Skip to main content

Beyond High School YA: From Senior Stress To College and More


As you read this, I will likely be sitting in a testing room taking the SAT. Or, if you're reading this later in the week, I might be in an AP exam. As my senior year winds down, I'm doing the last unfortunate bits on the road to college. It's made me reflect on some of the books that I've read before and during this experience that has allowed me to see myself and learn what to expect, something I've always looked to books to do. I hope you enjoy the list, and, as a little disclaimer, I added purchase links of Indie Bound that are affiliate links simply for your ease. I may get a small commission if you choose to purchase. And if you know of any college set or college themed YA, please let me know on social media or in the comments below. I'm always on the lookout!

Getting In To College

I have not read a book that more accurately encompasses all the pressures, stress, and ridiculous aspects of senior year and getting into college. Everyone I've talked to who's read this book has had the same reaction of "Oh my god this is me!". Oftentimes, when I find myself overwhelmed or frustrated with a certain aspect of the admissions process, I always think back to Ariel and remember that I'm not alone in this. It doesn't matter where you are in life, this is a book that everyone needs to read. 

This verse novel points out how competitive and difficult the admissions process is by telling the story of a girl who sells admissions essays to students at her schools. It makes clear how far the admissions process has been undermined by some and how hard it is to compete in a really cutthroat competition of resources. 

This read points out another failure of the college process- the staggering costs that are only rising. Bellamy gets into MIT because she's basically a genius, but the father she's never met (who happens to be a billionaire) means she can't get a dime of financial aid even though her mother's two jobs have barely kept a roof over their heads. Even though she's beat the extremely slim odds, with less resources than most, the cost might keep Bellamy out of college. Of course, a heist ensues to get her the money. 

While less focused on the admissions process itself, the final Laura Jean book does dig into other complicated realities when going to college like choosing how far to go from home and the question of how to maintain high school relationships going into college. 

College Life

For Penny, college hasn't been a very active choice, even as she loads her stuff into her dorm room. Her acceptance to UT was automatic because she was in the top 10% of her class. She's not going too far from home, but she wants to become a writer and move on from her high school past. When she runs into Sam, who's struggling on his own at a bakery instead of a dorm room, she finds a lifeline to hold onto through the struggles that come with adjusting to a new life. 

Mei is going to college a year early (like me which was cool to read about), and she's going to MIT at that. It's all part of her parent's perfect plan for her. An Ivy League education will lead to becoming a successful doctor who can attract a suitable Taiwanese husband to have children with. Unfortunately, Mei doesn't want to be a dancer, she doesn't want to be perfect, and she's confused between being what was expected and who she wants to be. Mei comes back to dance to center herself during the difficult and hectic turn of her life. 

This was my first taste of college set YA, and it's brutally honest about how isolating the transition can be. Cath does not wind up with the college experience she was expecting. Her fan fiction isn't appreciated in her creative writing class, her other classes are hard, and finding friend is harder. Feeling isolated from her family and confused by the future she thought she'd get and what she was experiencing, Cath has to go through some hard things her freshman year.

In the dorms over winter break, Marin has to confront her lingering grief and broken feelings with her best friend Mabel who has come to visit. This short, quiet book packs an emotional punch. 

So this technically breaks the rule. Jane is a senior in high school, but she's forced to finish the year at community college. She's tossed into the culture of college life a semester early. On top of exploring this new world, Jane also competes in a low budget (okay, no budget) reality series to win a used car. 

Beyond High School
While this book doesn't take place in college or deal with college stress, this story is set after high school and deals with lots of the same emotions. Annie and Clay have to deal with the entire world watching them navigate the very beginning of adulthood as they go on a national music tour. 

Upcoming College YA

Virtually Yours
This book, which gave me lots of Laura Jean vibes, takes place at NYU and revolves around a virtually reality facilitated love triangle. It's a super cute read that I'll be reviewing at the beginning of June. It hits shelves on June 4th. 

Rent a Boyfriend
This book was just announced (and isn't coming until fall of 2020) so I don't know a ton about it, but I do know it's a return to college YA by Gloria Chao, author of America Panda. All I can tell you for sure is that I'm beyond ready for it. 

