The Compulsive Reader: The Road Less Traveled: YA Books that Break from the Mold

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Road Less Traveled: YA Books that Break from the Mold

When I was in high school, there was a lot of talk about what students were expected to do after graduation. College and careers seemed to be the only clear, correct choice. For me, this was disheartening. I wanted to go to college, but I also liked the idea of freedom from high school and the possibilities that adulthood brought. Why do I have to go to college right away? I wondered. And what happens if I don't get to go to the college I want to go to? Should I settle and enroll in a college I don't want to go to? Should I go for that degree that everyone says isn't marketable?

Maybe my experiences and questions are why I gravitate towards YA books that ask these questions and choose to go down those roads less traveled. The protagonists in these books ask the hard questions about conventions and what's expected out of us in life, and then they go their own ways.

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

This book is about a girl who longs to travel on her own terms, but finds herself on a structured tour of Central America--not what she was planning. When she meets a brother and sister who are backpackers that set their own itinerary, she ditches her tour group and heads out with them.

Just One Day Gayle Forman

Allyson's life has been planned for her from the moment of her birth. But after a day of rebellion and revelations in Paris with a stranger, she begins making her own decisions about her life during her first year of college.

Golden by Jessi Kirby

Parker is on the fast track for a full-ride scholarship to college when a writing assignment gets her asking questions about a girl who disappeared from her town years earlier. Parker is forced to question what matters in life, and what she wants to do with hers.

Return to Me by Justina Chen

Rebecca is set to head to college and go to architecture school when her father leaves her family. Rebecca feels a responsibility to stick with her mom and little brother, but doesn't know what to do about her future plans, or if they even matter to her anymore.

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

Wren has always done what her parents have wanted her to do, but as graduation approaches, she has a plan to put off college for a year and do something she's passionate about. So when she meets Charlie and falls in love, she isn't sure of her future at all anymore.

Stay and The Story of Us by Deb Caletti

Both of these novels by Caletti have protagonists that are dealing with past events as they ponder their futures, and both have the same fantastic beach setting. I liked these books because they both take different directions in their conclusions, but are equally thoughtful and well-written.

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

Lucy was once a famous pianist, but she quit performing after a family betrayal. Now her mother and grandfather seem to hold her refusal to perform against her. When Lucy meets her younger's brother's new teacher, she begins to wonder for the first time at the possibilities in her future, and being able to do what she wants to do.

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan

Bronwen has always imagined that she is someone else, until she starts dating Jared. With Jared, she doesn't want to be someone else. As graduation approaches, Bronwen is given an opportunity to finally make her daydreams come true and be someone other than the person she has always been, but is it the right choice for her?

Can you think of other books that might fit on this list? Let me know in the comments!


LinWash said...

The only ones I can think of include that oldie but goodie 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES by Maureen Johnson. A tangential one is SABRIEL by Garth Nix. Sabriel is about to graduate, but is uncertain about the future. Having to rescue her father forces her to take on the family business.

Deborah Starling said...

There are so many books out there that I feel fit this category! This is such a good question :) I guess I will have to stick with a recent read of mine. It's book 1 of 3 in the Quicksilver Legacy Series by author Laura DeBruce called, "The Riddle of Prague" http://theriddleofprague.com/about/. The book follows leading lady 18 year old Hana Silna on her trip to Prague to reclaim her family home, "The Rockery." It seems that a lot of suspicion and mystery surround this home and a break in leads Hana to the discovery of an old notebook with a cryptic riddle and clues from an infamous alchemist about an elixir of immortality. Hana's family in Prague are all linked to this grand experiment of immortality and once they're kidnapped it's up to Hana to figure things out. It’s great to have a YA book series that entertains but can also take you around the world (I am a huge fan of travel!) and Laura DeBruce really makes you feel like you’re in the busy streets of Prague with Hana. I highly recommend! It is definitely a book that breaks the mold

E. B. Pike said...

So many great TBR ideas here! Love all the descriptions. :)