It’s easy to guess that I’m a hardcore contemporary fiction fan, whether it’s young adult or new adult. I love reading about realistic experiences by characters like you and me, or characters that represent people I’ve never met. While fantasy and science fiction provide good entertainment and also contain diverse, relatable characters, there’s something particularly enjoyable about knowing that the world you live in is exactly the same as the world you’re experiencing by reading, even though it is not.
When I scrolled through my “stand-alone-or-contemporary” bookshelf on Goodreads, though, I noticed that the authors whose contemporary works I most looked forward to wrote contemporary YA romance – which is fine, I do enjoy a good romance – so if you’re hoping for Deep Meanings in this list, you might be disappointed. That’s not to say that I won’t have a list of YA novels – or authors – in the future containing important messages; in fact, I’ve already begun venturing into this imaginative and explorative world of books that deal with difficult and/or necessary topics, so maybe I’ll have that list out by the end of 2017. Regardless, here are the authors whose contemporary works I look forward to the most:
1. Miranda Kenneally
There’s something special about this author and her teen romances. I don’t know if it’s because they’re (mostly, if not all) sports-related, or if it’s that the romance is so well-written, or if it’s because every character is so individually different and lovely, but I love her releases every single time, and I’ve read all eight of her books. Surprisingly, none of my friends had read any of her works before, so whenever I’m asked to find someone a realistic young adult romance novel, I recommend Catching Jordan. It was one of my favourite five-star reads, and it still is. Miranda has a book releasing this July – Coming Up for Air – that I loved and reviewed, so do check it out!
2. Kasie West
I remember the first time I read a Kasie West book, which was Pivot Point (I believe that was her debut? I could be wrong). It wasn’t my favourite book in the world, but it did pique my interest, especially when I discovered that Kasie was also releasing some YA contemporaries. When The Distance Between Us came out, I loved it so much, and I personally think this author has a knack for contemporaries, because I highly enjoyed every single one she’s released after that. Just last year, P.S. I Like You was published, and it made me want to start writing again – and when a book makes me feel like that, I know it’s special. Her next novel, By Your Side, is coming out this month, and I’m hearing that people who didn’t really like her previous works loved it, so I’m predicting I will, too.
3. Heather Demetrios
When I read Something Real in 2014, I was shocked by how much I liked it, considering how it’s not really in my comfort zone. I was even more shocked when I read and liked I’ll Meet You There, because that was even further out of my comfort zone. I don’t know. Maybe that’s my thing with this author, that I need to be shocked by my love for one of her books. But they are really good. They both deal with some tough subjects like family, war, and trying to live a normal life, but that just emphasizes how much is packed in them and how well Heather writes. I don’t think she has an upcoming YA release – as far as I know, she’s been writing some adult fantasy that I haven’t delved into yet. But if you haven’t given her works a try, please do.
4. Stephanie Perkins
Did you think she wouldn’t make this list? Of course not! Stephanie Perkins was one of the first authors (the other is mentioned next) who got me interested in contemporary YA in the first place. Before her, I was attempting to get through Nicholas Sparks, but the characters weren’t appealing enough, since the stories were so tragic. When I discovered Anna and the French Kiss, though, I entered this glorious new world and devoured as many contemporaries as possible. Few of them really held a candle to Perkins’ works, though. And as much as I loved Anna more than Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After (it’s always the first release), I still eagerly anticipate every release by this author. And I did love Lola and Isla as well, as I did the short stories she published in the anthologies she edited. I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t read her works, so I won’t even bother telling you to read them. It’s pretty much a given.
5. Lauren Barnholdt
This is another (probably the author) who got me into YA contemporary fiction when I was twelve or thirteen years old. It’s strange, since I haven’t seen anyone talking about her presence, and how she set the bar pretty high when it came to writing contemporaries. I remember discovering her works and reading them one by one without gaps, and I loved all of them. Now, granted, I didn’t technically “anticipate” her releases, since they were already released, and I haven’t read any of her latest works, if there are any. But she, along with Stephanie Perkins and Jennifer Echols write some pretty great contemporary books. If you want to read some of Barnholdt’s releases, I would suggest One Night That Changes Everything, which I adored.
I do have to to give some honourable mentions to Becky Albertalli and Lily Anderson, who wrote Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You, which I hadn’t included because they were debut authors in 2015 and 2016. But both of them are releasing some new works in the upcoming year(s), which I am happy about. I’m looking forward to reading The Upside of Unrequited by Albertalli, and Not Now, Not Ever by Anderson.
*Another important thing to note is that the books in this list contain white characters in (mostly) heterosexual relationships, which occurred to me when I went through my Goodreads lists. Furthermore, the authors themselves in this list are (as far as I know) white or white-passing, and I’m kind of disappointed in myself for not realizing that earlier. I’m hoping that I can change that, as I had mentioned in my Diversity in YA and Why It’s So Necessary post, especially when it comes to reading diverse fluffy contemporary novels from diverse authors! I’ve been seeing some pretty excellent contemporaries with diverse characters releasing this year (ahem, When Dimple Met Rishi and others), so I’m excited to discover some new, possibly favourite, authors. And with that said, I hope you guys do the same.
Have a good weekend!