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Young Adult Books & After High School

When I first picked when I Was Here by Gayle Forman (my review) a few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the main characters had graduated from high school with one of them attending a college away from home and the other going a completely different route. I realized that I’ve always been surprised when young adult characters are in college and it’s not because it doesn’t fit into the “criteria” for young adult books but because there are so few of them.

In writing this post, I found myself googling: What is young adult literature? (This is almost laughable since it’s the primary category I read so you would think I would know, but, technically, I find it hard to explain.) I really liked this explanation from Michael Cart on the ALA website:

The term “young adult literature” is inherently amorphous, for its constituent terms “young adult” and “literature” are dynamic, changing as culture and society — which provide their context — change.

…young adults are beings in evolution, in search of self and identity; beings who are constantly growing and changing, morphing from the condition of childhood to that of adulthood. That period of passage called “young adulthood” is a unique part of life, distinguished by unique needs that are – at minimum — physical, intellectual, emotional, and societal in nature.

Frankly, I can’t think of a greater period of evolution in your life than the unknown associated with life after throwing your caps in the air and waving goodbye to high school. For me, personally, the summer after graduation and the years that followed led to some of the best, most difficult, super strange moments in my life so it’s cathartic to see them on the page, relive them again with a bit more life experience under my belt and realize, well, hey, that sucked but I’m here and I’m okay.

So today I’m applauding the books that tough upon the messy complications of college, navigating a life with high school friends and the new ones you are going to make, and, perhaps, what happens if your life moves you in a different direction — one that isn’t filled with books and beer pong and sharing a room with a stranger.

(Our options are truly endless.)

The best part in creating this list is that a good majority of these titles have been floating under the radar. Nothing makes me more excited than giving them a bit more attention in sharing them with you. PLUS a nice chunk of these are 2015 releases, making it, I think, a pretty exciting year in YA lit. I hope you find a few to add to your own reading list, and think up a few that I can add to mine.

Rather Be Reading Blog Beyond High School Young Adult Book List


I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Amplified by Tara Kelly | Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty | Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Girls in Pants by Ann Brashares | How to Love by Katie Cotugno
I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios | Love, Lucy by April Lindner

Roomies by Tara Altebrando & Sara Zarr | Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard | When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

99 Days by Katie Cotugno

Thanks so much for stopping in today! I had a blast with this one.
(It’s very rare that a list like this contains so many of my favorite books. ♥)

March 22, 2015 - 11:48 pm

molly @ wrapped up in books - I love this list. There are a bunch more of these out there, and I love lots of the “just after high school” or “beginning of college” stories. I feel like there are so many stories to explore at this time in life. I’m with Emma — I wish “new adult” would evolve into more of this instead of the romance/erotica/fanfic-y stories that seem to dominate that category. I need to read more of these.

I also love that you linked to that YALSA white paper. I was just discussing how dated it is, but still relevant (if that makes sense) with a group of YA librarians.

March 15, 2015 - 12:16 am

Retrospectively Reading (13) | The Reading Shelf - […] “Young Adult Books & After High School” @ Rather Be Reading: As a college student, especially one who’s been struggling with a lot of anxiety due to college, it’s great reading about characters going through similar problems, and so I definitely want to check out some of the books on Estelle’s list that I haven’t already read. […]

February 21, 2015 - 9:27 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - Still a bunch of these I need to read (and some that I own!) but all of the ones I’ve read, I’ve loved. I really enjoy the moments after high school. I honestly think that’s the time I did most of my growing up and where I changed the most as a person so I’m starting to latch on to more post-HS and college stories! :)

February 8, 2015 - 5:26 pm

Vlora @ Reviews and Cake - OMG THANK YOU. I didn’t even know I needed this, but I DO. I love Young Adult mucho, but I mostly find books on the “younger” end of young adult, as in teenagers who are usually 16-17. If I had never heard of the genre before, I’d assume that young adult books are about young adults as in people between 18 and their early twenties. I guess New Adult is supposed to fill that gap, but I haven’t really read any new adult books yet, and most I’ve heard of didn’t really appeal to me. Anyways, I’M in my early twenties and at university, so I’d absolutely love to read some young adult books with characters of a similar age. I read Fangirl and I LOVED it. I’ll check out all of the other books you mentioned – I’m sure I’ll find something to put on my to-read list. Thanks for putting this list together!

