This week’s “So You Want to Read YA?” guest post comes from Sarah Andersen.
**Many of these books deal with love and relationships, but it’s what my girls are usually looking for.
Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers (Goodreads): I positively love Courtney Summers. Cracked Up to Be and her other books, Some Girls Are and Fall for Anything, have grown in popularity just this year. Parker, the main character, is suffering and feeling responsible for something horrible, but she hasn’t told anyone about it. Consequently, she’s been acting out and her personality has completely changed. Quite a few of my students look for edgy reads about characters with real problems. They also want a character they can connect with emotionally and personally. Almost every single one of my girls that’s read Cracked Up to Be enjoyed it and went on to read the rest of Courtney Summers’ books.
Forever by Judy Blume (Goodreads): Forever is classic YA originally published in 1975. It’s an excellent example of first love and the ups and downs of relationships. There’s quite a bit of sexual activity in Forever, but my girls always tell me that yes, there’s a lot of sex, but that it teaches girls that relationships don’t always last forever. Many of my girls in class are head over heels in love with someone. I like knowing that there’s a good book out there for them to read after a break up, or if they’re in one of these relationships. I don’t hand them this book to burst their bubbles. I hand them this book because the characters feel the same way they do. Forever by Judy Blume is almost always a winner for my reluctant girls in class.
I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder (Goodreads): Novels in verse are becoming increasingly more popular in my classroom. Many of my students start with Ellen Hopkins, but Lisa Schroeder’s novels are quickly gaining popularity. I Heart You, You Haunt Me is the most popular choice. Many of my girls will walk into my room telling me how quickly they read this book and how much they loved it. One of my students is in my YA Lit class right now because she wants to enjoy reading. She was at a complete loss for where to start and which books to read. I Heart You, You Haunt Me was one of many books I set aside for her, and she ended up reading three of Lisa Schroeder’s four books in a week! The imagery in this novel is beautiful, and for so few words, readers really connect with the characters and the story.
Paranoid Park by Blake Nelson (Goodreads): The mystery in Paranoid Park really grabs my guys in class. I guess it doesn’t hurt that the main character is responsible for killing someone, even though it was self-defense. The story revolves around the character’s guilt and his indecision whether or not he should turn himself in. Paranoid Park has grown in popularity this year because many of my boys in class have been sharing it and discussing it.
Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach (Goodreads): I’m always searching for books with humor because I’ve been told that I don’t have enough “funny books” in my class library. Stupid Fast is a gem of a book that’s humorous, but also tackles family issues and fitting in. Felton is authentic and easy to relate to. He’s trying to handle his mom checking out and falling into a deep depression, his annoying little brother, becoming a good football player, and falling in love for the first time. It’s an all-around fantastic book that I can’t recommend enough.
**Other Popular Titles: Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick, Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn, Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson, Gym Candy by Carl Deuker
Kelly Jensen is a former librarian turned editor for Book Riot. She's the author of IT HAPPENS: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader and the forthcoming Feminism For The Real World (Algonquin Young Readers, Spring 2017).