6 YA Books That Changed My Life

Let's be clear: Even if you are an adult there is no shame in loving young adult literature! YA literature is great because of the fast-moving plots and diverse, relatable protagonists.

According to Bucknell University's English literature professor, Virginia Zimmerman, "To come of age is perhaps the most common ground there could be among readers. Adults recognize it as something they've been through, but they also recognize it as something of a fantasy. It suggests some sort of stable existence. And as adults, we know that we continue to change, continue to come of age."

According to a study done by Publisher's Weekly, an estimated percent of YA books are bought and read by adults. The YA world has blown up, especially over the past decade. Over 10,000 YA books came out in 2012 compared to about 4,700 books in 2002. The young adult literature marketplace is thriving!

Here are 6 YA books that have changed how I see things, events, and people. These are the YA books that have impacted my life in some way.

1. The Unexpected Everything, by Morgan Matson

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I read this book back in January of this year, and it was such a great contemporary novel! In this book, I loved how Morgan Matson included a message, to just go where life takes you and stop worrying about the unexpected. When everything in your life is mapped out, it's impossible to enjoy the unexpected things in life! It really opened my eyes to how life can be complicated and even stressful but also beautiful and worthwhile. Life is what you make it.

Here's the synopsis, according to Google Books:

Andie has a plan and she always sticks to the plan.
Future? A top tier medical school.
Dad? Avoid as much as possible (which isn't that hard considering he's a Congressman and never around).
Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby - pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else?
Relationships? No one's worth more than three weeks.
So it's no surprise she's got her summer all planned out too.
Until a political scandal cancels her summer pre-med internship, and lands both her and Dad back in the same house for the first time in years. Suddenly she's doing things that aren't Andie at all - working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark in closer than expected. Palmer, Bri and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but here's the thing ... can she?

2. Eliza And Her Monsters, by Francesca Zappia

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I read this book in February, and I rated it five stars. That's how good it was! It's one of the best books I've ever read. I feel like I could really connect with Eliza's anxious thoughts throughout the story, and she is trying to find her way and understand that she is becoming more independent. At the time, I could relate to it even more because I was a high school senior when I was reading it. It can be strange to be an adolescent and be in between childhood and adulthood, and for many, it can be hard to try to fit in. This book accurately depicted the self-doubt that I struggle with on a daily basis. At times, it was so accurate to my experiences that it was almost like I was reading my thoughts on paper instead of racing in my mind. Anyone who has ever struggled with worry or anxiety in their life must read this book!

Here's the synopsis, according to Google Books:

Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she's worked for begins to crumble.

Scott Westerfeld's Afterworlds meets Nimona in this novel about art, fandom, and finding the courage to be yourself. Features illustrations by the author throughout. Perfect for readers of Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, this is the second novel by the acclaimed author of Made You Up.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza's persona is popular. Eliza can't imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza's secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she's built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

3. Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

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I read this back in 2016, so I can't remember every detail of the book and don't have a recent review of this posted on my bookstagram @britneyreads (self-promo!). I would recommend this book to any high schooler who is nervous about college -- specific, I know. This book was so helpful to me, even in high school, and it still is one of my favorite YA books! This is similar to Eliza And Her Monsters, in the way that both main characters struggle with mental illness, but they are equally enjoyable!

Here's the synopsis, according to Books-A-Million:

In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life-and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to.
Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

4. The Darkest Minds, by Alexandra Bracken

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This was probably the most action-packed book I read in 2018, and it really reminded me why I enjoy the dystopian genre so much! It was so good! I loved everything Alexandra Bracken skillfully created: the characters, the world, and the plot. The quirky and distinct characters with their crazy abilities really anchored the story and kept my eyes practically glued to the book for hours! I read this book in a day!

Here's the synopsis, according to Goodreads:

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something frightening enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that had killed most of America's children, but she and the others emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they could not control.
Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones. When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. She is on the run, desperate to find the only safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who have escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can't risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents. When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at having a life worth living.

5. Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon

Instagram (@britneyreads-- my personal bookstagram)

When I read this book in the summer, I was so impressed by how well-developed Nicola Yoon's characters were! Even though the main character's disease is unrelatable, the normal yearnings and doubts she has really helped me connect to her character. This book has so many twists and turns, and it is definitely a quick read! Nicola Yoon's writing is so beautiful as well.

Here's the synopsis, according to Goodreads:

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I'm allergic to the world. I don't leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He's tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can't predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It's almost certainly going to be a disaster
.

6. Dumplin', by Julie Murphy

Instagram (@britneyreads-- my personal bookstagram)

This book is what every high school girl needs to read. Seriously, if you are a girl who struggles with self-confidence, read this book. Now. The humor and likeable characters made me love the book, and I liked the message that was portrayed about self-confidence, the media, and the effects of judgment by others, even with the most confident people. Willow, the main character, is one of YA's best independent girls, and she simply didn't care about what others thought of her.

Here's the synopsis, according to Goodreads:

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed "Dumplin'" by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy's, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn't surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.
Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she'll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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