Contemporary

The books found here are contemporary in nature (life-like; realistic).  Books in this category, doesn’t seem to have an overlying or prominent sub theme.  The central focus is about identity and “coming of age.”  Being yourself or finding who you are, and understanding what life means to you – to others.  What others mean to you – to each other – to the world as a whole.

Books are listed by author’s last name.  A series will be counted as one entry.  The summary of the first book will be the only summary given as later book summary may include spoilers.  Titles are hyper-linked to their Goodreads page.

lily ARCHER

Poison ApplesThe Poison Apples

We all know the stories of Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel.  But have you ever heard of Alice Bingley-Beckerman, Reena Paruchuri, or Molly Miller?  Of course you haven’t.  Not yet.  What these girls have in common with their fairy tale sisters is this:  they are the stepdaughters of three very evil stepmothers.  And they’re not happy about it.  They think they are alone in their unhappiness until they arrive at Putnam Mount McKinsey, a posh boarding school located in lovely rural Massachusetts.  Here is where they will plot their revenge.  But first they have to meet.

m. molly BACKES

Princess of Iowa

The Princesses of Iowa

Paige Sheridan has the perfect life. She’s pretty, rich, and popular, and her spot on the homecoming court is practically guaranteed. But when a night of partying ends in an it-could-have-been-so-much worse crash, everything changes. Her best friends start ignoring her, her boyfriend grows cold and distant, and her once-adoring younger sister now views her with contempt. The only bright spot is her creative writing class, led by a charismatic new teacher who encourages students to be true to themselves. But who is Paige, if not the homecoming princess everyone expects her to be? In this arresting and witty debut, a girl who was once high-school royalty must face a truth that money and status can’t fix, and choose between living the privileged life of a princess, or owning up to her mistakes and giving up everything she once held dear.

ilsa j. BICK

Drowning Instinct

Drowning Instinct

There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)  Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.   There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)  Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain… magnetism.   And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

ian BONE

Fat Boy Saves World

Fat Boy Saves World

Teen boarding school reject Susan Bennett returns to her parents’ mansion–the scene of many battles observed by her bloated older brother named Neat, who has not said one word in eight years. But when their parents are away, Neat suddenly speaks, saying he wants to save the world. With the help of young street actor Todd, Neat goes on local cable TV and dispenses advice. And when Susan’s parents return home, she decides to face them.

