Realistically Speaking! New & Upcoming Realistic YA Fiction for Your Spring Reading

Vanishing GirlsHappy March, dear Hubbers! I’m trying to think of something fun and pithy to say about March, but, alas, I can think of nothing. So, let’s get to the main topic at hand – ALA Midwinter. Yes, I know Midwinter has been over for a month now, but I had put off so much work at my library preparing for Midwinter (shh – don’t tell my boss!) that when I came back, I was like, “uh, I have a ton of stuff to do.” Well, most of that “ton of stuff” is done, so I was finally able to dive in to a few of the ARCs that I brought home with me from Chicago.

As always, there are some great new and upcoming teen reads that I hope you will check out and recommend to teens! From a finale in a two-book series (a two-book series – I haven’t seen one of those in forever!) to ballerinas at each other’s throats to sisters and the complicated relationship they have, readers will have plenty to choose from in the upcoming months. One thing I will say that’s not related – I just finished Noggin by John Corey Whaley (I know, I know – I’m behind), and wow, did I love that book! I almost thought about sneaking it in this list, but I’m sure I would have been caught! Ha! Anyways…here we go…first up: something I know a lot about – sisters!

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver: As someone who has two older sisters, I understand the deep and complicated relationship that sisters can have. And, finding out that Lauren Oliver, author of some of my favorite books (Before I Fall can still make me cry like a baby), had written a book about two sisters and their relationship before and after a major accident, I knew I had to find it one way or the other. Well, I did find it, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Sisters Dara and Nick are just a couple of years apart and were totally joined at the hip before; now, after – after a horrible accident that left Dara’s face and psyche scarred, Nick wonders if they will ever go back to the way things were before. Just when Nick swallows her pride and reaches out to her sister, Dara suddenly disappears on her birthday and Nick knows she has to find Dara before it’s too late. A great book of that complicated love between sisters as well as an edge of your seat mystery & thriller that will keep readers guessing until the explosive ending!!

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen: If you follow Sarah Dessen on Twitter, you’ve seen how she had started a book, and then had to scrap it after not being able to finish it. It was tough reading her struggle knowing that she had so many great books left to write; that this was just an anomaly. And, lo and behold – she wrote Saint Anything, a touching book about Sydney and her struggle to become visible. Her brother Peyton was always the one being watched, being noticed and looked at. The one being charming and praised near and far. But, suddenly his behavior starts to change and now he’s in jail serving time after he drove drunk and crippled a young teenager. Sydney doesn’t know where she fits in the world without his overwhelming presence in her life so she leaves her private school behind and starts public school for the first time. It’s there she meets the Chatham family, and they are everything she wants her family to be. But, they aren’t her family, and maybe her family needs her, too. Obvs, I love Sarah’s books, and this one is no exception. A great book with likeable, well-developed characters and an interesting plot that will get readers hooked from the very first page.

The Good GirlsThe Good Girls by Sara Shepard: Remember my post from a few months ago when I went on and on about The Perfectionists? It was the first book in a supposed 2-book series by Pretty Little Liars author Sara Shepard. I (good-naturedly) never believe it when they say it’s going to be a limited book series, and this time was no exception. I thought – 2 book series? Who even does those anymore? Well, Sara Shepard does! And, boy did I suddenly realize how much I missed reading a series where’s there’s only the original and the sequel! The second and final book in The Perfectionists series is The Good Girls, and it picks up right where the first book left off. The basic story is: there’s five high school senior girls. They hate this horrible dude at their school who has terrorized and blackmailed them all, so they talk (abstractly) about killing him in class one day. Of course, they don’t – they just scribble horrible things on his face with a Sharpie at a party. The problem is…he ends up dead anyways…the exact same way they said they were going to kill him. As if things couldn’t get any worse for the group, then, other enemies of theirs start dying, and the girls start wondering who’s next and who is setting them up. This second book is just as thrilling and exciting as the first. So, if you like mysteries and totally surprise endings, make sure to check out this series – you’ll be thinking about it for days after you finish it!!

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton: Remember that ballet movie Center Stage that starred Zoe Saldana? Maybe you do and maybe you don’t, but I really loved it when it came out. I was fascinated by the ballet world, and this movie was just like a 2-hour soap opera. Well, Tiny Pretty Things is my new Center Stage, but better! There are three ballerinas at the American Ballet Conservatory that are all fighting to be the prima ballerina – Gigi, Bette and June. All of them have secrets that could totally ruin their chance not to mention they don’t like each other and each girl wants the glory all for herself. From backstabbing to heart defects to a former ballerina who left after being bullied by mysterious forces, Tiny Pretty Things is a fun and fast read that will appeal to mystery lovers, ballet aficionados as well as readers who just want a good soapy read. And, if you think that because it’s about ballet, it’s a white-washed book, you’re wrong. Authors Sona and Dhonielle cofounded CAKE Literary, a book packaging company that specializes in diversity, and this book has a lot of diversity in its cast which I greatly appreciated. AND…the cliffhanger of an ending will keep readers clamoring for the sequel because it is a doozy!!

The Truth CommissionThe Truth Commission by Susan Juby: I love this book because it is written with footnotes. And, I absolutely love footnotes; it’s like you’re in a secret private conversation with the author that’s just between the two of you. The book is also written in the style of “narrative nonfiction” by the protagonist of our story – Normandy Pale – as a school assignment. Normandy and her friends Dusk and Neil have decided to become The Truth Commission – they are determined to bring truth into the world, so they decide each week each of them will ask someone else for the truth. Normandy decides to document this process for her Spring Special Project, and she thinks that it’s pretty straightforward, but then someone mentions that if Normandy wants the truth, she might want to look at her own house. Normandy’s famous sister, famous for writing a comic book series that looks very familiar to their family, is suddenly back home and not talking about something that happened to her while she was at college. Instead of looking for the truth in the world, Normandy realizes that she might need to get the truth from the 1 person who she doesn’t want it from. Look – I just love footnotes, and that’s what sold me. That and the fact that this is a fun book, that’s written in a different format that immediately caught my attention and kept me engaged until the end. A fun read that I think would appeal to fans of The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy (like me!!)

Well, that’s it, Hubbers! I am just loving all these standalone realistic fiction books that have been coming out (and I’m including The Good Girls, because 2 is only 1 more than 1 – ha!), and I hope you and your teens will, too! From mystery to thriller to Sarah Dessen (I guess I did have a pattern here even though I didn’t think I did!), readers looking for a way to read away these boring March and April days (are they boring – I guess I’m just waiting for the summer) will definitely find something that will keep them reading way past when the sun sets (which is later now! Yay!). Maybe I’ll institute footnotes in my next post…tune in next month and see!

Traci Glass, currently reading We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach