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Telling the Story With Texts and IMs

My sister and I were trying to plan our weekend.  After a texting spree that reminded us why we had an unlimited messaging plan, we still had some details to figure out.  I suppose we could have just called each other, but personally I love to text and chat, or both simultaneously.  I started thinking why text, tweets and IMs aren’t a more common form of communication in books when they are main way I converse in real life.  People do so much online these days that we have whole websites like Autocowrecks that revel2247117731_77c48b34af_m in the hilarity of auto-correct trying to tell us what we mean. With whole Twitter and tumblr hashtags devoted to texting mistakes, it seems that online conversations are the preferred way to talk. I was inspired by two previous Hub posts about novels that use letters and emails to tell a story.  Check out Epistolary Novels, Old and New by Hannah Gomez and Signed, Sealed, and Delivered: A Love Letter to the Un-Epistolary Novel by Wendy Daughdrill– and here’s my list of YA books that tell a story with the help of texts, IMs, and other forms of digital communication.


  • The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (a 2014 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults nomination) – Friends discover their future Facebook pagesidrakula when they get their first computer in 1996.
  • Fangirl by Ken Baker – Josie Brant has a crush on musician Peter. An amazing turn of luck allows them to meet, which leads to a romance relayed by tweets and IMs.
  • iDrakula and iFrankenstein by Bekka Black – After contracting a blood borne illness, John and his pre-med girlfriend try to find a cure in this modern horror that uses emails, text messages, web pages, Twitter feeds, and instant messaging.
  • Text Game by Kate Cann – Text messages tell Mel her boyfriend  boyfriend Ben  is cheating.textgame
  • Sister Mischief by Laura Goode – Esme Rockett’s slang heavy text messages and journaling follow her musical musings.
  • Bad Kitty and Kitty Kitty by Michele Jaffe (a 2007 Teens’ Top Ten selection) – Footnotes, email and instant messaging tell the story of cool and catty Jasmine whose posh life is regularly interrupted with improbable mysteries.  Use HarperTeen Browse Inside to read the begining of this novel online.
  • WTF by Peter Lerangis – Told in the span of 24 hours, a wild time in NYC is narrated with colorful, slang laden dialog, much of it via text messaging.
  • The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan – With dictionary entries instead of a linear plot, a love story unfolds.  Though the printed book doesn’t use social media, readers who find the ending inconclusive will appreciate the Twitter feed @loversdiction which promises “These are not from the book, but tease to it.”
  • TTFN, TTYL and L8R,G8R by Lauren Myracle – This trilogy of novels is told entirely through instant messenger conversions. Meet high school students Zoe, Maddie, and Angela who’s online rants about boys and family are fueled by technology.
  • Tweet Heart: a Novel in E-mails, Blogs, and Tweets By Elizabeth Rudnick – The incredibly accurate title is spot on, the book looks like screen shots from facebook and other online sources.  It even has wallpaper and avatars.
  • Heart on my Sleeve by Ellen Wittlinger –  Chloe and Julian use letters, e-mails, and instant messages to keep in touch and tackle challenges to their friendship.


9780761166047Have you ever laughed so hard that snot came out of your nose?  I read When Parents Text: So Much Said . . . So Little Understood by Lauren Kaelin (a 2012 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers selection), or at least I tried. I had to keep stopping to blow my nose because I was laughing so hard.  I had to explain to people nearby what on earth I was reading, and once they got the idea, it was just faster to read the posts out loud to each other.  You’ll probably find this hilarious book in the non-fiction section, or maybe in the adult department.

When I first starting working on my post I had query my fellow Hub bloggers for book questions.  I think a few years from now more authors will go the route of Lauren Myracle’s novels and give us a story told entirely from digital content. Until then, I hope you enjoy the booklist of stories told partially with texts and IMs.

-Laura C Perenic, currently reading Wisdom’s Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
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Laura Perenic