Ah, June—welcome! The months of summer, and summer vacation (for those of us who get one), are upon us. And what better way to pass the time in the, often times, blistering heat that with a hot summer read?
And you all know comedic teen fiction is my genre of choice, so I’m giving you my personal recommendations for this month in said genre. Because young adult lit is where it’s at, and everyone loves a good laugh!
And, bonus points, all books on this list have strong female narrators—some sarcastic teenagers, too.
1. One Way or Another -Kara McDowell
The description and cover, taken from Goodreads:
The average person makes 35,000 decisions every single day. That’s about 34,999 too many for Paige Collins, who lives in debilitating fear of making the wrong choice. The simple act of picking an art elective is enough to send her into a spiral of what-ifs. What if she’s destined to be a famous ceramicist but wastes her talent in drama club? What if there’s a carbon monoxide leak in the ceramics studio and everyone drops dead? (Grim, but possible!)
That’s why when Paige is presented with two last-minute options for Christmas vacation, she’s paralyzed by indecision. Should she go with her best friend (and longtime crush) Fitz to his family’s romantic mountain cabin? Or should she accompany her mom to New York, a city Paige has spent her whole life dreaming about?
I’m notorious for not reading the descriptions before diving into a book/movie/tv show and the like. It just makes the decision too difficult to make in whether or not to actually read it, so I just make snap choices and say, hey, it’s listed under my genre, and the cover looks pretty—let’s try it!
And I mention my decision-making process for a very specific reason with this one.
I figured out pretty much from the beginning that the main character, Paige, gets terrible anxiety over making decisions, even the smallest ones. I don’t blame here; I mean, when we really think about it, every small decision we make contributes to our lives as a whole, every day.
I also figured out pretty quickly, though, that this whole book is kind of split in between two big decisions, called ‘Fate 1’ and ‘Fate 2’, and I actually got really confused because, at first, it seemed like Paige chose to go to NYC instead of Colorado (I think that’s where the mountains/cabin were, but I could be totally wrong) because she was on a plane and flying there, and I said okay, cool, she made her choice. But then ‘Fate 2’ came along, and we were suddenly with her longtime best friend/crush on the way to the snowy mountains and I was like, uh, I thought she picked option A, not option B???
But, dumb me, I didn’t read the book description, which clearly said “…Paige’s life splits into two very different parallel paths”, one path to New York and one to the mountains. Oh well, I eventually figured it out, and then I thought it was even cooler that the whole book explored these two possible lives based on the big decision!
In turns of comedy, I actually didn’t think this book was all that funny, per se. It was kind of meant to be a rom-com, and I definitely got the romantic vibes, but there weren’t any parts that made me laugh out loud. Don’t get me wrong, though, I still loved it, and I even gave it a 5-star rating on Goodreads… mostly because the ending got me super emotional, and I stayed up late just to listen to the last hour of the audiobook because I felt the feels coming on.
Even though this book is based around Christmas… I mean, come on, it can be snowing and Christmas all-year round for me, so don’t let that deter you from choosing it as a summer read! If anything, think of it as a vacation from your vacation, like, when it’s above 100 Fahrenheit and you can’t possible get any more sweat out of your pores.
2. Homeroom Diaries -James Patterson and Lisa Papademetriou
The description and cover, taken from Goodreads:
Margaret “Cuckoo” Clarke recently had a brief stay in a mental institution following an emotional breakdown, but she’s turning over a new leaf with her “Operation Happiness”. She’s determined to beat down the bad vibes of the Haters, the Terror Teachers, and all of the trials and tribulations of high school by writing and drawing in her diary. And when life gets really tough, she works through her own moments of uncertainty through imaginary conversations with her favorite literary characters.
Cuckoo’s also got a nearly impossible mission: she, along with her misfit band of self-deprecating friends (who call themselves “the Freakshow”) decide to bridge the gap between warring cliques and “bring the Nations together”. Not everyone is so willing to join hands and get along, but Cuckoo never stops smiling… until one of her closest friends, pushed to desperation by a Hater prank, decides that enough is enough.
Listen, I’ve never actually read a James Patterson story before. Beat me to a pulp if you want. So, this was my first one, and I was kind of drawn in just by the fact that, well, it’s got Patterson’s name on it, and I was completely unaware he was dealing in the humorous teen fiction genre!
Now, I have to say that I can only speak for the audiobook, as that’s my medium of choice and the choice I went with in reading this book; however, I heard that the physical book is full of drawings and illustrations, so I would maybe check that version out if I were you.
