YA Contemporary is a genre I only reach for occasionally but I almost always enjoy what I pick up. They are easy reads that fill me with a pleasant nostalgic glow. I think I enjoy them because I really loved school and I like to hear about other school experiences. I also loved Jacqueline Wilson books when I was a kid, YA Contemporary is just a slightly more grow up version of her novels. I used to devour them, taking about ten out from the local library at a time. Here is a list, in no particular order of my favourite YA Contemporary novels, some I read as a teenager and some as an adult.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. This novel is told from angry teen Aristotle’s point of view. He meets the know-it-all dreamer Dante at the swimming pool one summer as Ari is trying to swim. Dante offers a hand of friendship and begins to teach Ari how to do it properly. They spend most of the summer together becoming fast friends until the unexpected happens, bravery is needed, and their lives begin to change. This is a great ‘finding yourself’ novel with interesting characters (both boys have intriguing families). I read it in one night as I could not put it down and gave it 5/5 stars.
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. I went through a Sarah Dessen phase when I was about fifteen and Just Listen was my favourite, the one that stuck with me. Last year Annabel had everything; a modelling gig, best friends, and popularity. This year she has nothing – her sister is anorexic and nearly died, she has been dropped by best friend Sophie, and she has no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong, moody loner; he is a music-obsessed, truth-telling guy who likes to ignore the world outside his headphones. I really enjoyed this novel, it was fun to read but still dealt with some darker issues. I gave it 4/5 stars.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Charlie is in his first year of high school and he is having a tough time of it. He is shy, introverted and socially awkward. He is a wallflower. When Charlie meets the eccentric Patrick and the beautiful Sam, his life begins to change for the better. He is drawn away from the wall and into the spotlight, into a world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The novel is told from Charlie’s point of view through a series of letters he writes and sends anonymously to someone he perceives as a ‘good person’. That good person is you. This novel was also adapted into an excellent film. I gave it 4/5 stars.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. This is technically an ‘Aliens Have Invaded And Now We Have To Save The World’ novel. I have included it in YA Contemporary because main characters Mikey and his friends are not the Chosen Ones. The end of the world is merely background action. We follow Mikey in his struggles of everyday life as he copes with his OCD, neglectful mother and inebriated father. This novel sends you up, down, and all over the place. It’s an emotional roller coaster dealing with teen life, mental illness, and aliens. I read it in one sitting and, overall, gave it 4/5 stars.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Fangirl is the story of Cath as she goes off for her freshman year at university. She is a daddy’s girl, total geek, and a Simon Snow fangirl (Simon Snow is basically this book’s version of Harry Potter). In real life, she is a bit of an introvert and would much rather stay home and read than go out partying. In the world of Simon Snow fanfiction she is famous. Her story Carry On Simon has thousand of views and loads of loyal subscribers. She has to balance college life (studying, assignments, boys) with finishing her fanfic epic; her deadline is the release of the eighth and final Simon Snow novel at the end of the school year. Read as she gets in over her head and has to reorganise her priorities, discovering who she is in the process. This is my favourite of all the YA Contemporaries that I have mentioned; partly because I could really relate to Cath (I was basically her and she is close to me in age) and partly because Rainbow Rowell is so imaginative. She even wrote her version of what happens in Simon Snow’s eighth year of school, Carry On is her newest novel (and only fantasy) and a fabulous companion read to Fangirl. I gave Fangirl 5/5 stars.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my favourite YA Contemporaries. I hadn’t noticed until writing this up that the majority of my favourites are told from a male perspective. I think this is because it adds a new element for me, I really have no idea what it is like to be a guy so it is always interesting to read from that point of view. What are your favourite YA Contemporaries?