February 4, 2015 - 11:14 am

Elizabeth - The first book I thought of when I saw this topic was Something Like Normal… loved that one! I’m really curious about I’ll Meet You There and Breathe Annie Breathe.

February 4, 2015 - 6:13 am

Natalie @ Flowers in my Books - I’ve got to be honest, when I read YA I rarely think about whether the MC is in College or High School. In fact I think I only just realised that Fangirl is YA and set in College and it’s one of my favourite books.

I definitely like it when the characters are a bit older, since I’m turning 18 in a few months it’s nice to read about the college experience and know that that’s what I’ll be doing soon (although probably not as dramatic as some books make it out to be).

Thanks for this post, I’ll definitely be checking out some of these books on GoodReads! :)

February 3, 2015 - 11:49 pm

Bruna - Oh, that’s nice idea! When you’re a bit older, reading about college experiences resonate more, at least that’s how it works for me. Not that I don’t enjoy the high school novels, but yeah, college is definitely more of a self-discovery period. I’ll be adding some books from this list to my tbr.

February 3, 2015 - 10:23 pm

Alexa S. - Love this post, E! It’s always a pretty great thing, in my opinion, to read novels that feature characters fresh out of high school about to go to college. And the suggestions in this post are really good ones too! I’ve read a good number of them, and can totally vouch for them 😉

February 3, 2015 - 4:25 pm

Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity - Thank you for this post. It’s so nice to see a post with YA books that are set beyond High School, because sometimes you want a YA read, but you’re just not feeling the high school scene. It’s good to see a bunch of different books which approach life after school, because that period of time is messy and complicated and it’s not like you magically go from high school to real adult, there should be more of that awkward finding yourself middle period of life that seems to last forever.

February 3, 2015 - 10:53 am

Emma @ Miss Print - I love this list! These are the types of books that I wish comprised NA instead of just romance. I always call these books “emerging adult” titles in my head lol. It’s also a murky area where sequels like The Piper’s Son or Megan McCafferty’s later novels in (maybe after Second Helpings?) follow YA characters out of high school.

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I’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil • Estelle Reviews

II’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: 1/27/2015
Publisher: Soho Press
Pages: 272
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: historical fiction, 1960s, music business, racial issues
Format read: ARC paperback provided by Soho Press. (Thanks!)

Summary: The summer after high school graduation and her start at Columbia, JJ gets a job working for a small music publisher with the hope she can make her dreams of making music come true — with or without the support of her lawyer parents.

JJ Greene is kind of the black sheep in her uber successful family and not because she isn’t smart (she graduated from high school at 16 — two years early). Both her parents are lawyers and her older brother is following the same track. JJ has always been fascinated by the music business and writing her own songs for as long as she can remember. Instead of spending the summer filing at her mom’s law office, JJ gets a job working for a music publishing company where she’ll be doing admin but also have a chance to share her music with the owner.

It’s no surprise that JJ’s family shies away from the music biz; JJ’s mother is estranged from her own brother, also in music, but a no-good gambler who has been known to take the credit for other people’s work. Luckily, her family agrees to drop the law talk for the 3 months that JJ will be working for Good Music Publishing. If she can’t get one of her songs recorded during her time there, she promises to never bring up music again.

Her gig at Good Music Publishing is definitely an eyeopening one from her rekindled relationship with her Uncle Bernie (a secret from her mother), her late night jamming sessions with Dulcie, an ex-music star and current office cleaning woman, and her crush on the green-eyed boy she always seems in the elevator. For the first time ever, JJ is able to connect with people over music and not feel like she is silly for loving it so much. While her knowledge of the business grows, so do her own talents.

But a surprising wrench thrown into this feel-good book manifests into a whodunit subplot that I was not expecting. I didn’t mind it, and it kept me guessing (I almost guessed right) but it also made a few of the puzzle pieces click a bit too precisely into place for me. I’m Glad I Did certainly illuminated the rougher sides of musical success and didn’t steer away from the complexities of interracial relationships. While the book felt a bit on the younger side of young adult, I enjoyed my quick trip to 1963 New York City and following along as JJ experienced one memorable summer.