It’s no secret that this is a ‘dear diary’ sort of story, and it’s actually very short, probably because of that. It’s kind of something you could honestly read in one sitting, and I like that, seeing how I can’t stick to finishing a book if it takes longer than a week to read! So, for anyone interesting in picking up this summer… I’m thinking beach day read.
As for the story itself, it actually deals with a lot of heavy topics, like mental health, death of family members, and suicide, so trigger warning on all of that. They didn’t include such a warning on the description of the book, either, so this really surprised me when I got into listening to it, as these things come up pretty much right away… not that I would have read the book description to get the warning in advance, but you get my point for the sake of everyone else.
The story gets told by Cuckoo, who has mental illnesses herself, though she doesn’t let these ‘labels’ affect her, and she keeps a good sense of humor with her group of friends, dubbed ‘the freakshow’. Overall, it really is just a story of teens surviving high school, which I’ll be honest and say I do think is kind of basic, but the heavy topics laced in make it not so boring, and there were a few places where I gasped or went, oh, god.
It’s got some good humor, too, and I did laugh in places, so I think it can stay in our comedy genre, especially with the sarcasm of the main character—I like her.
3. Spontaneous -Aaron Starmer
The description and cover, taken from Goodreads:
Mara Carlyle’s senior year is going as normally as could be expected, until—wa-bam!—fellow senior Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period pre-calc.
Katelyn is the first, but she won’t be the last teenager to blow up without warning or explanation. As the seniors continue to pop like balloons and the national eye turns to Mara’s suburban New Jersey hometown, the FBI rolls in and the search for a reason is on.
Whip-smart and blunt, Mara narrates the end of their world as she knows it while trying to make it to graduation in one piece. It’s an explosive year punctuated by romance, quarantine, lifelong friendship, hallucinogenic mushrooms, bloggers, ice cream trucks, “Snooze Button™,” Bon Jovi, and the filthiest language you’ve ever heard from the President of the United States.
What can I say… this book is my kind of humor.
Mara is the perfect female teenage narrator—from 1 to 10, her sarcasm is a 99, and she jokes about everything we’re not supposed to joke about. Like, for example, kids spontaneously blowing up in the high school hallways, leaving blood splatters all over the lockers and your face.
Honestly, this book had me laughing out loud… a lot. Like, I listened to the audiobook (of course) while I was cooking most of the time, and I remember laughing so much at one point that I couldn’t cut a potato straight without slicing my thumb up. Yeah, it really was that funny.
Besides having the perfect protagonist, this story also thrives on the fact that it’s so unique. I mean, how many books have you read in the past year that dealt with human spontaneous combustion? It’s certainly a plot line I never would have thought of, and that’s saying a lot. And you probably think I’m thinking too highly of myself by saying that, but it’s true—I have an awesome imagination, and I know it. And this author one-uped me on this one, and I’ll admit it.
This book is really pure teen comedy, and I have nothing more to say about it, so just check it out for yourself!
Oh, and by the way, it’s also been adapted into a Hulu original movie, which I’ll definitely being checking out soon, too. Stay tuned with my blog here when I post a book-to-movie comparison!
And a bonus book…
Yep, I was not about to let you guys go without a blurb about this.
Waking up in a deserted Wisconsin woods surrounded by masked members of a family witch-gang at three a.m. on a school night? Check. Becoming captured by a deeply demented elder alongside the one member of society that you probably despise the most? Yep, check. Emma Lenford’s life hasn’t been this heart-stopping since she spotted Jon Bon Jovi’s tour bus at the local 7-Eleven.
Emma Lenford is truly the unluckiest 17 year old on the planet. She keeps her sense of humor, though, through this series of seriously ill-fated situations. Her life is basically a sit-com where one traumatic thing after another befalls her, and it’s all out of her control. She’s constantly kidnapped, held at gunpoint, and even arrested for things she honestly didn’t even do.
So, what now? Giving an impromptu lip-syncing to Cher on stage in front of hundreds just to escape the clutches of a satantic cult? Bring it on, nothing new for Emma Lenford.
Once you’ve ran out of things to read this June, give the Emma Lenford series a try. It’s seriously hilarious… and it’s a series, so it’s basically like the laughs never end. And, bonus points… it’s got a sarcastic female teen lead, just like these other to-reads!
You can get the first book in the series, What Now, Emma Lenford? as a FREE (yes, really—FREE!) ebook from basically any online retailer, like Apple, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.
This book is also now available in audiobook format—click here for those links.
Okay, now that this list has been exhausted…
Let me know what you think/thought of any of these June reads!
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