Jasmine is an avid reader of young adult fiction books who obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Clemson University.
This article highlights a selection of five modern young adult novels that touch on profound and sincere issues that are highly relevant to what's going on in our country today (crime, rape culture, misogynoir, and school shootings, to name just a few). These particular novels are also unique in that they give powerful voices and perspectives to identities that are normally marginalized or unheard from. With these unique voices telling their stories, these novels don't just entertain—they break boundaries.
5 Boundary-Breaking Modern Y.A. Novels to Check Out
- Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson
- Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam
- Smash It! by Francina Simone
- Even if We Break by Marieke Nijkamp
- Thoughts and Prayers by Bryan Bliss
1. Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson
Once again, Tiffany D Jackson does not disappoint. After reading Jackson's debut novel, Allegedly, and sophomore offering, Monday's Not Coming, I am eager to read Jackson's latest novel, Grown. In Grown, Enchanted Jones has dreams of becoming a famous singer. Well-known R&B recording artist Korey Fields can make those dreams become a reality when he meets her at an audition. However, on one ill-fated night, Enchanted wakes up with blood on her hands, no recollection of how it got there, and no knowledge of the events that occurred the previous night.
Soon, the question of who killed Korey Fields becomes front and center. Police are curious if Enchanted played a role in the singer's death. Award-winning author Tiffany D. Jackson shows the power of a young black woman's voice while touching on the complex topics of misogynoir, rape culture, and the vulnerability of young black girls.
2. Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam
After reading Pride and American Street, I quickly became a fan of Ibi Zoboi's works and am anticipatory for her most recent work with author Yusef Salaam. In Punching the Air, 16-year-old poet and artist Amal Shahid attends a diverse art school where he is seen as disruptive by a biased and unfair system. On one unfortunate night, a dispute in a gentrifying neighborhood turns into tragedy. Amal is convicted of a crime he didn't commit, sending his once-bright future into spirals. Amal is sent to prison where he turns to his art to tell his story as only he can.
3. Smash It! by Francina Simone
Olivia "Liv" James is tired of letting her insecurities run her life so instead, she decides to own her junior year by doing things that she was typically apprehensive to do. In doing this, she says yes to a date, makes new friends, and tries out for the school musical, all leading to a brand new her. However, with Liv's bold change in her lifestyle and in the way she views herself, there comes a lot of things that she is not familiar with, including following your heart. With her very first shot at love, Liv finds herself interested in three different guys, with two of them being her best friends. With Liv's reimagining of herself, she finds that a lot can go wrong.
4. Even if We Break by Marieke Nijkamp
This suspenseful novel follows five friends as they are taking one last getaway before going their separate ways after high school graduation. However, all five friends are dealing with their terrors and are hiding secrets. This mysterious novel from author Marieke Nijkamp is an excellent read for readers looking for that great spooky edge just in time for Halloween.
5. Thoughts and Prayers by Bryan Bliss
This powerful novel, from author Bryan Bliss, told in three distinctive parts examines three characters, Claire, Eleanor, and Brezzen who all hid under the same staircase during a horrific school shooting. The school shooting claimed the lives of their classmates and a teacher. In the aftermath of the shooting, each character copes with the traumatic and painful experience as best as they can as the world around them keeps moving forward. Thoughts and Prayers is a thoughtful and much-needed story that touches on gun violence and the aftermath and effects that it has on its victims.
© 2020 Jasmine Bryson