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

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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Everyone Should Visit NYC Once In Their Lifetime

Alicia Keys said it best, the streets will make you feel brand new and you will leave feeling more inspired than ever before.

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For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to live in New York City. I've been to a lot of places and this one is by far my favorite of them all.

Not only does this city have the ability to make me feel so incredibly alive, but every single time I have visited, I have left ready to conquer anything and everything that comes my way.

There is just something about the bright lights, busy streets, and hustle of this city that is unbelievably inspiring and admirable to me. It really is the concrete jungle where dreams are made of.

A trip to New York City is always a good idea, and you will never run out of things to do and see. So if you aren't quite convinced you want to see The Big Apple for yourself yet, here are a couple of reasons why you should.

#1 The Buildings.

It wouldn't be NYC without the buildings after all. The architecture is, to put it lightly, f***ing amazing. The linear streets, mix between old and new designs, and all of the unique colors and lights are beautiful beyond belief and pictures don't do them enough justice.

#2 The Culture.

Known as the melting pot of the world, the city is so beautifully diverse compared to the rest of the country and it's incredible to be able to see all of the cultural differences all throughout one city.

#3 The Food.

Two words: Pizza and Bagels. I can not stress this enough, EAT ALL OF THE PIZZA AND BAGELS! I literally think I could live off of those two things. Another good thing about New York is that you can eat for super cheap if you are on a budget, because theres guaranteed to be a pizza place on every block with $1 slices and food vendors lined up on the sidewalks with hot dogs and pretzels.

#4 The Entertainment. 

Broadway shows, Off Broadway, Concerts, Comedy, Art, you name it and it's there. Anything you could ever want to do, you can do in this city. One of my favorite shows I've been to was the Blue Man Group. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to pee my pants, and I liked it so much I even went back for a second time!


No matter who you are or what you like to do, this city has something to offer you! I truly believe that everyone needs to experience this city at least once in their lifetime. So start planning, save up, and go explore! And if you end up hating it....at least you can get pizza for a dollar a slice.

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