Love Cuts

Love Cuts

Love noun: 1. a strong or passionate affection for another person. 2. an object of love or affection; a sweetheart. 3. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a friend (or between friends), parent, child, etc. 4. strong predilection or liking for anything. Jeanne, Rube, Christo and Isabel. Four friends. Four different lives. Four ways to love.
anthony BREZNICAN
With a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael’s has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the stridently religious when incoming freshman Peter Davidek signs up. On his first day, tensions are clearly on the rise as a picked-upon upperclassmen finally snaps, unleashing a violent attack on both the students who tormented him for so long, and the corrupt, petty faculty that let it happen. But within this desperate place, Peter befriends fellow freshmen Noah Stein, a volatile classmate whose face bears the scars of a hard-fighting past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Paskal —so eager to become popular, she makes only enemies.  To even stand a chance at surviving their freshmen year, the trio must join forces as they navigate a bullying culture dominated by administrators like the once popular Ms. Bromine, their embittered guidance counselor, and Father Mercedes, the parish priest who plans to scapegoat the students as he makes off with church finances.  Brutal Youth follows these students as they discover that instead of growing older and wiser, going bad may be the only way to survive.
sigmund BROUWER
Devil's PassSeven:  Devil’s Pass (book 6)
(Note:  Part of a series called “Seven”, though none of the books features the same main characters (though I think they are related – brothers/cousins).  Each book in the series is also by a different author.)
Seventeen-year-old Webb’s abusive stepfather has made it impossible for him to live at home, so Webb survives on the streets of Toronto by busking with his guitar and working as a dishwasher. When Webb’s grandfather dies, his will stipulates that his grandsons fulfill specific requests. Webb’s task takes him to the Canol Trail in Canada’s Far North, where he finds out that there are much scarier things than the cold and the occasional grizzly bear. With a Native guide, two German tourists and his guitar for company, Webb is forced to confront terrible events in his grandfather’s past and somehow deal with the pain and confusion of his own life.
marina BUDHOS
Jaya, Maria, and Lola are just like the other eighth-grade girls in the wealthy suburb of Meadowbrook, New Jersey. They want to go to the spring dance, they love spending time with their best friends after school, sharing frapps and complaining about the other kids. But there’s one big difference: all three are daughters of maids and nannies. And they go to school with the very same kids whose families their mothers work for.  That difference grows even bigger and more painful when Jaya’s mother is accused of theft and Jaya’s small, fragile world collapses.  When tensions about immigrants start to erupt, fracturing this perfect, serene suburb, all three girls are tested, as outsiders, and as friends. Each of them must learn to find a place for themselves in a town that barely notices they exist.
stephen CHBOSKY
Charlie is a freshman.  And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.  Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
lisa COLOZZA COCCA
Becky trudges through life as a full-time babysitter, trying to avoid her father’s periodic violent rages. When the family’s barn burns down, her father lays the blame on Becky, and her own mother tells her to run for it.  Run she does, hopping into an empty freight car. There, in a duffel bag, Becky finds an abandoned baby girl, only hours old.  With no mother around, Becky decides, at least temporarily, this baby needs her. When Becky hops off the train in a small Georgia town, it’s with baby “Georgia” in her arms. When she meets Rosie, an eccentric thrift-shop owner, who comes to value and love Becky as no one ever has, Becky rashly claims the baby as her own. Not everyone in town is as welcoming as Rosie, though.  Despite her guilt over leaving her mother alone, she is happy for the first time.  But it’s a happiness not meant to last. When the truth comes out, Becky has the biggest decision of her life to make.
eileen COOK
Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood
Popularity is the best revenge.  In the final weeks of eighth grade, Lauren Wood made a choice. She betrayed her best friend, Helen, in a manner so publicly humiliating that Helen had to move to a new town just to save face. Ditching Helen was worth it, though, because Lauren started high school as one of the It Girls–and now, at the start of her senior year, she’s the cheerleading captain, the quarterback’s girlfriend, and the undisputed queen bee. Lauren has everything she’s ever wanted, and she has forgotten all about her ex-best friend.  But Helen could never forget Lauren. After three years of obsessing, she’s moving back to her old town. She has a new name and a new look, but she hasn’t dropped her old grudges. She has a detailed plan to bring down her former BFF by taking away everything that’s ever been important to Lauren—starting with her boyfriend.  Watch out, Lauren Wood. Things are about to get bitchy.
elizabeth EULBERG
Revenge of the Girl with Great Personality
Everybody loves Lexi. She’s popular, smart, funny…but she’s never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup).  Lexi’s sick of it. She’s sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them. She’s sick of being ignored by her longtime crush, Logan. She’s sick of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom. And she’s sick of having all her family’s money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection.  The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren’t going to know what hit them. Because Lexi’s going to play the beauty game – and she’s in it to win it.
karen FINNEYFROCK

Sweet Revenge of Celia Door

The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door

Celia Door enters her freshman year of high school with giant boots, dark eyeliner, and a thirst for revenge against Sandy Firestone, the girl who did something unspeakable to Celia last year.  But then Celia meets Drake, the cool new kid from New York City who entrusts her with his deepest, darkest secret. When Celia’s quest for justice threatens her relationship with Drake, she’s forced to decide which is sweeter: revenge or friendship.

nancy GROSSMAN

A World Away

Sixteen-year-old Eliza Miller has never made a phone call, never tried on a pair of jeans, never sat in a darkened theater waiting for a movie to start. She’s never even talked to someone her age who isn’t Amish, like her.  When she leaves her close-knit family to spend the summer as a nanny in suburban Chicago, a part of her can’t wait to leave behind everything she knows. She can’t imagine the secrets she will uncover, the friends she will make, the surprises and temptations of a way of life so different from her own.  Every minute Eliza spends with her new friend Josh feels as good as listening to music for the first time, and she wonders whether there might be a place for her in his world. But as summer wanes, she misses the people she has left behind, and the plain life she once took for granted. Eliza will have to decide for herself where she belongs. Whichever choice she makes, she knows she will lose someone she loves.

