Today’s “So You Want to Read YA?” post comes to us from author Kody Keplinger.
Kody Keplinger is the author of three contemporary YA novels (THE DUFF, SHUT OUT, and A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHTMARE). Her next book, GOLDFISH, will be released in 2014. She lives in New York City, eats a lot of Thai food, and dabbles in improv (also known as: the art of making a fool of yourself). You can check her out at kodykeplinger.com or follow her on twitter at @Kody_Keplinger.
One of my favorite things is being asked for book recommendations. I get a lot of emails from readers saying things like, “Can you tell me other books I’ll like?” or “I don’t read much, but I want more books like yours.” It’s always very flattering, and I always have a huge, huge list of books to send them.
So when Stacked asked me to contribute to this series, I was really excited. I decided to focus particularly on contemporary YA, since those are the recommendations I most often get asked for. So, without farther ado, here we go!
For a Good Cry
Before I Die by Jenny Downham – this book is easily one of my favorites of all time. On top of being beautifully written, it also features great, well-drawn characters. It’s painful and hopeful at the same time.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – I loved this book far more than I expected to. I loved Hazel’s voice and the way it managed to make me smile and break my heart at the same time.
Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook – This book is the only one to date to make me Ugly Cry. I was sobbing and clutching my chest by the end. It left me with a wonderful ache, and I really, really fell for both of the narrators. An excellent read.
Dreamland by Sarah Dessen – This book holds a special place in my heart. It deals with abusive relationships in an honest, poignant way. I recommend it to everyone.
For a Good Swoon
Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott – Elizabeth Scott is one of my favorite authors, and this book really sealed the deal for me. It’s a sweet (and swoony) romance with a great family story, too.
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen – There’s something to be said for a slow burning love story. I love all of Sarah Dessen’s books, but this one really got me, though. Wes and Macy forever!
Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles – Simone Elkeles knows how to write a romance, but this one is easily my favorite. It’s complicated and angsty in the best possible way.
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard – This book tells two different love stories: a love story between a boy and girl, and a love story between a girl and the beauty around her. It’s possible to read this book and not want to hop on the next plane to a foreign country!
For a Great Character
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan – Two words: Tiny Cooper.
Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard – Mandarin is one of the richest, most complicated characters I’ve ever read in YA, and the story of her friendship with Grace is incredibly powerful.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – I read this book when I was fourteen, and I remember thinking that I had had all of the same thoughts and feelings as Melinda. The voice in this book is so authentic, and that’s why it’s stayed popular for all these years. I think anyone can relate.
Sorta Like a Rockstar by Matthew Quick – This book took me totally be surprise. It has one of the quirkiest, most endearing voices you’ll find anywhere, and a great story to boot!
For a Darker Turn
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers – Oh, God, this book. This book will kick you in the gut, that’s for sure. It’s painfully real and really nails the complexity of girl-on- girl bullying.
Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert – Hands down, this is my favorite contemporary YA. There are a plethora of complicated characters dealing with complicated issues like sex, drugs, and suicide, all set against the 90s grunge era. Really, really wonderful book.
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott – Warning, this book is brutal. It’s a short, quick read, but it’s haunting in it’s portrayal of a girl living with her abductor. Not for younger readers.
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson – You can’t go wrong with Laurie Halse Anderson, and Wintergirls is right up there with Speak for me as a favorite. It deals with anorexia in an honest, painful way. The writing is also genius.
I highly recommend all these books, especially if you’re a fan of contemporary YA. They cover a big range of stories and emotions, but I think they are all great books every YA reader, whether you are new to the genre or not.