Contemporary Highschool Reads

Whether you’re returning in-person, online, or a mix of the two, September is back-to-school season. Check out some of these contemporary YA reads set in high school as you settle into your new school routine.

We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding

At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love and having a future that feels wide open.

Most Likely by Sarah Watson

Ava, CJ, Jordan, and Martha (listed in alphabetical order out of fairness) have been friends since kindergarten. Now they’re in their senior year, facing their biggest fears about growing up and growing apart. But there’s more than just college on the horizon. One of these girls is destined to become the president of the United States. The mystery, of course, is which girl gets the gig.

Is it Ava, the picture-perfect artist who’s secretly struggling to figure out where she belongs? Or could it be CJ, the one who’s got everything figured out…except how to fix her terrible SAT scores? Maybe it’s Jordan, the group’s resident journalist, who knows she’s ready for more than their small Ohio suburb can offer. And don’t overlook Martha, who will have to overcome all the obstacles that stand in the way of her dreams.

This is the story of four best friends who have one another’s backs through every new love, breakup, stumble, and success — proving that great friendships can help young women achieve anything…even a seat in the Oval Office.

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Athletic superstar Jordan Woods is the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. Her teammates, including her best friend Sam, all see her as their leader and one of the guys, and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

But everything she’s ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he’s also amazingly cute. Meanwhile, Sam is her rock — he supports Jordan’s dreams even when her traditional dad doesn’t — but suddenly things feel different between them. For the first time, Jordan’s feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart’s on the line?

The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World by Amy Reed

Billy Sloat and Lydia Lemon don’t have much in common, unless you count growing up on the same (wrong) side of the tracks, the lack of a mother, and a persistent loneliness that has inspired creative coping mechanisms.

When the lives of these two loners are thrust together, Lydia’s cynicism is met with Billy’s sincere optimism, and both begin to question their own outlook on life. On top of that, weird happenings including an impossible tornado and an all-consuming fog are cropping up around them–maybe even because of them. And as the two grow closer and confront bigger truths about their pasts, they must also deal with such inconveniences as a narcissistic rock star, a war between unicorns and dragons, and eventually, of course, the apocalypse.

With a unique mix of raw emotion, humor, and heart, the surreal plotline pulls readers through an epic exploration of how caring for others makes us vulnerable–and how utterly pointless life would be if we didn’t. 

Where I End & You Begin by Preston Norton

As punishment for breaking into their high school to watch the solar eclipse, Ezra, his crush Imogen, Ezra’s best friend Holden, and Imogen’s best friend Wynonna must perform in the school’s production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, but before the first rehearsal starts, socially inept Ezra and badass Wynonna wake up in each other’s bodies.

How To Build a Heart by Maria Padian

All sixteen-year-old Izzy Crawford wants is to feel like she really belongs somewhere. Her father, a marine, died in Iraq six years ago, and Izzy’s moved to a new town nearly every year since, far from the help of her extended family in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. When Izzy’s hardworking mom moves their small family to Virginia, all her dreams start clicking into place. She likes her new school–even if Izzy is careful to keep her scholarship-student status hidden from her well-to-do classmates and her new athletic and popular boyfriend. And best of all: Izzy’s family has been selected by Habitat for Humanity to build and move into a brand-new house. Izzy is this close to the community and permanence she’s been searching for, until all the secret pieces of her life begin to collide.