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What I Want to See More of In YA


As the year comes to a close, I'm reflecting on the books that I read (and loved) this year, and I'm eagerly putting my TBR together for the next. In the coming weeks, I'll be posting about my favorite books of the year, what I'm looking for next year, and a deeper look into some of the statistics behind my reading. While I've been working on those posts, though, I've seen trends in books that I'm drawn to and underrepresented areas in YA that I want to see more of. This post is my ultimate future wish list as well as a call for other readers to speak out about the kinds of books they want to see represented more on the book shelves. Let me know in the comments if some of these are on your list, or if there's other books you want to see!

College YA
I'm starting off with my main wish. I absolutely love YA set in college, and there's absolutely not enough of it. Publishers seem to be scared of venturing that murky space after the summer before freshman year of college ends, and I want to tell them that YA readers love the college setting. Kid lit has a general rule of thumb that kids and teens like to read up. YA is such a huge span of ages that there need to be books about all different times in teen life for that to happen. Personally, I think that the collapse of the NA movement was that it tried to veer so far from the YA brackets that readers know and love, and that college should be fair game in the YA world, not just some murky grey area. 
Luckily, I think this might be improving. Before 2018, Fangirl is the only book that comes to mind in the category, but we got three this year: Nice Try Jane Sinner, Emergency Contact, and America Panda. While it's not a ton, it's definitely promising. 

Books With Neurodiversity
While I haven't come across any neurodiverse books that came out this year, that doesn't mean that it's not an important subject to cover. It feels like calls for books featuring main characters with ADHD, dyslexia, and autism have been left out of the more widespread call for diversity and mental health representation in publishing. Reading is an important tool to create both comfort and empathy, so representing people of all kinds of backgrounds is super important, and having a better understanding of people with learning differences or autism is super important as many teens go to school every day with someone dealing with one of these challenges. 
While I don't have any 2018 recommendations, I do have two from last year. A List of Cages has ADHD rep, and Love Letters of Abelard and Lily has main characters with ADHD and Aspergers. If you want to read more about learning differences in books and schools you can also read my interview with author, Laura Creedle. 

Intense Friendships and Sweet Families
Almost every YA book has a romantic element. Whether it's a true necessity of the story or not, it's usually there. Sadly, this means that epic friendships tend to take the backseat. I want to see the dawn of a new era of Epic Friendships being just as common as Epic Love Stories. Even though the book came out in 2017, I read Radio Silence this year, and it made my heart ache with longing for a friendship like in this book (also, as a bonus, it takes place in England. It's super interesting to learn about another culture. I'll take more foreign YA too). As for sweet families, I absolutely loved the father-daughter relationship in The Way You Make Me Feel.

Searingly Honest Mental Health YA
This is a wish that I already know is getting fulfilled thanks to Kathleen Glasgow. Her prose are so quiet and almost unassuming, but they build like drips in a bucket until it all spills over in the form of tears in your eyes. Definelty look out for her book, How To Make Friends With The Dark in April, and read her debut Girl In Pieces now.
It was also great to see a shift in YA a bit with so many novels that look into abusive or toxic teenage relationships. While old YA had a reputation for promotion of unhealthy relationships and toxic masculinity, there were so many painfully amazing books counteracting these harmful messages. Broken Beautiful Hearts follows a girl who's soccer dreams are jeopardized when her boyfriend gets physically abusive and her transition to a new school and rehabilitation, Always, Forever Maybe cautions about how easy it is to fall into the cycle of abuse when cut off from everything you used to have, and Imagine Us Happy tells to story of how battling with depression made it hard to recognize a relationship gone wrong.

Recent Past "Historical" Fiction
There have been a few books that hit shelves this year as part of a new trend of books set in the not so distant past. The '80s, '90s, and early 2000s have all been settings for almost contemporary novels, and it's fascinating to dive into a time period and era of culture that you're familiar with but never really experienced. It adds an interesting thrill to a contemporary story and allows you to read something removed from the current time without having to totally "relearn" the rules of the world.
The category has also become an avenue for some amazingly compelling stories like A Very Large Expanse of Sea. 

True Crime Stand-Alones
This year has been a really awesome year for the true crime/thriller/mystery genre. I recently heard another blogger lamenting the lack of these types of novels, and because I had such a good time reading these toward the end of the year, I'm going to add them to the end of the list. Back in October, I made a list for Halloween of all the thrillers I'd read if you're looking for recommendations

Books with Texts, Messages, Fanfiction, Art...
I've always loved books with these personal touches. I find that these non-prose touches make me feel a closer connection to the characters. It's fun to read in different types of formats as well. The extra touches that are thrown in help the books feel authentic and distinguish something deeply important to the characters. Some of these books include Fangirl, Emergency Contact, Nice Try Jane Sinner, Radio Silence, and Sadie (which is also a super cool thriller that plays on the rise of the true crime podcast). My current read, Eliza and Her Monsters also has these elements throughout which made me realize how much I love that storytelling frame.

Links of Interest:
Always Never Yours: Review Here
Unbroken: Review Here
YA Movie Takeover: Here
Little White Lies: Review Here

Comments

  1. Ooh yes, I'd like to see all of the above!
    Have you read Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O'Porter? It ticks a few of these and I'd definitely recommend it if you haven't.
    Cora | http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/

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