Monday, March 21, 2011

Contemporary LOVE

I am and have always been a contemporary girl at heart. Yes, I read a lot of paranormal. Yep, I love paranormal, but contemporary will always be my first love. And funny I should use the word love, because I'm also a huge romance addict (as if everyone doesn't know that already).

But I digress, that's not the whole point of this post. What I want to talk about is contemporary YA. Real people, real world, real issues. It does something to me, affects me in a way not all genres can. There are so many special, special contemporaries out there. Stories that break your heart and put it together again. Make you laugh, smile, cry, sigh and the difference is, I think it feels more real to me because...well, it is real. It could happen to me, you, the girl down the street. In fact, it IS probably happening somewhere to someone. Or has, or will. How special to give that situation a voice?

Again, not bashing paranormal because a large majority of the books in my bookshelf are paranormal, but for today, I'd like us to promote some of our favorite contemporary reads out there. I'll share some of my favorites that I've read lately.

SPLIT by Swati Avasthi. This is one of the most powerful books I've ever read. I was glued to it until the last page. It ripped my heart out, but by the end, I felt so much HOPE. More than hope, I KNEW things would be okay. That despite the past, the future would be different. It was an incredible journey to take, and I felt honored to take it. Jace will always hold a special place in my heart.

FREEFALL by Mindy Scott. I'm seeing a boy POV theme here, but this book was just incredible too. She nails boys POV so well and tells a breathtaking story about a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, dealing with the death of a best friend and trying to better his life. Made of awesome. Sweet romance in it too :)

TWENTY BOY SUMMER and FIXING DELILAH by Sarah Ockler. I can't talk contemporary without thinking Sarah. In my opinion, no one puts words together as beautifully as she does. There are so many passages in these two books that live inside me. I can read those passages now, not even reading the whole book again and get shivers, tear up, and feel like I'm living inside the characters' skin. She is my hero.

The Summer series by Jenny Han. Also, beautiful, beautiful writing. I feel so much when I read these books. One of my favorite things about it is the relationships. Even though its a YA series and about the teens, the relationship between Belly's mom and Susanna is incredible. We all want friends like that. Oh, and hello? Conrad. Love a good, tortured boy.

HARMONIC FEEDBACK by Tara Kelly. *sigh* I love Justin. I do. One of my all time favorite book boys, but you know what? This book is about SO much more than just him. It's about a girl, a girl who sees the world a little differently than others. People think she sees it the wrong way, but does she? I'm not so sure. I loved getting inside Drea's head. Seeing things through her eyes and seeing that there is no "right" way to see the world.

These are a few off the top of my head. Now you tell me, what are some of your favorite contemporary YA's? What is it about them that you love so much?


  1. There's nothing like a good contemporary story. I loved Sarah Dessen's SOMEONE LIKE YOU because it was one of the first YA books I'd read, and I appreciated how the bad boy love interest was a true "bad boy" - it showed the reality of a girl being pressured for sex and a boy who had no plans of changing for the girl. Don't get me wrong, I love a bad boy who chooses to change his ways for love. But I also love to see reality and how characters handle it.

  2. Freefall was amazing! And Sarah Ockler is one of my fav authors ever! THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE was so incredibly beautiful. I sobbed like a baby reading it not only because it was so moving, but because I was so insanely jealous that Jandy Nelson can write the way that she does! ;)

    ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS has gotten such deserved praise. It is everything you could possibly want from YA Contemp, done perfectly!

    I am still a sucker for anything by Laurie Halse Anderson and John Green, but my absolute favorite YA Contemp are the Jessica Darling books by Megan McCafferty. Marcus Flutie, sigh. You are infuriating and I love you, still! :)

    Love this post! Contemporary YA, ftw!

  3. Great post- and thanks for the recommendations! I agree with Steph, THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE is incredible, and I'm only a couple of chapters in!

    As for my favourites, I love CRACKED UP TO BE by Courtney Summers, many things by Simone Elkeles and THIS LULLABY by Sarah Dessen will alway hold a special place! And then there's always NOUGHTS AND CROSSES quartet and BOYS DON'T CRY by Malorie Blackman. So many great contemps, so little time...

  4. Though it was more of a tragic love story, I loved The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard. So beautifully done.

    Anna and the French Kiss was a great love story too, if you're not bothered by the all the cliche's the way I was (the pillow fight, the strained parental relationships, the evil blonde out to make Anna's life miserable and steal St. Clair in the process, the line "Did he hurt you? I'll kill him!") Yeah, despite all those, it still gave me the warm-n-fuzzies.

  5. I'm running over to goodreads to add some of these on my "to read" list! I'm especially dying to get my hands on "Fixing Delilah".

  6. Sarah Ockler is amazing! I LOVE her books! I like Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott, Hold Still by Nina LaCour, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and all of Ellen Hopkins books. Before I Fall is one of my all-time favorites, even though it's kind of a paranormal contemporary (with reliving your last day seven times). Split was good too. I should probably read the published version because I had an ARC copy and it wasn't completely edited.

    And I agree. Contemporary does something different to me, too. A couple years ago, I was in the paranormal only phase and never wanted to read contemporary, but then when I started to, I fell in love with it. I got more of it on my bookshelf that I'll be diving into soon.

  7. Wendy, I haven't read that one by Dessen yet. Will have to check it out.

  8. Steph, YES, contemporary FTW. Love it. Anna and the French Kiss was great. I also LOVED The Sky is Everywhere. Beautiful!!

  9. I read SPLIT too and thought it was great!

    Also love SOME GIRLS ARE by Courtney Summers, THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson, and ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Steph Perkins.

