2 November 2018

Our 10 Favourite Young Adult Books

We've both been big readers for like, ever, and clearly big 'series' girls, with eerily similar tastes before we even knew each other. Reminiscing about the plot lines and characters that shaped our young adult years is a favourite past time for us, so we thought we'd share our 10 favourite YA books with you guys today. Our lifelong lack of interest in athletics definitely stems from us having our noses in a book 95% of our young adult lives.

I mean this was a phenomenon that affected every single person I know. I don't want to sound cheesy but these books definitely have the biggest hold on my heart in relation to my childhood. I'm 26 now and I truly believe I was born in the most perfect year to enjoy Harry Potter. The first four books were out when I started reading so I also got to experience waiting eagerly for the next one and going to midnight releases with my family to get the newest copy. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was also the first "major" chapter book I read. I vividly remember reading this book on the love-seat in our living room on a super rainy day. I also remember thinking the font was soooo tiny and that it would take me forever to finish the first chapter. After I finished the book I made my dad read it. He took it to work and finished it in one night and I didn't believe someone could read what felt like such a huge book so quickly so I quizzed him. He read it. I feel like I could write about this perfect, preserved time in my life for so long but will try and wrap it up. All I can say is that reading these books and seeing these movies with my dad was so special that I could barf at how corny I feel saying it.

This was just one of my faaaaaaavourite books. I thought it was so funny and I'm embarrassed now just by the cover art. I truly thought it was the best novel ever written. It's about a cool California high school girl (depicted by the obviously cool girl on the cover, LOL) who has to move with her family to Pennsylvania for a parent's job re-location. She deals with all the natural moving-in-high-school drama... leaves her friends and her boyfriend and the California weather. She spends the whole book plotting how to get back to Cali and abandon her parents. The book is marketed online for ages 9-12, which seems about right. If you know a girl in this age range buy her this immediately, I guarantee she will love it.

Meg and I have read every book by Sarah Dessen and as she will mention below. This Lullaby was my favourite/most read, but I also have a lot of memories of reading Dreamland. This was one of the first books I read where the reading material was pretty sensitive. Essentially the book is about a young girl named Caitlin who gets involved in an abusive relationship with her first "real" boyfriend. This is also the first book I ever cried reading. The material is pretty heavy but I don't remember feeling like it was out of place for a young adult book. I feel like maybe some of the drugs they get into would feel silly now, but the abuse felt very real and disturbing. I remember specifically a lot of stuff about her only feeling "safe" when they were being intimate and the scene where her mother discovers what happened to her. Disturbing stuff, but Dessen is a talented enough writer for this to be a young adult's first encounter with abusive relationships.

This is a four book series and for ~12 year old me, they were SPICY. Each book basically chronicles a summer for three female cousins and their love lives. Ella was a bit more promiscuous, Jamie is more on the artsy side, and Beth is a tomboy who falls for her best friend, it is really juicy stuff when you're a young girl but I was also naive enough to think I completely related to them... I'd probably die laughing remembering how I felt if I re-read them today. I loved all three of these characters like my own sisters and was very invested in their plot lines. I remember getting grounded just before my mom was supposed to take me to buy the third book in the series and I was DEVASTATED. If you have a pre-teen female in your household she will be obsessed with these, and despite my initial description, it's not like they're R-rated or anything to be worried about.

I would actually LOVE to revisit these books (even just skimming passages) because this was the first character that I read where I was like "THIS IS ME." The book follows Jessica Darling throughout high school and into college, and actually ends the series with her in her first job post-grad. She is insanely neurotic and observant and the book is written "diary style." It kicks off with her best friend moving away and sort of follows her relationship with her parents and sister, her peers at school, and this trouble-maker boy Marcus Flutie (who I loved). I actually read the second book in this series first... my mom saw it at a yard sale and randomly bought it thinking I would probably enjoy it. I got the last book on my 16th birthday. Again, I'd love to look through these again just to see how I perceived myself as a young adult.

These were THE coolest books to be reading when I was in middle school. We would go around asking people what book they're on the same way we're all asking each other if we've seen A Star is Born today. It's a three book series: The Contest, The Climb, and The Summit, and they're basically about four boys who are competing to be the youngest kid to summit Everest. As a side note, Meghan was also obsessed with these books and it's clear we developed a passion for Everest content at a very early age. When you're like, 11, these are the most heart-thumping, suspenseful books you can ever read. Girls and guys alike will enjoy these and Gordon Korman conveniently has a bunch of other equally amazing series to crush once these are done. I cannot wait until my niece and nephew are old enough to start shoving these down their throats.

My sister and I were VERY into stuff about spies growing up. I'm pretty sure my first email was like "spygirl@something." I honestly can't really remember when I was reading these books, like if I was closer to 10 or 14. They were 6 of them with names like "Dial V for Vengeance" or "Licence to Thrill," and they focused on three best friends who doubled as spies. The cases weren't very childish... they were all adult women and would go after drug smugglers, etc.  I remember a huge story line being that one of the main girl's father was a judge who was murdered by the mob because one of their own was on trial. The covers were always like 70's themed but they were all written in the late 90's.

I have a vivid memory sitting in a bar with our MA class, about 3 months into meeting Meghan, when we both realized this was our favourite childhood book and we were both in love with one of the main characters named Dex- the next day she basically moved into my apartment (not actually) and we were together every moment since (actually). I was obsessed with Sarah Dessen, any and all of her books but this one stands out to me the most. I wrote about the characters Remy and Dex as a couple in this year's Valentine's Day post. Dessen followed a format similar to Elin Hilderbrand in the sense that you could recognize common restaurants, shops, characters throughout a lot of her books- something I really enjoy with both authors. Dessen really has her finger on the pulse of complex teenage personalities and relationship dynamics. I'm surprised not more of her work was adapted into movies. Teenage girls will love Sarah Dessen and she has a huge repertoire of work.

I know Meg already mentioned these series but I also was a huge fan of them. Something I literally just found out was that Korman is Canadian! He is from Quebec and I guess that probably explains why so many schools had these books on their shelves and how prevalent they were in the Scholastic Book catalog. I remember really liking these books because they were based around people my age, but they were also really dangerous. Kids died in them, were injured, etc. I think the Everest series was my favourite out of all of them (and now I'm obsessed with this mountain in general) but I also loved Island. This is the first time I learned that after being close to starvation, eating too much food soon after can make you so, so sick. It's funny because I would also say I am fairly obsessed with shipwrecks and have read a few books on that too ...

I mean, come on. Every young teenage girl and their dog was reading these. I remember practicing my printing over and over on scrap paper with the book open, trying to mimic Lena's beautiful handwriting. I wanted so badly to be her (I was sadly more of a Carmen). These books are the epitome of young, female friendship. If you've been living in a hole, it's a 4 book series, told from the multiple perspectives of 4 young friends who all share a pair of jeans as they go their separate ways for the summer. Lena is timid and romantic, Tibby is a bit of a nerdy tomboy, Carmen is hot headed and passionate, and Bridget is sporty and adventurous. The format of these made it so every single female under the sun could relate strongly to one character and be idealize another. The adapted movies were also amazing and perfectly cast. Go buy a box set for your preteen daughter this minute.

1 comment:

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