I read as much YA Contemporary possible. I mean, studying the genre you write is sort of important and all, but I also love these books. I'm a picky reader (it makes up for being an unpicky eater and devouring anything edible, except turnips of course, because turnips are downright nasty). That special place in my heart is reserved for teen protagonists, particularly those in stories that can actually occur, among humans, here on Earth. That's my taste. It keeps me young and handsome. Or at least one of the two.
Since finishing the second draft of my own (crack at a) YA Contemp, I've spent time combing my bookshelves and revisiting the characters who, once upon a time, put me in a trance. Characters who sucked me inside their world and made me forget my own. Voices I didn't want silenced. Prose I couldn't put down.
Honestly, are these not the stories we search for?
Today I'm sharing my favorite YA Contemps. Later this week, I'll share some of my favorite Middle Grade novels, since I do read them too, and then I'll share my favorites from literary fiction. Because yes, I read those too. I just have to look up more words.
My Five Favorite YA Contemps
*All overviews come from the Barnes and Noble website.
1. Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background—average student, average looks, average dysfunctional family. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn’t believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father’s boss’s daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy—and Tyler’s secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in the school, in his family, and in the world. In Twisted, the acclaimed Laurie Halse Anderson tackles a very controversial subject: what it means to be a man today. Fans and new readers alike will be captured by Tyler’s pitchperfect, funny voice, the surprising narrative arc, and the thoughtful moral dilemmas that are at the heart of all of the author’s award-winning, widely read work.
2. A Scary Scene In A Scary Movie by Matt Blackstone
Rene, an obsessive-compulsive fourteen year old, smells his hands and wears a Batman cape when he’s nervous. If he picks up a face-down coin, moves a muscle when the time adds up to thirteen (7:42 is bad luck because 7 + 4 + 2 = 13), or washes his body parts in the wrong order, Rene or someone close to him will break a bone, contract a deadly virus, and/or die a slow and painful death like someone in a scary scene in scary movie. Rene’s new and only friend tutors him in the art of playing it cool, but that’s not as easy as Gio makes it sound.
3. Right Behind You by Gail Giles
When he was nine, Kip set another child on fire. Now, after years in a juvenile ward, he is ready for a fresh start. But the ghosts of his past soon demand justice, and he must reveal his painful secret. How can Kip tell anyone that he really is—or was—a murderer?
4. Burn by Suzanne Phillips