As I’ve become more active on Instagram, I’ve realised that there are a lot of books out there that people need to read. So much so, that I’m creating a list in two parts. The first part, will cover Aussie authors that need more recognition. These authors are incredible and wonderful, and truly just need the spotlight on them a little bit more. The second part will be international authors that I’ve discovered that aren’t really talked about but NEED to be talked about. So let’s stop this chit-chattin’ and get onto it.
Underrated Australian Reads
THE LONG DISTANCE PLAYLIST by Tara Eglington
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Taylor and Isolde used to be best friends – before THAT FIGHT, 18 months ago. It’s been radio silence ever since – until Taylor contacts Isolde to sympathise with her breakup: the breakup that she never saw coming; the breakup that destroyed her confidence and ended her dreams of joining the National Ballet School.
Taylor’s had his own share of challenges, including a life-altering accident that has brought his hopes of competing at the Winter Olympics to a halt.
Isolde responds to Taylor, to be polite. But what starts out as heartbreak-themed Spotify playlists and shared stories of exes quickly becomes something more.
And as Taylor and Isolde start to lean on each other, the distance between them begins to feel not so distant after all …
A boy. A girl. A one-of-a-kind friendship. Cross-country convos and middle-of-the-night playlists. With big dreams come even bigger challenges.
INVISIBLE BOYS by Holden Sheppard
Genre: LGBT YA Contemporary
In a small town, everyone thinks they know you: Charlie is a hardcore rocker, who’s not as tough as he looks. Hammer is a footy jock with big AFL dreams, and an even bigger ego. Zeke is a shy over-achiever, never macho enough for his family. But all three boys hide who they really are. When the truth is revealed, will it set them free or blow them apart?
Invisible Boys is a raw, confronting YA novel, tackling homosexuality, masculinity, anger and suicide with a nuanced and unique perspective. Set in regional Western Australia, the novel follows three sixteen-year-old boys in the throes of coming to terms with their homosexuality in a town where it is invisible – and so are they. Invisible Boys depicts the complexities and trauma of rural gay identity with painful honesty, devastating consequence and, ultimately, hope.
IT SOUNDED BETTER IN MY HEAD by Nina Kenwood
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
When her parents announce their impending divorce, Natalie can’t understand why no one is fighting, or at least mildly upset. Then Zach and Lucy, her two best friends, hook up, leaving her feeling slightly miffed and decidedly awkward. She’d always imagined she would end up with Zach one day―in the version of her life that played out like a TV show, with just the right amount of banter, pining, and meaningful looks. Now everything has changed, and nothing is quite making sense. Until an unexpected romance comes along and shakes things up even further.
RISK by Fleur Ferris
Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
Taylor and Sierra have been best friends for their whole lives. But Taylor’s fed up. Why does Sierra always get what – and who – she wants? From kissing Taylor’s crush to stealing the guy they both met online for herself, Sierra doesn’t seem to notice when she hurts her friends.
So when Sierra says Jacob Jones is the one and asks her friends to cover for her while she goes to meet him for the first time, Taylor rolls her eyes.
But Sierra doesn’t come back when she said she would.
One day. Two days. Three . . .
What if Taylor’s worrying for nothing? What if Sierra’s just being Sierra, forgetting about everyone else to spend time with her new guy?
When Taylor finally tells Sierra’s mum that her daughter is missing, Taylor and her friends are thrown into a dark world they never even knew existed.
Can Taylor find Sierra’s abductor in time? Or should she be looking for a killer?
UNDERDOG edited by Tobias Madden
Genre: YA Anthology
Short tales from the Australian writers of tomorrow.
#LoveOzYA celebrates the best of new Australian writing for teenage readers. It has grown from a humble hashtag into a movement, reflecting the important role young-adult fiction plays in shaping our current generation of readers. This anthology collects, for the first time, some of the tremendous work from the #LoveOzYA community.
Featuring a foreword by award-winning Australian novelist Fleur Ferris (Risk, Wreck, Black and Found), Underdog celebrates the diverse, dynamic and ever-changing nature of our nation’s culture. From queer teen romance to dystopian comedy, from hard-hitting realism to gritty allegory, this brilliant, engrossing and inspiring collection of short stories will resonate with any teen reader, proving, yet again, why there is just so much to love about #LoveOzYA.
CATCHING TELLER CROW by Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezekiel Kwaymullina
Genre: YA Magical Realism/Mystery
Nothing’s been the same for Beth Teller since she died. Her dad, a detective, is the only one who can see and hear her – and he’s drowning in grief. But now they have a mystery to solve together. Who is Isobel Catching, and what’s her connection to the fire that killed a man? What happened to the people who haven’t been seen since the fire? As Beth unravels the mystery, she finds a shocking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town, and a friendship that lasts beyond one life and into another.
Told in two unforgettable voices, this gripping novel weaves together themes of grief, colonial history, violence, love and family.
Underrated International Reads
TRICK by Natalia Jaster
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
He’s a wicked jester. She’s a righteous princess. It’s forbidden love.
In the Kingdom of Spring, Poet is renowned. He’s young and pretty, a lover of men and women. He performs for the court, kisses like a scoundrel, and mocks with a silver tongue.
Yet allow him this: It’s only the most cunning and manipulative soul who can play the fool.
For beyond the castle walls, Poet guards a secret.
One the Crown would shackle him for. One that he’ll risk everything to protect.
Alas, it will take more than clever words to deceive Princess Briar.
Convinced that he’s juggling lies as well as verse, this righteous nuisance of a girl is determined to expose him.
But not all falsehoods are fiendish. Poet’s secret is delicate, binding the jester and princess in an unlikely alliance—and kindling a breathless attraction, as alluring as it is forbidden.
SCARS LIKE WINGS by Erin Stewart
Genre: YA Contemporary
Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn’t need a mirror to know what she looks like–she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her.
A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be “normal” again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends–no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever.
But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn’t have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn’t afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she’s going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.
ALL WE COULD HAVE BEEN by T.E Carter
Genre: YA Contemporary
Five years ago, Lexie walked home from school after her older brother failed to pick her up. When she entered her house, her brother sat calmly, waiting for the police to come arrest him for the heinous crime he had just committed.
Treated like a criminal herself, Lexie now moves from school to school hiding who she is—who she’s related to. She struggles with loving her brother, the PTSD she now suffers from, and wanting to just live a normal life. But how can she be normal when she can’t even figure out how to just live?
This is a powerful look at the assumptions we make about people. Lexie’s emotional journey to separate her brother’s horrific act from herself is stunning and heartbreaking. This is Lexie’s story and journey—not her brother’s—and it will stay with you long after you turn the last page.
THE MEMORY OF LIGHT by Francisco X. Stork
Genre: YA Contemporary
16-year-old Vicky Cruz wakes up in a hospital’s mental ward after a failed suicide attempt. Now she must find a path to recovery – and perhaps rescue some others along the way.
When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn’t be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had.
But Vicky’s newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up, sending Vick back to the life that drove her to suicide, she must try to find her own courage and strength. She may not have them. She doesn’t know.
Inspired in part by the author’s own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one – about living when life doesn’t seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.
HELLO, GOODBYE AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN by Jennifer E Smith
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan have only one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night leads them to family and friends, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?
Charming, bittersweet, and full of wisdom and heart, this irresistible novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that arise when life and love lead in different directions.