The YA Contemporaries That Shaped Me

I've been reading for fun for as long as I can remember. Naturally, I have a long list of favorite books that hold a special place in my heart. Sometimes you read a book at just the right time in your life and a part of you is preserved within those pages forever. Every time you see the cover or title afterward, you’re instantly transported back to the moments you shared with that book and reminded of the person you were while reading it. These are the five YA contemporaries that do exactly that for me because of the profound impact they had on my adolescent self.

 

    1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell 

Fangirl follows freshman college student Cath who, time and time again, is forced outside her comfort zone. If she had a choice, she would much rather live in her own world of fanfiction and Simon Snow. The Simon Snow franchise means so much to her, inspiring her to write a dramatic love story between the two main characters. Growing up with severe social anxiety and as a resident Potterhead, I was Cath and Cath was me.

 

    2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an epistolary novel, consisting of letters Charlie, a freshman high school student, writes. He writes to an unspecified person in search for support for what he went through. He meets two outgoing seniors that open him up to new unforgettable experiences. I lived vicariously through these experiences and swear I too, was infinite.

 

    3. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The titular character, Simon, is a high school junior with everything figured out. He has a perfect family, a perfect friend group, and a seemingly perfect life. There’s just this one thing: he’s hiding a huge secret. When someone discovers this and starts to use it as blackmail, Simon’s life is turned upside down. Suddenly the whole world is against him and he doesn’t know who to trust. The only way to regain control, he soon realizes, is to let go of the secret he’s so afraid of.

 

    4. History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend has died. With this loss follows the disappearance of a future no longer possible, leaving Griffin empty and lost. Sifting through all the hurt, the memories, and the history is incredibly painful, but Griffin knows he must in order to move on. Thankfully, he doesn’t have to do this alone.

 

    5. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Fraternal twins Jude and Noah were inseparable before they grew apart. The story of why this happened is fittingly told in two parts. Noah shares the early years, while Jude shares the later ones. In between lies a pivotal, life-altering incident whose reverberations may divide these siblings forever.