Bonus: I could easily picture I’m Glad I Did as a stage musical (think Hairspray meets Memphis!). Someone get on this!

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February 3, 2015 - 10:20 pm

Alexa S. - I’m Glad I Did sounds pretty delightful, and that cover is great! I love that you said it would make a stage musical; that totally makes me want to read it even more.

February 3, 2015 - 2:42 pm

Tiff @ Mostly YA Lit - YES. OMG, it would be perfect as a musical. That mystery…and the characters. Perfect.

I would definitely say it’s a library read – I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t wowed.

February 2, 2015 - 5:53 pm

Emma @ Miss Print - This book is one that totally slipped my radar. I heard about it around BEA time last year, assumed it was published since then and forgot about it. I was surprised to realize it was still waiting for its release date. This sounds like an interesting historical though. Thanks for the review!

February 2, 2015 - 12:55 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I’ve been curious about I’m Glad I Did. I’m glad that you liked this, and I will definitely be looking for it at the library. The set up sort of reminded me of Beautiful, which I saw this summer.

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It’s a Wrap | Adios January

How is it January 31st already? Are you thinking this too? Wow. One quick month to kick off 2015; that’s all we gotta say. Together we’re reeling from the post-sads after our epic it’s-been-over-a-year reunion in Disney World a few days ago but also looking forward to a big February.

Ears? Check! Reunion? Double check. So excited to be a part of @magan’s first ever WDW trip.

A photo posted by Estelle (@thatsostelle) on


Anyway. As we dab all our tears…

We’ve always enjoyed the end-of-month posts at spots like Perpetual Page Turner, Hello, Chelly, Paper Riot, and The Book Addict’s Guide and since our “shelve its” aren’t as frequent as we would like, we’re joining in the fun this year. We can’t have you forgetting our favorite books now. We just can’t!

shopping list musts

Rather Be Reading January Favorites

Magan’s Picks: Love, Lucy by April Linder | All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Estelle’s Picks: The Boy in the Brown Suit by Jason Reynolds | 99 Days by Katie Cotugno (Preorder this one!)

what to click

summing it all up

Buy It:

Make It Last by Megan Erickson
Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
Disneylanders by Kate Abbott

Borrow It:

Love & Other Theories by Alex Bass
Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols
Beneath Beautiful by Allison Rushby
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Love on the Lifts by Jill Santopolo
Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman (also a #DiversityDive title!)
Twisted Fate by Norah Olsen
Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Worth It:

The Marriage Charm by Linda Lael Miller (a giveaway with this one!)

Free Writing:

To Have and To Discard
When You Relate to a Character You Dislike
What If I Could | #Tuck40th

Monthly Features:

Pub Date (Life By Committee and Reading Resolutions)
Little Kids Table: Magan’s Winter Favorites

don’t forget!

What were some of your favorites in January? Let us know in the comments.

Here’s to a great month! ♥

February 2, 2015 - 10:43 am

chloe - I’ve never been to Disney World but I’ve always wanted to go! It sounds like you guys had an awesome time. I’ve been seeing All the Bright Places around a lot lately and it looks super intriguing. Hope you have a great February :)

February 1, 2015 - 6:55 pm

Alexa S. - Happy to see a monthly wrap-up from you ladies! And even happier to know you guys were reunited AND that the reunion happened at WDW 😉

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What If You Could | #Tuck40th

Tuck Everlasting Blog Tour #tuck40th

Happy 40th anniversary to Natalie Babbitt and the brilliant Tuck Everlasting! I can still remember the impact this book had on my 6th grade class when we read it for the first time. After years of school and piles and piles of books, there are only a few titles that really stick with you, aren’t there? So it’s nice to see that Tuck has touched so many and will continue to do so.

In the spirit of the book’s anniversary, the folks at Macmillan have asked us to mull over the following question:

What if you could live forever?

At first glance, the prospect of living forever sounds so attractive. The thought of no longer existing is frightening and avoiding that kind of unknown might seem like an appealing alternative but what happens when all the people you love continue to leave you — over and over again? It’s the kind of heartbreak no one would wish on themselves.

