Back when you were a kid, you had all the time in the world to get lost in your favourite books. But now that you’re older – with pesky things to worry about like a job (boring!), a mortgage (boo!), and making school lunches for your kids – “me” time is at a premium. (Turns out that this whole adulting thing can be a bit of a drag, right?) With the precious few moments you do have to yourself during the day, you’re looking for a bit of an escape – a “life break,” if you will.
Enter Young Adult literature. Many of today’s YA novels are populated with characters and situations that are just as smart, thoughtful, and engaging as those found in traditional adult fare, but with the added bonus of being easily digestible – perfect for breezing through a quick chapter or two during your morning commute or as you nod off to sleep (at 10 p.m. – because who’s kidding who?)
The Jessica Darling Books – Megan McCafferty
The five books in the series (Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds, Fourth Comings and Perfect Fifths) follow heroine Jessica Darling as she navigates high school, college and beyond. Relayed by way of Bridget Jones’s Diary-style journal entries, Jessica’s acerbic wit and deeply entrenched teen ennui are hilariously entertaining. As the series progresses she grows by leaps and bounds, eventually blossoming into a sharp and endearing young woman. Oh yeah, and Marcus Flutie, Jessica’s paramour, is probably the most swoon-worthy teen male ever committed to the page.
$16.29 at Indigo
Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
Bestselling author Sophie Kinsella tackles the world of teens and the subject of mental illness in this engaging novel about 14-year-old Audrey, a girl who’s developed crippling social anxiety and depression in the aftermath of school bullying. Audrey’s slow path to recovery is aided by the support of her quirky but endearing family and her brother’s friend Linus. Kinsella excels at writing charming heroines and Audrey is no exception. Bonus: the book’s portrayal of trauma and rehabilitation is both sensitive and thought provoking.
$13.34 at Indigo
My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows
My Lady Jane is the story of sixteen-year-old Jane Grey, cousin of King Edward VI. In real life, Jane ruled as Queen of England for nine days after Edward’s death in 1553, before being ousted to make way for Queen Mary. This book’s version playfully reimagines Jane’s story as a spicy teen romance with a plethora of witty pop culture references. Oh, and humans who can shape shift into animals. A cross between The Princess Bride and Ladyhawke, with a dash of Monty Python for good measure, My Lady Jane will have you cheering for the headstrong heroine – and her merry band of accomplices – on their quest to return the crown of England to its rightful owner.
$21.92 at Indigo
Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell
Set in 1986, this book tells the story of Eleanor, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who’s trying to cope with a challenging home life. On her first day at a new school she meets Park, a popular kid who’s into music and martial arts. Through a shared love of comic books, the two form a tentative connection that blossoms into love as the story progresses. The friendship – and eventual romance – between Eleanor and Park is beautifully and poignantly written. Plus, any story that prominently features ‘80s mix tapes gets an A++ in our books.
$13.47 at Indigo
With Malice – Eileen Cook
High school student Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital bed with major physical injuries and no memory of the preceding six weeks of her life. Bit by bit, she pieces together the fact that something horrible took place during a school trip to Italy, leading to the death of her BFF Simone. Worse still, the Italian police – and the media – think that Jill is the killer. Jill is plunged into a race against time as she struggles to recover her memories and clear her name. Eileen Cook’s suspenseful writing makes for a deliciously entertaining page-turner in the same vein as Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Be sure to clear your schedule – once you get started you won’t want to put this one down!
$22.67 at Indigo
Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green & David Levithan
Will Grayson, Will Grayson is told from the alternating points of view of two protagonists, both named Will Grayson. Will Grayson 1, written by John Green, is a high schooler from Chicago who, along with his best friend Tiny Cooper (more on him in a second) is a founding member of his school’s Gay Straight Alliance. Will Grayson 2, written by David Levithan, is suburban, gay, angsty, and a loner. The two meet and their lives become intertwined when Will Grayson 2 starts dating Tiny Cooper, who is the real star of this novel. The book is quirky and endearing, with highly lovable characters and a feel-good ending.
$11.22 at Indigo
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
It’s 2044 and the world is looking pretty grim. A series of climate crises have ravaged the earth, the general population is living in crippling poverty and most people spend their time plugged into a computer program called the OASIS. When the eccentric billionaire who designed it dies without an heir, he leaves a series of clues to his vast fortune hidden within the program, and those seeking his treasure must be well versed in ‘80s pop culture. The book’s hero, teenager Wade Watts, races to solve the riddles and claim the prize before anyone else can beat him to the punch. Ready Player One is a pop culture nerd’s dream, jam-packed with references to the ‘80s and beyond.
$19.84 at Indigo
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks – E. Lockhart
When Frankie Landau-Banks returns to her exclusive private school after summer break, she catches the eye of a popular upperclassman and finds herself accepted by the cool kids. Not content with being known as someone’s girlfriend, Frankie longs to enjoy the freedom and privilege granted to the boys at her school, many of who are involved in a Skull-and-Bones style secret society. This book is a fun and subversive take on the classic coming of age story, as Frankie challenges patriarchal traditions and sets out to prove that she’s more than just a pretty face.
$10.91 at Indigo
The Disenchantments – Nina LaCour
In The Disenchantments, Colby is secretly in love with his best friend Bev, the lead singer of an all-girl alternative band. When high school ends, Colby agrees to tour as the roadie for Bev’s band. The combination of California, road tripping and badass girl musicians combine to make this book a dreamy, sun-drenched meditation on male-female friendships and love that is unrequited (or is it?). If it’s possible to have a crush on a fictional character (and c’mon, it totally is) then Colby’s definitely got our hearts.
$11.99 at Indigo
The Fault In Our Stars – John Green
The Fault In Our Stars is the story of Hazel, a sixteen-year-old cancer patient, and Augustus, the boy she meets and falls in love with at a cancer support group. This book is both incredibly heart wrenching and ridiculously amusing. John Green has a long history of penning novels featuring quirky characters and situations (see Looking For Alaska, Paper Towns, and An Abundance of Katherines), and TFIOS is packed with both humor and gravitas. It’s not easy to write a book about cancer that’s actually funny, but if anyone can do it, John Green can.
$12.77 at Indigo
Beauty Queens – Libba Bray
Beauty Queens is a hilarious sendup of corporate sponsorship, beauty pageants, and reality TV. The book tells the story of a group of contestants in a Miss Teen Dream pageant who have survived a plane crash on a small tropical island en route to the competition. Left to fend for themselves, they must band together to organize food, shelter and protection against the giant snakes that roam the landscape and the Corporation, an evil American conglomerate with a secret base on the island. Libba Bray’s writing is very clever and deeply satirical, and the book’s message is one of sisterhood and solidarity in the face of a shallow, looks-obsessed global culture.
$10.98 at Indigo