Top 5 YA Contemporaries of 2020!

Hello everyone! Today I wanted to do a post about some of my favorite contemporaries that I have read in 2020 ~~ Not all of these released in 2020, but they are new to me in 2020 (: I wanted to highlight some of these because I love all of them a lot! Let’s get started ~

1. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Summary from Goodreads:

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

Why I Loved It: This book overall was such a treat. Elizabeth Acevedo is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors and, since I have read all of her books, I can confidently say that this is my favorite. One thing that I really enjoyed about this book is the fact that Emoni has a daughter at the age of 14. I feel like this is not normally featured in YA novels and, especially in the past, teen pregnancies were looked down upon by society. So, I just really loved watching Emoni raise her daughter and try to go to high school all at the same time. This book also just made my mouth water because Emoni has a special gift of being able to cook food so good it can make people recall memories. Overall, this was just a wonderful read and I highly recommend it.

2. You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson

Summary from Goodreads:

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

Why I Loved It: I read this book early this summer and it just put the biggest smile on my face. A Black, queer girl competing for homecoming queen? What an amazing story! I loved following Liz on her journey as she struggles to find her way in high school and smash the racist tendencies of her classmates and school. Overall, this book just made me so happy and I am so glad that I decided to pick it up ~

3. Like A Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

Summary from Goodreads:

It’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.

Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.

Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance…until she falls for Reza and they start dating.

Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.

As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart–and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known.

Why I Loved It: This book is one that continues to stick with me even though I read it a couple of months ago. This book takes place during the AIDs crisis in America and I had never read a book set in this time period and following these types of characters. It really made me want to research more into this topic and I think that is a good sign for a book. I think this is such an important story and it really gives a realistic view of the hardships that LGBTQ individuals had to face during this time, especially gay men. This book is bursting with diversity and I really enjoyed getting to know our messy but lovable cast of characters. It also inspired me to listen to some Madonna songs and that was fun! This book is incredibly sad as one can imagine, but I still loved it so much.

4. Slay by Brittney Morris

Summary from Goodreads:

By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the “downfall of the Black man.”

But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for “anti-white discrimination.”

Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

Why I Loved It: This book was SO cool. Whenever I talk about this book I cannot stress enough just how cool the entire story and the world is. SLAY, the video game in this world, was so imaginative and unique, as it is a VR type game that is centered around Black culture. I thought our main character Kiera was such a wonderful voice and I enjoyed reading her story and how she has to face the racism in her everyday life. This also was such an amazing audiobook because we actually get different small chapters from people all over the world with different voice actors! I’ll never forget how I stayed up until 6 am one night listening to this book because I just could not get enough. I highly recommend this one ((:

5. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callendar

Summary from Goodreads:

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

Why I Loved It: I feel like I talk about this book a lot on this blog, but it’s just SO good! I found this book to be so hilarious and heart warming while also dealing with some pretty serious topics like transphobia and homophobia. This is another book that just has so much diversity within and it really is worth the read. The characters were all lovable, especially Felix. Even though the characters make some messy decisions, that just made them feel more real to me. Also the cover for this book is just stellar!



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