  10. Jenny, HOW COULD I FORGET SIMONE?? LOL. LOVED both the Paradise series and Perfect Chemistry books!!

  11. Gina,
    The Secret Year is on my list. I really, really want to read it.

  12. Evie, I really want to read Thirteen Reasons Why. Contemporary DOES do something a little extra to you, doesn't it? I just love it.

  13. While my heart rests with fantasy and paranormal, I also have a huge love for contemporary. Thanks for the recs!

    I hate to be a cliche, but I really did love Finding Alaska and Anna and the French Kiss :D

  14. I write primarily UF/paranormal, but because I'm, always looking for good books that deal with mental health/illness issues with sufficient complexity and respect, I read a lot of contemporary. I loved Harmonic Feedback. Will Grayson, will grayson is fantastic. Hold Still, Cracked Up To Be, Hate List, Living Dead Girl, Breathing Underwater, Before I Die, Dirty Little Secrets, Flash Burnout, Wintergirls ... all excellent. I could go on and on!

  15. Flash Burnout and Hold Still were fantastic! I agree.

  16. I absolutely love contemporary; it's my favorite genre, both to read and write :D Some of my favorites would probably be Tangled by Carolyn Mackler, Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, and The Queen of Everything by Deb Caletti. All powerful titles in their own rights.

  17. Kelley, I'm insisting you read Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler because I'm quite positive you will LOVE it. It's a contemporary romance novel (plenty of hot scenes!) but also has substance too.

    I also love Jenny Han's Summer series and I can't wait for the third novel to come out! Which boy will Belly finally choose?

    And I also love reading Sarah Ockler's novels too! :)

  18. Joana,
    I want to read Tangled and Boy Meets Boy!

  19. Liz,
    Oh!!! Am so glad you told me about Playing Hurt! I think I will pick that up next.

    I'm DYING for We'll Always have Summer too. GAH. I can't stand the wait. LOL

  20. Sarah Ockler is also my hero.

    Perfect Chemistry
    Two-Way Street - even though I'm mad I didn't write that one :)
    I Know It's Over - GREAT boy POV
    Five flavors of Dumb - put good music in with a fun premise and a sweet love story? I'm sold.

    Also, Just read a review on ILLEGAL by Bettina Restrepo, so that's on my to-read list.
    AND I can't wait for "Instructions for a broken heart" to come out. The cover is BEAUtiful!

    And now I'm off to add everyone else's recommendations onto goodreads...
    Thanks Kelley!

  21. Jolene, what is wrong with me?? How could I EVER forget I know it's Over?? You know how much love I have for that book! See so many awesome books I can't even write about them all!

  22. I love to read new contemp recommendations! I agree wholeheartedly with all of your choices, Kelley, and many of the others here. As well as Mindi Scott, Tara Kelly, and Sarah Ocklery, I also really love CK Kelly Martin and Courtney Summers - all of their books.

  23. You guys are too awesome for words. :-) Thanks, Kelley, for the shout out! Of course I have to add my 2 cents to the contemp love list here!

    My absolute fave is Deb Caletti. She has such a way with characterization and detail -- it's like she packs so much in there but never overwhelms, so it always feels totally authentic and real, like she's telling a story about someone I know. I recently read THE SIX RULES OF MAYBE and fell in love with her all over again. Counting down till I can get my hands on her latest, STAY. Sarah Dessen is another one, and I can't wait for WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE this May.

    My favorite YA debuts this year - Kody Keplinger's THE DUFF, Daisy Whitney's MOCKINGBIRDS, and SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR by Matthew Quick. I also love Sara Zarr, Jo Knowles, Laura Resau... just so many out there!

    Janet Gurtler has a new one coming out in May that I think you'll love -- I'M NOT HER. That's one of my recent faves, too.

    I'm just so glad contemp is still rocking out there, because I love reading and writing it!

    Sarah Ockler

  24. Denise, Thanks for stopping by! I can't wait to read Losing Faith.

    C.K. Kelly Martin is one of my favorites as well. I can't believe I didn't list her. I Know It's Over is such a special book and I can't wait to read her upcoming book.

    I love writing boy POV and it just rocks when I read a great male POV book. CK writes it so well.

  25. Sarah,
    A few months ago I picked up my first Deb Caletti book after you mentioned her. It was Wild Roses. I really enjoyed it. Will have to check out her others as well.

    I enjoyed The DUFF as well and now off to look up Sorta Like a Rock Star. Love the title.

    And you're very welcome. I can't help but gush about your books. You know how much I love them :) Thanks for stopping by.

  26. To be honest I haven't read much contemporary lately. It's harder to find some of these titles in Australia. I am waiting for a copy of Before I Fall to come through that I won. But I really want to read 13 reasons why. I have read some fantastic contempts on Inkpop. Loving Emily is my favourite and she author is agented so hopefully I'll see it ont he shelves soon.

  27. I'm trying to remember which story that was, Sharon. Very cool she's now agented though.

  28. My 4-yo daughter just asked, "Why are you smiling, Mommy?" Because Sarah Ockler visited YAtopia!!!! Sorry, fangirl moment there.
    *Runs to Goodreads*

  29. Wendy, I KNOW! Isn't she the best? Denise Jaden too!

  30. I LOVE contemporary YA too! It's my favorite genre. Thanks for your recommendations. I've read the Jenny Han books but not the others. All of my faves have been mentioned in the comments (THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE, ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and all of Deb Caletti's books - I've read them all!). I also really love Sara Zarr's and E. Lockhart's books.