I asked a Maria, a fabulous librarian blogger, to write a guest post about her favorite contemporary YA novels. Read on!
Reading contemporary fiction is a fairly recent thing for me; my reading has always skewed towards fantasy, except for my great love of the Baby-Sitters Club and Judy Blume books. But, there are only so many books about vampires, werewolves and other assorted paranormal creatures a person can read before they need a break. Contemporary fiction is the perfect antidote to what I like to call “paranormal overload.” All of the books on this list were published in the past three years and can be easily found at your local bookstore or library.
A very recent favorite is Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway, in which Audrey breaks up with her boyfriend, he writes a song about their breakup, that song rockets up the charts as it becomes super popular. It’s ultimately about the fallout of sudden fame and what happens to Audrey, her friends and family. Filled with music and extremely funny moments, it was hard to put down. I found myself wanting to jump into the book just so I could be friends with Audrey, James, Jonah and Victoria. Audrey, Wait! is just such a fun book; I dare you not to smile at least once while reading.
For a double dose of music, I would pair Audrey, Wait! with Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron. A much more quiet book than Audrey, Wait!, Jon Skovron still packs a punch with Sammy, Jen5 and the stress of rehearsing for the “Battle of the Bands.” Throw in a grandfather-grandson relationship and the hope that a friendship could be more, and you’ve got a great, funny yet poignant story. I wonder what would happen if Audrey and Sammy ever met.
Who resist the call of a trip to the beach? Especially during the summer and when it comes with a pair of brothers like Conrad and Jeremiah Fisher. The Summer Trilogy by Jenny Han (The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, We’ll Always Have Summer) is Belly’s story, from awkward little sister with a huge crush on Conrad to something more. What I love about these books is that Belly is instantly relatable, she could easily be your sister or best friend, someone you could giggle over guys with, just don’t go after Conrad or Jeremiah and everything will be great. Jenny Han has created such great characters, that it’s so easy to imagine that you’re at Cousins Beach with them. I’ve included the third book here, even though I haven’t read it, because I can’t imagine that it would be any less wonderful than the first two.
Another book that’s set, at least in part, at the beach is Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. This time the reader travels to Zanzibar Bay, California with Anna and her best friend Frankie. Both of them are grieving the sudden death of Frankie’s brother Matt. What Frankie doesn’t know is that Anna and Matt had started dating before he died. Twenty Boy Summer is an emotional roller coaster of a book, it tore at my heart in a way no book has done before. I wanted to hug Anna several times as I was reading and I wanted to tell Frankie to grow up, plus I cried – several times. A book that elicits those types of reactions from a reader needs to be shared.
This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one John Green book. In my opinion he is the king of contemporary YA. And while I’ve liked all of the John Green books I’ve read, Looking for Alaska holds a special place because it was my first John Green experience. Set at a boarding school, it’s the story of Miles who is looking for the “Great Perhaps.” At his new school, Miles finds friends for the first time and meets Alaska Young, who will change his life in ways he never thought possible. I love that anyone who reads Looking for Alaska can put themselves in Miles’ place. He’s a character that a lot of people can relate to. The key to this book is that John Green knows how to write characters that are so real it feels like you could meet any one of them in your own life. I would pair his books with books by Maureen Johnson, Rachel Cohn, Elizabeth Scott and Jessica Warman.
I’m sure there are lots of authors and books that I forgot to mention. So, what are some of your favorite contemporary reads?
For more great reviews, visit Maria’s blog, The Serpentine Library.