tupelo HASSMAN

GirlchildGirlchild

Rory Hendrix is the least likely of Girl Scouts. She hasn’t got a troop or even a badge to call her own.  But she’s checked the Handbook out from the elementary school library so many times that her name fills all the lines on the card, and she pores over its surreal advice (Disposal of Outgrown Uniforms; The Right Use of Your Body; Finding Your Way When Lost) for tips to get off the Calle:  that is, Calle de los Flores, the Reno trailer park where she lives with her mother, Jo, the sweet-faced, hard-luck bartender at the Truck Stop.  Rory’s been told she is “third generation in a line of apparent imbeciles, feeble-minded bastards surely on the road to whoredom.” But she’s determined to prove the County and her own family wrong. Brash, sassy, vulnerable, wise, and terrified, she struggles with her mother’s habit of trusting the wrong men, and the mixed blessing of being too smart for her own good. From diary entries, social worker’s reports, half-recalled memories, story problems, arrest records, family lore, Supreme Court opinions, and her grandmother’s letters, Rory crafts a devastating collage that shows us her world while she searches for the way out of it.

hannah HARRINGTON

SpeechlessSpeechless

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret.  Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.  Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.  But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.

carl HIASSEN

ChompChomp

Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he’s grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, snappers, and more in his backyard. The critters he can handle.  His father is the unpredictable one.  When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called “Expedition Survival!”, Wahoo figures he’ll have to do a bit of wrangling himself—to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show’s boneheaded star, before the shoot is over. But the job keeps getting more complicated. Derek Badger seems to actually believe his PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo’s acquired a shadow named Tuna—a girl who’s sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out.  They’ve only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna’s dad shows up with a gun . . .

james HOWE

Misfits Totally Joe Addie on the InsideThe Misfits:  The Misfits (book 1); Totally Joe (book 2); Addie on the Inside (book 3)

Kids who get called the worst names oftentimes find each other. That’s how it was with us. Skeezie Tookis and Addie Carle and Joe Bunch and me. We call ourselves the Gang of Five, but there are only four of us. We do it to keep people on their toes. Make ’em wonder. Or maybe we do it because we figure that there’s one more kid out there who’s going to need a gang to be a part of. A misfit, like us.
Skeezie, Addie, Joe, and Bobby — they’ve been friends forever. They laugh together, have lunch together, and get together once a week at the Candy Kitchen to eat ice cream and talk about important issues. Life isn’t always fair, but at least they have each other — and all they really want to do is survive the seventh grade.  That turns out to be more of a challenge than any of them had anticipated. Starting with Addie’s refusal to say the Pledge of Allegiance and her insistence on creating a new political party to run for student council, the Gang of Five is in for the ride of their lives. Along the way they will learn about politics and popularity, love and loss, and what it means to be a misfit. After years of getting by, they are given the chance to stand up and be seen — not as the one-word jokes their classmates have tried to reduce them to, but as the full, complicated human beings they are just beginning to discover they truly are.

a.s. KING

Reality BoyReality Boy

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.  Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.

jessi KIRBY

GoldenGolden

Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.  Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.  Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

jo KNOWLES

See You at Harry'sSee You at Harry’s

Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. It seems as though everyone in her family has better things to do than pay attention to her: Mom (when she’s not meditating) helps Dad run the family restaurant; Sarah is taking a gap year after high school; and Holden pretends that Mom and Dad and everyone else doesn’t know he’s gay, even as he fends off bullies at school. Then there’s Charlie: three years old, a “surprise” baby, the center of everyone’s world. He’s devoted to Fern, but he’s annoying, too, always getting his way, always dirty, always commanding attention. If it wasn’t for Ran, Fern’s calm and positive best friend, there’d be nowhere to turn. Ran’s mantra, “All will be well,” is soothing in a way that nothing else seems to be. And when Ran says it, Fern can almost believe it’s true. But then tragedy strikes- and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the accident that has wrenched her family apart. All will not be well. Or at least all will never be the same.

tom LEVEEN

Zero

For aspiring artist Amanda Walsh, who only half-jokingly goes by the nickname Zero, the summer before college was supposed to be fun—plain and simple. Hanging out with her best friend Jenn, going to clubs, painting, and counting down the days until her escape. But when must-have scholarship money doesn’t materialize, and she has a falling out with Jenn that can only be described as majorly awkward, and Zero’s parents relationship goes from tense to relentless fighting, her prospects start looking as bleak and surreal as a painting by her idol Salvador Dali. Will life truly imitate art? Will her new, unexpected relationship with a punk skater boy who seems too good to be real and support from the unlikeliest of sources show Zero that she’s so much more than a name.

e. LOCKHART

We Were LiarsWe Were Liars 

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies. True love.The truth.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

NEXT PAGE (M-Z)

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