I tend to be the kind of person who falls out of reading if I don’t pick up a book for a week or more. There is no specific genre that I prefer more than another, but I usually lean more towards a young adult book with memorable characters. A book that I know will stick with me for a while after I finish it. Recently I’ve gotten back into reading and in doing that I’ve realized that many of my favorite books do not receive the recognition that they deserve. Below are just five books that fit in this category.
This book is about two best friends. When they were younger, they created a princess. Her name was Princess X. Libby was in charge of the illustrations, while May was assigned to write her story. A few years later, Libby is with her mother when her car drives off of a bridge, killing them both. May believes that Princess X died with her. Fast-forward to four years later, May is sixteen and wandering through Seattle when she sees a strange sticker in a shop window. Princess X.
I Am Princess X is one of, if not the most, beautiful novels I’ve read that focuses on friendship. Throughout the book, you follow May on her journey to track down this sticker and along the way she seems to find more and more clues. This is a true fairytale filled with partners, enemies, and secret tunnels, minus the knight in shining armor.
Favorite Quote: “Vision is also a fickle creature. You can see an object a hundred times, a thousand times, and it remains unchanged. Then in one swift second you realize it has been changing all along and your eyes hid it from you”
This story takes place in Merit, Wisconsin, a small town where everybody knows everybody. The narrator is Ben who is, throughout the novel, looking back on a specific period in his life. A period of time that focuses on a boy named Jimmy, and his murder. The reason Ben knows so much about this is because he was there when it happened. He now knows too much and knows that he has too much information living inside of him. What he doesn’t know is who killed Jimmy.
I have read this book three times, and every time I feel exactly the same as I did when I first picked it up. There are definite LGBT undertones within this novel which play a big part in Jimmy’s life. He had aspirations for his future that his family didn’t approve of, but that he tried to achieve anyway. This book will break your heart, so don’t tell me I didn’t warn you. Just try not to fall in love with Jimmy as much as I did. Trust me, it’ll be hard.
Favorite Quote: “I like candids. That’s what Jimmy had said. Because it’s when they don’t think you’re looking that you catch people being themselves.”
I’ll Give You the Sun follows a set of twins, Noah and Jude. In their early teenage years, Jude is jumping off of cliffs and Noah is falling in love with the boy next door who happens to carry the universe in a bag. They are close as can be and it seems as if nothing could ever break that up. Until something does. Three years later, the two of them are barely speaking to each other. Their early teenage years are told by Noah, whereas the later years are told by Jude. Their separate point of views cross in many ways, all they have to do is find each other.
I fell in love with this book as soon as I read the first few pages. Jandy Nelson’s writing style is absolutely breathtaking and I wish that I could quote this book from cover to cover. You will fall in love with every character in this novel as soon as they are introduced, and you will feel their emotions along with them. This is a story about family as well as a hint of romance within each of their stories. Noah and Jude will be characters that stick with you for a long time.
Favorite Quote: “When people fall in love, they burst into flames.”
Cullen Witter is seventeen years old when his brother goes missing. His dull town of Lily, Arkansas becomes alive overnight when the Lazarus woodpecker is said to have been spotted. Cullen is trying hard to keep his family together while, at the same time, trying to locate his brother and trying to keep a steady relationship. Then another character comes into the story. A young man who is on a missionary trip in Africa. Somehow, these stories cross paths and nothing is the same.
I have to be honest, it took me a while to really get into this book. It has a bit of a slow start. But once you get a few chapters in, I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down. Whaley’s writing style is very nice and he creates realistic characters that I could see within my own community. Being a novel that isn’t centered around a romantic relationship, the reader will learn a lot about friendship, family and love from this read.
Favorite Quote: “It was like looking at the sun and not going blind”
Set to become a live-action film early next year, this novel follows a teenage boy named Simon Spier, who is gay but has yet to come out. His story begins when his email correspondence mysteriously falls into the hands of Martin, a classmate, who then makes him an offer. He won’t reveal Simon’s secret boy-boy email relationship if he talks to Abby, his best friend about going on a date. Throughout this ordeal, Simon must attempt to keep both the online identity of Blue, and of himself, a secret. The reader follows Simon’s tight-knit group of friends as well as his family as he juggles his growing relationship and his hidden sexuality in his junior year of high school.
I couldn’t seem to prevent myself from falling in love with this book. Simon’s online personality, Jaques, and his online crush (who he believes he has never seen) Blue, are adorable. Watching their relationship grow was one of my favorite things about this book. I loved Simon’s group of friends just as much as I loved him which made reading it so much more enjoyable. And with a movie coming soon, I am an even bigger fan.
Favorite Quote: “But I’m tired of coming out. All I ever do is come out. I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways. I get a girlfriend. I have a beer. And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.”
If you’ve made it this far, I hope you got at least one, if not at all five, new book recommendations. The above suggestions focus on a range of topics and include very great LGBT representation. I hope to find even more great novels this year and make an updated list very soon! Happy reading!