1. The Mockingbirds
To Kill A Mockingbird is one of the most beloved books in America. I've yet to meet a person who doesn't love that book. There's a balance of Truly Great Characters and Right v. Wrong that's impossible to ignore. With her debut novel The Mockingbirds, Whitney pays tribute to the great classic by not only tackling a heavy issue (date rape) and having justice always at the forefront, but also by the obvious and wonderful references to the classic that are sprinkled throughout the book. Though The Mockingbirds stands very well on its own, it works much better if you've read To Kill A Mockingbird beforehand. In either case, an incredible book with a great message, story, and characters.
Heidi R. Kling
Oh, Sea. One of the most unique and original premises I've come across in a long time, this book is definitely one-of-a-kind in the best way possible. Kling manages to not only write a wonderful tale of grief and love, but also weave together one of the best cross-cultural novels out there. With an emotional connection that's impossible to ignore and an incredibly atmospheric setting, Sea is one of those books that I genuinely wish everyone knew about. It's just that great.
3. The Naughty List
In one of the best subversions of stereotype, Young's The Naughty List mixes cheerleaders, espionage, and cheating boyfriends to create one of the sweetest books yet. With its sugar-sweet heroine, shades-of-grey questions of morality, and omg spies!!, this is not only refreshingly original, but also just plain awesome.
4. Tweet Heart
Told primarily through tweets, Rudnick's debut Tweet Heart is a cute story with a premise old as time (the old boy-likes-girl-who-likes-another-boy thing) and a cast of characters that are wonderfully quirky. I'm a sucker for stories told in interesting ways and the online drama of Tweet Heart is both adorably awkward and wonderful. Plus, you guys, there are just so many Star Trek references. (Never doubt my geek cred.)
5. I Now Pronounce You Someone Else
The story of a high school girl who gets engaged and spends her senior year planning a wedding, I Now Pronounce You Someone Else tackles a subject rarely mentioned in YA, and it does it well. Not only is the love story super incredibly wonderful, but the realism and pain of the situations that our protagonist finds herself in is handled really well. This novel covers not only teen marriage, but also the complex world of family dynamics, and what it means to be yourself versus what it means to be an Us. A story that I highly recommend.
Have you read any of my top 5 picks? If so, what did you think of them?