The Fault In Our Stars is kind of a big deal right now. With over nine million copies sold internationally and a number one movie at the box office, the novel and its author John Green have been the subject of endless discussion and a steady stream of articles, going as far as calling Green “the teen whisperer” and suggesting that he has saved YA literature.
And hey, The Fault In Our Stars is a good book. It clearly speaks to a lot of people. But it doesn’t do anything that isn’t done in many other similar, fantastic books by female authors who were writing long before The Fault In Our Stars appeared on the scene. And it’s sad that a lot of these truly amazing female authors don’t get more attention.
So. Here are some of my favorite YA contemporary novels in the heartbreaking vein of The Fault in Our Stars. If you enjoy John Green’s writing, I really think you’ll love these too.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Probably the highest profile novel of these books, since it also has a movie coming out this summer, and the one that I think is most similar to The Fault In Our Stars. After a car accident that kills her parents and leaves her brother critically injured, cello prodigy Mia has an out of body experience and must decide whether she’s strong enough to live on without her family, or whether she wishes to die with them.
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
I’m a massive fan of all of Courtney Summers’ books, but I think this may be my favorite. Regina Afton is one of the meanest mean girls of Hallowell High. Then her best friend’s boyfriend tries to rape her, and she becomes ostracized by the very bullies she used to be a part of. As Regina faces ever-escalating cruelty, she tries to find support from Michael, an outcast she herself used to bully, and must face both the person she has been and the person she wants to be. This is a punch-to-the-gut type novel, unflinchingly painful and compelling to read. Also check out Cracked Up To Be and Fall For Anything.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
The ultimate book for, well, fangirls, but also for anyone who’s suffered from anxiety or simply doubted the direction of their life. Mega Simon Snow fangirl Cath has been defined by her love of the popular book series (she is, after all, the author of the biggest fic in the fandom) and by her constant companion, her twin sister Wren. But now she’s starting college, the book series is ending, and her sister no longer wants to be her friend. Thrust into freshman year of college with no support, scared to even eat in the dining hall, Cath must figure out who she is as a person when her sister and her fandom are taken away.
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Not enough people have heard about this book. When band geek Lennie’s older sister dies, she struggles to deal with her grief and the feeling that she now has to navigate life alone. She finds solace is sharing memories of her sister with her sister’s ex-boyfriend… until she kisses said dead-sister’s ex-boyfriend in a fit of grief, and is horrified at the person she seems to have become. Impossible to say more than that — it’s just a gorgeous book that you have to read.
A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley
Charlie loves music, but is too afraid to perform in front of others. Spending her summer with her grandfather in a small town in Australia after her mother’s death, she desperately wants a friend. Meanwhile Rose, the girl next door, wants nothing more than to get out of this small town. She’s ignored and dismissed Charlie for years, but perhaps now she can use this big city girl’s desperation for friendship as her ticket away. This is a heartbreaking and emotionally real book, all about want that is just out of reach, and what a person might do in order to fulfil it. Highly recommended.
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
Chloe has always been in her sister Ruby’s shadow, willing to do anything that her sister demands. Even if that means swimming in the supposedly haunted reservoir at night. Even when that means finding the dead body of one of her classmates floating in the middle of the lake. Two years after the traumatic incident, Chloe returns to her sister and their small town, only to realize that her charismatic sister may not be all that she remembered. Deliciously creepy.
What are some of your favorite YA contemporary novels? Share your recommendations in the comments!