YA Recommendations | Contemporary

Hello! I hope you’re having a lovely day so far 🙂 It’s that time of the month again (book recommendation time!)…this month, I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite YA contemporary novels.

Without further ado, here are my top five favorite young adult contemporaries, along with a few honorable mentions:

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi was the first book written by an Indian-American author that I read, and it’s hard to even describe the impact it had on me. Reading a book where the protagonist look like you, comes from a similar background, and faces similar struggles may seem like nothing special to most people, but it was a first for me. Because of that, this book will always hold a special place in my heart. Although there were many parts I definitely couldn’t relate to (e.g. having an arranged marriage, getting into Stanford, etc.) it did represent a lot of the cultural issues I face being as an Indian-American teenager, and I recommend everyone read this book because not only does it represent one of the most underrepresented communities in YA, it’s a beautifully written, funny, and romantic piece of young adult literature.

Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

This book changed my life. And I don’t say that lightly; after reading this book, I had an epiphany about why I love reading young adult literature so much, and a solid argument for everyone in my life who’s ever made fun of the books I read. I even wrote about it in a few of my college essays. It follows a national scholar award recipient, Jasmine de los Santos, through her college application process and her subsequent discovery of her undocumented status. Jasmine’s journey taught me to look beyond the black and white arguments to political issues and think about the importance of awareness and empathy in the world we live in. I’d recommend this book to anyone, not just because of its profound impact on me and relevance to the current political climate, but also because it’s a fun and enjoyable read.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Much like Something in Between, this book opened me up to a world I was relatively unfamiliar with. The Hate U Give is part of the Black Lives Matter movement, and follows Starr Carter, a high school student who witnesses the fatal shooting of her unarmed childhood friend. Although police brutality is a hot button political issue and has rightfully received a lot of coverage, it was a completely different and enlightening experience to read about it from a first-person narration, following a protagonist close to my age. I not only learned more about the aftermath of police brutality through a personal lens, but also more about the struggles faced by many of the minority communities in the United States (e.g. the cycles of poverty and crime, double consciousness). This story is intense, powerful, heartbreaking, and (in my opinion) one of the most important and relevant contemporaries out there.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

To be honest, I’m not a huge John Green fan, but this book blew me away. It follows a sixteen year old girl named Aza who finds herself investigating a missing fugitive billionaire alongside her friend Daisy and the billionaire’s son, Davis. What struck me most about this book was not the mystery plot itself, but more its portrayal of mental illness. I haven’t found many YA novels that address the topic, and Green does such an extraordinary job communicating the utter helplessness and fear that goes along with mental illness (something I feel I did not truly understand before I read this book). This is one of the few books that has made me cry, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an exceptional piece of fast-paced, mysterious, emotional, and enlightening piece of literature. (Also, the title makes sense by the end, I promise!)

Again, But Better by Christine Riccio

The first book from one of BookTube’s most beloved creators, Christine Riccio’s story follows a girl named Shane who, after her sophomore year, realizes she wants a college do-over doing what she loves. Knowing her parents–who expect her to become a doctor–will never go for it, she signs up for a writing internship London Study Abroad program for the summer and tries to reinvent herself. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a motivational story about finding your path as a young person in the world–especially as a college student. Overall, I think it was a well-written piece of young adult fiction that not only brought an important young adult point of view and struggle to light, but also made for an enjoyable read.

Honorable Mentions

Let me know down below if you’ve read any of these books or have any other YA contemporary books you’d like to recommend; I’d love to hear your thoughts/discuss!

Thank you so much for reading!

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