With back-to-school season right around the corner, it’s time to start getting in the mood for bulging backpacks, questionable cafeteria food, and forgotten homework panic. High off the sun and summer break, it’s easy to forget real life isn’t your favorite teen movie, where insta-popularity awaits anyone who simply takes off their glasses. High school is tough for many people all the time, and everybody some of the time, and it can be especially tough when you feel like you’re on the outside looking in. But you don’t have to be alone in your high-school struggles! Here are 5 outsider stories to remind you it’s okay to not fit in with the in crowd.
The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, by Kate Hattemer
This hilarious novel set in a fancy private high school tells the story of a group of outsiders who take on the popular reality show that’s taken over their school. While Ethan has his circle of friends, he still feels left outside thanks to everyone’s obsession with the kids starring in the reality show. But when his best friend ditches him for the completely evil and shallow show, Ethan spirals, feeling even more alone, confused, and misunderstood. But at the end of the day, he proves outsiders can make a big difference.
Sophomores and Other Oxymorons, by David Lubar
The sequel to Lubar’s laugh-out-loud hilarious Sleeping Freshman Never Lie, this book continues the tale of Scott Hudson as he enters his sophomore year. He may have spent freshman year learning to deal with bullies and trying to get a cute girl to notice him, but that doesn’t mean he’s got everything all figured out. In fact, life is even crazier and scarier now that he has a new baby brother to deal with. But at least we have faith he’ll handle it all with his trademark charm and heart. (Hits shelves August 18.)
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, by Barry Lyga
Sophomore year is tough, particularly for Donnie, aka Fanboy, who seems to be the constant target of bullies’ attention. He’s an outsider—a comic book geek who doesn’t fit in at his jock-run school. And he gets bullied for it, yes, but this book is about more than just bullying. It’s about finding your place and your people even as an outsider. When he meets kindred spirit Krya, aka Goth Girl, he starts to wonder if maybe he really could hope for a little more. At times a little dark, it’s also funny and full of geeky references.
Life by Committee, by Corey Ann Haydu
Tabitha is an outsider who used to be an insider. So not only does she have to deal with classmates who can be way too cruel, she also has to face the loss of her former best friends, who now treat her like that girl. An insider perspective of what it means to get that label and how it affects the choices you make, this story will give you all the feels, as Tab figures out how to take control of her own life for a change—with a dangerous pit stop in an online community that runs on real-life dares.
Guy in Real Life, by Steve Brezenoff
With two outsiders at its center, this book is a sure hit for anyone who has ever felt they had to play a certain role in life. Told from alternating perspectives, it tells the story of two teens, Lesh and Svetlana, who have a fateful run-in late one night. Lesh is your classic metal-listening, black-wearing, MMO player, while dungeon master Svetlana loves to embroider. Sure they have their own friend circles, but they’re also stumbling around the fringes, trying to figure out who they are and find their place in the world.