Top five? I have no idea how to pick so few! I did my best, although there are just too many good books out there to make a definitive list. I tried to choose some books that might not be on everyone’s favorite lists so maybe you’ll find a new recommendation. Enjoy!
1. “Isabel’s Bed” by Elinor Lipman: While not a YA book per se, this is one of the most romantic novels ever, and the hero and heroine aren’t exactly ancient. Elinor is truly a gifted writer, and while all of her books are simply perfect, this is one of my all-time favorite reads. It’s a love story set on Cape Cod, and it’s done in a way that is very realistic, lacks any kind of schmaltzy tone, and has an absolutely incredible cast of characters. Everyone who I’ve recommended this book to has adored it, and I guarantee that it’s a YA-pleaser.
2. “Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell: If you haven’t read Gone With the Wind, you are really missing out. It’s the ultimate love story saga, with plenty of characters to both love and hate (some simultaneously). I got in big trouble when I was reading this book because my family and I were on vacation in the lovely Swiss alps, and I could not tear myself away to admire the view from the car. Apparently I uttered something along the lines of, “If you’ve seen one alp, you’ve seen them all,” (which my parents later admitted was fairly accurate). This is a true all-ages book and absolutely holds up over time.
3. “Flowers in the Attic” by VC Andrews: An oldie but a goodie. Smutty, dirty, taboo, insane… it’s got all the classic draws for a juicy teen read. The plot is totally ridiculous, but I remember being absolutely glued to this book (and the whole series). There is no literary value here. Really. None. This series is so wrong, and yet so deliciously right.
4. “Heart on a Chain” by Cindy Benett: This novel by a fellow indie author really tugged at my heart and made me cry. Delving into sensitive topics such as child abuse, neglect, teen bullying, parental alcoholism, and drug abuse, this book will grip you from beginning to end.
5. “Beautiful Disaster” by Jamie McGuire: Another indie author! Beautiful Disaster is an older YA-ish contemporary that’s not your mama’s romance. It begins in a dank basement of a university building just as a secret floating fight ring is underway. The lead characters meet as the hero is wiping blood off the lead female character’s face, and it’s non-stop from there. The author disregards nearly every literary no-no, from the college-aged characters to the violence, underage drinking, and sex. Beautiful Disaster shows college life realistically and in a very raw form, and definitely goes beyond your typical page-turner. It becomes an obsession you must see to the end, and then you’ll want to do it all over again.