If you’ve glanced at my blog for longer than ten seconds or know me on social media, you’ll be well aware than I’m a massive fan of contemporary YA. It’s definitely my favourite genre out there. Sure, I love a good fantasy story, and yeah, thrillers are pretty cool too, but nothing makes me want to curl up with a mug of tea and a book on a chilly afternoon quiet like a cute contemporary does.
As we’re halfway through 2019 already (umm, excuse me? where did my year go?), I thought it was the perfect time to share my top five contemporary reads of this year so far! There are still a ton on my TBR that I need to get to before the year’s over, and I’ve got a massive stack on preorder, but these are just a few that I’ve absolutely loved from the first six months of the year.
If you’re looking for a new contemporary novel to pick up, I highly recommend checking out these ones right here!
WOW. I’m seriously never not impressed by Brigid Kemmerer’s books. I’m a massive fan of her contemporary work, so to say that I was excited to get my hands on her latest release would be an understatement. And can we all just take a moment to admire that stunning cover?! I’m officially in love. Call It What You Want was the type of book that I raced through in a single afternoon, unable to put it down even for a second. It was heartfelt and beautifully written, and I loved getting to know these new characters. I just fell head-over-heels for this gorgeous novel.
Call It What You Want is a book about a boy whose father tried to end his own life after it was revealed he was embezzling funds from half the town, and an overachieving girl who was caught cheating on an exam. When the two of them are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let the other in through the walls they’ve built around themselves. I absolutely loved watching these two grow closer throughout the novel, and this book had me in tears by the end. It was just INCREDIBLE. If you’re looking for contemporary book that you’ll just fly through, I can’t recommend this one highly enough.
Oh my GOODNESS, where do I even begin with this one?! I’ll admit that I was a little nervous that it had been overhyped (because let’s face it, if you’ve spent any time on Twitter or Instagram in the past six months, I bet you’ve seen the cover on there), but I shouldn’t have been worried AT. ALL. It was even more swoony and heartfelt than I could have imagined. I haven’t read too many New Adult novels, but reading Red, White & Royal Blue definitely made me desperate to get my hands on some queer, diverse NA stories. PLEASE. I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE.
Red, White & Royal Blue is about the son of the first female president of the United States and the Prince of Wales, who happen to have a public altercation resulting in them having to pretend to be friends for the sake of public image. This is the textbook definition of the perfect “fake friends to lovers” trope, and I was SO HERE FOR IT. Excuse me while I swoon for approximately 2894 years *heart eyes*. The banter is hilarious, the romance will take your breath away, and the drama will have you racing through the pages wanting to see how everything is wrapped up. I’m so excited for Casey’s next book already!
This is a novel I went into expecting a cute contemporary, but coming out having read one of my favourite books of 2019. Yes, it was a cute contemporary, but I also just really connected with it in a way I didn’t expect? Not only is this book about an adorable romance between this girl and a visiting boy during the summer in a small town, this girl also happens to be bisexual, and it’s also about all the emotions that come with friends who kind of move on without you. Oof. My HEART. I’m always a sucker for books set in small towns anyway, especially contemporaries, but I just loved this book so damn much.
Small Town Hearts is about Babe Vogel, who’s living in a lighthouse in a sleepy Maine beach town and working as a barista at the Busy Bean, but who’s also freaking out about her two best friends going off to college in the fall. When their friendship is suddenly shattered, she has to come to terms with breaking up with the three of the—all the while there’s a new boy in town and she’s starting to form feeling for him. I’ve been in desperate need for more books about friendship breakups (BECAUSE THEY’RE SO DAMN IMPORTANT, Y’ALL) and Small Town Hearts was here to deliver the goods. It was cute, it was funny, and it had me experiencing allllll the feels.
JEN WILDE DID IT AGAIN. They released another book that I just wanted to curl up with all day and devour. And you know what? LIFE IS SHORT, SO I DID. My other commitments could wait. And boy, did I enjoy this book. There was no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t anyway. Not only did I know it was going be cute and queer, but I knew it was also about scriptwriting and TV, which are two of my biggest passions outside of books and blogging. So I was HERE. FOR. IT. Like I knew it would, Going Off Script gave me heart eyes for days, had me squealing and clutching my chest, and left me feeling hopeful and empowered for a future with better queer representation in the media.
Going Off Script is about a girl who’s thrilled to land an internship on her favourite TV show, except when she realises all she’s allowed to do is do coffee runs, she’s less than impressed. So when she decides to try and prove her worth as a writer, she gives the head writer a spec script—that he passes off as his own and rewrites her lesbian character as straight. So Bex and her new crush do the only thing they can do—fight back. Not only was Going Off Script one of my favourite contemporaries because it was fun and queer, but also because it was about empowerment and demanding change in the industry—where straight white dudes are so often running the show. I just loved this book.
Oh my gosh, what I wouldn’t give to be able to give Past Me a copy of this book. WOW. You Asked For Perfect is a book that I won’t be able to forget for a very long time. I thought before I even picked it up that it was going to be one I’d relate to, but I just had no idea how much of myself I’d actually see in it. It’s a book about the pressure overachieving teens place on themselves, trying to decide what to do with the rest of your life once you leave high school, and dealing with anxiety and panic attacks. This was honestly one of the most heart wrenching reads of 2019, and I seriously just wanted to be able to reach inside the pages and hug every single character. This book just meant so much to me.
After high school senior Ariel Stone—the perfect college applicant who’s expected to be valedictorian—fails a Calculus quiz, he reluctantly gets a tutor to try and bring up his score. He might not like Calc, but he’s starting to fall for Amir, his tutor… If you’re looking for a queer book and you’re a fan of Radio Silence, don’t walk—RUN—to your nearest bookshop or library to grab a copy of this one. It’s a book that I know so many people will be able to relate to, whether you’re long out of high school of if you’re still feeling the pressures of school and homework. The representation is brilliant, the romance is perfect, and it’s just such an important book that I think every high school student should read.
Have you read any of my top picks yet? What are some of your favourite contemporary reads of 2019? Which ones are you looking forward to? I’d love to know!