There’s something about a finish line. Even if we don’t have an exact date and time, limitations are important. It’s easy to put things off until the next day when there’s no urgency. We do it all the time in our daily lives, but imagine not having that kind of boundary ever. Could an overabundance of lifetimes make us less motivated? Less focused?

So man of those inspirational quotes we hear time and time again are about the shortness of life, how we must live for today because the future is never a sure thing. Not everyone takes this to heart. We all know that life comes to an end eventually but that doesn’t change the fact that some people are motivated to make the most of it and others are not. In fact, I find that instead of wishing for a life that goes on forever, I’m hoping for the wonderful days to stretch a little bit longer and for a little more ease when it comes to planning time with family and friends.

Would it be nice to see my future kids grow up to be grandparents or see if we ever ride hovercrafts to work? If newspapers and print media stick around or what the next best thing is after the internet? A small selfish part of me wishes I could experience it all (or pop in whenever I feel like it) but I’m okay knowing that I won’t.

I want to live quality days, every day. I want to remember to appreciate the special moments. And most importantly, I wouldn’t have to live a life where I had to be any less open, or less likely to connect with others because of a secret circumstances like everlasting life.

About TUCK EVERLASTING (from Macmillian): Blessed with—or doomed to—eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less of a blessing than it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.

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Tuck Everlasting 40th Anniversary -- #tuck40th

The new 40th edition of TUCK EVERLASTING released on January 20, 2015 with a foreword from Wicked author Gregory Maguire.

Be sure to check out #Tuck40th for more tour stops!

February 1, 2015 - 6:54 pm

Alexa S. - “I want to live quality days, every day. I want to remember to appreciate the special moments. And most importantly, I wouldn’t have to live a life where I had to be any less open, or less likely to connect with others because of a secret circumstances like everlasting life.” – This is such a beautiful way of putting this sentiment, E. Love, love, LOVE it. And I feel the same way!

January 30, 2015 - 2:33 pm

Cassie (Happy Book Lovers) - I ADORE this book, and it’ll always be one of my favorites! I almost went to the signing but my train got stuck, and I ended up missing it! But I totally agree with your answers. It’d be cool to see stuff, but I’m okay having an ending to my life. :)

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Geek Girl (#1) by Holly Smale • Magan Reviews

Holly SmaleGeek Girl (#1) by Holly Smale [twitter • website]
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 384
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: teenage modeling career, best friend drama, strong family ties
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Harriet Manners doesn’t fit in. She’s a geek. She can spout of random knowledge, but when it comes to standing up for herself and knowing how to talk to her peers, she’s lost. On a class trip, she’s discovered by a modeling agency, and she hopes it will change her life for the better. (But imagine the hurt since this has been her best friend’s dream since she was a small child.)

• • •

If there’s one thing Harriet knows for sure, it’s that she’s different from her classmates and she doesn’t really fit in. This becomes blatantly obvious when someone sharpies “GEEK” on her backpack. For a 15 year old girl, it sucks to stand out and be different. Harriet’s proud of her knowledge, but she just wants to know when all of bullying will end and she’ll find her place in the world.

She’s got an oddball dad, an obsessive stepmom, and an extremely loyal best friend. Well, loyal until Harriet is offered the chance of a lifetime and steals her best friend’s dreams right out from under her feet. Harriet is “discovered” in a shopping mall to become the hottest new teen couture model. Though she knows this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and her friend has every right to be mad, she’s also desperate to stop being such a dork and to have this great defining moment in her life.

Harriet is silly and smart and will make you laugh out loud. Her dad is obnoxious, bordering on goofball (as I think most 15 year olds feel their fathers are). And while stepmoms seem to not always have the best reputations, I saw this one as a shining example (though I wasn’t at first convinced of it because she can be pretty demanding). There’s friendship and loyalty, strong family ties, and incredible relatable moments that bring back memories of when there was nothing you wanted more than to fit in.

