YA Contemp Recs?


I’m looking for some recommendations for contemporary YA — but not just anything — I’d like reading recs for books along these lines:

  • Jellicoe Road, Melina Marchetta (one of my all time favorites)
  • Story of a Girl, Sara Zarr (just reread it and so good!)
  • You Against Me, Jenny Downham (just read this — terrific stuff)
  • The Sky Is Everywhere, Jandy Nelson (because it’s Jandy and she has so much heart)
  • Jumping Off Swings, Jo Knowles (because it’s Jo and she has so much heart)

Sensing a theme here?

The reason?

There’s a novel I’ve been waiting to write — it’s actually the book that sent me to grad school — and my head is really in that space right now. I tried writing and rewriting it multiple times, and I kept getting stuck, and I realized I simply didn’t have the skills to write this book.

So I went to grad school. And I put it away. And I wrote another novel.

Whenever I took a break from my WIP, I kept playing with The Other Book to see if I could find a form that fit. The two novels are completely different — one’s a genre piece, the other is contemporary YA — so each serves as a break from the other. I started to re-imagine The Other Book, keeping the central characters and relationship but changing everything else — what happens, where it happens, how the characters respond. The pieces fit together very slowly, from changing the setting to the time frame to the time of year to the main character’s family to her passions and fears.

Now that I’m at the point of polishing Novel 1, I’m diving into Novel 2. This week, I outlined the whole thing, which is unusual. I usually don’t outline until I’ve written at least 70-80 pages, and I only have about 15 pages of a draft. I know the outline will evolve as I write, but there’s an initial balance between the various arcs and threads and a distinct voice, and I’m excited and relieved to finally have a complete story in my head.

So… I know some people can’t read what they’re trying to write, and I normally can’t either, but I’ve been so immersed in genre fiction that I’d like to spend some time digging into contemporary YA. Any recommendations? Favorites? Also, I’d specifically like novel recommendations, not verse novels, because I’m looking at structure and movement and verse novels have entirely different pacing.

Many thanks.

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