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by Angela Maria Hart

I have mentioned before that I favor Young Adult literature. I recently read The Boy Next Door, Magnolia, and What You Left Behind.

The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark

The Boy Next Door is for fans of skating, romance, and young adult literature. The book’s tagline is, “What hurts more: falling on ice or falling in love?” I grew up figure skating and I always enjoyed watching The Cutting Edge. The Boy Next Door is what I would imagine a teenage version of The Cutting Edge to be.

Maddy and Gabe grew up next door to one another and skated together for years. Maddy and Gabe are a figure skating pair couple but they are not a couple off the ice. I enjoyed the fact it was a book about skating more so than anything else. If you know of any other books that revolve around figure skating or ice skating, in general, please recommend a few because I would love to read more of them in the future.

Magnolia by Kristi Cook

Magnolia by Kristi Cook is a book for anyone who loves YA romance. While their parents have been hoping for them to get together for years, Jemma and Ryder never quite saw it that way. Jemma openly dislikes Ryder, complaining about him to her friends on numerous occasions. However, when a devastating storm comes to town, the pair are forced to spend time together.

Jemma and Ryder have been next door neighbors for years; their families are best friends and have been for generations. The two families get along very well and so Jemma and Ryder were always thought to be the ones that were going to unify the family trees. While their families are pushing them together, Jemma and Ryder did not necessarily see it that way; Jemma more so than Ryder. Kristi Cook made this an anti-Romeo & Juliet story. Rather than have the two families trying to desperately keep these two individuals apart, they are trying to force them together in the most awkward scenarios imaginable. The families are pushing them together so often, and have been for years, Jemma looks at Ryder with disgust at times rather than a potential boyfriend.

Cook also did something different in regards to how she broke the book down; instead of having chapter headings, she had scene headings. She paid homage to her inspiration of Romeo & Juliet in that way; it is very rare that you see that in books because they know that they are not supposed to be plays. I appreciated her doing something rather unique because it differentiated this book from other YA romances on the shelf. Having it broken down into acts and scenes was a nice detail for me.

What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

A very different take on teen pregnancy. This YA contemporary novel differentiates itself from other books on the shelf by providing a different perspective and storyline on an unexpected teen pregnancy. Ryden’s girlfriend, Meg, stopped her chemotherapy treatments in order to have their daughter, Hope. Throughout the novel, Ryden is coping with the loss of his girlfriend and his newfound fatherly duties.

Verdi was able to construct a narrative that differed from the typical scenarios that readers have come to expect in regards to teen pregnancy. Ryden’s girlfriend, Meg, had cancer and before she entered chemo, again, it turned out she was pregnant with their baby. The book did not glorify the scenario. Ryden ended up having to deal with a lot of issues in regards to working, balancing school, learning what he can and cannot do having a child. Verdi did not write with rose-colored glasses. She was able to make the reader realize how much difficulty Ryden was facing; he was always exhausted, he had a lot on his plate and so he would snap at other characters in various scenes and so the reader had to take that with a grain of salt because he had so much going on. He was bound to be upset, eventually, and so I think Verdi was able to capture his characterization quite well in that sense.

If you are a YA lover like me, these are some books you should consider adding to your “to be read” list.