Contemporary YA You'll Be Obsessed With In 2017

by Kerri Jarema

Just like these obsession-worthy young adult fantasy books, I'm super excited to add some new contemporary titles to our TBR shelves this year. There are some serious heavyweights in the genre coming out with new titles this year, including Katie Cotugno, Corey Ann Heydu (with not one, but two releases in 2017!) and Emery Lord. Of course I cannot wait to get our hands on all of their new books, to revisit their voices and fall in love with their new characters. But, I'm beyond thrilled to see so many of 2017's most anticipated releases coming from some less established authors, including more than one debut. Nothing is more fun for a book worm than discovering a new author and a new story to love, after all.

These 15 books we've chose explore everything from first love to mental health, social justice to teen pregnancy; and many feature diverse characters and/or are Own Voices, and these are all things I can definitely get behind. If you're looking for some ideal books for all of the contemporary feels, the perfect summer beach reads, and stories that will not only be page-turners but will also make you think, we've got them all here for you.


'When Dimple Met Rishi' by Sandhya Menon (May 30, 2017)

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Surely one of the most anticipated YA books of the year, When Dimple Met Rishi is a heartfelt YA romantic comedy about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married. Dimple Shah has just graduated and is on her to a summer program for aspiring web developers. She's more than ready to get a break from her family and their expectations... including finding her "Ideal Indian Husband." But little does she know that Rishi Patel is on his way to the same summer program. And his parents have already informed him that his future wife will be there, too, and he's got to woo her. He's totally on board. Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself. Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways. Bustle has a look at the first two chapters.


'I Believe in a Thing Called Love' by Maurene Goo (May 30, 2017)

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I Believe In A Thing Called Love follows Desi Lee, a whip-smart high school senior who is on her way to Stanford. She's got everything she's ever worked for...but she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation-magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years, where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love. It's a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drako. Cinematic boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.


'The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash' by Candace Ganger (July 25, 2017)

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Candace Ganger's YA debut follows Sebastian Alvarez, who is just trying to keep it all together. He doesn't want to flunk out of high school, he doesn't want his best friend, Kyle, to get into even more trouble, and he doesn't want to lose his mom to cancer. Then he meets Birdie Paxton. She's a Valedictorian in a science pun t-shirt, and the spark is instant and undeniable. Suddenly, he's not so worried anymore. But before they can exchange phone numbers, they're pulled apart. What they don't realize is a horrifying tragedy links them — a tragedy that will unfold in unimaginable ways. When they finally reunite, they fall hard for each other...but how will the tragedy affect their lives and their love story? Told in alternating perspectives, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash is a story of love, loss, and hope.


'Seeking Mansfield' by Kate Watson (May 16, 2017)

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A modern retelling of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, Seeking Mansfield follows sixteen-year-old Finley Price, who has perfected two things: how to direct a world-class production, and how to fly under the radar. The only person who ever seems to notice Finley is her best friend, Oliver. If she could just take his constant encouragement to heart and step out of the shadows, she'd finally chase her dream of joining the prestigious Mansfield Theater. When teen movie stars Emma and Harlan Crawford move next door, they immediately set their sights on Oliver and his cunning sister, Juliette, shaking up Finley and Oliver's stable friendship. As Emma and Oliver grow closer, Harlan finds his attention shifting from Juliette to the quiet, enigmatic Finley. Out of boredom, Harlan decides to make her fall in love with him. Problem is, the harder he tries to win her, the harder he falls for her. But Finley doesn't want to be won, and she doesn't want to see Oliver with anyone else. To claim Oliver's heart, and keep her own, she'll have to find the courage to do what she fears most: step into the spotlight.


'Aftercare Instructions' by Bonnie Pipkin (June 27, 2017)

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Aftercare Instructions is a YA debut following 17-year-old Genesis, who is known in her small New Jersey town for being "troubled." But she's finally found stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter. That is, until he abandons her at a Manhattan Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything. As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life.


'The Upside of Unrequited' by Becky Albertalli (April 11, 2017)

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No, we can't believe that this is only Becky Albertalli's sophomore release, either. Her debut Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda took the YA community by storm when it was released in much so that she has already become one of the most beloved authors in the contemporary genre. Now she's back with The Upside of Unrequited, which follows 17 -year-old Molly Peskin-Suso, who knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. But soon, a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness — except for the part where she totally is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back. There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?


