Sunday Salon: The Best YA Books You Haven’t Read

Kelly, over at YAnnabe, is a genius! Kelly came up with the fantastic idea of bloggers around the blogisphere getting together and posting “Unsung YA: The best YA books you haven’t read”all weekend long. Initially Kelly came up with my list from the books I’ve read, but often I don’t I list every book I read. I scanned my shelves and came up with a few favorites I love that I haven’t talked about.

The Screwed-up Life of Charlie the Second by Drew Ferguson. I found out about Charlie the Second from last year’s Nerds Heart YA tournament. Charlie is a seventeen year old boy who just wants to fit in and find a boyfriend. His parents aren’t getting along and to escape, Charlie spends much of his time playing soccer or by himself  since his best friend’s in a relationship. When Rob, the gorgeous new guy, pays attention to Charlie and evens like Charlie back, things starts to get a little complicated.

Many times this book made me laugh until I cried. The only book that made me laugh just as much has to be I Love You, Beth Cooper. Because this is a book from the point of view of a seventeen-year old, there’s many references to masturbation and sex. There’s also issues such as domestic violence and assisted suicide in the book.


Chameleon by Charles R. Smith. I saw this book on a few blogs last year but it was Jodie’s review of the book that made me pick it up. It’s a summer of change for 14 year-old Shawn. Though he spends his days with his three best friends in Compton, he lives in Carson with his mom, and spends every other weekend with his dad in a third city. In Compton he and his friends have to avoid gangs and Shawn has to watch over his alcoholic aunt who’s in charge of him during the day.  His parents has given him the choice of picking what high school to attend in the fall: the one that his best friends will be attending or a better school in his own neighborhood.

This is a great coming of age story. Shawn is an intelligent kid who just wants to have fun, spend time with his friends, and talk to Marisol, a girl he has a crush one. But being in a city full of gangs that’s not always easy for him to do and he learns a lot about himself. There’s some action but this is a character-driven story. The author does a fantastic job of getting the reader to know Shawn.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. Sometimes I read a book and realize that I’m going to have to re-read it before I can write a review. This is one of those books. Marcelo is a seventeen year-old kid who’s on the autism spectrum. Marcelo goes to a special school where he has the job of taking care of the horses. It’s a job he loves. His father, a lawyer with his own firm, has a different dream in mind for Marcelo. He wants Marcelo to be more “normal” so makes a deal with the teenager: work at the law firm for the summer. Do it successfully and Marcelo can go back to his school in the fall. Don’t do it successfully and Marcelo will be going to a school of his father’s choosing. Marcelo agrees and becomes a clerk in the firm’s mail room. Just like Shawn in Chameleon, the summer is one of change for Marcelo. This is a great coming of age story.

Last but definitely not least is Faith, Hope, and Ivy June by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. When Ivy June’s school decides to participate in a student-exchange with another school nearby, it’s Ivy June who volunteers and is picked to participate. Ivy June is from a poor county in rural Kentucky where many of the men work in coal mines. The other exchange student, Catherine, lives a different life than Ivy June. She’s used to running water in the house and an indoor bathroom. If someone in her family is sick, the hospital is a few miles away instead the whole county sharing just one doctor. Though they have their arguments, Ivy June and Catherine develop a solid friendship that goes beyond economic class and differences. Reynolds does a great job of showing readers rural Kentucky.

So that’s my list for four books about four very different teenagers. Are there any great YA reads that you think I haven’t read?

About Vasilly

Mother, daughter, sister, college student, bookworm, lover of chocolate and coffee.
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19 Responses to Sunday Salon: The Best YA Books You Haven’t Read

  1. bermudaonion says:

    I’ve added tons of books to my wish list because of this feature! All of your titles are new to me, so my list just grew even longer.

  2. Amanda says:

    I’ve wanted to read Marcelo for about six months now and finally got my hands on it.

  3. Kailana says:

    This is a really good idea. I have read Marcelo but none of the others.

  4. Pam says:

    Marcello in the Real World I have been meaning to read. Thanks for reminding me! The rest I will have to check out.

  5. JoAnn says:

    I want to read Marcelo in the Real World…love the cover, too!

  6. Lu says:

    Marcelo really is amazing. I haven’t read any of the other books yet, so I’m going to get those on my list.

  7. susan says:

    I’m might to do this. I can think of plenty of missed great reads.

    Thanks.

  8. bookgazing says:

    This tour was such a cool idea. I really need to pick up ‘The Screwed up Life’ this year and I absolutely think you should try ‘What they Always Tell Us’ of last year NHYA first round fame by Martin Wilson. It’s got sport, brotherly tensions, a just lovely mixed race gay relationship and this nice slow, flow about it.

  9. Ari says:

    Great list. I loved Marcelo in the Real World, it’s such a beautiful story. *sighs happily* Really enjoyed Chameleon and how we get to know Shawn so well. Charlie the Second sounds like my kind of book, i never saw I Love You Beth cooper. is the book funnier than the movie? I’m currently reading Blessing’s Bead by Debby Dahl Edwardson and I really like it. i’d also recommend Gringolandia by Lyn Miller-Lachmann and a Wish After Midnight by Zetta elliott.

    Awesome post on Bloomsbury by the way! You explain quite well why whitewashing is bad.

  10. Megan says:

    I’ve never heard of Chameleon. Sounds like one that needs to go on my wish list!

  11. susan says:

    I added mine. Ari, I didn’t put Zetta because I was thinking it’s just releasing w/Amazon so. I’m glad you mention it here. I was thinking older times.

  12. Kelly says:

    Yay! I’m so glad you could put together a list for this project.🙂

    I loved Marcelo but haven’t read the other 3. Onto the TBR they go!

  13. Anastasia says:

    TOTALLY adding The Screwed-up Life of Charlie the Second to my TBR list. It sounds fantastic!

  14. Ronnica says:

    Have you read In the Name of God by Paula Jolin? I really liked it!

    Thanks…added Marcelo in the Real World to my list!

  15. Joanne says:

    This is a great list! Lately I find the YA section of our local library highlights mainly paranormals, Gossip Girl stuff and fantasy. Your list seems to focus on the more realistic teen fiction that I think should be more visible in libraries and bookstores.

  16. Laura (Reading and Rooibos) says:

    Ooh, I’ve never heard of The Screwed-up Life of Charlie the Second or Chameleon before. Onto my to-read list they go! I’m currently reading Marcelo in the Real World and am enjoying that for the most part. Have you read Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time? Another great book written from the perspective of a kid with Asperger Syndrome.

  17. Michelle says:

    This is a fabulous list. I agree about Charlie the Second, I read it as part of Nerds Heart YA last year and enjoyed it. It was a book I wouldn’t ordinarily have picked up but was glad that I did once I finished reading it. I’ve heard such wonderful comments about Marcello and have it in my TBR pile, I’ve got to get on to reading that soon.

    Great list!

  18. Pingback: Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X Stork « Regular Rumination

  19. Pingback: Review: Marcelo in the Real World, Francisco X. Stork « Jenny's Books

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