In genres like fantasy or sci-fi, it seems like every book out there is one in a set. Not so in contemporary, where the standalone is king, and sometimes the best you can do for more of your favorite characters is log on to a fanfic forum. However, there are exceptions to that rule, and they’re some of my favorite contemporary titles in YA. So next time you’re headed out for a weeklong vacation and don’t know what beach books to pack, any one of these series will have you covered.
Ruby Oliver Quartet Series, by E. Lockhart
Lockhart is probably best known for either her Printz-nominated feminist YA par excellence, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, or her recent New York Times best seller We Were Liars. But as much as I loved both, this four-book series will always hold the most special place in my heart. It’s a fantastic and nuanced exploration of teenage feelings, behavior, and mental health (complete with therapy sessions throughout), as well as a realistic and healthy look at relationships and sexuality.
Jessica Darling Series, by Megan McCafferty
Okay, I am admittedly cheating here, because technically this series was published as adult and lasts into the main character’s twenties, but disregard that. Because the first two books, both set in high school, are such a wonderful, insightful, layered peek at adolescent best friendship, confusing romance, the pain of missing, and the feeling of not fitting into your own skin that they’re essentially YA staples. Jessica Darling was the first character I ever read who made me think, “That’s me. In a book. There I am.” And that’s a magical thing.
Secrets of My Hollywood Life Series, by Jen Calonita
A particularly great series for younger YA readers, the six books follow actress Kaitlin Burke as she struggles with life in the public eye. While she does love acting, she also craves all those things that come along with being a teenager, from a real school experience to an even realer romance. The series presents a nice balance of both sides of celebrity, as well as different areas of the trade (a later book has Kaitlin doing a Broadway show), and does so with plenty of insider info.
Confessions of Georgia Nicolson Series, by Louise Rennison
Not to date myself or anything, but when I was in high school, the amazing collection of books we now categorize as YA wasn’t quite as huge a Thing. I did, however, absolutely love British chick lit, and I love this series for being YA’s closest approximation to it. Georgia’s voice is warm, funny, and at times utterly absurd, and you get plenty of it over the course of these 10 great books.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series, by Ann Brashares
The first book in this series might be over 10 years old, but the stories of friends with different lives, loves, and paths still hold up plenty well (and the recent cover rebranding doesn’t hurt). Whether you’ve already read them or have just seen the movies, there’s never a bad time to check in again with this foursome and their magical denim.
What’s your favorite YA series?