Adults can sometimes forget the tumultuous travails of teenagehood, and that teenagers (or authors writing as teenagers) can teach you something. Whether the setting is fantastical or realistic step into these wonderful YA books and take a break from Adult fiction.
Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep. He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep. That positively creepy rhyme accompanies the myth of the local bogeyman on a remote island off the East Coast of the United States, Sawkill Rock. Newcomer Marion cannot understand why her mother made her and her sister move there. Her sister has always had an easy time of making friends and soon falls in with the popular crowd. Marion hesitantly makes friends with Zoey, the girl everyone at school loves to hate. Life finally seems to be settling down when Marion’s sister disappears and huge claw marks are found on the ground outside her bedroom window… The reasons I love this book were that the main characters were exclusively strong, well-rounded female characters who while also worrying about regular things like school and fitting in also found ways to fight the evil that has been lurking on their island for decades.
Natasha, a Jamaican-American immigrant, and her family are going to be deported in 24 hours if she cannot manage to convince the people at the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services that they deserve to stay after her Dad gets pulled over for a DUI and it’s discovered that they are not there legally. Daniel, a young Korean-American man wants to be a writer but the expectations of his family are that he will attend college at Yale and become a doctor, something that Daniel has no interest in. A USCIS agent recommends that Natasha speak with a specific immigration lawyer and while she is waiting for the appointment decides to stop into her favorite record store. While there she and Daniel chat a little before Natasha leaves. She is so caught up in her music that she doesn’t notice the car speeding through a red light. She is nearly hit by it but Daniel had been walking in the same direction and pulled her out of the way. Exploring a lot of heavy material like deportation, class struggles, living up to parental expectations and suicide one might think that this book is depressing as hell but it is actually surprisingly uplifting and inspiring.
College can really suck sometimes, especially when it’s your first time leaving home and you find out that your twin sister, Wren, who you had been planning on rooming with doesn’t want to room with you anymore. That’s what happens to Cath. She’s already worried about leaving their Dad on his own. He has never been quite right since his wife, Cath and Wren’s Mom, left them all ten years ago. Suffering from anxiety Cath struggles to make friends but all she really cares about is doing well in her upper level creative writing class and finishing her years long fanfiction about Simon Snow before the last book is published. Her roommate Reagan is full of personality and on the sarcastic side but Reagan takes Cath under her wing. And when Reagan’s ex-boyfriend, still best-friend, Levi decides he likes Cath she attempts to set them up. Unfortunately true love never does run smooth. Hurt feelings and misunderstandings cause lots of strife, compounded by Wren’s problems with alcohol and accusations of plagiarism in Cath’s Creative Writing class. This book is probably my favorite of all of these because I so easily see myself as Cath. Her general awkwardness, fears about the future, and general disregard for mundane life are things that I can empathize with from when I was that age.
Bri longs to be a world famous rapper. Her Mom thinks that this is a pipe dream but Bri knows that she has the talent. She just has to make it. The first step is winning a rap battle which she does with flying colors. A small-time producer reaches out to her after hearing her at the rap battle and wants to help her make a track. Bri should be flying high on that but an incident at Bri’s fancy prep school has her angry and scared while most of her classmates and some of the teachers think she’s a hoodlum and her family is struggling to put food on the table after her mother is let go from her job at their local church. Bri lets her anger and frustration guide her as she is writing the lyrics for her song which ends up going viral for the wrong reasons, enhancing a stereotype that Bri didn’t want to lend credence too. Just as powerful as The Hate U Give in it’s own way, On the Come Up can give many of us views into a life we will never know. Despite just being published in March of this year the movie rights have already been sold!