The recent political climate has made its impact on a lot of outlets, whether it’s movies, TV or social media. Books haven’t been any different, and YA fiction, in particular, has been upfront and real about a lot of serious topics. YA books of the past few years have tackled everything from racism to sexual assault.
Literature has always been the mirror of society, and, right now, it’s become a powerful medium to educate and represent. Here’s to a few novels that are definitely doing it right.
1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give is a gem of a book that was well worth the hype and praise it garnered. Angie Thomas gets real and open about racism and police brutality, and this YA novel inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement is a must-read. Starr’s story is heartbreaking, inspiring, realistic, authentic and so so important.
Favorite quote: “Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”
2. A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
A Mad Wicked Folly is set in 1909 London. Vicky is a fearless girl who dares to dream beyond the conventional, chasing them without reservations. Set in the backdrop of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, the book is quirky, uplifting, romantic, and gloriously feminist.
Favorite quote: “This is why we all fight so hard. Not just for the vote, but for an equal opportunity in the world. A vote is a voice. I think you underestimate yourself, Queenie. This is your fight, same as it is mine.”
3. This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
This Is Where It Ends is a story told in four perspectives, in 54 minutes. It narrates a school shooting, and the story keeps you on the edge, and every tense moment of this book is heartbreaking and full of emotion. In our current reality where schools are no longer safe places, the novel will definitely leave a lasting impact.
Favorite quote: “We’re more than our mistakes. We’re more than what people expect of us.”
4. Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Dear Martin is another wonderful story that gets real about race. It’s short, raw, unapologetic, and straight to the point. It tackles the struggle of fitting in, the question of one’s privilege, the judgment that comes with one’s skin color and the prejudices that follows a black guy everywhere.
Favorite quote: “You can’t change how other people think and act, but you’re in full control of you. When it comes down to it, the only question that matters is this: If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”
5. The Library Of Fates by Aditi Khorana
The Library Of Fates is a fantasy inspired by Hindu mythology and Indian history. It captures the reality of tyrannical rule, a selfish ruler and an unfair administration. But what makes the book special is that it gives hope, and narrates the power of female determination, and how it can undermine power and tyranny.
Favorite quote: “I don’t believe that anyone is more powerful than anyone else. I believe that anyone can change. I believe there are mysteries built over even more powerful mysteries, and it takes lifetimes to unearth them.”
6. American Street by Ibi Zoboi
American Street is all about the US president’s favorite topic – immigration. It tells the story of the American dream of Fabiola, who immigrates from Haiti, and suddenly finds her newfound freedom and joy at risk. The book is real, brutal and doesn’t pull back any punches on emotions.
Favorite quote: “According to my papers, I’m not even supposed to be here. I’m not a citizen. I’m a ‘resident alien.’ The borders don’t care if we’re all human and my heart pumps blood the same as everyone else’s.”
7. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Long Way Down is the story of an elevator ride. An eventful and impactful elevator ride told in verse, which captures cyclical violence in a gut-wrenching way you won’t be able to forget. It’s beautiful, tragic, violent and a great look at family (be it found or biological) and brotherhood and the lengths to which we hold true “an eye for an eye.”
Favorite quote: “ANOTHER THING ABOUT THE RULES / They weren’t meant to be broken. They were meant for the broken / to follow.”
8. Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
Love, Hate & Other Filters is a Muslim teen’s experience with Islamophobia, especially after a terrorist attack. The book sheds light on white supremacy, hate crimes, racism and is an authentic representation of the life of an Indian American Muslim in the dynamics of the current political climate.
Favorite quote: “My body remembers what part of my mind wants to forget—because there are times when I struggle to reconcile what I gave up to be here, in this very moment, despite how much I wanted it. How much I do want it. The past may be prologue, but it’s with me, every day.”
9. The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah
The Lines We Cross is a story about a girl who fled from Afghanistan and a boy whose parents head an anti-immigration movement. The book takes a look at both sides and the blurred lines in between. It’s an eye-opener, powerfully showcasing the contrasting narratives, which bring you a new perspective on the world we live and love in.
Favorite quote: “I’m starting to realize that being born into this social world is a little like being born into clean air. You take it in as soon as you breathe, and pretty soon you don’t even realize that while you can walk around with clear lungs, other people are wearing oxygen masks just to survive.”
10. The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Fixer (The Fixer #1) is a gripping political thriller that is all about fixing the problems of the rich and the powerful. In a world where privilege helps anyone get away with anything, this novel paints the reality of politics and power. I don’t know whether it was written in that intention, but right now, the concept of the story is a little too relevant.
Favorite quote: “’I have a passing fondness for explosions.’ That was concerning on so many levels.”
11. Girl Made Of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
Girl Made Of Stars tries to answer a difficult question: what happens when someone you love is accused of sexual harassment? Do you believe the victim or justify the accused? Do you go by what’s right or what your heart says is right? The book is packed with emotions and is a beautiful reflection of the aftermath of the #MeToo movement.
Favorite quote: “Even girls made of stars are captives, bound at the wrists and traded like property. Even girls made of stars aren’t asked, aren’t believed, aren’t considered worth the effort unless they can offer something in return.
Even girls made of stars buy into those lies sometimes.”