Let me know in the comments if you know of or love any other college YA. I'm always looking for more!
If You Liked These Books...
Into YA with Lillian Clark: Here
Into YA with Erin Hahn: Here

Links of Interest:
All Our Broken Pieces: Review Here
Into YA with LD Crichton: Here
What's Coming Up In May: Here
Ship It: Review Here

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How It Feels To Float

How It Feels To Float by Helena Fox (May)
Overview: Biz has a lot of sadness in her life. Her father died when she was age 7, her group of friends abandon her, and her best friend gets sent four hours away to live with her father. The world is too much, and Biz can't just float anymore. Exploring Biz's racing thoughts and grief, the book chronicles her discovering what it means to be honestly okay. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 The characters do come vividly alive but in a sort of passive way. Biz seems almost removed from herself, like she's telling the story about her life instead of speaking as they happen. Because of this, it's like seeing Biz through a foggy window and everyone else through a kaleidoscope.
I do love how supportive her mother is, her relationship with her younger twin siblings, and the mentorship and friendship she finds from an elderly lady in her photography class.
She also has an interesting relationship with her father who comes to her in hallucinati…

Ultimate Halloween Book List

At the beginning of October, I unconsciously started reading murder-thriller books. It started with finally reading One of Us Is Lying and then I went to Lauren Oliver's book event for her new book, Broken Things, so I decided I would pick up a few more to read on the many plane rides I've taken recently and make a list for you. I've ranked them by the books I enjoyed most, but I'm also throwing a scariness ranking below too.

1. The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
I loved The Cheerleaders. Even if I wasn't narrowing this to just thrillers, this would still be up there. While there's no immediate threat, there's still a sinister feeling five years after five cheerleaders die in a year in three accidents. One of the girl's sister, who investigates, also has a complicated life of her own. Thomas did an awesome job of sprinkling the mystery clues and bringing us a story through such a strong voice. Here's my full Review Here (4.5 stars overall, 2 scare fact…

The Dead Queen's Club

The Dead Queen's Club by Hannah Capin (January 29)
Overview: For fans of European history, specifically Henry VIII and his many wives, this is a treat. Modernized and set in high school, this version is the tale of all of Henry's living ex-girlfriends banding together to find the real reason behind the death of two of his former girlfriends, Anna Boleyn and Katie Howard. Narrated by Annie, better known as Cleves, the reader falls for Henry's charm but also sees the cracks growing in his perfect facade. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Cleves has a authoritative voice that I very much enjoyed. She's outspoken and uncompromising as she makes a place for herself in her new school senior year. Even though she marches to the beat of her own drum, she's found a place for herself among the cheerleaders who genuinely love how unique she is; but it helps that she's already friends with Henry, football star who practically owns the school.
The other characters have their places a…

Top Reads of 2018

This year's best of 2018 list has tons of new categories to fit all of the amazing books I read this year. I've had the chance to read so many advanced books and recent releases, so most of what I read were books that came out in 2018. I mostly choose contemporary, so I've started with my favorite debut as well as the best books in other genres I've ventured into. After that, I have smaller categories in the contemporary genre. I hope you find new books to love and give to your friends and family for the holidays. If you're interested in learning more about the books on the list, click their titles to go to my reviews. Let me know if these are some of your favorites in the comments, and tell me your favorite books!
Best In Genre Top Debut
Nothing Left To Burn by Heather Ezell Nothing Left To Burn gave me the craziest book hangover. I was so immersed in the story, and I couldn't stop reading to do anything that I actually needed to be doing. There is a toxic relat…

The Cheerleaders

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas (372 pages)
Overview: Five years ago, five cheerleaders on the same high school squad died in three separate incidents, but how separate were they? That's what Monica wants to know. Her sister, Jen, was the last teen to die in the tragedy when she died by suicide, but Monica isn't convinced it was simply survivors guilt at play. She's also not convinced that Jack Canning was truly at fault for two girls murders or that the car accident that took the final two girls was really an accident. With an unlikely friend by her side, Monica sets out to dig up the truth about what really happened to those five girls even if it jeopardizes her own life. Overall: 4.5

Characters: 5 I loved Monica's voice. Even though it's told in third person, her character really shined through. Despite making some poor choices and putting herself in dangerous situations, she does strive to do what she thinks will bring truth or justice. Ginny, a girl she connects…

