From realistic and relatable stories, to romantic triangles and even lessons to be learned, there’s nothing better than a solid young adult contemporary book. As a huge fan of YA literature, there’s nothing I love more than digging into deep character dives and the world behind a contemporary novel that gives us a chance to dive into diverse character worlds and also gives us all the feels.
Last year, in 2021, there were some amazing contemporary reads that I truly loved digging into. From the romantic XOXO by Axie Oh, to the swoony and realistic Our Way Back to Always by Nina Moreno and the anticipated and stellar The Hate U Give prequel, Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas, I love how YA contemporaries are not only extremely fun to read, but they also immerse us in worlds and realities that we can learn from, and at the same time, enjoy reading about.
This year promises the same type of stellar YA literature when it comes to contemporary fiction, and while it’s always hard to compile a list of anticipated reads with so many amazing ones coming out soon, I am so thrilled to share with all of you eight books that promise to entertain, tug at your heartstrings and leave you thinking about the stories long after the last page turns. So read on and save some space in your bookshelf, or even get a new bookshelf, because you might be tempted to get some of these YA reads added into your collection ASAP.
One True Loves by Elise Bryant
From the author who brought you the super sweet and romantic Happily Ever Afters, comes a second swoony tale that I am truly looking forward to.
In the book, the main character Lenore Bennett is a total force to be reckoned with. Artistic and stylish, she is not afraid to be herself and does not care what people think, especially at her high school. But, graduation is coming up, she is preparing to go to NYU in the Fall, and she has yet to declare a major. Heading on a cruise with her family to the Mediterranean is unexpected, and while her parents bond, she meets the super cute and at times annoying Alex Lee. Alex is witty and smart, but also seems to have it all figured out, while Lenore does not. Is romance in the cards for them?
I am expecting this book is full of romance and funny and touching moments, and I cannot wait to grab a copy to add to my collection.
No Filter and Other Lies by Crystal Maldonado (February 8)
I am super excited for this contemporary by the author of Fat Chance, Charlie Vega, which was one of my favorite contemporary YA reads of 2021.
The story follows 16-year old Kat Sanchez, who hides away behind the seemingly flawless internet persona of 21-year old Max Monroe. Pretending to be Max online is easy and fun for her, as Max has the perfect sparkling life, tons of adventures and amazing friends. It’s everything she wishes she could be, and more, as she spends her online time sharing advice with others and networking with famous influencers. Then, she meets Elena, and they become close online friends. But one day, a post by Max goes viral, and the person she’s been stealing photos from finds out about it, and her whole world crashes down around her. How will she get out of this mess now?
I am sure this book will be full of lessons about acceptance and finding oneself past the glittering world of the internet, and I am here for all of it!
Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie (February 8)
This is one amazing contemporary debut that I had a chance to dive into early, full of romance and lessons about finding oneself and realizing who one really is after all.
In the book, Ophelia Rojas is a true romantic at heart, who adores her life joined by her besties, spending time rose gardening and noshing on Cuban food with her family. Another thing her family teases her about is her collection of boys, who come and go as soon as Ophelia gets a new crush. Ophelia sees nothing wrong with this, and she loves whirlwind romances as much as she loves meeting new and interesting guys. Then, enter Talia Sanchez, at a time when Ophelia’s prom date with her now ex-boyfriend becomes nonexistent. Suddenly, she finds herself thinking more and more about Talia, and her quiet, sweet, and introverted personality. Could it be that she’s crushing now on a girl? At the same time, high school is coming to a sudden end, and her besties are not as amazing as they used to be. Could Talia bring her all the happiness and romance that she’s been looking for?
You’ll have to read and see, in this super sweet book about finding out what one really wants, and embracing what is is to be fierce and queer.
Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions by Navdeep Singh Dhillon (February 8)
This book promises fun adventures and a bold main character that I cannot wait to read!
The story follows main character Sunny, whose brother passed away and left him his notebook. Inspired, Sunny decides that he is going to fill up this notebook with a series of rash decisions that he must complete ASAP. Some examples include his first bold decision, which includes not wearing his turban, chopping off his hair, and shaving his beard. Suddenly, he does not even look like a Sikh anymore. Another bold and rash decision led him to showcasing his new look at prom, which he attends solo, but there he meets Mindii Vang. Mindii is also looking to change her life and make some crazy choices, which leads to her stealing his notebook and running away. Desperate to get his notebook back, Sunny rushes to follow Mindii so he can stop her.
