So these books are technically “contemporary” but it’s really just a hodge podge of books that have a “contemporary” label with some mini reviews!
Here we go!
1. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
I remember checking out this book in high school, not really thinking much of it. It has turned out to be one of my favorites that I consistently recommend. Vera has been in love with one of her best friends for awhile, and now she still finds herself being in love with him even after everything he has done. Then, Charlie dies under unusual circumstances, and Vera knows the truth, but she does not know who to trust. Please Ignore Vera Dietz is tense, but it also adds some humor. I like how it’s not overtaken by romance, but it focuses on a wide variety of things. Vera faces a lot of problems in her own life, and I think the novel really reflects a lot on growing up as well.
2. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Okay so I know it’s not exactly contemporary, but goodreads classifies it as contemporary and I really want to talk about it so that’s good enough for me! I read this book in a night and in the same night I watched the movie (needless to say I did not get any sleep that night). It focuses on Jacob, now an old man reflecting on his time spent in the Flying Squadron of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth (boy that’s a mouthful). Underneath all the glitz and glamour, the circus hides some dark secrets. I remember crying when reading about the harsh conditions both the humans and animals face. With deeply thought out characters and plot, the emotion really slaps you in the face!
3. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
I adore this book because I think it really confronts the character’s own mortality, which I feel for a writer would be pretty difficult to express. A Long Way Down is features four distinctively different individuals who all meet on top of a roof, each wanting to end their own life (the movie is pretty good too). They are so different that it of course creates some absolutely hilarious moments. Each character is so real, genuine, and filled with quirks. The end of the book is something that’s also believable, not with each one finding each other’s friendship and somehow forgetting the mistakes they have made, but finding that one thing that makes them happy.
4. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
AAHHHHH! I’m sorry I just love love love this book so much. It’s my first Flynn novel and it hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s all about a girl named Libby’s search into her dark past to when her mother and sister were brutally murdered by who she believes to be her brother. New twists begin emerge and Libby begins to question what happened that night. Flynn’s gripping and creepy writing made me only read it during the day (I know I know I’m a big baby). If you are into Flynn or just looking for a dark mystery, give it a shot. I cannot wait to read Sharp Objects next!
5. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Thirteen Reasons Why is about a guy named Clay, who finds a set of tapes that a girl named Hannah recorded before she committed suicide. I think it tackles a lot of issues that teenagers face today. I don’t want to tell a lot about because I don’t want to spoil it, but I highly recommend it!
6. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Lovely Bones is about a family that is completely ruined by the gruesome murder, that is retold and by the teenager, Susie. Susie describes the sick crime, how she was raped and killed by a local man. Susie is not ready to move on, watching the events of investigation and her grieving family unfold. Sebold’s voice throughout the novel is original and unique. Her character’s are believable and genuine, each bringing something new to the story. When looking at other reviews of this book, it seems that people either absolutely love it, or hate it. I guess I’m one of those crazy people who loved it!
7. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which also is based on some of Alexie’s experiences, revolves around a kid named Junior growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation, but then decides to leave it behind to attend an all white high school. It follows him in a modern setting trying to break away from the life that many others expect him to take on. Additionally Ellen Forney’s illustrations really liven this narrative up making it even more potent. It’s hilarious, poignant, and superbly written. And, on a side note, Sherman Alexie even came to my university to accept some award and he was freaking hilarious!
8. If I lie by Corrine Jackson
Jackson’s debut novel gives perspective on what the truth actually is and what the truth may seem to be. Our main character Quinn kissed another boy, but it was not her boyfriend that is currently serving in Afghanistan and is essentially the town hero. Naturally, Quinn is shunned by her friends, as well as the rest of the town. Quinn could spare herself the misery and tell everyone the truth, but that would mean revealing a secret that would hurt many. I read this book in three days at the beach and I loaned it to my friend who read it in one, yep it’s that good! It’s highly character-driven and covers a variety of other subject matters.
9. Stolen: A Letter to my Captor by Lucy Christopher
Gemma is kidnapped from an airport and taken to the desolate Australian outback. Ty, her captor, is not what you expect. Again, I don’t want to say much so that I don’t ruin it. It’s written, as you can tell by the title, in letter form, from Gemma to Ty. The story and the character development is absolutely breathtaking.
10. Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
Impulse follows three young people and their time in Aspen Springs psychiatric hospital, as well as how they got there. As with all of Hopkins’ novels, it’s written like a poem. I highly recommend it if you liked Thirteen Reasons Why.