Oh, is there an opportunity to rec books? Ones that I don’t think get enough attention? I WILL TAKE THAT. (Thanks for the excuse, Broke and Bookish!)
MY BEST FRIEND, MAYBE by Caela Carter – love this book and the character evolution within, and really wish it got more airtime during discussions on diverse YA. I think the reason it doesn’t is because the main character is white, Christian, and straight, but make no mistake – this book is full of the conversations those looking for diversity in YA are looking for, thanks not only to the main LGBT storyline, but the love interest, a Haitian guy who was adopted into his white family.
SAVING FRANCESCA by Melina Marchetta – underrated would be the wrong word for this one, because anyone who’s read it knows what a freaking gem it is. Instead, I mention it here because I think often people know that JELLICOE ROAD is a major must-read, and this one gets overlooked. Don’t make that mistake. This book has a similarly deep and wonderful romance, fantastic friendships, and real, true family issues as well.
17 FIRST KISSES by Rachael Allen – This is pretty much the truest meaning of underrated right here, as in I literally think people rate it too low, and I can rant about this with a few blogger friends for hours, and oh right I’ve already done that.
ASK AGAIN LATER by Liz Czukas – Yeah, yeah, technically not contemp, but it may as well be. I think it probably went underread because of the whole “sliding doors” thing, but that part is so irrelevant, and this was one of the cutest, most fun, most voice-y books I read this year.
OVER YOU by Amy Reed – I’ve read so many toxic friendship books, and I couldn’t figure out what was missing from them until I read this one. In so many books of that ilk, the toxic friend remains this missing piece of the narrator, necessary to make her whole, even when the toxicity is plain for everyone to see. OVER YOU is about a girl who recognizes how much better she can be – how much more she can like herself – with her independence. (Bonus points, always, for the narrator being bisexual.
SISTER MISCHIEF by Laura Goode – This book got recommended to me a lot when I was compiling the QUILTBAG Compendium on this blog, so when I spotted it during my inaugural visit to Powell’s in Portland, I snatched it up, and then promptly devoured it in two sittings. It is most certainly not an Everyone kind of book – I have to admit that even though I loved it, I never got over the cringing feeling of reading a hop-hop book about white girls. (This is addressed in the book itself, and is a really interesting conversation, but ultimately, it reads a lot like many of the conversations I see about writing diversity – white people reassuring white people on matters of cultural appropriation.) But I do think there’s a ton that’s worthwhile, and different, and fascinating about this book, and I hope more people give it a shot.
LEFTOVERS by Laura Wiess – Laura Wiess is, in my opinion, one of the most criminally underread contemp YA authors out there, and this is my favorite of hers. This is the book I wish a billion people would’ve brought up during all the conversations of rape culture that sprang up around Steubenville. This is the book that taught me what it was. This is the book that still teaches me what it is.
BALLADS OF SUBURBIA by Stephanie Kuehnert – A dark and intense look at the power of addiction, both harmful substances and harmful people.
THE CHAPEL WARS by Lindsey Leavitt – In a year full of cute romances, Dax and Holly were probably my #1 most shippable. The combination of their realistic flaws and fabulous banter earned them a special place in my heart, and I think many other banter-lovers would appreciate them too.
BRUISED by Sarah Skilton – This was one of my favorites of 2013 (as you can see here). I loved the MC’s combination of physical toughness and emotional vulnerability, and her journey back to herself after witnessing a traumatic event and faulting herself for the role she played (or didn’t play) in it.
Any of my 10 on your list of faves? Leave me your lists in the comments either way!