Happy New Year! YA Books About Starting Over

by REBECCA, January 1, 2014

Friends, it’s New Year’s Day! Today, some people are struggling through the first day of a new year of “giving up caffeine” or “working out” or whatever. Cough *suckers* cough. But why on earth would I do those things when I could read about other people making changes? Here are 10 books about starting over and making changes—may they inspire us all.

Same Difference Siobhan Vivian

1. Same Difference, by Siobhan Vivian

Emily is a girl from suburban Jersey who thinks she has her whole life planned: she’ll spend the summer sipping frappuccinos with her childhood best friend, then they’ll go to the same college. That’s until she attends a summer art program in Philadelphia and meets a whole group of people who share her love of art. She spends the summer learning about herself and realizes that she wants different things than she ever imagined. Check out the complete review HERE! and C&M’s interview with the lovely Siobhan Vivian HERE!

Beauty Queens Libba Bray

2. Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray

One contestant represents each state in the Miss Teen Dream beauty pageant. When the Miss Teen Dreamers’ plane crashes, stranding them on a desert island with nothing but the contents of their makeup bags and their wits, some rise to the occasion and some, well, friends, some sink. Throw in a global conspiracy, young love, the sun, and several tons of hair removal product, and Beauty Queens is one explosive read.

King of the Screwups K.L. Going

3. King of the Screwups, by K.L. Going

Liam has made it, as far as high school life goes: he’s handsome, stylish, popular, good at sports, and fun. But everything he does disappoints and infuriates his businessman father. When his father kicks him out of the house, Liam goes to live with his uncle, Pete. In a new school, Liam decides that maybe he can reinvent himself into someone his father could respect . . . an unpopular kid. But it turns out that being unpopular isn’t as easy as Liam hopes—in fact, it’s just one more thing for him to screw up. Full review is HERE.

The Truth About Forever Sarah Dessen

4. The Truth About Forever, by Sarah Dessen

After her father died, Macy was at sea and used her relationship with her über-practical boyfriend to feel safe. The Truth About Forever takes place over a summer in which Macy decides to stop playing it safe and start taking risks to be herself. Macy gets a new job at the chaotic catering company and enjoys late-night truth-telling sessions with Wes and lazy evenings with her new friends. Wes shows Macy that sometimes you have to learn to tell the truth to someone else to be able to see it yourself.

The Secret Circle L.J. Smith The Secret Circle L.J. Smith The Secret Circle L.J. Smith

5. The Secret Circle series, by L.J. Smith

When Cassie is forced to leave sunny California for the island of New Salem the summer before her junior year she thinks her biggest challenge will be to overcome her shyness and make new friends at a new school. Little does she know she will be caught up in something she doesn’t understand and end up fighting for her very life, bwah-hah-hah. Also, P.S., she’s a witch. HERE’s why you should read it!

If I Stay Gayle Forman Where She Went Gayle Forman

6. If I Stay & Where She Went, by Gayle Forman

After a car accident kills her parents and brother, Mia is in a coma with only her boyfriend, Adam, and her ipod connecting her to the world. As Adam plays her the music that means so much to her, we learn about the life Mia might be leaving and the choice that was in front of her: follow her passion to Julliard across the country, or stay with Adam on the West coast?

Teeth Hannah Moskowitz

7. Teeth, by Hannah Moskowitz

When sixteen-year-old Rudy leaves everything he knows to move to an island whose magic fish might be able to cure his brother’s cystic fibrosis he knows things will never be the same. What he can’t know is that he’ll meet someone who changes everything he knows about himself . . . and presents him with a life and death dilemma. How will Rudy choose between two people he loves? My full review is HERE.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children Kirstin Cronn-Mills

8. Beautiful Music For Ugly Children, by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Shy trans guy Gabe is a huge music fan (Elvis in particular) and an aspiring DJ. The summer after high school, Gabe gets the chance of a lifetime from his musical mentor, John: a chance at his own radio show, “Beautiful Music For Ugly Children.” Whereas in high school, Gabe was stuck as Elizabeth, hiding who he really was. On the air, though, Gabe is able to be himself and let his B-side play, inspiring others to do the same. Will Gabe have a new life as a DJ, or will haters get him down? My full review is HERE.

How I Live Now Meg Rosoff

9. How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff

Daisy’s family in Manhattan is falling apart, so she goes to stay with cousins in a ramshackle farm outside of London for the summer. Just as withdrawn, neurotic Daisy starts to warm to her cousins, London is attacked and war breaks out. Without any adults around, and with no power on the farm, Daisy and her cousins develop an extremely close relationship. But nothing this perfect could last forever, and as the war creeps ever closer, Daisy and her cousins’ lives will never be the same.

Openly Straight Bill Konigsberg

10. Openly Straight, by Bill Konigsberg

Rafe has been out since 8th grade, and it’s never been much of a problem for him. Except, he kind of always feels like people see him as “the gay guy”—even his friends. So, when he transfers to an all-boys school, Rafe decides not to mention that he’s gay. It’s not that he wants to go back into the closet or anything, just that he wants to feel like a normal guy. It’s a whole new life. But when he starts getting close to Ben, he realizes that starting over isn’t as easy as he thought it might be.

So, friends, I wish you a wonderful New Year, whether you’re starting over or only want to read about it!



  1. Margalit

     /  January 3, 2014

    Great post to start the new year!

  2. weheartya

     /  January 1, 2014

    Haha, to the last line. Great roundup!

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