For this week’s topic, I decided to go with my favorite genre of the past year or so: contemporary! Shocking, right?
I think this is technically “magical realism” or something, but the real part of it fits perfectly with the contemporary genre. Date rape, teenage pregnancy, mental illness, (good and bad) foster parents, nice boy romance – there are plenty of contemporary elements to this book that help make this book a favorite of mine and could help readers who normally shy away from books with paranormal or fantasy elements. It seems like it could be a good gateway book.
This is more of a middle grade book, but it doesn’t have any paranormal or fantasy elements, so I’m including it anyway because it’s an underrated book that should show up on more blogger’s radar, even if, like me, you rarely read MG. A large cast of quirky characters, a mystery, and a competition involving that mystery and the many different characters – it was a favorite when I first read it back in middle school or so, and it still is. My poor little paperback copy is really showing its wear right now – I might have to try and find a copy that actually matches the cover I have on Goodreads and here.
This was my first Deb Caletti novel, and it remains one of my favorites, perhaps even my favorite overall. I loved the main character, her father, the secondary characters and subplots, and, most of all, its look at an obsessive relationship. Even with the flashbacks to the beginning of their relationship, it was never romanticized. It always seemed real, from the way Clara had trouble understanding what was really going on at first to how little she and her father could really do unless something tragic happened first. This book definitely made me a fan of Deb Caletti and many other, similar contemporary novelists.
Another book that might be MG (I’m really not good at figuring out at times, especially since I started reading YA when plenty of my classmates were probably still reading MG – they get a little mixed up at time), but still a long-time favorite that definitely fits into this category. A quirky British family, family secrets, and a quest to find a childhood angel in Italy – there’s plenty to love in this book, as well as its sequels.
I’m trying to only include books I’ve read and reread and reread and loved for many years, but I just had to include this book from last year because I think it’s here to stay. It has plenty of elements that I’m quickly realizing are favorites of mine in this genre, like large and happy families, dysfunctional families, adorable romances with nice guys, and quirky and/or hilarious secondary characters. It’d take a lot of changing on the part of my personal bookish tastes in order for this not to remain a book that I really, really enjoy in the future.
This is another kind-of-recent series that I know will be a favorite of mine for many years and something that I’m going to want to (nicely) push onto other readers. Ruby is my kind of protagonist – neurotic, a bit damaged, obsessive, sarcastic, quirky, and just so real. I definitely like the main romance in this series, but there’s just so much more to this series that I love, from many of the secondary characters to the various plots and subplots to the messages to pretty much everything.
This isn’t realistic contemporary quite like most of the other books on this list, but it’s still realistic – well, realistic if you’re a very famous actress, but whatever. This is just a fun and fluffy series that I’m already looking forward to rereading the whole way through for the first time later this spring or summer. It’s getting a bit dated with all the pop culture and technology references, but I think the storylines and characters and drama should be just as entertaining as they were back when I discovered this series in middle school.
This might be another example of magical realism, but whatever, it’s my list and I’ll include whatever I want and there’s nothing you can do about it! Anyway… so, yeah, this book is kind of a small but incredibly powerful wrecking ball to your emotions. The characters, the romance, the story – there’s just so much to love and hate at the same time (and by hate, I simply mean you’ll hate the fact that it just makes you feel so gosh darn much!), and it’s the type of book that really sticks with you.
Oops, changed the design a little for this one – but that’s probably the type of thing that very few people other than me are going to notice, so whatever. Anyway, this is definitely a different format (written entirely in IM and text messages), and if I hadn’t first read it in middle school (wow, never realized how many of my favorites are from middle school – obviously needed a lot of books to get me through it), I might not like it as much now because I was be paying more attention to the format than the story, and the story and its three main characters are the ones I care about and the reason it’s still a favorite so many years later.
Another book I haven’t reread yet, but I can still tell it’s probably going to stand the test of time because it just has so many great elements in it, from a big and happy family to family drama to romantic drama to internal drama. Just a lot of drama, but plenty of adorable and beautiful moments between so many different characters. And it has a great look at sexuality and how sexual abuse can affect a person.