10 Must-Read Contemporary YA Novels

Young adult literature is a popular genre for teens and adults alike. Young protagonists are compelling characters because while they face whatever problems the plot throws at them, they have to simultaneously cope with figuring out their identity and dealing with the transition from childhood to adulthood. If you want to add some more YA to your bookshelf, check out these ten must-read novels. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

10 Must-Read Contemporary YA Novels

Title Author More by the Author
1. With the Fire on High Elizabeth Acevedo The Poet X
2. This Book Is Not Yet Rated Peter Bognanni Things I'm Seeing Without You
3. When Reason Breaks Cindy L. Rodriguez
4. Underwater Marisa Reichardt Aftershocks
5. The Hidden Memory of Objects Danielle Mages Amato
6. Don't Call Me Baby Gwendolyn Heasley Where I Belong
7. How She Died, How I Lived Mary Crockett Dream Boy
8. Charlotte Cuts it Out K.A. Barson 45 Pounds (More or Less)
9. Fear of Missing Out Kate McGovern Rules for 50/50 Chances
10. No Place Like Here Christina June Everywhere You Want to Be

8 Great Films Based on YA Novels

  1. The Fault in Our Stars based on the book by John Green
  2. Divergent based on the book by Veronica Roth
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone based on the book by J.K. Rowling
  4. The Princess Diaries based on the book by Meg Cabot
  5. Holes based on the book by Louis Sachar
  6. The Hunger Games based on the book by Suzanne Collins
  7. Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist based on the book by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
  8. Bridge to Terabithia based on the book by Katherine Paterson

Literary Charities

If you want to spread your love of YA literature with those in need, then you should consider looking into these non-profit organizations that help kids and teens get access to books and high-quality education.

The Teenage Brain Explained

In Depth

Teenagers may study literature in school, but they often don't get to read books that actually appeal to them. While there's value in teaching the classics, it's also important for young people to be able to read more recently-written works, full of characters who are living in the modern world and dealing with relatable issues. In no particular order, here are ten must-read contemporary Y.A. novels.

At the #1 spot is "With the Fire on High" by Elizabeth Acevedo. The book features high school senior Emoni Santiago, a young mom with a talent for cooking great food. She would love to be a professional chef someday, but doubts that this dream will ever come true. Emoni is torn between following her passion for cooking and performing her roles as a caring mother to her child and a helpful granddaughter to her abuela.

Coming in at #2 is "This Book Is Not Yet Rated" by Peter Bognanni. A story of love and letting go, this novel is about the life of Ethan Ashby, a seventeen-year-old boy who works in an old theater called the Green Street Cinema. When developers threaten to destroy his workplace to make way for condos, Ethan does everything he can to stop it. He seeks out his friend, Raina, a Hollywood actress, to help him create a movie miracle.

He seeks out his friend, Raina, a Hollywood actress, to help him create a movie miracle.

Following at #3 is "When Reason Breaks," by Cindy L. Rodriguez. This book thoughtfully explores two different expressions of depression. It tells the story of Elizabeth and Emily, two teenagers with contrasting personalities. Elizabeth is a goth girl full of rage and angst, while Emily is a smart student struggling to feel as normal as she appears. Despite their differences, both girls are facing similar internal turmoil, and both feel a deep connection to the poetry of Emily Dickinson.

Next, at #4 is "Underwater" by Marisa Reichardt. A tale of redemption and hope, this book centers on the life of Morgan, a young girl who has been isolated in her home for months. After a shooting at her high school left her bombarded by guilt, she chose to stay away from her friends, and everyone else. But when a boy named Evan moves in next door, her world suddenly changes. Their immediate connection blossoms into a friendship that helps her recover from the pain that she experienced in the past.

Taking the #5 spot is "The Hidden Memory of Objects," a heart-pounding debut novel by Danielle Mages Amato. It tells the story of fifteen-year-old Megan Brown, whose brother's death is becoming a controversy. The police say that he died of drug overdose, but Megan refuses to believe them. Equipped with her ability to see memories attached to belongings, she sets out on a journey that brings her to historical places, not only learning the troubling truth about her brother Tyler, but also discovering her own stifled identity.

It tells the story of fifteen-year-old Megan Brown, whose brother's death is becoming a controversy.

At #6 is "Don't Call Me Baby" by Gwendolyn Heasley. Imogene is a teenage girl who has been the subject of her mother's popular blog since before she was born. Due to this, a lot of people know many embarrassing details about her. When a project at school compels her to create her own blog, she hesitates to share even more about her life. However, she soon decides to go on with the project, as it could be her chance to show the world who she really is.

Coming in at #7 is "How She Died, How I Lived" by Mary Crockett. This book features a brutal murder in small-town Virginia. A year after the crime happened, the main character is still struggling to deal with survivor's guilt. She is one of the five girls that Kyle, the suspect, texted. The protagonist's classmate, Jamie, is the only one who responded to the text and she became the victim. The narrator in this book is full of anger, until she meets Charlie. Their chemistry is undeniable, despite the complications.

Following at #8 is "Charlotte Cuts it Out," a funny and relatable story about Charlotte and her best friend Lydia. They are both juniors in a cosmetology arts program and they have it all figured out. They need to finish beauty school, build a clientele, and earn business degrees. Charlotte has been dreaming of this for years, so when Lydia suddenly decides to quit, she isn't sure what to do. Author K.A. Barson explores the concept of personal improvement in this engaging novel.

Author K.A. Barson explores the concept of personal improvement in this engaging novel.

Taking the #9 spot is "Fear of Missing Out" by Kate McGovern. This is a heartbreaking story about dealing with terminal illness. Main character Astrid has learned that her cancer is back after two years of remission. This time, she knows that she is unlikely to survive. However, her boyfriend, Mohit, and her mother are still hopeful. They research cryopreservation, a process that involves freezing the patient and reviving them in the future when there is a cure for their illness. Astrid has to make difficult decisions before she takes this risk.

Finally, at #10 is "No Place Like Here" by Christina June. Ashlyn Zanotti is a teenage girl who is returning home from boarding school for the summer. She has awesome plans, but they all go out the window when her father gets arrested for tax evasion. Worse, she has to work with her cousin at a retreat center. Usually quiet and reserved, Ashlyn becomes emotionally challenged with all the changes in her life. She is now torn between following her dad's orders and standing up for what she really wants.