I finally found time to draft a few posts, and I’m coming back with my recommendations post! I believe the last time I wrote one was all the way back in April, which is pretty much unacceptable.
For this one, I thought we could talk about other own-voices YA contemporaries I think more people should read. I know the “own-voices” term is a bit controversial atm, but it was the best fitting one I could find. Just know that I completely agree the own-voices label doesn’t make/shouldn’t make a story more or less worth reading!
PLEASE DON’T HUG ME
I read this one out of Cait’s recommendation and I’m so glad I gave this book a shot.
It’s told entirely in letters and follows our protagonist Erin, an autistic teenager navigating life as a high schooler. She sends these letters to her brother, and we don’t really know what caused the current strain in their relationship.
One thing I absolutely loved about this book was how the protagonist found solace in writing a blog, of all things. It really reminded me of everything I love about blogging, especially how this is such a welcoming space for neurodivergent people and allows them to connect and interact with others who share their experiences without having to put their face out for the whole internet.
If you love blogging as well, you HAVE to read this one!
THE FALLING IN LOVE MONTAGE
As a rom-com fan, I obviously had to mention how much this book made me *happy*.
Here’s a list of things that The Falling In Love Montage did incredibly well:
– Cool lesbian/dumbass straight boy solidarity.
– Rom-com references.
– Recognizing the unrealism of rom-coms, but also acknowledging how fun they can be.
– Satisfying main character’s arc where she learns to let people in.
– REALISTIC ENDING!!!!!!#*!(!)!!!!
– Girls with imperfect bodies.
– Family dynamics that weren’t black and white and complexed in a well done way.
I hope I’ve successfully convinced you to read it with my random ass list, because this one is very good and I can see resonating with so many people.
THIS IS MY AMERICA
I am surprised I haven’t made a post recommending this book already, because I think it’s one of those YA contemporaries that is doing what no one else is.
This one follows Tracy, whose dad was wrongfully convicted and has been in the death row for a few years now. Tracy writes letters weekly to this organization, inspired by the real life Innocence Project, hoping to find someone who can help her dad. Things get even more complicated when her brother also gets accused of a murder he did not commit.
This book has murder mystery elements that definitely added a lot to the story. The discussions of race and the US justice system were extremely well done. One thing I really loved was the family dynamic and also how the author talked about, through a few side characters, how hard it can be for a former prisoner to get back to their old lives, even within their own families.
It definitely did not romanticize the process of being released, but it was a hopeful story nonetheless.
WHERE WE GO FROM HERE
Another one I haven’t shouted about in a while, which is a MISTAKE.
Hello, go read Where We Go From Here. Thanks.
Following three boys, Ian, Victor and Henrique, this book is set in Brazil and talks about how their lives become intertwined because of HIV.
I think it’s quite sad how much misinformation we still have out there about HIV. (
Y’all probably know who I’m referencing here). And while this book obviously talks about a Brazilian perspective on the matter, I think it does an amazing job of having some tough conversations about the existent prejudices against HIV and how we can move away from them.
Also: this book has such an authentic and relatable representation of what is like being a college student in Brazil and that makes me *so* happy to see.
Latinx authors excellence *only*, yes.
Miss Meteor is technically living between the YA contemporary, sci-fi and magical realism Venn Diagram intersection, but it’s my list, so I’m counting it as contemporary.
In this one, Lita and Chicky used to be best friends, and have been reunited because Lita decides to take part in the local beauty pageant contest, despite being quite far from the strongest competitor.
This book has absolutely A+ friendships: not only the enemies to friends dynamic between Lita and Chicky serves, but they also each have a friend/love-interest that is just absolutely iconic.
Miss Meteor also has amazing queer rep, hilarious family dynamics, great dialogues and the chapter of the party made me scream approximately 24 times.
Have you read any of these books? If so, what are your thoughts on them? Would you consider reading any of them now? Let me know in the comments!