Top YA and Middle Grade Picks of 2017

This is by far the easiest category, so of course it’s what I’ll start with. Most YA books I either fall in love with or they irritate the buh-jeezus out of me (I’ll spare you the details). It’s safe to say that each of the books listed below I’ve fallen in love with, and many of them are easy to read and rather compelling.

In no particular order, I give you the best of Young Adult Fiction:

They Both Die at the End by Adam SilveraTurtles All the Way Down by John GreenThe Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola YoonThe Hate U Give by Angie ThomasAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire SáenzA Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. MaasWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera is a -phenomenal story of two young people finding their way in the world as Death Cast reveals that today is their last day to live. With less than 24 hours to make the most of it, Mateo and Rufus, although to young to have to be thinking about what they want to do before they die, embark on the wildest adventures they can think of. This novel hit me right in the feels, and although I knew they were destined for death from title of this book, I still ended up in tears.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green is a heartwrenching tale of a young girl living with OCD. Aza and her best friend begin digging into the case of a billionaire gone missing, and as Aza knew the billionaire’s son from their early childhood, Daisy decides the best thing for their search would be to cozy back up to the billionaire’s son. I found John Green’s approach to Aza’s story, particularly her coming to terms with living with mental illness to be compelling. And again, I’m pretty sure I ended up in tears.

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon takes place over the course of a single day. Natasha and Daniel share this book, although each gets their own perspective, and their insight is impeccable. Yoon brings together and tears apart these two strangers throughout the day, until by the end an outsider might have thought they’d been friends for far longer. This book was yet another sob-fest; I’m sensing a theme.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas brings readers a close to home take on police brutality. Thomas’s writing is incredibly modern and incorporates a lot of popular lingo. Her writing style is extraordinary for this type of fiction, and I found myself really feeling alongside Starr as she experienced the before, during, and aftermath of police brutality. This kind of raw perspective is so important to share with a wide audience, and I’m in awe of Thomas’s work. Not an easy read in terms of subject matter, but her writing flowed so effortlessly, Thomas had me hooked.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (2012) by Benjamin A Saenz is about two boys who meet one summer. I’m having a hard time describing this book in any words other than sweet, innocent, and heartbreaking-yet-warming-at-the-same-time. This book gave me hope, and left me feeling so warm inside. Saenz takes these boys through some rough patches, and does an excellent job of exploring emotions without directly describing them. His writing is simple and elegant. I loved it. (98% sure this was also a crier.)

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas was one of my most anticipated books of 2018, and it did not disappoint. Maas took me on a roller-coaster here, with the third novel in her series that began with A Court of Thorns and Roses. For a while I was a little mad that there will be a fourth installment, as I was anticipating the conclusion to this series that has been a long time coming. As she revealed the title of the fourth, however, I found myself fully anticipating my upcoming read.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon is a simple and sweet story of an arranged marriage, which you could be thinking is an oxymoron. However, Dimple is not one to choose an arrange marriange, and makes that very clear to Rishi from the start. As they begin spending time together, they just might find they have more to like about each other than Dimple initially thought. Menon does a wonderful job of building up characters and breaking down stereotypes, and I would 100% read her future novel.

(Quality over Quantity) Middle Grade:

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

As Brave as You (2016) by Jason Reynolds is a compelling tale of two young brothers from Brooklyn who find themselves spending three weeks of their summer down in rural Virginia with their grandparents, and they’ve got a lot to learn. Southern culture can be a bit of a shock, but fortunately they’re able to make a friend pretty early on. This story tackles a lot of family turbulence, and emotions and learning lead the way for Genie and Ernie as they grow. Although a bit lengthy, this novel was well worth the read. It would make a good read aloud book, too, if you’re looking for something to read to an elementary student.

2 thoughts on “Top YA and Middle Grade Picks of 2017

  1. I thought The Hate U Give was amazing! I wanted to like Dimple Meets Rishi a bit more than I did (it’s sweet but lacked real conflict). I really want to read the new John Green, I’m hearing such great things.


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