The night then turns into a series of adventures where they get to know each other better, and I am so thrilled to dig into this exciting book!
Ready When You Are by Gary Lonesborough (March 1)
This book promises to tug at your heartstrings with its realistic and romantic tale, and I am ready for it to do so.
The book tells the story of Jackson, who is feeling like things are wonderful for him at the moment, as he enjoys Christmas break. Jackson usually expects some visitors during the holidays, especially from his aunt and younger cousins who come to visit from the big city. This time around, though, they show up with an additional and very mysterious boy. As Jackson grows closer to this visitor, he starts to realize there are feelings inside him that he did not know existed, but is he ready to accept this and to fall in love with this surprise that came into his life by the form of this young man?
I anticipate a heartfelt tale about what it takes to accept yourself for who you really are and coming to terms with what love means. I’m definitely adding this to my TBR!
The One True Me and You by Remi K. England (March 1)
This fun story promises to tackle the world of fandoms, romance, and friendships, and I cannot wait to snag a copy!
It follows aspiring fanfic author Kaylee Beaumont, who is beside herself with excitement to attend GreatCon and finally meet all her fellow geeks and fandom friends. She’s also excited to get away and try out truly being herself, experimenting with “they/them” pronouns, possibly wearing more masculine clothes and cosplays, and maybe, just maybe, kissing a girl for the very first time. There’s one little problem for her, though, because her nemesis and pageant queen Miss North Carolina is staying at the same hotel. She also brings Teagan Miller into the mix, who is staying there as well and competing for a scholarship prize that would be awarded to her if she succeeds and wins Miss Cosmic Teen USA. But Teagan also has a little secret…she’s totally gay and completely despises wearing girly tiaras. She wishes she was simply geeking out at the Con as well. Kay is intrigued by Teagan, and Teagan seems to find her interesting as well, but has her eyes set on winning this money to go to college. But is this what she really wants, or is it time to let it go and simply be herself once and for all?
I am excited for the geeky and romantic fun that this book seems to promise, as well as staring at this adorable cover in person.
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir (March 1)
I adore Sabaa Tahir and her epic and majestic An Ember in the Ashes series, so imagine my excitement to learn that she has contemporary novel coming out this March 2022!
The book tells the story of Misbah, from Lahore, Pakistan. At the time, she’s newly married to Toufiq in a marriage of convenience and arrangement. After tragedy hits, they come over to the United States and open the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel in Juniper, California. The motel promises a new life and start for them, something that they are excited about. Fast forward some years, and we are introduced to Salahudin and Noor, who grew up together in this quaint desert town. One day, a fight tears them apart, and Sal is stuck taking over the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel, and has to deal with his mother’s delicate health and her father’s downward spiral into an alcoholic state due to his depression. Not to mention, this fight has left Sal heartbroken, and it’s hard to move forward with all these sudden struggles. On the other side, Noor works at a liquor store, trying to make money to secretly apply to college and leave the small town forever. Also, the motel is not doing so well, and it’s time for Sal and Noor to maybe put their differences aside and see if their friendship is worth fighting for after all.
I love that Tahir is taking a deep dive into the contemporary world, with a book that promises lessons in family, friendships and what it means to rise above life’s difficulties.
Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf (April 19)
This contemporary mystery and thriller looks so intriguing, and I am sure you will all find its premise just as interesting.
In the book, Najwa Bakri is a fearless and competitive Scrabble player. Recently, Najwa has been through so much pain, especially since her bestie’s mysterious passing. She chooses to compete in the same competition where her deceased best friend competed and died at, which leads her to realize she’s not the only one there seeking to win this competition no matter what. Suddenly, things get eerie when the Instagram belonging to Trina, her dead best friend, mysteriously gets reactivated and starts popping out obscure and threatening messages. Intrigued, Najwa decides to investigate what is going on, in hopes of also finding out why Trina died. Could it have been due to someone at said competition? We will need to read and find out.
I truly love contemporary mysteries and I am so looking forward to seeing what’s in store for us in this novel.
What other YA contemporary reads are you looking forward to in early 2022? Let me know on Twitter @AuroraMiami, and have a great time checking out some fantastic reads in 2022!