Sistah Girls it’s May, and I can hear the graduation march in the air. Ending high school and starting that transition into adulthood is a turbulent period and makes a great setting for a coming-of-age novel.
It’s been a few years since my own high school graduation and in some way, each of these books reminded me of the person I was. Here’s a list of five young adult books set during that complicated period of life.
The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters
It’s the summer before he goes off to college and Wes is confused and unsure about life. He doesn’t know what major he wants to do in school, the bookstore he grew up visiting and currently works at is under threat of closing, and he hasn’t confessed to his best friend, Nico.
The romance in this book is so sweet and I loved how important friendships were to the main characters. The narrative allows Wes to be confused and indecisive about his future without blaming him for it.
Required Reading for The Disenfranchised Freshman by Kristen R. Lee
A college freshman deals with culture shock when she attends a predominantly white institution and faces a kind of racism she’s never experienced before. Savannah attends Wooddale, an Ivy League school, and faces microaggressions and racist harassment from the other students.
This book has a good character arc for coming into yourself, learning how to use your voice, and balancing the dreams you have for your life outside of your parents’ expectations.
Charming As A Verb by Ben Philippe
Henri is a high school senior who needs to make an important decision: does he attend the university his father wants for him, or does he choose for himself?
While he grapples with this decision, he is blackmailed into helping a standoffish girl improve her social standings. Henri is a smooth talker, very forward-thinking, and clever. Reading from his perspective was fun and the side characters were never overshadowed.
Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Zuri is a teenager in Brooklyn dealing with college applications, the gentrification of her neighborhood, and her intense dislike for the rich boy who moves in across the street from her.
Pride is a remix of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice but with Black characters and a mix of cultures woven in. There is a pride in Haitian and Dominican cultures and it’s nice to read about a Black experience that doesn’t get a lot of representation.
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney
Quinn is a high school student with a lot of secrets, so she keeps them straight in a plain notebook she treats like a diary. This notebook is stolen from her and she is blackmailed into facing her fears, embarrassing herself, and admitting her deepest secrets to her parents and friends.
On top of her high school drama, she is dealing with her parents’ tumultuous marriage and the grief of losing her grandmother to dementia. This book is full of powerful emotions and nuanced conversations about race and class.
Sis, if you’ve read any of these let me know what you think in the comments!
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