Heroine

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis (417 pages) To Purchase From Your Local Bookstore (Affiliate Link)
TW: Depiction of opioid addiction 
Overview: Mickey has it all. She's on the best softball team in the county, she has a supportive best friend, and, even though her parents have recently gone through a divorce, they both want to support her. And then she and Carolina get into a car accident on the way home to watch Netflix and eat pizza, a regular Friday night. Mickey's leg is all but torn out of her body, and her hip has to be put together with screws. Carolina, the school's near famous pitcher, nearly destroys her arm. As the girls fight to be ready in time to play their senior softball season, Mickey falls down a dangerous road, slowly upping her intake of pain pills to get through the day and to quicken her pace through physical therapy. Even as she tells herself that it's just for softball, just for her team, just for her parents, as she gets further in and her dependency i…

Guest Post with Kristy Fairlamb

Today, I'm bringing you another guest post from an author! Kristy Fairlamb stopped by to talk about her top tips for writing and her writing process. Her novel, Lucid, recently came out. If you're interested in learning more or picking it up, check out my Indiebound link! (Affiliate Link).

Eight tips for writing a novel: Based on my vague understanding of the process after winging it and completing three manuscripts.  My first book, Lucid, has just been published, the sequel, Luminous, is mid-edits and the third, a standalone, is at the 2nddraft stage waiting until I’ve finished with the others. 
ONE:JUST WRITE I went to a writing class once and sat beside a lady who told me it was the sixth session she had attended. I asked what she was working on, she said nothing yet, she’s learning first.
I didn’t know how to write when I first started writing. I believe the best learning came after I’d written the first draft when I learnt everything I’d done wrong.
Don’t wait to write until yo…

Dumplin'

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy (375 pages)
Overview: Willowdean "Dumplin'" is fat. It's something that she's come to accept about herself even after years of fad diets enforced by her mother and bullying at school. Aunt Lucy certainly helped with her self acceptance, and in cultivating her love of Dolly Parton, but Will is left rudderless after Lucy has a sudden heart attack. To reclaim a bit of confidence she'd lost, Will signs up for the Clover City Pageant. Though she's not the typical beauty queen, Will and her group of friends get to put their own stamp on her mother's beloved pageant. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 I like Willowdean. She lives in the place most of us do on the fine line between insecure and confident. Murphy does a great job building a crew of characters around Willowdean. It was fun to revisit the cast after I'd read Puddin', Murphy's forthcoming companion novel.

Plot: 4 While this book is mainly billed as being about a beaut…

Who's That Girl

Who's That Girl by Blair Thornburgh (392 pages)
Overview: This book tells the story of Natalie, alias Nattie, a junior in Wister, Pennsylvania, with red hair and an under the radar life. That is, til she becomes the muse of the next up and coming indie band's lead singer after only meeting him once. As "Natalie" bursts over the airwaves, rising on Indie charts across the country, Nattie starts to panic over being discovered as the girl that her school's most famous alumni, Sebastian Delacroix's, muse, but she also wonders where she and Sebastian stand after their single encounter at a party that was only almost something. All this is happening as Nattie is trying to navigate her supportive and eccentric family and her membership as the one heterosexual girl in her best friend Tess's quickly sinking OWPALGBTQIA club. It's an intelligent, thoughtful read that will hook you from the start and keep you reading till the end. Overall: 5

Characters: 5 Every ch…

Neverworld Wake

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl (327 pages)
Overview: When Beatrice goes back to Wincroft to meet up with her four former best friends for the first time since their sixth member, and her boyfriend's death, something nearly unexplainable happens. They wake up from a car accident to find that they're repeating the same day over and over. At first, they struggle to understand their fate, but after a few wakes, they realize that they must use this time to discover what really happened when Jim died if they ever want to break the wake. The answer to the question will reveal who will get the groups unanimous vote to be the lone survivor of the Neverworld. Overall: 4 

Characters: 4 Each character was interesting with their own quirks and distinct personalities. They filled out to requisition parts of any good, dynamic group. It's unfortunate that each of these characters didn't really have a huge chance to be explored. The setting of the Neverworld was the main character in t…