YA Contemporary

Stories on this list cover current events, struggles, joys, and lived experiences in many forms. These books often grapple with the themes of identity, belonging, friendship, and courage in the face of modern challenges. Check out these stories if you are looking for a window into a different experience or a mirror to reflect your own. 

While romance may be present in these stories, it is not the primary focus. Check out our YA Romance list for those stories. 

Compiled by:
Macklin R. & Fern S.
All My Rage

Sabaa Tahir
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Tahir)

A family extending from Pakistan to California, deals with generations of young love, old regrets, and forgiveness.

The Arrival of Someday

Jen Malone
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Malone)

After the liver disease she was born with flares up unexpectedly, roller derby star Amelia, eighteen, must come to terms with the brevity of life while hoping for an organ transplant.

Be Not Far From Me

Mindy McGinnis
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Mcginni)

Lost in the Great Smoky Mountains, rising high school senior Ashley Hawkins must fight for survival without any tools, growing in awareness that the world is not tame, and neither are people.

Between Perfect and Real

Ray Stoeve
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Stoeve)

After being cast as Romeo in the school play, Dean realizes he wants everyone to see him as he really is, a boy, and not just play one on the stage, despite the risk of losing everything.

Don't Ask Me Where I'm From

Jennifer de Leon
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Deleon)

Liliana Cruz does what it takes to fit in at her new nearly all-white school, but when family secrets come out and racism at school gets worse than ever, she must decide what she believes in and take a stand.

Dress Coded

Carrie Firestone
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Firesto)

An eighth-grader starts a podcast to protest the unfair dress code enforcement at her middle school and sparks a rebellion.

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe

Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Vasquez)

When her twin sister reaches social media stardom, Moon Fuentez accepts her fate to be nothing more than her sister's camerawoman. Then Moon takes a summer job as the "merch girl" on a tour bus full of beautiful influencers and her fate begins to shift in the best way possible.

How to Be Remy Cameron

Julian Winters
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Winters)

Everyone on campus knows Remy Cameron: he's the out-and-proud, super-likable guy who friends, faculty, and fellow students alike admire for his cheerful confidence. Under pressure to write an A+ essay defining who he is and who he wants to be, Remy embarks on an emotional journey toward reconciling the outward labels people attach to him with the real Remy Cameron within.

I Guess I Live Here Now

Claire Ahn
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Ahn)

Sent from New York City to Seoul to be with her father, Melody discovers the alluring aspect of living in Korea with the help of her newfound friends but soon learns that her shiny new life comes with a high price.

I'm Not Dying With You Tonight

Kimberly Jones
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Jones)

Told from two viewpoints, Atlanta high school seniors Lena and Campbell, one black, one white, must rely on each other to survive after a football rivalry escalates into a riot.

K-Pop Confidential

Stephan Lee
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Lee)

Candace Park knows a lot about playing a role. For most of her life, she's been playing the role of the quiet Korean girl who takes all AP classes and plays a classical instrument, keeping her dreams of stardom to herself. She doesn't see how a regular girl like her could possibly become one of those K-pop goddesses she sees on YouTube. Even though she can sing. Like, really sing. 

Let Me Hear a Rhyme

Tiffany D Jackson
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Jackson)

Three Brooklyn teens plot to turn their murdered friend into a major rap star by pretending he's still alive.

The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen

Isaac Blum
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Blum)

Hoodie Rosen's life isn't that bad. Sure, his entire Orthodox Jewish community has just picked up and moved to the quiet, mostly non-Jewish town of Tregaron. The people of Tregaron aren't happy that so many Orthodox Jews are moving in at once, but that's not Hoodie's problem. That is, until he meets and falls for Anna-Marie Diaz-O'Leary - who happens to be the daughter of the obstinate mayor trying to keep Hoodie's community out of the town.

Light It Up

Kekla Magoon
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Magoon)

Told from multiple viewpoints, Shae Tatum, an unarmed, thirteen-year-old black girl, is shot by a white police officer, throwing their community into upheaval and making it a target of demonstrators.

Like Home

Louisa Onomé
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Onome)

Chinelo is all about her neighborhood Ginger East, but when her friend Kate's parent's store is vandalized and the vandal still at large, Nelo and her beloved Ginger East are shaken to their core.

Lulu and Milagro's Search for Clarity

Angela Velez
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Velez)

Overachiever Lulu has straight As, perfect attendance, and a solid 10-year plan. Middle sister Milagro wants nothing to do with college or a nerdy class field trip. On a journey from Baltimore all the way to San Francisco, Lulu and Milagro will become begrudging partners as they unpack weighty family expectations and maybe even discover the true meaning of sisterhood.

Not Here to Be Liked

Michelle Quach
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Quach)

After losing the editor-in-chief job of the student newspaper to inexperienced newcomer Len, Eliza inadvertently starts a feminist movement in her school, but amid growing tensions within the school, she begins developing feelings for Len.

Off the Record

Camryn Garrett
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Garrett)

A teen journalist uncovers the #metoo scandal of the decade: a bigshot Hollywood director is taking advantage of cast members.

Six Angry Girls

Adrienne Kisner
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Kisner)

An advice columnist unexpectedly helps Raina find new purpose in a pair of knitting needles and a politically active local yarn store. This leads to an unlikely meeting in the girls' bathroom, where Raina inspires Millie to start a rival team. The two join together and recruit four other angry girls to not only take on Mock Trial, but to smash the patriarchy in the process.

The Spaces Between Us

Stacia Tolman
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Tolman)

Outcasts and best friends Serena Velasco and Melody Grimshaw strive together to survive senior year and break away from their rural factory town.


Lisa Fipps
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Fipps)

Bullied and shamed her whole life for being fat, twelve-year-old Ellie finally gains the confidence to stand up for herself, with the help of some wonderful new allies.

The Summer of Bitter and Sweet

Jenny Ferguson
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Ferguso)

Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She'll be working in her family's ice-cream shack with her former best friend, King, who is back in their Canadian prairie town after disappearing three years ago. But when she gets a letter from her biological father Lou immediately knows that she cannot meet him.

Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance

Bethany C. Morrow
- Editor
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Take)

This anthology features fictional stories--in poems, prose, and art--that reflect a slice of the varied and limitless ways that readers like you resist every day.

This is My America

Kim Johnson
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Johnson)

While writing letters to Innocence X, a justice-seeking project, asking them to help her father, an innocent black man on death row, teenaged Tracy takes on another case when her brother is accused of killing his white girlfriend.

This Will Be Funny Someday

Katie Henry
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Henry)

Izzy is used to keeping her thoughts to herself--in school, where her boyfriend does the talking for her, and at home, where it's impossible to compete with her older siblings and high-powered parents. When she mistakenly walks into a stand-up comedy club and performs, the experience is surprisingly cathartic.

We are Not From Here

Jenny Torres Sanchez
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Torres)

Pulga has his dreams. Chico has his grief. Pequeña has her pride. And these three teens have one another. But, none of them have illusions about the town they've grown up in and the dangers that surround them. And when those threats become all too real, the trio knows they have no choice but to run: from their country, from their families, from their beloved home.

When We Were Infinite

Kelly Loy Gilbert
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Gilbert)

Knowing that the friendships she depends on will change when her parents split up, Beth witnesses a private act of violence in her crush's home before forging a pact with her friends to offer support in the face of a life-altering decision.

With the Fire on High

Elizabeth Acevedo
(Young Adult Fiction - Y Acevedo)

Teen mother Emoni Santiago struggles with the challenges of finishing high school and her dream of working as a chef.