'Alex, Approximately' by Jenn Bennett (April 4, 2017)

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In this charming teen spin on You’ve Got Mail, the one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams — she just doesn’t know it yet. A classic movie buff, Bailey has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush. Faced with doubts, Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth — a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she’s starting to feel for Porter. And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own.


'It Started With Goodbye' by Christina June (May 9, 2017)

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Christine June's debut follow 16-year-old Tatum Elsea, who is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF is ghosting her. Tatum fills her free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.


'Everything All At Once' by Katrina Leno (June 6, 2017)

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Katrina Leno's new YA novel follows Lottie Reeves, who has always struggled with anxiety. When her beloved Aunt Helen dies, Lottie begins to fear that her own unexpected death might be waiting around every corner. Aunt Helen wasn’t a typical aunt. She was the author of the best–selling Alvin Hatter series, about siblings who discover the elixir of immortality. Her writing inspired a generation of readers. In her will, she leaves one last writing project—just for Lottie. It’s a series of letters, each containing mysterious instructions designed to push Lottie out of her comfort zone. Soon, Lottie’s trying some writing of her own, leaping off cliffs, and even falling for a boy she’s only just met. Then the letters reveal an extraordinary secret about the inspiration for the Alvin Hatter series. Lottie finds herself faced with an impossible choice, one that will force her to confront her greatest fear once and for all.


'The Heartbeats Of Wings Jones' by Katherine Webber

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Wing Jones, like everyone else in her town, has worshipped her older brother, Marcus, for as long as she can remember. He's good-looking, popular, and the star of the football team. Marcus is everything his sister is not. Until the night everything changes when Marcus drives drunk and kills two people, barely surviving himself. With Marcus now in a coma, Wing is crushed, confused, and angry. She is tormented at school for Marcus’s mistake and haunted at home by her family's grief. Wing is scared that the bank is going to repossess her home because her family can’t afford Marcus’s mounting medical bills. Every night, unable to sleep, Wing finds herself sneaking out to go to the school’s empty track. When Aaron, Marcus’s best friend, sees her running one night, he recognizes that her skill could get her spot on the track team. And better still, an opportunity at a coveted sponsorship from a major athletic gear company. Wing can’t pass up the opportunity to train with her longtime crush and to help her struggling family, but can she handle being thrust out of Marcus’s shadow?


'Little & Lion' by Brandy Colbert (August 8, 2017)

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An incredible story about mental illness and how it can affect a family, Brady Colbert's Little & Lion follows a step-brother and sister as they navigate love, loss, identity and redemption. When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn't sure if she'll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support. But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new...the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel's disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself — or worse. This is a necessary, endearing, heart-wrenching examination of the realities of mental illness.


'Girl Out Of Water' by Laura Silverman (May 2, 2017)

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Laura Silverman's highly anticipated contemporary debut follows Anise Sawyer who plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos, and throwing bonfires until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the summer. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth. Complicating matters is Lincoln, a charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home, leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves?


'Dear Martin' by Nic Stone (October 17, 2017)

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This stunning debut tackles race relations and police brutality, through the eyes of teenager Justyce McAllister. Justyce is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year — but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges, but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous (and white) debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for. Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure. Then one day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, music turned way up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. In that media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night — some would kill to know. But Justyce is dying to forget.


'You're Welcome Universe' by Whitney Gardner (March 7, 2017)

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Whitney Gardner's novel follows Julia, a deaf Indian-American girl with a penchant for graffiti. When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful, but illegal, graffiti mural. Her supposed best friend snitches, she gets expelled from school, and her two mothers send Julia to a school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war. You're Welcome Universe is a gritty story about a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way.


'Here We Are Now' by Jasmine Warga (November 7, 2017)

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Jasmine Warga's Here We Are Now tells the story of Taliah Abdallat, who despite receiving letters from Julian Oliver since she was thirteen, has never actually met him. But one day, while her mother is out of the country, the famed rock star shows up on her doorstep. This kinda makes sense, because Julian Oliver is Taliah's father...even though her mother would never admit it to her. Julian asks if Taliah if she will go with him to his hometown of Oak Falls, Indiana, to meet his father — her grandfather — who is nearing the end of his life. Taliah is torn between betraying her mother's trust and meeting the family she has never known, but she decides to go. With her best friend Harlow by her side, Taliah embarks on a three-day journey to find out everything about her father and her family. But Julian isn't the father Taliah always hoped for, and revelations about her mother's past are shaking her foundation. Through all these new experiences, Taliah will have to find new ways to be true to herself, honoring her past and her future.