I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again: Young Adult Literature isn’t just for young adults anymore. There is a wide range of categories within the YA genre: Sci-Fi, Romance, Fantasy, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Dystopian, Mystery, Thriller… you name it. These books often lend themselves to relevant, real life issues with sometimes multiple perspectives. We can all learn something from a YA novel.
KCP Loft is an imprint of Kids Can Press and has recently published four books that are must-read Young Adult novels this summer. I dove into each one with enthusiasm, and emerged with the same fervor. So much fervor, in fact, that I was invited to chat about my reviews on our local Morning News. Check out my segment on The Morning Show (Global News, Toronto) here: Global News Segment.
Check out my reviews below and take this opportunity to embrace some feel-good reads!
Book 11 of 2018
Jesobel “Jess” Jones is a fierce high school girl with a strong, bold personality. She’s the daughter of a retired hand model and a rock star whose relevance is lacking, but has a kick ass grandmother and friends who she relies on most. Jess is an incredible cook and baker, and she loves to eat whatever she makes too. She draws a parallel between food and happiness, which I think a lot of us do if we are “emotional eaters.”
Jess has never worried too much about being curvy or overweight compared to the stick-thin girls at her high school (including her sister) until the fateful day that her crush starts talking to her. Jess gets introspective and decides to reevaluate her relationship with food and try to become more like the “skinny bitches” she loathes at school.
Mainwaring’s British humor is refreshing and cheeky, and keeps a somewhat serious topic light yet honest and relatable. Rebel with a Cupcake is a fun, quirky take on a high school girls relationship with food. It offers an interesting perspective of a curvy girl that tackles some of our deepest, darkest fears surrounding food, weight and vanity, and how they all work together. Fans of Bridget Jones’s Diary, the Shopaholic series and anything by Jennifer Weiner and Jo Jo Moyes will love this fun, quirky novel.
Book 13 of 2018
Whisper is one of those rare books where the reader isn’t sure of the genre and sub-genre within the first few chapters, which extends the air of mystery. It’s compelling from the start, and I couldn’t put it down.
The main character is introduced to readers as “Jane Doe” and has been living underground in a secret government agency called Langard for over two years. And in those years, she hasn’t uttered a word to anyone because something awful will happen the minute she opens her mouth. Intriguing, right?
Before being taken to Langard, “Jane Doe” had admitted herself to a psychiatric facility and has no idea how she ended up where she is now. Her days consist of her mind being poked and prodded, put through a series of horrific testing, and living in a small cell. That all changes when she is put in the care of Landon Ward, who has been tasked with getting her to open up and to try speaking aloud. At first Jane refuses, but Ward quickly breaks down her barriers.
Whisper is the first book in a duet and will leave readers wanting more. Magic, romance, mystery and science fiction are the elements wrapped up in Noni’s North American debut. It will keep you up late into the night, and who doesn’t love a fast-paced, page turner like that? Fans of Hunger Games and the Red Queen series: look out! This book’s for you.
Book 12 of 2017
“If a heart breaks in the middle of the forest and nobody’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Julia has had a unique childhood: she grew up with a younger brother and a single mother on a beautiful campground. She can fix a clogged toilet, jump start a vehicle, and work a kiosk till all in a day’s work. Last year, her younger brother was ill with a rare disease, and the family had to put their lives on hold in order to make sure he was getting the treatment he needed to recover.
Now, with the family drowning in medical bills, Julia finds out her mother has been offered a large sum of money to sell the campground to a developer. Rumor has it that the developer wants to build a casino on the property and Julia is hellbent on making sure that doesn’t happen. She finds solace in venting to a new camper that she can’t help feeling attracted to as well. Unfortunately for Julia, she soon finds out that this new camper, Nick, happens to be the developer’s son, and he plans on sticking around for a while. The kicker? He is crushing on Julia too.
One of the quotes Sevigny highlights in the novel is a great Carl Sagan quote: “My view is that if your philosophy is not unsettled daily, then you are blind to all the universe has to offer.” In Young Adult Literature, its reference to inspirational, thought-provoking quotes like this that make the reader feel ambitious and hopeful. Summer Constellations is my kind of YA romance and fans of Sarah Dessen will love it. There are realistic teen issues and elements weaved throughout it, but there is also a sweet young love story that makes any fan of romance blush and clasp their hands together in delight. Sigh.
Book 17 of 2018
Someday, Somewhere is the most contemporary-feeling YA novels of this bunch. It’s arguably the most realistic, starting off with a female high school senior named Dom who has big dreams of moving to New York City. It’s funny because I used to dream of the city myself in hopes moving to Toronto some day, so I fell right into step with this character. Instantly, the reader is given a glimpse into Dom’s realistic, if not cynical view of moving to New York one day. That is, until she lays eyes on her dream guy during a school trip into the city: a young, brilliant violinist named Ben. Dom wants to see him again, and pretends to live in New York when she strategically runs into him. Living in New York becomes a running lie that Dom doesn’t mind telling.
Ben and Dom run in different circles: Ben Tristan, obsessed with perfection, is a wealthy 17-year-old virtuoso from Manhattan, and has been consumed by playing music since he was young. Dom lives in New Jersey with her single mother, and works hard to keep her mom’s laundromat afloat. She and her mother often can’t pay rent on time, and Dom tries to be realistic in her dreams and future pursuits; college just doesn’t seem in the cards. Dom and Ben begin their relationship based on their chemistry and attraction to one another, but both of them are keeping secrets that ultimately threaten to break them apart.
Someday, Somewhere is a brilliant debut novel from New Yorker Lindsay Champion and focuses on music, mental health and first love. It’s a coming of age tale that encompasses dreaming big, and discovering who you are and who you want to be. Fans of West Side Story, Raise Your Voice and music in general will love this glimpse into the New York classical & jazz music scene, experienced by two captivating characters and their spellbinding love story.
Please check out these four fantastic summer reads and drop me a line to let me know what you think! Also, be sure to check our KCP Loft’s Instagram handle here.
Big thanks to Kieran, The Morning Show and KCP Loft for all of the amazing reads and the fun segment!