22 June 2018

5 Novels About Contemporary Life for Teens & Tweens

 Many adults dismiss novels geared to young adult and middle grade readers, thinking they're pretty much all either speculative fiction or full of teenage angst. It's too bad, because those adults are missing out on many excellent books that feature regular kids dealing with 21st-century life. Today's round-up highlights five contemporary stories that examine relationships, families, growing up, and a variety of social issues.

The Freshman, The Museum of Us, and Almost Impossible
  • The Freshmen by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison (Delacorte Press, June 12): A story of adjusting to college, told from two viewpoints. Although Phoebe and Luke went to the same high school, they didn’t get to know each other until college. Phoebe is all about new beginnings and completely shedding her old life. Luke doesn’t really have a plan except to play soccer. They make an unlikely pair, and just as they start to hook up, rumors and #metoo issues threaten their new relationship. This rom-com has been getting positive buzz.
  • The Museum of Us by Tara Wilson Redd (Wendy Lamb Books, June 26): A debut novel that explores the differences between our inner worlds and outer realities and what happens when the two collide. Sadie guards her secrets, even from herself, until she wakes up in a hospital with her fantasy world exposed. As the 16-year-old faces the demons of her past, she learns she isn’t alone. Booklist notes that the novel softens the stigma attached to mental illness.
  • Almost Impossible by Nicole Williams (Crown Books FYR, June 19): A modern-day romance tempered with deeper themes and set in California. Jade has grown up on the road with her mother’s rock ’n’ roll band, home schooled, well traveled, and street smart. She breaks ranks when, at 17, she tells her mom that she wants to spend the summer living a “normal” life with her aunt. A flirtation with the cute guy next door threatens to derail her secret plot to try to meet her father. The book features relatable characters and looks at families, parenthood, and different kinds of relationships.
Just Under the Clouds and Drum Roll, Please
  • Just under the Clouds by Melissa Sarno (Knopf Books FYR, June 5): An affecting debut focusing on what it’s like to be homeless in New York. After Cora’s father dies, her mother has trouble keeping the family safe and together, especially because Cora’s younger sister is “different.” Remembering her father’s horticultural lessons, Cora searches for solace in the trees and green spots of Brooklyn, all the while trying to take care of her sister and find security. A story about life for way too many youngsters in 21st-century America.
  • Drum Roll Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow (HarperCollins, June 6): A summer camp story in which a young girl copes with change and self-discovery. Just as Melly, a budding drummer, heads off to music camp with her BFF, her parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Throwing more coals on the fire, Melly’s friend spends all her time with a cute guy, and Melly herself begins to question her passion for the drums. Stir in a new girl friend who just might be a girlfriend, and you have one transformative summer. A contemporary coming-of-age story that focuses on friendship, families, and LGBTQ themes and features a diverse cast.


(Diane) bookchickdi 6/22/18, 7:51 AM  

Just Under The Clouds sounds very interesting, I’m going to look for that one.

bermudaonion 6/22/18, 8:41 AM  

Nice selection. I'm with Diane - Just Under the Clouds stands out to me.

Greg 6/22/18, 1:34 PM  

These all sound good, I especially like the sound of The Freshmen. I love it when books explore the transition to college.

Daryl 6/26/18, 8:43 AM  

some good reccos

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