There comes a time around mid-December when us avid readers sit and scroll through the list of books we read this year on Goodreads. It’s also that time of year when some of us are in panic, not having yet reached our goal of books to read for the year. (I’m currently the latter.)
For me, in terms of reading, 2017 was the year of much mediocrity. However, as I scrolled through my list, I came across a few hidden gems I thought were deserving of more love and appreciation. If you’re looking to squeeze in a few more reads before the year comes to a close, I guarantee any of these will be worth your time.
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
I wonder sometimes whether you’ve exploded already, like a star, and what I’m seeing is you three million years into the past, and you’re not here any more. How can we be together here, now, when you are so far away? When you are so far ago? I’m shouting so loudly, but you never turn around to see me. Perhaps it is I who have already exploded.
Radio Silence isn’t like most YA novels. This story is built on the glorifying and unique friendship between Frances and Aled, neglecting the typical YA formula: Girl meets boy. Girl and boy fall in love. Instead, we are given the chance to watch these characters grow separately and together, and we love them for it. This novel has near-perfect depictions of what it’s like to be young; the highs, the lows, and all the parts in between—and that’s what makes it so relatable. Oseman is able to capture the millennial experience through uplifting humor, well-developed and diverse characters, refreshing representation, and wholesome friendships.
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
There’s a Japanese phrase that I like: koi no yokan. It doesn’t mean love at first sight. It’s closer to love at second sight. It’s the feeling when you meet someone that you’re going to fall in love with them. Maybe you don’t love them right away, but it’s inevitable that you will.
Nicola Yoon’s second novel, The Sun is Also a Star, may be even better than her critically acclaimed debut novel, Everything, Everything. I read this is one sitting; one filled with endless swooning that left me completely speechless by the end. The story is told through the voices of two minority teenagers: Natasha, whose family is being deported in a matter of hours, and Daniel, who’s been faced with high expectations all his life. When these two meet, readers are put in a trace all due to Yoon’s descriptive and effortlessly beautiful writing that by the end, will make you forget that their story took place in only a day. Told through transitioning perspectives with notions of the unfathomable nature of the universe, you’ll find yourself hopelessly rooting for Natasha and Daniel in the end.
Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
Love fails for a million reasons—distance, infidelity, pride, religion, money, illness. Why is this story any more worthy? It felt like it was. It felt important. Living in this town is suffocating in so many ways. But if a tree falls in the woods, maybe it makes no sound. And if a boy falls for the bishop’s closeted son, maybe it makes no story.
Autoboyography is the perfect novel to read when you’re in a slump and in need of something light and sweet. Told through the perspective of Tanner Scott, a bisexual teen living in a conservative town in Utah, it’s easy to be entranced with his narration. In his senior year of high school, he enrolls himself in an exclusive creative writing class in which he has four months to write a novel. When he meets Sebastian, a Mormon prodigy, who’s there to help mentor the class after having his book from the year prior published, Tanner is immediately drawn to him. As these two navigate through their relationship, Lauren is able to shine a light on the journey of accepting yourself, falling in love, and religion. Bonus points: Tanner and Sebastian are extremely adorable.
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
I thought that it was more likely the opposite. I must have shut grief out. Found it in books. Cried over fiction instead of the truth. The truth was unconfined, unadorned. There was no poetic language to it, no yellow butterflies, no epic floods. There wasn’t a town trapped underwater or generations of men with the same name destined to make the same mistakes. The truth was vast enough to drown in.
If We Are Okay were to receive a reward, it deserves “Best Cover of 2017.” Nina LaCour’s latest novel surprised me—it was just as beautiful on the inside as it was on the outside. I would recommend this book to anyone who values characters. In terms of plot, it was simple. What really pushes this novel forward are Marin and Mabel, best friends and former girlfriends. After running away from her home in California, Marin is introduced in the beginning as someone still clearly struggling to accept her past. Told in the past and present, LaCour’s poetic writing was enhanced through her rich and intriguing characters. This is a melancholy read—the feeling of loneliness seeps into the atmosphere—but it’s a memorable one.