After years of supes and sci-fi, contemporary YA is back on the rise. Here, Jen offers her top five picks, in which she promises “no vampires, no wizards, and no dystopian futures, but still plenty of magic.” Check out the list, written by Ms. Smith herself, below:
1) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green — I don’t think there’s anything I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said, so I’ll just add my two cents to the much-deserved praise by saying this: It’s completely brilliant, and I absolutely love it, and if you haven’t already read it, you probably should.
2) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell — I just finished listening to this book on audio, which I don’t usually do, and while it was definitely a fun way to hear the story, I have to admit there were moments I wished I had the actual book in hand so I could give it a hug. That’s how much I loved these two characters.
3) If I Stay by Gayle Forman — First, a disclaimer: there’s a slightly magical element to the way this story is told, but once you start reading, it’s easy to see that this has the soul of a contemporary novel. It’s a gorgeous exploration of love and loss that packs a real punch, and it will stay with you for a very long time.
4) Wonder by R.J. Palacio — This is a little bit of a cheat, because it’s technically more middle grade than YA, but it’s one of the most wonderfully big-hearted stories I’ve ever read, and I can’t say enough about it. The themes will resonate with everyone – kids, teens, and adults –- and it’s quickly become one of my very favorite books.
5) Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt — Now I’m cheating in the other direction, since this was published as a book for adults, but it’s about a 14-year-old girl, and it definitely works as YA too. This novel is truly remarkable. It will break your heart in about ten different ways, but it’s also a wise and beautiful and completely unforgettable testament to the power of friendship.
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