"It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache."
That is the opening to Laurie Halse Anderson's work of brilliant, contemporary YA fiction, SPEAK. Twenty simple words. And those twenty simple words strung together in perfection changed the way that I read and write. I'd always read voraciously and from a vast variety of genres, both fiction and non-fiction, adult, young-adult, whatever I could get my hands on. But several years ago, after reading a huge wave of paranormal young adult fiction, I got my hands on a copy of Speak and with those words, my love affair began.
The words felt real. Melinda Sordino was real. I realized how powerful a story could be, without having any otherworldly creatures, or the fate of the entire world resting on the shoulders of a single sixteen-year-old. There were realistic stories dying to be told, and I couldn't get my hands on them fast enough. Sarah Ockler's TWENTY BOY SUMMER kept me up all night with a lump in my throat, sobbing with each page I turned. Megan McCafferty's Jessica Darling series (beginning with SLOPPY FIRSTS) had me crying with laughter at Jessica's clever wit and sarcasm. Halfway through John Green's LOOKING FOR ALASKA, I literally threw the book across the room, composed myself and then ran to go and pick it back up.
These stories didn't need love triangles with vamps and werewolves, or a zombie Apocalypse. They were based on reality and were beautiful and painful and gritty all on their own. And that is what I love so much about Contemporary Young Adult works. I love immersing myself in an imaginary world just as much as the next person, and still appreciate and enjoy all of the paranormal works just as much as I always did. But give me a story with hope and heart dealing with real life situations and you will win me over every time.
I hope that you'll join myself, and fellow authors Kelley Vitollo, Jolene Perry, Kaylee Baldwin and Kelley York on our new blog devoted to all things Contemporary YA: For the Love of Contemporary. We have a fab giveaway set up to mark our launch and so many exciting interviews, future giveaways, upcoming release recommendations and so, so much more planned! We'd love to get to know all of you and discuss some amazing authors and books!