YA Book Reviews by Amy: Contemporary Take II
I recently posted a contemporary YA Book Reviews post, and I wanted to continue with some lesser read selections. One reason that I enjoy the contemporary genre is that the characters are usually experiencing love for the first time and exploring who they are and what they believe; it is a power combination for characters discovering the person they want to be.
The books that I have highlighted this week are books that are about romance and self-discovery. The teenage years are a time of realizing what you want in life and how to achieve it!
Get inspired by some of these suggestions!
Color Me In by Natasha Diaz
Neveah is caught between two worlds: one is with her father’s lavish life style with his new family and the other is living with her mother and mother’s family in Harlem. She must also live between two cultures and two identities: Neveah is biracial and is pressed by her father to have a belated bat mitzvah while she must deal with prejudices. She does not feel like she fits into either life. When she finds her mother’s own journal she begins to understand her mother’s journey and Neveah is forced to look at her life differently.
This book is all about Neveah coming to terms with her family relationships and with herself. She feels as though she does not fit the mold society has placed on her, which is very powerful. I think the writing was beautiful from this debut author, Natasha Diaz. Diaz was inspired by her own experiences to write this YA contemporary.
Available on Overdrive
I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
Coming out to their parents as non–binary, Ben De Backer thought it would not go well, but they did not know they would be kicked out of their house. Ben finds help in the only place left, with their older sister, Hannah and her husband. Hannah takes Ben in and helps them adjust to a new home and a new school. Ben struggles with anxiety and decides to not come out during the last half of their senior year. Ben meets Nathan, a funny and kind classmate that makes it his mission to help Ben out. Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, and Ben wonders if it can turn into something more.
Author Mason Deaver is also non-binary and writes Ben’s story with passion. Nathan, Hannah, and Thomas (Hannah’s husband) are so supportive of Ben that it is heartwarming. Ben also is in a time of understanding and accepting themselves for who they are. I truly loved this story and think that it should get more recognition. Also, the audiobook is amazingly read!
Again, but Better by Christine Riccio
Shane’s future has been predetermined by her parents, and she has been experiencing nothing for herself during her first year of college. This semester Shane decides to do college right by going abroad to England for a writing class and magazine internship; this was not the pre-med program her parents think she is attending. In London, she meets a band of unlikely friends that she becomes close to, particularly Pilot. She may have a second chance to do things right with a little help from some magic.
One of the few YA books set in college, I think that this is a really good book to learn about the things you want out of life even if it differs from other’s wants for you. This book can be cheesy at times and does focus on the romance aspect quite a bit.
The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg
Jordan is trying to keep his family afloat by helping his mother run a food truck which is out for the first time since the death of Jordan’s father. Business is not going well, especially when neither Jordan or his mother know how to properly run the food truck, but when classmate, Max, offers to help cook and serve this could be life changing for Jordan. Jordan and Max become friends and both boys might see something more, but they must learn about themselves and like who they are before starting a relationship.
This was a nice fast read. The relationship between all the characters is the highlight of this story. I really cared about what happened to Jordan and Max. A good summer read.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Bri dreams of becoming one of the greats; she has the skill of rapping: twisting words, forming stories, and presenting powerful ideals all with the cadence and rhythm of rapping. Bri has a lot to live up to because she is the prodigy of her rapper father that could have made it big before he died. Bri is not one to give up her dreams and will do anything to achieve them.
Angie Thomas really has a gift with words; Bri’s raps were powerful and clever. This is a great contemporary that delves deep into society and the strength it takes to follow one’s dreams.
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Obsessed with classic movies, Baily, aka Mink, loves talking about them with her online friend Alex. He seems to have the same taste in movies and is there for her when she decides to move to her father’s house across the country. She moves to the same town as Alex and hopes to be able to meet him finally in-person, but she has no idea what he even looks like. At her new summer job, Baily meets Porter, an annoying but charming security guard. Soon Baily will have to decide if she will follow her new feelings for Porter or finally risk everything and meet Alex.
Similar to You’ve Got Mail, a tale of love before meeting with a little bit of enemies into lovers. This was a very cute story that is also just a fun summer read. I really would like to read more from Jenn Bennett.
What if it’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Arthur is in New York City for the summer, and wants to make the most of his time spent there. Ben is trying to get over a relationship that ended badly and is trying to move on. In a chance encounter, Arthur and Ben meet outside a post office (as Ben is in the process of returning all the items back to his ex) and it was infatuation at first sight. Maybe the universe was trying to help both boys out and make this work like it does in all the movies? Arthur and Ben have one summer to try and make things right.
This was a fun and warm book that reads as though it was a romantic comedy. Both characters were flawed, but had redeeming qualities that made me root for them. Both Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera capture the teenage spirit with a lot of fun pop-culture references.
Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West
Kate surprises everyone, including herself when she joins her school’s podcast. Kate is not one to talk and she feels she does not have a lot of experiences to give advice. She would rather spend her time at home, on the lake. Kate turns out to be a good host for the podcast, but when it turns into giving love advice on air, she is pretty sure the mystery guy in question is Diego. Kate thinks Diego likes another girl and her crush on him is crushing her heart. Can Kate give good unsolicited advice, even if it’s her love on the line?
Kasie West is one of the best YA contemporary authors to seek out and read for a cute romance. Definitely check out more of her titles if you enjoyed this one, there are quite a few more. A very light read.