Saturday, December 3, 2011

Just Contemporary: What I'd Like to See in YA Contemps

I'm sad to say it's the last week of Just Contemporary month hosted by Basically Amazing Books and Chick Loves Lit.  I have thoroughly enjoyed all the attention my most favorite book genre has gotten among the blogosphere.  I hope you've taken the time to check out both Ashley and Shanyn's blogs because they have done a FABULOUS job of putting this together.

This week's topic: What I'd Like to See in YA Contemp

Is everything too broad of an answer? Haha One of the reasons why I adore contemporary fiction so much is because it's not nailed down to just one topic. A book can touch on happy times, as well as sad times. The range of characters is off the charts. But for the purpose of this week's topic I've decided to pick a few things I'd personally like to see MORE of in the contemporary YA's that I read.

1. The old(er) protagonist.
I know that young adult means the teen years; however, we don't always get to read stories about those later teen years. I would love to read more from a character who is 18 or 19, post high school. I feel as though they are prime years for such incredible stories. What a "teen" decides to do with their lives after high school is endless. Whether it may be the road to college, getting a job, traveling the world, or staying in tune with their hometown. Their capacity to absorb grows a bit and with it comes more conflicts... and I for one LOVE a conflicted character in my contemporary YA's.

2. The "not so pretty" girl.
One of my favorite stories to read about involves the girl who DOESN'T turn all the boys heads in the cafeteria. I know that girl, I can identify with that girl, because I WAS that girl in high school. There is so much pressure on body image and how a young girl needs to look a certain way these days. I'm all for a story that focuses on what a girl can offer with her mind, and not so much her looks. Reading a story about the girl who isn't drop dead gorgeous is refreshing from time to time. It's real.

3. The unhappily ever after.
Yes, I just said that. Though I love the fairy tale ending as much as anyone, sometimes I'd rather read about the realistic ending. Not everything is always tied up nicely with a bow. Sometimes things are messy and ugly. It happens. It's life. I want a story that delivers finality, but not necessarily with a smile on it's face.

4. The broken boy next door.
He is my favorite male lead to read about in contemporary YA's, so I wouldn't mind reading a lot more about him. There's something about beautiful broken boys that pull me to them, and I feel the need to fix them. What makes it even better is when they're literally right next door. It's as if you can witness their car crash of a life just through an open window. Somehow coming over with a freshly baked pie won't always fix the problem. But it does open up possibilities for more deliciousness to come in later chapters.

5. Music.
If you know me, then you know I love a contemporary YA that incorporates music in to the story. Whether it be one of the characters who plays an instrument, has a passion for bands, or the author writes the story with music in mind. I love it all. 9 times out of 10 if I know a book involves music, I am likely to pick it up and want to read it. So of course I want more, more, more of it!!

What about you, what would YOU like to see in contemporary YA?



  1. Julia @ That Hapa ChickFebruary 1, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    I would agree with all of these! Though I have to say the "not-so-pretty girl" is really hard to do. Mostly because it turns out that some guy pops up in the story who is "totally hot" and "totally into her but not the popular hot girls" and he's all "Can't you see how beautiful you are?" And then once you read that its immediately "Well there isn't a picture of this girl and if HE likes her she must be gorgeous and just think she isn't." At least that's what happens oftentimes with these "not-so-pretty" girl situations when I'm reading them.

    After reading this post a book I would really recommend is Never Enough by Denise Jaden. Its not out yet but I got a chance to read it and it is AMAZING. Its got a believable "not-so-pretty" girl, a sort of unhappily ever after ending, AND a broken boy next door. :)

  2. Melissa @ i swim for oceansFebruary 1, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    I, too, would like to see the not-so-pretty girl. To be honest, I was an ugly duckling. I really was, and it was hard. Plus, I suffered severe anxiety and an eating disorder for much of my teen years, and I'd love to see more contemps tackle the tougher topics. Great thoughts, G :)

  3. yes forever to all of these.

    particularly 1 and 4. 

    well done, madam!

  4. After I read this list, I immediately went to your Book Review Archives to make sure that you'd read Gayle Forman's If I Stay and Where She Went, since they have several (possibly all?) of the qualities you mention here. So glad to see that you liked them as much as I did! Some of my bookish friends aren't huge Adam fans, and I just...I don't understand it.

    Anyway, I, too, love the ambiguous and maybe not happy ending. I also admit to a perverse enjoyment of reading books that leave me curled up in the fetal position, crying because why do bad things ever have to happen to good people?!

    I'd love to see more contemporary YA written with a male protagonist, especially by authors who are able to do this without making sacrificing fully realized female characters. Bonus points for romance, because from what I've read, the books with male protagonists usually focus on something less "feminine" (quotation marks because, c'mon)—friendship, family, interpersonal conflict, etc. Not that those themes are to be avoided, but it'd be great for the genre to open up and embrace the fact that boys fall in love, too.

  5. Perfect list. I agree with absolutely every single thing on it, especially the old(er) bit and the MUSIC! Love music. And the average girl because not all of us can be drop dead gorgeous! Again, everything I agree with. :)

    xoxo Victorie

  6. I rarely read contemp, so I can't offer suggestions. But everything you mentioned would make a perfect book for me as well!

  7. Great things to look for! I agree!! :) I actually really like ambiguous and potentially unhappy endings. I actually really like an ending that leaves a little openness, because it makes me feel like the characters are still around, still out there doing their thing, ya know? Definite fan. :) 

    And yay for music books! :) I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert is ALL about music AND there is lots of other drama (family, friends, relationship, you name it) and the ending contains no bows... :) 

  8. Sara (of the Page Sage)February 1, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    Mikey from You Against Me is out of high school, so you might like that if you haven't read it already! And if you like books with music, Audrey, Wait! would be perfect for you! (: 

  9. I completely agree with everything, especially an older YA protagonist. It would be so incredible to have more 18-20ish protagonists, that age range is seriously underrepresented in literature. 

  10. I want more boys in tighty whiteys...oh, wait. ;0) I agree on 1 & 2. 3...eep, I'm not good with the not so happily ever after, those reads are few and far between. As for #4, have you read Sophie & Carter?! Short but super cute book and Carter is a very broken boy next door. He has the scars to prove it. Let me know if you haven't and want to read it. 

  11. YES!  I love reading about broken boys.  They're so adorable. *sigh*

  12. It seems you and I are kindred spirits in this department.  I do love me a bad boy but a broken boy?  *sigh* so swoon-wrothy.  While I do like a happy ending if done well the realistic ending can be equally satisfying.

  13. I agree with everything you suggested. An aside, if you haven't already added The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour to your TBR, you should, as it's a music book. I just started reading it and I LOVE it.

  14. like older more guy protagonists 

  15. I love the broken boys, too. And NERDY boys. YA needs more nerds! =)

  16. I like the older protagonist bit! While I enjoy reading novels about high school shenanigans, I feel like it would be great to read about characters a little older, experiencing things (like college!) that high school kids might not have gone through yet.

  17. I absolutely agree with everything, except #3. Sometimes, it's okay to have an unhappily ending story.... but, I'm a sucker for driving off into sunset books. lol! I love that you pointed out the un-pretty girl. It's so important to promote books that have girls that aren't models. This isn't real life. What about the girl with the frizzy hair, glasses, braces, size 9-higer, where is she? I love her and want to see more of her! :)


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