Since Trump has taken office, close to two years ago now, our world, the world of the next generation has undergone changes that we, as a nation, had believed we’d already passed. In a nation pretty much developed from immigrants, Trump wasted no time in closing the US border to entrants from several nations, most being majority-Muslim nations in the midst of their own revolutions. White supremacy and issues of racism that we thought we have overcome have suddenly reemerged, no doubt having some correlation with the leader of our nation. Our youth, the next generation of entrepreneurs, engineers and supreme court justices are growing up in a time of change and societal unrest. And we are not the only ones affected or who care about this. I may not be a teenager, but I still read Young Adult books, but it is not how I remember it. YA as a genre has changed and is now a reflection of school shootings, racial inequality, gender inequality, sexual abuse, political corruption, internet privacy – everything that we have grown so accustomed to to the point that we look at it as the new norm in our nation.
We need only look at his reaction to the Charlottesville shooting that took place less than a year into his time in office: “not all these people were white supremacists by any stretch.” Trump’s defense of the ralliests at this event does not end there From his election, beginning with the 2017 Women’s March that took the streets of America to protest the treatment of women, to now, in the midst of the Kavanaugh trials, his view of women as the lesser gender as been made adamantly clear. Our 45th president, many of us who know him through degrading and dehumanizing tweets often slaying other nations, figures and ideas that do not parallel his own has no doubtedly changed America socially, culturally and politically.
The YA genre has, for one, developed from a genre about coming of age love and stomach flipping tales of first times. It has spoken into a different, darker reality at it has unfolded around us. We are seeing titles that speak to social issues and offer a streak of hope in a time of disillusionment. Since January 2017 YA has swept through bestseller lists and into readers hands, young adult and older generations alike. It is no longer the “lazy Sunday” or “beach read.” It has become a commentary on our world from a younger generation, seeking to change it. Here are some titles that have gotten us rethinking and questioning what has, since Trump’s 2017 inauguration, been unfolding all around us.
Here is a list of some of those titles that have gotten me rethinking the genre and you can bet, The Hate U Give is on the top… :
The Hate You Give, Angie Thomas (Feb. 28, 2017)
Starr Carter is a sixteen-year-old black girl growing up in Garden Heights, a predominately black neighborhood. She goes to a white school where she must become someone else. Her whole world collapses when she witnesses her childhood best friend shot and killed by a police officer.
Major themes: Racial Inequality, Gun Violence, Strong Female Character
Dear Martin, Nic Stone (Oct. 17, 2017)
Justyce McAllister does everything right. He gets good grades and is about to graduate at the top of class – typical Icy League material. But he’s black. He gets pulled over one day with his friend and before he knows it shots are fired and he finds himself in the midst of just another racial injustice – yet another tragedy.
Major Themes: Gun violence, Racial inequality
People Kill People, Ellen Hopkins (Sep. 4, 2018)
Each person has a reason to pick up a gun; each person feels that they could do “good” with it. But no one can, or will, they only think they can and will. When her father is arrested a young woman attempts to escape the country.
Major Themes: Gun Violence, White Supremacy
The Seclusion, Jacqui Castle (Sep. 4, 2018)
The year is 2090 and America has secluded itself from the rest of the world. One day, a woman named Patch and her coworker Rexx discover an artifact from the past that contains much history on America before the seclusion. This collection of texts sparks a desire for truth by any means necessary.
Major Themes: Political corruption, Strong female character
That’s Not What Happened, Kody Keplinger (Aug. 28, 2018)
Three years ago Sarah was killed in a bathroom stall at Virgil County High School. Everyone thinks she died for reasons of faith, but it’s a lie. It’s up to the narrator to make Sarah’s truth told, but so many people already see Sarah as a martyr so maybe it’s better to just keep it that way…?
Major Themes: School shooting, Gun control
The Other Side of Lost, Jessi Kirby (Aug. 7, 2018)
A novel about internet identity and the threats of social media comes the story of Girl Online and Wild. Mari Turner’s life is perfect online until she posts a video one day confessing that she is not the pretty, perfect, Ms. Wonderful happy-go-lucky gal. The video goes viral and she’s left with the consequences, ultimately leading her onto a journey of self discovery that breaks her online world.
Major Themes: Social media
A Girl Like That, Tanaz Ghathena (Feb. 27, 2018)
Zarin Wadia is a sixteen-year-old is a smart and motivated student, but she is also a feisty rebel. She is the girl that attracts eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia. This is the kind of relationship that is doomed from the start, and doomed is exactly how it ends when the pair is found dead in a car together in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Upon police arrival, everything everyone once knew about Zarin is reevaluated as multiple voices seek truth.
Major Themes: Sexual assault, Women as the “lesser gender”
The Radius of Us, Marie Marquardt (Jan. 17, 2017)
In ninety seconds the lives of Gretchen Asher and Phoenix Flores change forever, in every possible way. Flores finds himself living in a rundown suburb in Atlanta, finally making it across the U.S. Mexico border, leaving behind a drug and gang infested neighborhood in El Salvador. Gretchen, coming from a troubling childhood of gang life has been sexually assaulted and suffers from PTSD. Their first encounter is short and troubling; raw and deep, and through each other, ultimately heal.
Major Themes: Immigration, racism, gangs, sexual assault
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Erika L Sanchez (Oct. 17, 2017)
When Julia loses her “perfect” sister Olga in an accident it is on her shoulders to put the broken pieces of her family back together. Julia’s mother channels her grief by drawing on Julia’s flaws, evidently comparing her to Olga. However, Julia soon begins to uncover secret after secret of her dead sister, soon realizing that she may not have been as pefect as she made herself out to be.
Major Themes: immigration, gang violence
Love, Hate & Other Filters, Samira Ahmed (Jan. 16, 2018) –
This is a coming-of-age story that directly confront Islamophobia in America today. Seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is Muslim from India, but born in America. Her parents raise her to be their good Indian daughter which includes getting a good education and marrying an educated Muslim boy. But this is not what Samira wants. In her mind, she’s off studying film in New York City and falling in love with her childhood crush. Torn between the world of her dreams and reality she must ultimately make sacrifices to find where she truly belongs in the world.
Major Themes: Islamophobia, race, religion, strong female
If anyone has thoughts or any books you think I may have missed, leave me a comment below!
Book image credits go to Goodreads