17 Underrated YA Novels From 2017 You'll Definitely Want To Read Before The Year Is Over
If you can believe it, 2017 is about to take its final bow. In some ways it feels like these 12 months have flown by and in others... well, let's just say that the days have sometimes be long. But one thing all of us readers can agree on is that 2017 was a hugely exciting—and in many ways monumental—year for books. There were lots of Own Voices contemporaries covering some majorly important issues, and equally diverse fantasy with edge of your seat plots. There were even YA books that made a huge mark well outside the confines of teen reads.
Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give has spent 30+ weeks near the top of The New York Times bestseller list, which much of that time firmly entrenched in the No. 1 slot; and the upcoming film adaptation will only bring this crucial story to an even wider audience. John Green returned after five years with his new release, Turtles All the Way Down, continuing an important discussion about mental health and mental healthcare during a presidential administration that has ignored both.
There are countless other hugely popular and hugely influential 2017 YA reads I could mention... but what about all of those other awesome books that were released this year? Below are 17 books that hit the shelves this year that you may have missed among some of the more high-profile picks. If you're looking to get a few more reads in before the end of the year, these underrated must-reads should be at the very top of your list.
'Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined' by Danielle Younge-Ullman
Ingrid once traveled all over Europe with her opera star mother, Margot-Sophia, their lives big, bright and filled with music. When the curtain fell on Margot-Sophia’s singing career, they buried the past and settled into a painfully normal life. But Ingrid longs to let the music soar again. Now she's on a summertime wilderness survival trek for at-risk teens, fighting to survive physical challenges and mind games that threaten to break her. But Ingrid is never going to make it through this summer if she can’t figure out why she’s here—and why the music really stopped.
'The Victoria in My Head' by Janelle Milanes
Victoria Cruz inhabits two worlds: In her head, she's a rock star, thrashing the stage with her husky voice and purple-streaked hair. In reality, she's a shy teenager with overprotective, Cuban parents, who sleepwalks through her life at the prestigious Evanston Academy. But after a chance encounter with an unattainably gorgeous boy named Strand, whose band seeks a lead singer, Victoria is tempted to turn her fevered daydreams into reality. Suddenly, Victoria is faced with the choice of staying on the path she’s always known and straying off-course to find love and adventure.
'The Thing With Feathers' by McCall Hoyle
Emilie Day believes in playing it safe: she’s homeschooled, her best friend is her seizure dog, and she’s probably the only girl on the Outer Banks of North Carolina who can’t swim. Then Emilie’s mom enrolls her in public school, and Emilie goes from studying at home in her pajamas to halls full of strangers. To make matters worse, Emilie is paired with starting point guard Chatham York for a major research project on Emily Dickinson. She should be ecstatic when Chatham shows interest, but she has a problem: She hasn’t told anyone about her epilepsy.
'Everything All At Once' by Katrina Leno
Lottie Reeves has always struggled with anxiety, and when her Aunt Helen dies, Lottie fears that her own 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. In her will, she leaves Lottie a series of letters, each containing instructions designed to push Lottie out of her comfort zone. Then the letters reveal a secret about the Alvin Hatter series and Lottie finds herself faced with an impossible choice, one that will force her to confront her greatest fear once and for all.
'Between Two Skies' by Joanne O'Sullivan
Bayou Perdu, a tiny fishing town in Louisiana, is home to 16-year-old Evangeline Riley. She has her best friends, Kendra and Danielle; her wise, beloved Mamere; and back-to-back titles in the under-16 fishing rodeo. But, dearest to her heart, she has the peace that only comes when she takes her skiff out to where there is nothing but sky and water. And then the storm comes, and everything changes. Amid the chaos and pain and destruction comes Tru—a fellow refugee, a budding bluesman, a balm for Evangeline’s aching heart. But will she ever be able to go home again?
'The Education Of Margot Sánchez' by Lilliam Rivera
After stealing her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded for the summer, forced to work in her family’s grocery store. With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises, the good-looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood, keep her from her goal.
