Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the team at The Broke and the Bookish. I’m really excited about this week’s theme, which is Ten Books On My xxx 101 syllabus. So I’ve chosen YA contemporary books, because it’s my favourite genre and I feel like I’d be able to recommend some really great books from the genre.
I’ve tried to include a variety of themes and contemporary styles, so without further ado… I present to you my YA contemporary syllabus!
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson:
This is one of my favourite books ever! It’s about twins Jude and Noah, who used to be very close but something has torn them apart in recent years. This book is very interesting in the way that it’s written. It’s written from two perspectives, but also from two different timelines. The story is beautiful, the writing is beautiful, and the characters are beautiful too. I’ll Give You The Sun has everything, from family to romance, and also has LGBTQ characters too.
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick:
On the surface, this seems like a fluffy contemporary romance. But it’s actually a very complex and layered story, with very likeable and relatable characters. It’s a modern spin on Romeo and Juliet. Our main characters are neighbours but the families are completely different in their appearances and values. If you’re looking for a book with a fantastic romance, as well as an exploration of some deeper issues, this is the one for you. The writing flows so nicely and the pace of the book is just perfect. I have written a review of this book.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell:
This is another contemporary romance that explores family. Cath has always done everything with her twin, Wren. But as they start their freshman year of college, Wren decides that she wants to go off on her own. Fangirl is such a fun book, with some serious themes. There is also a great romance that develops in the book. Best of all, I feel like everyone can relate to Cath, who is a fangirl. This book definitely gave me the warm and fuzzy feels.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky:
This is a great coming of age book that is written in epistolary form. It follows Charlie through his freshman year of high school, as he makes new friends and discoveries about himself. The fact that the book is written as a series of letters to an anonymous recipient allows us to see Charlie’s most intimate thoughts and feelings. The book explores grief, loss and belonging, and it’s definitely one that hit me really hard. It also has a gay side character.
Just One Day by Gayle Forman:
This is an incredible book about finding love, losing love, and finding yourself and your own voice in the process. Allyson has always been the perfect girl who has done everything her parents have wanted. She meets a mysterious boy named Willem on her trip around Europe. They end up going on a one day trip to Paris but he randomly disappears the next day. Allyson then has to figure out what went wrong, and in the process, ends up discovering more about herself and the type of person she wants to be. This book was so moving and touched me in so many different ways. I was constantly rooting for the characters and those are the best books to me.
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson:
This is fun, summery book about friendship and finding yourself. Emily has always kind of been in the shadows of her best friend, Sloane, who is spontaneous and interesting. But one day Sloane goes missing and leaves Emily with a list of things she should do for the summer. Emily starts doing the things on the list in the hopes of it being able to lead her back to Sloane. In the process, she forms new friendships and relationships, and learns about who she is independent of Sloane. This is a fast-paced book that also touches your heart.
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli:
This is an incredibly adorable book with a serious message. Simon has been emailing a mysterious boy called Blue, who goes to his school. Neither of them have come out as gay yet, but as they continue talking to each other, they gain the courage to come out to their family and friends. Throw in some subplots and some interesting characters we’ve got ourselves a fun and adorable story. If you’re looking for something that is light-hearted but still contains important messages, I think Simon is for you.
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan:
This is a much darker and serious LGBTQ book than Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Told from the perspective of a generation of gay men lost to AIDS, we follow 4 different pairs of gay boys, as they go through their ordinary lives. It explores homophobia and what it means to be gay. This book affected me so much and I think it’s definitely a must-read for all teens and young adults out there. And I have a review for this.
The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith:
Hadley is travelling to London to attend her dad’s wedding to a woman she has never met. She meets a British boy, Oliver, at the airport and they spend the whole flight getting to know each other. They lose each other when they arrive in London, but you never know what can happen when you’re in love. This isn’t just a fluffy romance. It also has a family element to it. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming. Jennifer E. Smith is a master at conveying emotions – I felt everything that Hadley was feeling in the book. This book is very easy to read and definitely a page turner.
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins:
I love all of Stephanie Perkins’ books but Isla and the Happily Ever After is my favourite of the three. I love Isla and Josh. Josh is romantic and sweet, and who doesn’t love an artist who is able to draw you pretty, pretty things? This book is set not only in Paris, but also New York and Barcelona, and it takes you on a romantic adventure.
I wish I could’ve included more on this list because I have so many contemporary favourites! What are your top YA contemporaries?