As I have mentioned in my previous post, I am on a book committee this year that is in the process of selecting the best YA books of the year for teens, a genre I am not a big fan of. However, as I am reading through these books, I am learning more about my reading tastes. It is not the general YA genre I have a distaste for, it is YA books published by US authors. I have realized that I have a preference for YA books published by UK authors, or more generally, foreign authors. They add something different and unique that goes beyond the generic brand and writing style that is usually accompanied with YA books.
So, now we are halfway through the year, I have already been met with amazing YA books from all parts of the world and I would like to share with you what great books you should read and what you should keep a lookout for:
Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard
Such a fascinatingly good read! I am not always a big fan of YA but this one by far is one of the best realistic YA books I have read in years. It really examines the themes of family and the true meaning of friendship really well. There are not that many books that leave you with a heartwarming tingle down your spine and this book really did it!
The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven
I absolutely loved it! It was funny, raw, emotional and outspoken. It really speaks to the time we currently live in. It describes in perfect detail the double standards that women are facing right now. All teenagers need to read this.
The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill
This is not The Little Mermaid that Disney told us. Keeping true to the original fairy tale, this brand new retelling placed through a feminist lens that makes it both entertaining and groundbreaking for a new generation of readers.
All the Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Expected US Publication: August 27
Beautifully told and another groundbreaking YA novel from an Irish author, All The Bad Apples is another feminist novel that will both enchant and teach readers from beginning to end. The beautiful writing has made it such a vital read for women today.
The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr
A book where you shouldn’t always listen to Goodreads users’ opinion. In fact, this is most likely one of the most unique YA novels I have ever read. Emily Barr has a gift of really showing the mind of the main character. You could really feel Ella’s sadness and isolation. The writing style might be different than what YA readers are used to but that is what makes me praise this book even more. You could really feel the turmoil inside Ella’s head. I love the dialogue between Ella and “Bella”. A unique representation of mental illness.
The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan
A beautiful and heartbreaking story about a young teen trying to carry the burden of taking care of his mother, who has multiple sclerosis and trying to give his brother, Danny, a normal childhood. While reading this story, I quickly connected with Bobby. His development throughout the story was astounding and an emotional journey that the reader can embark on. We watch him be given an impossible task that we, the readers, ask if we would do it ourselves. Conaghan had a way to reflect truth and pain in his writing. Although brutal, I just could not put it down. It was interesting to see a young carer as the protagonist, a big deviation from the YA genre.
The Sisterhood by A.J. Grainger
UK Title: In Your Light
Another book you shouldn’t always trust Goodreads users’ reviews, the outcome may shock you. I didn’t expect to like this book this much. This dark and compelling novel had me engrossed until the very last page. I felt a personal connection with the characters, a rare feat in YA literature. This was more than just about the cult that was hiding in the Welsh countryside. This was also about the sisterly relationship between Lil and Mella. I feel readers should give this one a chance.
Mike by Andrew Norriss
I absolutely loved this one. It was just so heartwarming, thought-provoking and had a story that went outside the box. Sometimes you think that your life is headed in the life track but your instincts take over and lead down a different one. This YA novel had a great uplifting message towards the end that will touch anyone’s heart of different ages.
Eve of Man by Giovanna & Tom Fletcher
If you are looking for a YA version of The Handmaid’s Tale, then look no further! I was completely enthralled with this start of an exciting new series. This will definitely become a favorite amongst dystopian book lovers, a sentiment coming from someone who is not a big fan of dystopian literature!
The Things She’s Seen by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina
This is one thrilling and satisfying mystery that will leave you with chills down your spine. Not only that, I feel this was a beautiful representation of Indigenous Australian literature.
Last Bus to Everland by Sophie Cameron
Amazing! Truly a remarkable and magical book that explores what happens when you want to escape your real world but need to face the fact that it is okay not to perfect all the time. We are all on a journey of self-discovery and life experiences gives us a chance to learn more about themselves. An engaging book from beginning to end!
Hope is Our Only Wing by Rutendo Tavengerwei
I found this one to be an interesting read, in a way that it is one of the most insightful YA novels I have ever read. And I think that is why I liked this one. It didn’t involve the generic formula you commonly see in YA literature.