YA Books To Read In College

15 YA Books to Read when you Need to Escape this Semester

Sometimes you just need an escape from school.

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1. "Love and Gelato" by Jenna Evans Welch

Lina is a high school girl who just lost her mother and had never met her father. It was her mother's dying wish for her to meet her father and get to know him. The hard part was that he lived in Italy while working at a cemetery and she would have to leave her whole life behind in the states to go live with him. Lina uncovers many truths during her time in Italy, things she never knew about her mother, finding things within herself, and meeting the love of her life.

2. "Love and Luck" by Jenna Evans Welch

Addie is visiting Ireland for her Aunt's third wedding while traveling with her mother and three brothers. She is desperate to let her past go and recover from her heartbreak. She finds comfort in an old book she finds, Ireland for the Broken Hearted. She is finally able to escape her anxiety and her brother Ian's constant criticism. Addie had plans to visit her best friend Lina in Italy, but her plans changed when she finds herself discovering the Emerald Isle with her brother Ian and his very cute friend Rowan.

3. "A New Model" by Ashley Graham

In her honest memoir, Ashley Graham talks about her rise to fame, how she was judged during her rise to fame, how she is breaking stereotypes everyday, and what it really means to be beautiful. Ashley is a voice of body positivity and feminism for young girls and all woman. She gives some inspiring advice and truths in her memoir.

4. "Fierce" by Aly Raisman

In Aly's breathtaking memoir, she tells us about her road to success, what it was like to be an olympic gymnast, and how she overcame bullying and sexual assault. She takes us behind the scenes and shows us what it took to be a champion on and off the mat. She inspires others to speak their truth and make their dreams come true.

5. "The Yellow Envelope" by Kim Dinan

Kim and her husband decide to quit their jobs, and travel around the world after receiving a yellow envelope containing a check and instructions to give the money away. The only three rules for the envelope: Don't overthink it; share your experiences; don't feel pressured to give it all away. Kim and Brian travel across Nepal, Peru, and Ecuador and learn that giving ourselves to a cause or person is transformational.

6. "The Good Girls Guide to Getting Lost" by Rachel Friedman

Rachel Friedman was always a good girl in school, got good grades, and never went out of line. Thats when she bought a ticket to Ireland, and surprised herself the most out of anyone. In Ireland she made a bond with a free spirited Australian girl, who encouraged Rachel to embark on a year long journey, traveling to three continents, filling her life with new friends, and a new found passion for adventure. Rachel learns to live for the moment while traveling to Australia and South America.

7. "99 Days" by Katie Cotugno

For Molly Barlow, she is counting down the days, 99 to be exact until she can leave for college and get away from all of her high school drama. Molly has had her house egged, and nasty notes left on her car windshield. She will never be able to escape her mistakes until Patrick forgives her, and that is not something that will happen overnight.

8. "9 Days and 9 Nights" by Katie Cotugno

In the sequel to 99 Days, Molly has gotten her life together as a student at Boston University. She has just said 'I love you' to her new boyfriends and is starting a European vacation with him. But things change when she runs into her ex and his new girlfriend in London. Gabe and his new girlfriend invite them to travel all together to Ireland. They accept, but cannot come to tell their significant others how they know each other. Molly has to spend 9 days and 9 nights pretending like everything is fine, and trying to hide her past.

9. "The Sun is Also a Star" by Nicola Yoon

Natasha is a girl who believes in science and facts, not fate or destiny, or dreams that will never come true. Natasha is a realist and cares about her family, a family who is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with a dreamy boy won't be my story.
Daniel has always been the good son, the good student, living up to his parents' crazy expectations. Daniel was never creative, not a poet or even a dreamer. But after meeting his dream girl he started to believe that the universe had something bigger in store for him.

10. "Everything, Everything" by Nicola Yoon

This book is anything but the basic story of forbidden love, and it's so worth reading. Everything, Everything details a girl who is allergic to most of the environment; trees, grass, and those little floaty things in the air. She has been stuck inside for 17 years, and the only people that she interacts with are her Mom and her nurse Carla. This is when she falls in love with her new next door neighbor, Olly. And everything changes from there, everything.

11. "When Dimple Met Rishi" by Sandhya Menon

Dimple Shah, a post graduate who is defiant of her parent's push to get her engaged, falls unexpectedly in love with Rishi Patel. He is a hopeless romantic, who is excited that his future wife, Dimple, will be attending the same summer program as him. As weird as it sounds to most people, Rishi likes being arranged and believes in the power of tradition and something bigger than himself.

12. "From Twinkle With Love" by Sandhya Menon

Twinkle Hehra is an aspiring film maker, who has so many stories to tell the world. When she found the chance to publicly display her dreams in a summer fil festival with Sahil Roy, she jumped at the chance. It didnt hurt that Sahil was the twin brother of Neil Roy, Twinkle's long time crush. When a mystery internet man "N" starts emailing her, she is sure it's Neil, but throughout the film festival Twinkle falls in love with Sahil. "From Twinkle With Love" shows that love can find you in the most unexpected places.

