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3 Contemporary YA: Jumping Off Swings, 17 First Kisses, Fan Art

In keeping with my recent blog resolution to move my book content over to Writing Whimsy but in an approachable (ie: short reviews, but a few in each post) way here are three contemporary young adult novels I’ve read recently. Unfortunately, we’re starting off with mainly misses, but hopefully that means whatever I pick up next will be awesome. I have a general obsessive policy of finishing every book I start–and reviewing every book I read–which means that sometimes there’s a few thorns for the roses. Cause obviously I need to use all the cliches in a book post.

swingsjacketJumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles*: This is a book about teen pregnancy that was published fairly recently (originally 2009) but already feels quite dated. It’s told from four different perspectives of the teenagers whose lives are most impacted, which includes Ellie, who gets pregnant after having sex with boys because it makes her feel loved, Josh, the father as a result of the night he decides to lose his virginity in the backseat of a van, and their best friends Caleb and Corrine. It’s only about 200 pages but that means a lot of stuff is skimmed over and while Knowles has done a fantastic job tackling tough issues in other books (I loved her heartbreaking middle grade novel See You At Harry’s), Jumping Off Swings seems to throw every possible melodrama into the mix and call it a plot. While there is some good writing, the book as a whole is predictable, full of stereotype, and definitely not Knowles’ best work.

1859977017 First Kisses by Rachael Allen*: Easily the best book of the three I’m featuring (sorry– does that mean you’re not going to read my final review now?) this is a cute, charming, and well-written novel about friendship and romance. It’s the story of Claire, who has kissed plenty of boys but keeps finding them lusting after her best friend Megan instead. She thinks Luke will be different, but what if that’s not true? I really appreciated the realistic way the author handles sex from a teen perspective, although sometimes the Claire/Megan friendship frustrated me. However, I do think 17 First Kisses has a great balance of light, easy reading mixed with deeper issues even if I wasn’t always a fan of the characters themselves.

17924987Fan Art by Sarah Tregay*: This is actually the second case (in one post!) of “the other book I read by you was better” although unfortunately, that book was actually Love & Leftovers (which I reviewed on Writing Whimsy here back when I originally did book reviews) which was Tregay’s debut, and while I really loved it, her followup falls flat. This one is written in prose, not verse, and it has a much slower pace. Unfortunately, there is just so much wrong with it I almost considered not reviewing it as a case of “when you don’t have anything nice to say…” It’s written from the perspective of Jamie, a teenage boy who falls in love with his best friend but doesn’t know how to tell him he’s gay. Even though I was rooting for the two of them to end up together, I was distracted along the way by the way Jamie stereotypes other people and makes assumptions about them despite no evidence. It is also incredibly frustrating when all the issues in the book could be solved by one conversation the main character refuses to have. JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER. So yeah, Fan Art was not for me and I am conflicted on whether I would even pick up Tregay’s next novel, though if it’s in verse it might tempt me.

There’s three contemporary young adult books I’ve been reading lately and although it wasn’t a major success I am a huge fan of the genre and I have definitely read better ones since, so I will have a more positive next post I promise.

What have you been reading lately?

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