Though I love YA in general, contemporary YA has for years been my number 1 love! There's something so special about the way brilliant YA contemporaries are able to touch me and often teach me something new.
Because I love lists, I thought I would do a list of some of the things that I look for when reading YA contemporary.
Many of my favorite contemporary authors like Emery Lord and Morgan Matson are publishing new novels in 2016, but I thought I would dedicate this post to 2016 Contemporary Debuts I am dying to read.
Reading a debut novel is always an interesting experience, because often you have no idea what to expect. My experiences with debut novels, especially contemporary debuts, are mainly positive and I am ALWAYS willing to give a chance for new authors. I can just imagine how it feels for authors to see their debuts, their first "babies" hitting the shelves.
2015 has been an amazing year for me contemporary debut wise (SIMON AND THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA and MORE HAPPY THAN NOT, I am talking about you!) and my hopes for 2016 are high.
So without further ado, here are some of my most expected 2016 contemporary debuts.
Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider - This one sounds like a perfect summer read. Set in Hawaii, it's main character Sloane has to figure out her summer plans again when she learns a secret about her boyfriend and her best friend. Then a son of a hotel magnate shows up and becomes the perfect distraction from everything that's going on back home with her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend.
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro - This one focuses on the great-great-grandson of John Watson and great-great-granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes - DO YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW MORE? Well, if you do, here you go... Once Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes meet, they instantly feel a tense feel energy between them that makes it seem like more than anything, they are destined to be rivals. When Jamie and Charlotte become framed for a crime at the school, they have to prove their innocence and the only people they can trust are each other. A Study in Charlotte is a first book in a trilogy.
Underwater by Marisa Reichardt - This one sounds like one of those books that will break my heart and make my cry and then hopefully put me together in the end. After Morgan's actions inadvertently play a role in a deadly tragedy, Morgan needs to learn to forgive - first someone who did something that seems impossible to forgive, and then herself. But Morgan finds it impossible to even leave her house, yet forgive someone else or herself. Then a new boy moves next door and reminds her of things that used to make her happy.
The Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin - I have a feeling this book will really make me think and open my eyes. I also feel like this one will make me very angry - not towards the main character Riley but towards those who do not understand Riley. This will probably be one of those empowering, touching reads that I love SO MUCH!
Serpent King by Jeff Zentner - I love books with a Southern setting (I have a weird obsession with the American South) so of course the fact that this one is set in rural Tennessee instantly caught my attention. I also think the fact that Dill, the main character of the novel, is from a deeply religious family - for me, this always adds an interesting aspect to a novel, mainly because I am not religious at all. So many aspects of the synopsis of this novel match with what I am looking for a YA contemporary and I really cannot wait to pick this one up!
After the Woods by Kim Savage - This one sounds INTENSE. I love friendship narratives and this seems like a friendship-gone-wrong narrative. I am not a big YA thriller reader (I still haven't found that perfect YA thriller that would turn me into a YA thriller fan) but I have a feeling this one might chance that.
Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira - The actions of the main character of this book, mainly taking advice from her favorite books to aid her budding romance, sounds exactly like something I would have done as a teenager if I wasn't so socially anxious and that's pretty much the only thing I need to get excited about this book.
South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf - A love story of two girls in a Southern setting? YES PLEASE!
Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw - "If Amy Schumer and Rainbow Rowell had a baby, she's be Anna Breslaw." EXCUSE ME, WHAT? GIVE ME THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW. The main character is a fangirl, her best friend is a shy and cute bookworm and she has a pot-smoking, possibly insane elderly neighbor. I seriously feel like dancing just thinking about this book because it sounds exactly like something I will absolutely love from the bottom of my heart.
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo - Another book with a Southern setting! This one tells the story of Amanda who moves to Tennessee and desperately tries to make new friends and fit in while hiding her secret: she used to be Andrew. Meredith Russo is a transgender woman, so I have a feeling this one will be very authentic and touching. From timesfreepress.com: "If I Was Your Girl" is about a beautiful, intelligent, blonde transgender teen girl who forms a loving bond with a straight male high school football player. "
The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith - Smith's debut focuses on Eden who's life changes after her brother's best friend rapes her. This novel is told in four parts - freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior years of high school - and reveals the trauma Eden has to go through while keeping what happened to her to herself. I am hoping this one will create in me thoughts similar to ones I had while reading All the Rage by Courtney Summers, which is no doubt one of the most powerful books I've read in 2015.
The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin - This one is compared in the synopsis to Sarah Dessen, and it definitely seems to include many of the elements I connect with Sarah Dessen novels and other contemporaries I like. It includes a friendship-gone-wrong that could possibly become a romance, family narrative and a North Carolina setting, which is pretty much the recipe for a contemporary romance I could fall in love with.
I have been fortunate enough to already read a couple of 2016 debuts that I have absolutely loved and am dying to share with you.
This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp - Marieke's debut took me completely by surprise. It's subject matter (school shooting) will most likely be controversial among readers, but what really impressed me was the clearly large amount of research that had gone into this. Balancing a story between multiple narrators is always tricky, but I think Nijkamp does exceptional job with that. This is Where it Ends is a very important book I am hoping will reach wide audiences and the appreciation it deserves
The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry - This one is not EXACTLY a contempory read, but I simply had to include it on this list because in many ways, at least for me, it was more of a contemporary read than a fantasy read. Emily Henry's novel is so imaginative and well-written in addition to which it features an incredible set of characters. Henry's passion towards this novel is tangible from the pages - it is evident a LOT OF LOVE has been put towards this story and these characters. I have a feeling this one will make waves in 2016.
Suffer Love by Ashley Herring Blake - I am not quite sure what I was expecting from this novel, but I can admit that I definitely did not imagine that I would love it as much as I did. It features amazing writing, witty dialogue, family drama, Shakespeare references and tangible chemistry between the characters. Also, the pacing of this novel is one of the best I've been in a while.