prodigy now running from debt collectors, Casey is desperate to make her life as a creative work. While she plugs away on the novel she’s been writing for six years, she falls for two very different men. Her heart and her ambitions are pushed to the brink leaving her desperate clawing towards the next phase of her life.

Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body

Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body by Megan Milks

In this captivating, queer reimagining of 90s nostalgia, Margaret’s coming-of-age story is a pick that can’t be missed. At twelve, Margaret is a member of the Girls Can Solve Anything detective mystery club. When she hits high school though, the club is disbanded and her friends are growing up in a way she wishes she could stop. Instead of following them, Margaret sets off to solve a series of her own mysteries and in turn, begins to tackle the unknown parts of herself.

Need more 90s hits? Check out these can’t-miss titles that celebrate the decade >>