Geek Girl is definitely on the younger side of my young adult reading, but it was also kind of nice to mix it up. (I do wish some of the silly language from her modeling agent would have toned down throughout the book; his constant pet names felt excessive.) At its heart, this was a simple story about a smart teenage girl just trying to make it through, and I am really looking forward to seeing Harriet grow up a bit as the series continues on.

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April 14, 2015 - 8:00 am

Dive Into Diversity Family Series: Stepfamilies - […] Geek Girl. This book falls on the younger side of my reading, but it also seemed to explore the earlier days of Harriet’s stepmom being part of the family. I don’t recall how long it’s been since Harriet’s dad remarried, but I loved getting to see her develop such a strong affection for her stepmom and no longer seeing her as an outsider. […]

February 1, 2015 - 6:53 pm

Alexa S. - I agree about Geek Girl reading a little younger, M! I thought it was pretty fun, and definitely entertaining though, and I’m glad you felt similarly.

January 30, 2015 - 12:55 am

Kim - I definitely like books that make me laugh out loud! Great review, and I’ll be checking this out soon.
Kim @ Divergent Gryffindor: BLOG || VLOG

January 29, 2015 - 12:17 pm

Missie - I have seen this one around – I am glad you said it was on the younger side of YA so that I was prepared for that!
Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

January 29, 2015 - 10:56 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I really had a hard time getting into this one, and never finished it. It’s not that it is younger YA because I love books for all ages. I just wasn’t connecting to Harriet at all. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood frame.

I’m glad you enjoyed this for the most part, even though it wasn’t amazing.

January 28, 2015 - 9:04 pm

L.C. Spoering - This sounds pretty cute! And I can’t resist a teenage geek girl with glasses, in memory of the one I once was. :)

January 28, 2015 - 3:42 pm

Emma @ Miss Print - I hadn’t heard about this one until I saw your review but it sounds like a lot of fun. It sort of reminds me of the plots for Violet on the Runway and Love and Other Foreign Words–but if those two books were mashed together.

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The Marriage Charm by Linda Lael Miller | Review & Giveaway

The Marriage Charm by Linda Lael MillerThe Marriage Charm by Linda Lael Miller ( web | tweet )
The Brides of Bliss County; Book 2
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Pages: 304
Target audience: Adult romance
Keywords: friendship, old love, cowboys, small towns
Format read: ARC provided by Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)

Summary: Melody and Spence have a second chance if they are willing to take it.

I really like that this romance series revolves around three best friends who are looking out for each other when it comes to finding happily ever after. Some of my favorite parts of this book was when Melody was freaking out about her feelings for her first love, Spence, and sent out a call to her girls for some honesty and comfort. They were always there to provide it and make a little fun of her too. (Humor is so necessary during these rough times.)

Melody and Spence have a history. After making a fool of herself with him once long ago, she doesn’t want to risk putting herself through that a second time. But have the years between them made it possible for a second go round to be an actual possibility? That’s what these two people are trying to figure out. Sure their chemistry is oh so good but can they learn to trust each other again?

I’ve noticed a lot of romance novels can drag out these kinds of stories so I was impressed with how tightly written this one was… even with a bit of a mystery side plot thrown in. After a tough few weeks, it was so nice to lose myself in this love story between a great couple and between a lovely group of pals. (Other bonuses: three cats and it is really funny when the main character talks to herself.)

Another Miller winner and another love letter to quirky small town living! (I really want to visit a ranch.)

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Big thanks to the lovely people at Little Bird Publicity who are offering up a copy of THE MARRIAGE CHARM to one lucky U.S. reader! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

February 1, 2015 - 6:52 pm

Alexa S. - The Marriage Charm sounds absolutely delightful, E! If I were to pick a celebrity to star in my romance novel, it would be… Chris Hemsworth. Sorry, not sorry.

January 28, 2015 - 8:55 am

Leah - HA. This time I knew better than to comment before entering the giveaway! Hands down, Tom Hardy, but only if I got to be the love interest :D!

Also, again, you totally had me at cowboy.

January 27, 2015 - 12:06 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I’ve never read anything by Linda Lael Miller but I am curious. I should definitely look into this one. I love when a lot of focus on strong female friendships. That’s the best. And as someone who talks to herself a lot, I think I would love that aspect, too. :)

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