13. "I Am Malala" by Malala Yousafzai

In her memoir Malala tells her story of fighting for girls to go to school in Pakistan, the take over of the Swat Valley of the Taliban, getting shot in the head for going to school by the Taliban, and the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. This is an insightful personal story told by a true humanitarian and feminist for girls all over the globe.

14. "Sisters First" by Jenna Bush Hager

In her memoir, Jenna shares stories of her time in the White House with her sister Barbara, growing up in the spotlight, and watching their grandfather and father become President. Jenna shares what it was like growing up with the Secret Service always behind them and paparazzi always following them, always having their teenage mistakes broadcasted to the public.

15. "What Happened" by Hillary Rodham Clinton

In her unvealing and honest memoir, Hillary talks about what it was like to be the first woman to run for President, what it was like to travel on the campaign trail, and the sacrifices she had to make in order to put America first. Hillary tells her truth in a relatable, funny, and classy manor, detailing the ups and down of the 2016 Presidential campaign.

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say, "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing.

My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from "Shameless."

"Shameless" is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out of place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum, it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone, however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by "Shameless."

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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10 Vacation Destinations That Are Worth Hopping Over To During Easter Break

Colored eggs and chocolate are not the only treats you can get for Easter Break.

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Easter is a time to spend with family, have time away from school, go out with friends, and remember the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. However, it is also an opportunity to visit many fun and exciting locations. Whether you love swimming, dancing at clubs, indulging in five-star restaurants, or getting a massage, there are a variety of activities that will make anyone's Easter more enjoyable. Here are 10 vacation locations that will meet the needs of any family this Easter.

1. The Royal Hawaiian

Hawaii is one of the best places to visit for vacation. Families will love walking along the shore, getting delicious food or drinks at one of the many bars, and even stopping by the Royal Hawaiian Hotel for a massage at the Abhasa Waikiki Spa. If you are courageous enough, head out to the beach for surfing or just to relax. With so many sites to explore, this is a vacation that will bring lasting memories.

2. Berry Springs Lodge

Here is a nice and quiet location that is definitely a treat if you want to experience a less hectic vacation. The Smoky Mountains in Tennessee is great for anyone who loves taking photos or exploring landscapes. There are two Whirlpool Suites with a fireplace, deck, and whirlpool that gives you an awesome view of the mountains. Activities include playing a game of pool and going on a mountain bike through the nearby trail, so try to stay observant and take in the environment.

3. Lake Austin Spa Resort

If you plan on traveling to a much warmer state for the holiday break, then this would a good choice. This resort is just a short drive away from Austin and is an excellent place to take it easy. Here you can stay at one of the cottages, take a nap by the fireplace, stroll through the outdoor garden, get a massage at the spa or have a seat in the hot tub. This is a vacation that will certainly take your stress away.

4. Fredericksburg

This is another city located in the state of Texas that features a special Easter tradition that families will love. Dress up for the Easter pageant and have a fun time. Visitors can see the Easter fires in the surrounded area that light up the night. There are plenty of food, drinks, and activities to keep everyone occupied, and ensure that they will have a happy Easter.

5. Bay St. Louis

Here is a vacation spot in Mississippi to celebrate Easter. All families will enjoy watching the sunrise and hunting for Easter eggs. Other activities to check out include the Stella, Blues and Barbecue festival for some tasty food and fun. There is also a yelling contest in which participants scream "Stella!" which is a reference to "A Streetcar Named Desire." No matter what you choose to do, this location will result in plenty of excitement, laughter, and possibly a sore throat.

6. Flagstaff

If you are traveling with a small or big family and do not mind the heat, then head down to this destination located in the very hot state of Arizona. The land is beautiful and gives photographers a chance to capture the amazing forests and mountains there. If you are feeling adventurous, check out the Snowbowl Ski Resort or if you want to take it slow, there is always Humphreys Peak where you will see gorgeous landscapes. Lastly, make sure to visit one of the restaurants that they have to offer for a delicious breakfast for an amazing start to the day ahead.

7. Lake Powell

This destination features cool rock landscapes and is located on the border of Utah and Arizona. Despite the place being surrounded by boulders, families can still have a fun time. You can take photos of the environment or visit a petting zoo. Take a walk around the land, find a spot to catch some fish for dinner, and you will agree this vacation definitely rocks.

8. Santa Monica

Here is an awesome vacation spot for anyone who loves working out and engaging in various outdoor activities. This is the place where you will find the Half Marathon for Easter. There are other options like the 5k, 10k, or 15k run, as well. The weather is sunny and it's a nice place to go for a swim, visit a farmer's market or participate in other Easter themed events.

9. Savannah

Do not let the heat discourage you from visiting this location. There are multiple gardens and parks to check out, along with markets and a music festival. If you are looking for additional fun, there is a Savannah Riverboat Cruise for families to travel around the city. There are a variety of delicious options for brunch or dinner, and other surprises for your holiday.

10. St. Augustine

During Easter vacation, there are so many things to do with family and friends. If you decide to travel to this location, you will enjoy the Easter parade known as the Parada de los Caballos y Coches or the Parade of Horses and Coaches. If you are looking for a nice family event, head on down to the parade and listen to the music. The horses and carriages are great to see as well, and there are multiple restaurants located around the city when you need a break from the festivities.

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