Saturday, November 5, 2011

Guest Post: "Why I Love Contemporary YA"

Today's guest is Bonnie from A Backwards Story. She is here to talk about why she loves contemporary YA as part of the Just contemporary event. I highly recommend that you visit her blog.

This was a pretty cool exchange for me. Bonnie and I seem to have a similar background in our experience with contemporary and our preferences in other genres. Our exchange went well and odds are you'll be seeing more of her here in the future.

I haven’t always loved contemporary YA. Growing up, I was a huge fan and read all kinds of contemporary series, but in college, I gravitated almost completely toward fantasy. Once I started reading adult contemporary authors such as Jodi Picoult and Jacquelyn Mitchard and realizing how much fiction could make me think or make my heart break, it began reeling me back in again. It wasn’t until this year, however, that I began making my way back to contemporary YA. Once I began seriously blogging and following other bloggers, I was introduced to books beyond my wildest dreams.

I’d always assumed that contemporary YA novels were all about high school and various topics I’ve since outgrown, since that’s what I used to read. That isn’t true at all, though. Yes, there are those books, but there’s also so much more. Contemporary YA can be just as heavy and hard-hitting as adult contemporary. Take, for example, Tabitha Suzuma’s FORBIDDEN, one of the most devastating, well-developed novels I’ve read this year. I cared intensely about what happened to all of the characters despite the book’s horrifying subject matter. Another good example is the IF I STAY / WHERE SHE WENT duo by Gayle Forman, which takes an in-depth look at the horrors of being the only survivor of a terrible car accident that has stolen everything from a girl now alone in the world.

Then, there are books that do focus more on romance. I started reading more of these because the current WIP I’m writing wound up going in a contemporary direction and I wanted to read more books in the genre.

I discovered something refreshing: Unlike teen paranormal novels, which turn me off because they’re always full of insta-love, contemporary novels are much more fleshed out. Even if the book is more of a straight-forward romance, the relationship between two characters usually develops over a period of time, allowing readers to get to know more about them.

Take, for example, Stephanie Perkins’ runaway breakout hit ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. I never intended to read this book. The cover and title along made me steer away. I’m really not into books that are ALL about the romance. It’s not for me. I need more in a story. So many bloggers recommended ANNA that I finally caved, and I was glad tobe proven wrong. While the story does center around a relationship, it’s gradual as two teenagers form a friendship that steadily becomes something more. The background of Paris and the strong relationship within a circle of friends add to the loveliness of this novel and I keep trying to recapture my love of it with other contemporary novels.

The one to most recently come close was RHYMES WITH CUPID by Anna Humphrey. Sometimes, it’s nice to go back to a time that’s simpler and more carefree, or one that’s still full of ups and downs alongside everything else.

There’s so much that contemporary has going for it compared with other genres out there. In a way, it can still be its own fantasy, because readers can experience situations they’d never find themselves in, such as a teen discovering that she’s a princess (THE PRINCESS DIARIES series by Meg Cabot) or attending a private boarding school to learn how to be an international spy (THE GALLAGHER GIRLS series by Ally Carter). Sometimes, I don’t want to read another heart-pounding dystopian or feel sad after reading a terrific fantasy when I know that world can’t really exist. Sometimes, I want reality, even when that “reality” is its own version of fantasy. To me, this is the heart of what contemporary is really about!

I'd like to thank Bonnie for being a guest here at I Write, I Read, I Review. If you enjoyed Bonnie's post then I highly recommend that you visit her blog, A Backwards Story.

If you are curious to see my guest post on her site, you can click here.

I would also like to give a shout out to Alissa from The Grammarian's Reviews, who also did a great article that you can read here.

Last, I would like to thank Ashley from Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing and Shanyn from Chicks Love Lit for organizing such a fantastic event. I am glad to be a part of Just Contemporary.

So, do you love Contemporary YA? Feel free to tell us why in the comments. Thanks for reading! :)


  1. Interesting. I signed up for this challenge because " I never read contemp." Yet after reading this..I guess I I can honestly say that some of my most favorite reads this year were both the Gayle Forman books and Forbidden. I guess I am more of a comtemp. reader than I thought. I just had this idea in my head that it was all just romance..romance..romance and really it isnt. Thank you for opening my eyes on this genre

  2. I love contemporary Ya because it mixes romance with real story telling. I love the entire YA genre in general because I can really escape.

  3. Oh Bonnie! :D Love!! Seriously this makes me so happy that I can see you posting about loving Contemporary YA! :D

  4. Great post! Contemp makes me happy! :D I've loved all the ones I've read except the odd one.

    Xpresso Reads

  5. Thanks so much for having me on here! I agree, we have so much in common! I look forward to chatting with you more!!

    And Ashley: Love right back!!!!! Even if I'm not QUITE as into Contemporary as you are! <3


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