Menon, Sandhya. When Dimple Met Rishi.

MY: Simon & Schuster, 2017.

This one has made many of the “Best of” lists, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a YA rom-com, but not the usual sort. California high school seniors Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel are both Indian-American, for one thing, though how each of them deals with that sometimes onerous burden differs considerably.


Roberts, Lisa Brown. How (Not) to Fall in Love.

Ft.Collins, CO: Entangled Publishing, 2015.

As in every literary genre, there are plenty of mediocre, slap-dash young adult novels out there — but, contrary to the generalizations made about them by some (probably elitist) readers, there are also a surprising number of good ones. This one isn’t great literature and it’s not even terribly original in its theme or plot line, but it’s still rather above the average of published fiction.


LaZebnik, Claire. The Last Best Kiss.

NY: HarperCollins, 2014.

Among other things, LaZebnick likes to do modern spins on the themes of Jane Austen novels, and her model this time is Persuasion. It stars seventeen-year-old Anna Eliot of Los Angeles, who wonders if there’s really such a thing as second chances. Back in 9th Grade, she was one of the movers and shakers in the school, but that came at a price.


Published in: on 2 June 2020 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Morton, Kate. The Secret Keeper.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2012.

I read The Lake House awhile back and was thoroughly caught up in the narrative. Morton is a first-rate storyteller. That book dealt with the theme of family secrets, and this one does, too. The first (and main) POV character, though there are several others, is Laurel Nicolson, who grew up happy with her three sisters and much younger brother in a rural English farmhouse.


Tamaki, Mariko & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me.

NY: First Second, 2019.

This is the other kind of graphic novel, the kind that’s as far from a “comic book” as it’s possible to get. The kind that could as easily be a text-only novel, but in which the story really is enhanced by the art. The protagonist is Frederica Riley, a seventeen-year-old Berkeley lesbian, who has been in love with Laura Dean, the most popular girl in school, for a year now. And Laura is a crappy girlfriend.


Two Maureen Johnson novels

Johnson, Maureen. 13 Little Blue Envelopes. NY: HarperCollins, 2005.

Johnson, Maureen. The Last Little Blue Envelope. NY: HarperCollins, 2011.

Johnson is one of the most dependable authors of “light” YA fiction and these two books are arguably her best work so far. They’re both received top reviews and a number of awards, and even though they were published six years apart, they’re best read one right after the other, as a single story.


Mills, Emma. Foolish Hearts.

NY: Henry Holt, 2017.

Mills is another above-average author of Young Adult fiction, and this is one of her best. The themes here are not just romance, though there’s plenty of that, both straight and gay, but also the real meaning of friendship.


LaZebnik, Claire. The Trouble with Flirting.

NY: HarperCollins, 2013.

I’ve given LaZebnik good reviews in the past, not only because her YA novels are fun to read, but also because they usually have some weight to them, themes that make you pause and think. Franny Pearson of Phoenix expects to be working at the usual boring sort of teenage job during the summer after her junior year in high school, simply because things are tight at home with just her mother to support the family.


Published in: on 6 March 2020 at 9:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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Allison, John. Giant Days. Vols. 1-12 + Early Admission [prequel].

Los Angeles: BOOM! Box, 2015-20.

This is one of the most entertaining and real-world-funny graphic novel series I’ve seen in some time, following three young British women through their careers at university, one term at a time. Susan Ptolemy is pre-med, doesn’t have much use for boys (with a couple of special exceptions), and has a tongue like a sardonic buzz-saw when she’s provoked — and she provokes easily.


Wibberley, Emily & Austin Siegemund-Broka. Always Never Yours.

NY: Penguin Books, 2018.

This is a better-than-average young adult novel and it appears to be the authors’ debut.The protagonist and narrator is Oregon high school senior Megan Harper, who thinks of herself as “the girl before.” She’s had plenty of boyfriends — all of whom broke up with her because they soon made a connection with someone else, someone who became their One and Only — and all those guys have stayed with those girls, so Megan can’t even hate them for it.


Published in: on 20 February 2020 at 8:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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