So, it’s no surprise that I love YA books, I read them exclusively. But it may be a surprise that I love a good contemporary YA book. Sometimes I’m not all about murder, space, historical YA, etc. It’s a bit weird for me, but I’m learning to fully embrace the contemporary genre! There’s something amazing about reading a characters journey through life or particular situation. It can be heartfelt, powerful, sad, joyful, or all of those at once (usually that’s when you know you’ve found a good contemporary YA). While I’m learning to indulge in the contemporary YA genre, I thought I would share my top list of my favorite contemporary reads I’ve read so far. Here we go!
1. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott
I just finished this book a few weeks ago and it made me swoon, SWOON, I tell you! The characters are lovely, the plot is sweet and tragic, and the ending, oh boy that ending! This story follows Stella, a young girls with cystic fibrosis who had just arrived at the hospital for a month long stay to try to get rid of a cough. Which shouldn’t take too long because she is on it when it comes to taking her meds and doing her treatments (she even created an app to help remind her). She’s had plenty of stays in the hospital, this one should be no different, until she meets Will. Will also has CF and doesn’t take his medicine unless he’s forced, he doesn’t seem the point in his treatments, and the second he turns 18, he’s done with hospitals. He drives Stella crazy. Their journey of getting to know each other, the real talk of life and death, and the realness of the story is amazing. This book is also a movie and comes out March 15th! Fingers crossed the movie is just as good as the book!
2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I’ve talked about Fangirl a million times, but I just can’t help it, I love it so much! It’s definitely a desert island book for me. This book follows Cath and her twin who have just gone off to college together. Cath (much like me) spends most of her time in her dorm room writing fan fiction. Her grumpy roommate brings Levi to the dorm one day and he’s instantly taken with Cath. He helps her learn to live her life, to not be hold up in her dorm away from the world just because she’s afraid. Levi is book boyfriend material, for sure. Their relationship is sweet and kind and pure. And if you need a good nerdy contemporary that covers facing fears and anxiety with a little bit of romance mixed in, I highly recommend Fangirl.
3. The Serpent King by Jeff Zenter
This book made me cry! This book follows Dill and his friends Travis and Lydia. All his life, Dill has had to deal with being the preacher’s kid. Not too bad for most people, unless your day is the kind of preacher that has his congregation wrestle venomous snakes and has bad public fall from grace. Dill must navigate the bullies and growing up and finding out who he is and what he wants before society writes him off as the preacher’s kid forever. Such a realistic storyline of the courage and bravery it can take to find your true self and not the self your parents or friends want you to be. And there’s a big plot twist I didn’t see coming and it had me in full out tears for an hour. But such a good book!
4. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
I definitely read this book because of all the hype about it since it was being made into a movie and then I promptly forgot to ever go see the movie. Oops. This book follows Maddy who is basically allergic to the world. She’s never been outside, never seen the ocean, never felt the grass between her toes, never, ever left the house. The only people she interacts with are her mom and her nurse Carla. Until a new boy moves in next door named Olly who takes a particular interest in Maddy. These two are falling for each other, but it could be dangerous for Maddy. And her mother refuses to let her leave the house, even though Maddy just wants to live a normal life, sickness or no sickness. This book was so good and I did not see the plot twist coming! I read this book in about 3 days, its definitely a page turner!
5. The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
This book is dark and trigger warning, this book has reference and scenes of sexual violence and assault. This book is about Alex Craft, who’s sister Anna was murdered and her killer allowed to walk free. That didn’t sit well with Alex. So Alex learned to kill someone and not feel bad about it. In doing so, Alex becomes aware that violence is the only language she knows how to speak and knows she can’t be trusted around people, so she removes herself from others. Until she meets Jack, who truly wants to get to know her, but feels guilty about the role he played in her sister’s body being discovered. and until she meets Peekay, the preachers kid who befriends Alex at the animal shelter they volunteer at. But as the year goes on, Alex has more and more trouble containing her violent nature. This is a story of survival, friendship, and justice. It is an amazing read that focuses on society’s rape culture and sexual violence against women.
6. Trouble Series by Stephanie Tromly
I randomly picked up the first book in this series in the bargain bin at a bookstore. And normally, I have the misconception that if a book is in the bargain bin, it can’t be good. Boy, did I get proven wrong. This series follows Zoe, the new kid in town and her weird friendship with Digby. Digby isn’t normal. He’s more like a Sherlock Holmes and MacGyver hybrid. He’s intelligent beyond his years, can find a solution to any problem, gets Zoe and her friends into all kinds of dangerous situations, and of course, is an obnoxious and annoying asshole. Throughout the series we watch Zoe and her friends let Digby get into situation after situation while also trying to navigate regular teenage life, school, getting into college, relationships, drama, etc. This series is great and shows that teenage life doesn’t always have to be normal and that you can overcome anything and get out of any situation if you’ve got a Digby around.
7. Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten
This book was an interesting read. This story is about Sasha and her best friend Xavier. The two have been inseparable since they were young. Sasha loves Xavier and Xavier loves Sasha. But Xavier also loves Ivy, his cheating ex that lures him back in time and time again and Sasha is sick of it. So she decides to pose as a guy online to trick Ivy and prove to Xavier once and for all that Ivy can’t be trusted and he needs to be done with her. But will Sasha take things too far? Will she get lost in her online persona and forget who she is? And will she do things she never thought she was capable of doing? Can she get through this and still be friends with Xavier? This is such a quick and fast paced read that challenges the idea of what someone is willing to do in the name of friendship.
8. Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys
I loved this book so much! I’ve been watching this authors Goodreads profile just waiting for her to say she’s writing a sequel or writing something new. Whatever it is, I’ll definitely read it because this book was incredible. This book is about Hope, who lives in New Orleans and has Cystic Fibrous. She’s sick and tired of everyone treating her like she’s breakable. She’s more concerned with how she can help pay for her expensive medications and afford to go to college when she gets an invitation from some group of people calling themselves the Society. All Hope has to do is compete against a few other selected people and she could win money and a ticket out her out of town. But the Society isn’t what it seems and soon Hope realizes there is a real danger to this competition and she’ll be lucky to make it out alive. This book covers a mood every teenager and sometimes adult feels, this life is boring, how do I get out of this town and have a better life? And there’s a deadly competition? Yes, please! This book is so so so good!
9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This is one of the only 3 books in the whole world that I’ve read more than once. I love the format of how this book is told, through letters the main character Charlie writes. We don’t know where Charlie lives, we don’t know who he’s writing to, but his letters capture what it’s like to grow up in high school. The first dance, bullying, friends, finding passions, learning who you are and how to break out of your shell. But it also covers dealing with past trauma and how that can impact your life for years after it’s happened. I love Charlie and his voice and his story. Such a good book, I highly recommend it!
10. The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan
I just started this book! After a recommendation from T. Mack, I had to pick this book up ASAP! This story follows Rukhsana and her life as she tries to live up to her Muslim parents expectations while also living the life she wants to live. Rukhsana lives a double life. At home, she ignores when her parents pick her brother over her, she dresses conservatively, but when she’s not at home she’s rocking crop tops and going to parties. She just has to get through a few more months of this and then she’ll be off at college and free to do what she wants. But her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend and they are absolutely devastated and they send her to Bangladesh to learn about arranged marriages and tradition. Rukhsana must fight for herself and who she loves, but can she do that and still keep her family? Such a powerful story. I’m only a few pages in, but I love it so far!
That’s my list of my favorite YA contemporary books! What’s your favorite contemporary read? Any that you recommend for me? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!