I read a lot of YA contemporary, especially considering the fact I am not its target audience. But it is just so much fun that I can’t help myself! That being said, sometimes I feel like it is hard to find great YA contemporaries. Some are too cheesy, some don’t have enough of a plot, and some are just too immature. So today, I will be writing about my favorite YA contemporaries!
I also want to mention that I began a page where I made a list of diverse reading recommendations. It can be overwhelming to try to figure out where to begin when it comes to diversifying your reading, and I wish I would have had a similar list when I began reading more! You can find it here.
There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon
This was a recent read for me, and one of the absolute cutest books I’ve ever read. This is the companion novel to When Dimple Met Rishi, although you don’t have to read them in order. This follows Sweetie, who has constantly been told by her parents that she is not good enough because she is fat. Meanwhile, Rishi has just gotten his heart broken and is trying to get back into the dating field. Both Rishi and Sweetie have something to prove, and so they team up and decide to begin dating, despite not really having feelings for one another. This was the cutest book ever, and had such great messages about fatphobia. There was also great Indian-American representation in this (as well as Menon’s other books!)
I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee
This book follows Skye, a plus-sized, bisexual, Korean-American teenager. After auditioning for the singing and dancing portion of a K-Pop competition, Skye’s mom urges her to drop out of the dancing portion because girls her size should “not be dancers.” However, Skye continues to practice, working hard to fulfill her dream of becoming the next K-Pop star. I absolutely loved Skye as a character, and the representation in this book was also wonderful!
Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson
I love all of Tiffany D. Jackson’s books, but this one is by far my favorite! This follows Enchanted, a rising R&B star. After becoming noticed by the 26 year old uber-famous Korey Fields, he takes Enchanted under his wing, claiming he will help her become successful. Instead, Enchanted finds herself trapped under Korey’s influence. After a night gone wrong, Enchanted wakes up with a dead Korey Fields, and everyone claims she killed him, even though she has no memory of the night before. There are quite a few triggers in this book to be aware of, but it was so addicting and had me sobbing by the end. I would highly recommend this.
Clap WHen yOu Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Like Tiffany D. Jackson, I love all of Elizabeth Acevedo’s books, but this one is my personal favorite. This follows two sisters who don’t know about one another, one in NYC and one in The Dominican Republic. After their father dies in a tragic plane crash, they discover that their father has been living a double life. This is a book written in verse, but don’t be intimidated by that! Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing is so easy to devour and is actually what got me into poetry in the first place.
Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest
This was such a cute read, and one that has stuck with me long after reading it! This follows Evie Jones, a rising actress in LA. However, after a betrayal from her “best friend,” Evie gets blacklisted by all Hollywood producers. The only person who can save her career? Her grandmother, film legend Evelyn Conaway. After traveling to NYC to get her grandmother to help, Evie panics when she realizes she is missing, just days before a huge awards ceremony. I loved the familial relationships in this book, and the Hollywood/NYC aspect of this book was so fun! There is also a super adorable romance.
Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
This is a super interesting story, focusing on 3 siblings who have been adopted by different families at birth. Grace, decides she wants to find her birth mother after giving up her own child for adoption. Instead, she finds Maya, who has never felt like she fits in with her new family, and Joaquin, who has been in and out of the foster system his entire life. It was so amazing seeing these 3 siblings team up trying to find their birth mom, and how all three of them had such unique stories. This was such a quick read, but also a very important one that left me very emotional.
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Tahereh Mafi is the author of the Shatter Me series, and I believe this is her first contemporary (she has another coming out soon!). This book takes place a year after 9/11, and follows Shirin, a 16 year old Muslim girl. This book essentially follows Shirin’s journey as she deals with Islamophobia. There was also a cute romance in this book!
Kisses and Croissants by Anne-SophiE Jouhanneau
The last book on this list was definitely one of the cutest books I’ve read this year! This follows Mia, who is an American studying at a prestigious ballet school in Paris over the summer. Mia doesn’t have time for distractions, and vows to dedicate all her time to ballet. But that becomes very difficult after meeting Louis, who happens to be the son of her dance instructor. I thought the romance was so cute, and really encapsulated first love so well. Even so, my favorite part of this book was the dancing element. I love ballet and it was so cool reading a book where it was centered! I also loved the descriptions of Paris, and really felt transported there.
Let me know what your favorite YA contemporaries are in the comments below!! I am always looking for new recommendations!