Grown-Up Books For YA Readers

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When I write the reviews on this blog, I mostly imagine that I’m writing them for a teenage audience. I want them (or should I say you, dear reader) to read a review of a book I’ve chosen to write about and feel some sense of connection with it.

I also know that this isn’t always the case. There are many people out there (myself included) who read a lot of YA but are not teens. The stereotype that adults who read mostly YA do so because adult books are “boring” is one created and perpetuated by the community, who joke that books for adults are only about men cheating on their wives. Look, they’re not wrong, but they’re also very much not right. Once you start reading contemporary books by women aimed much more squarely at my own age range and older with characters of the same age, you tend to uncover more. Am I going to keep reading about teenagers having problems at school and falling in love for the first time? Sure, but I want to show in this blog post that there are fantastic contemporaries out there in the wilds of the general fiction section of the bookshop.

The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. 

I knew this book was going to be good, but I was really unprepared for just how good. The lives of these twins, their children, and the people around them, wind together so easily, it’s such an emotional book.

How Do You Like Me Now? Holly Bourne

There’s no doubt that Tori is winning the game of life. A straight-talking, bestselling author, she’s inspired millions of women around the world with her self-help memoir. And she has the perfect relationship to boot.
But Tori Bailey has been living a lie.

This is probably the easiest on the list to use as a transition book, because Holly also writes contemporary YA. If you loved those, you’ll love this!

Queenie, Candace Carty-Williams

Queenie Jenkins careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

This is one for the twenty-somethings trying to make it in a creative industry (and, uh, not really making it). It hits close to home, but it’s so compellingly readable, I really loved this one.

In At The Deep End, Kate Davies

Julia hasn’t had sex in three years. Her roommate has a boyfriend—and their sex noises are audible through the walls, maybe even throughout the neighbourhood. Not to mention, she’s treading water in a dead-end job, her know-it-all therapist gives her advice she doesn’t ask for, and the men she is surrounded by are, to be polite, subpar. Enough is enough.

This book is hilarious, and it also has a lot of heart – and a lot of chaos. Like the lesbian Bridget Jones, but maybe funnier?

Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.

I’m here to tell you that you absolutely can read a Booker prize winner, you can do it, I believe in you. I got this out from the library after Bernardine’s win, and I was prepared to give it a try and take it back unfinished, no hard feelings, it’s not you it’s me, etc. Except, that didn’t happen. I couldn’t put it down, it’s an incredible book.

Daisy Jones and the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Taylor Jenkins Reid

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the real reason why they split at the absolute height of their popularity…until now.

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life.

Both of these books are stunning, I want whatever Taylor Jenkins Reid writes next injected into my veins; she might be one of my current favourite writers. They’re both books about fictional famous people, but they’re so convincing that if if I found out they were real people I’d believe it in a heartbeat.

Marian Keyes

I tried to pick one book for the Marian Keyes recommendation section of this post, but I really couldn’t. You like YA boyband lit? Pick up The Mystery of Mercy Close for “middle aged boyband tries to stage reunion but one of them goes missing” goodness. Books where the heroine runs off on a wild adventure? Read Angels for a shot of “abandoned my life and husband to run off and stay with a friend in LA”. You enjoyed Juno Dawson’s Clean? Read Rachel’s Holiday for a less salubrious but no less entertaining read about rehab.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

I very luckily got to read this book early, so, when it took off, I got to sit there smugly and say I told you so. And now I’m telling you. Even thinking about this book makes me feel warm inside.

Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want To Come, Jessica Pan

When she found herself jobless and friendless, sitting in the familiar Jess-shaped crease on her sofa, she couldn’t help but wonder what life might have looked like if she had been a little more open to new experiences and new people, a little less attached to going home instead of going to the pub.
So, she made a vow: to push herself to live the life of an extrovert for a year. She regretted it instantly.

I have a very low tolerance for cringing when something awkward happens to a fictional character on TV or in books, so I wasn’t sure if I’d like this book or not, but I loved it. I have a note saved in my phone which simply reads “Ma’am, this shrub is pregnant.” Which cheers me up whenever I think about it or come across it, because it’s such a laugh-out-loud scene in the book.

Normal People, Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation – awkward but electrifying – something life-changing begins.

Just in case you haven’t got around to it yet.

I hope you enjoyed this post and it expanded your TBR a little, maybe even a lot!

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