This post is based on the concept of "Recommend a..." from the Chick Loves Lit blog. This week's meme is "Recommend a...CONTEMPORARY BOOK."
To me, a great contemporary book must be believable. The characters should be realistically flawed and easy for readers to connect with. Unlike fantasy and science fiction, contemporary novels must have plots so realistic that readers do not have to suspend belief at all. Dialogue should sound like real conversation, and character motivations and actions should feel authentic for that character.
For someone who used to prefer fantasy and science fiction to realistic reads, I am finding that I am reading (and enjoying!) YA contemporary fiction more and more. I have made no secret of my love for Skinny by Donna Cooner and Playground by 50 Cent, so for this post, I am going to spotlight two great reads that I think deserve more attention that they get.
"Contemporary" Recommendation #1
Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
Unbreak My Heart is one of those quiet books that many girls will identify with. The story follows Clementine, a teen boating on the Mississippi River for the summer with her parents and little sister. Just before summer vacation began, Clem got into a big argument with her best friend Amanda, and the problem was not resolved before Clem left. Now, Clem does not know where she stands with her friend. Angry with herself, Clem falls into a depression that her family tries unsuccessfully to pull her out of.
Along the river route, Clem meets James, a boy her age traveling with his father along the same river route as Clem and her family. James is dealing with emotional turmoil of his own, and Clem finds comfort in his friendship and slowly begins to face her emotional demons.
I especially love the realistic portrayal of Clem's depression over her lost friendship. Readers will not know what the the girls fought about for quite some time, until Clem herself is preparing to face it. Family is incredibly important in Unbreak My Heart, and it is good for teens with depression to see how much talking to her family helps Clem overcome hers.
Reviews of Unbreak My Heart:
Review from Making the Grade
Review from That Artsy Reader Girl
"Contemporary" Recommendation #2
Trafficked by Kim Purcell
Chronicling a young Moldovian girl's experience with the modern slave trade, Trafficked is as real as it gets. Seventeen-year old Hannah hopes for a new life in America. All her life, Hannah has heard warnings about human trafficking. She knows it happens, and she is determined not to be a victim. But when she accepts a job as a nanny to a Russian family in San Francisco, Hannah finds herself working 16-hour days, 7 days a week, with only a faint promise of a paycheck. What can an illegally-imported teenager do but comply and try to make the best of it?
Like Unbreak My Heart, Trafficked feels authentic. It is easy for readers to understand why Hannah left Moldovia and how her innocence and apprehension of the American police cause her to endure far more than any 17-year old should. An eye-opening page turner that will help readers put a face to the modern slave trade.
Reviews of Trafficked:
Review from The Broke and the Bookish blog
Review by So Many Books So Little Time blog
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