'The Truth of Right Now' by Kara Lee Corthron
Lily is returning to her privileged Manhattan high school after a harrowing end to her sophomore year, and it’s not pretty. Enter: Dari, the artistic and mysterious transfer student. Their attraction ignites immediately, and for the first time in what feels like forever, Lily and Dari find happiness in each other. In 21st century New York City, the fact that Lily is white and Dari is black shouldn’t matter, but nothing’s as simple as it seems. When tragedy becomes reality, can friendship survive even if romance cannot?
'The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash' by Candace Ganger
Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together: to not flunk out, to keep his best friend from doing something really bad, and to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything. But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled apart. A horrifying tragedy soon links Birdie and Bash together—but neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo.
'Wrecked' by Maria Padian
Everyone on campus has a different version of what happened that night. Haley saw Jenny return from the party, shell-shocked. Richard heard Jordan brag about the cute freshman he hooked up with. When Jenny accuses Jordan of rape, Haley and Richard are pushed to opposite sides of the school’s investigation. Now conflicting versions of the story may make bringing the truth to light nearly impossible—especially when reputations, relationships, and whole futures are riding on the verdict.
'Kat And Meg Conquer The World' by Anna Priemaza
Kat and Meg couldn’t be more different. Kat’s anxiety makes it hard for her to talk to people. Meg hates being alone, but her ADHD keeps pushing people away. But when the two girls are thrown together for a year-long science project, they discover they do have one thing in common: They’re both obsessed with the same online gaming star and his hilarious videos. It might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship—if they don’t kill each other first.
'Noteworthy' by Riley Redgate
Jordan Sun is a junior at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, and she's hopeful that this will be the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options. In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite all male a cappella octet. Jordan convincingly dresses up as a boy, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.
'Maud' by Melanie J. Fishbane
14-year-old Lucy Maud Montgomery has a dream: to go to college and, just like her idol, Louisa May Alcott, become a writer. But living with her grandparents on Prince Edward Island, she worries that this dream will never come true. Life changes for Maud when she goes out West to live with her father and his new wife and daughter. Her new home offers her another chance at love, as well as attending school, but tensions increase as Maud discovers her stepmother’s plans for her, which threaten Maud’s future—and her happiness—forever
'Grace and the Fever' by Zan Romanoff
In middle school, everyone was a Fever Dream fan. Now, a few weeks after her high school graduation, Grace Thomas sometimes feels like the only one who never moved on. She can't imagine what she'd do without the community of online fans that share her obsession. Or what her IRL friends would say if they ever found out about it. Then, one summer night, the unthinkable happens: Grace meets her idol, Jes. What starts out as an elusive glimpse of Fever Dream's world turns into an unlikely romance, and leads her to confront dark, complex truths about herself and the realities of stardom.
'You Bring the Distant Near' by Mitali Perkins
Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. Ranee is worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia is wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara seeks the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti is desperately trying to make peace in the family; and Anna fights to preserve Bengal tigers and her Bengali identity. Award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.
'Saints and Misfits' by S.K. Ali
Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her… an Arab, Indian-American, hijabi teenager who is a book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box. And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think—or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster.
'Girl Out Of Water' by Laura Silverman
When a car wreck leaves her aunt with two broken legs, Anise Sawyer has to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Anise spends her days caring for her three cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, 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. Soon Anise loses touch with her friends back home—leading her to one terrifying question: Will she turn out just like her mom?
'The Heartbeats of Wing Jones' by Katherine Webber
Wing Jones, like everyone else in her town, has worshipped her older brother, Marcus, for as long as she can remember—until the night Marcus drives drunk and kills two people, barely surviving himself. Wing is tormented at school for Marcus’s mistake and haunted by her family's grief. Every night, unable to sleep, Wing sneaks 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. Wing can’t pass up the opportunity, but can she handle being thrust out of Marcus’s shadow?