The realistic characters edition – the contemporary corner

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening friends! How are you? I hope your week has been lovely. I’m once again back with another post filled with recommendations from my ultimate favorite genre in the young adult category…contemporary!

the-ya-contemporary-corner

If there’s something I love about contemporaries, it’s the characters. The ones I want to love and hug, the ones I feel like I know from the bottom of my heart because they are just so well-developed and three-dimensional. I love when that happens so, so much, so I thought today will feature a couple of books with great characters I love and found very relatable, whether it’s because we share experiences or feelings, or just it felt REAL. Click on the book covers to be redirected to Goodreads.

Some realistic characters in YA contemporary

I guess this is because I’m lucky enough to be reading an early copy of the next book by this author that I first came up with this title. But it’s also because Aristotle and Dante has a wonderful story, shaped by diverse, incredibly three-dimensional and ALIVE characters, with all of the complexities any teenager has, and ways of thinking that are so relatable just as well. And I love myself great characters.

Keywords: Three-dimensional characters, family, growing-up, slow-paced.

Read my full review here.

The Serpent King is one of these surprises you don’t expect: it was silent, it was slow, it was yet very interesting to read because the characters were shaping, evolving and changing along with events and, well, life happening to them. Once again, this is a contemporary I’d heavily recommend if you love your stories character-driven.

Keywords: friendship, faith, hope, growing-up, tragedy.

Read my full review here.

Alice Oseman may be one of my favorite, underrated or at least not talked about enough on the blogosphere. I think she really has talent to shape characters that feel real, alive and with struggles we can easily relate to– or at least I could in Frances, that girl with two faces depending on who she’s with, so much more than she appears to be.

Keywords: school pressure, identity, diversity, friendship.

Read my full review here.

Highly Illogical Behaviour is one small book, but it is oh, so wonderful. Dealing with anxiety, characters with their own quirks and trail of thought that is sometimes a bit annoying, other times completely realistic and relatable, especially when it comes to dealing with agoraphoby -well, from my point of view, I thought it was very realistic, and I love it.

Keywords: FRIENDSHIP, mental illness, realistic characters, hope.

Read my full review here.

isla and the hapilyIsla and The Happily Ever After has to be one of my favorite contemporaries. It’s sweet, cute, and obviously makes you smile if you’re into this kind of story, but what I appreciated the most -besides the male character being way too adorable-, was how relatable Isla was. I could see so much of myself in her, which made this story so interesting to read, and obviously made me feel for this so much more.

Keywords: CUTE, romance, Paris,ย  realistic relationships (both friendship and romance)

Read my full review here.

๐Ÿ“ย  For more YA contemporary recommendations, check out my previous posts in the series:

Did you read any of these books? Do you have any favorites with characters you loved/can relate to, a lot? Share the books in comments! ๐Ÿ’ฌ

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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. ๐Ÿ“š |๐ŸŒ | ๐Ÿ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

92 thoughts on “The realistic characters edition – the contemporary corner

    1. Well I could not resist, and you are always giving me great advice -bookish or not- so โค I have to admit I am a bit nervous about readng Zentner's new book, it sounds so heartbreaking I don't know if I am ready for it haha. I think I might wait to hear your thoughts about it before getting it ๐Ÿ˜€

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      1. I will be ready at your service with info on Goodbye Days without spoiling of course. I pre-ordered it, but I also got approved for it on netgalley, so you can be sure to expect hearing from me on the matter before the release ๐Ÿ˜€

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    1. Aww, well I hope you’ll be able to read Isla soon – it is my favorite in the whole series, maybe because I related to the character so much, and the relationship felt very realistic to me, in the way it evolved with time. I hope you’ll love it ๐Ÿ™‚

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  1. I’ve only read Aristotle and Dante from this list but it is one of my favourite books ever ๐Ÿ’–. I’ve seen highly illogical behaviour around but I never realised it was about anxiety, which is something I struggle with, so I’m definitely going to pick it up now. I love reading about characters who have the same problems as me because I feel 100% more connected to them! Great list!

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    1. I’m so glad you love Aristotle and Dante, it is such a beautiful book, I agree โค I really hope you'll want to read Highly Illogical Behaviour: I thought it was such a realistic portrayal of anxiety and panic attacks, moreover the friendships and relationships were all A+! I hope you'll love it! Thank you so much! โค

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  2. The only one of these I’ve read is Isla and I liked it but not as much as I liked the first book, I really want to read the Serpent King I keep hearing amazing things about it. A character I found related is Cath from Fangirl her anxiety was spot on at least it was relatable to me and Fangirl is one of my favorite books.

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    1. I really hope you’ll read The Serpent King! It’s such a beautiful story, with wonderful characters, complex and so real ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh, well…can you believe I haven’t read Fangirl? I should probably hide in a dark corner somewhere in shame, haha. I’m so glad you found it so relatable, maybe I should bump it at the very top of my TBR ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you so much!

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  3. Oh this is a great subject for the Contemporary Corner Marie. I love it when books have great character development and really make you feel something for the characters as well. There have been books which I really haven’t ended up enjoying simply because the character development wasn’t well done at all and I couldn’t connect with them.
    I love Ari and Dante, that book was one that was all about the characters so it was important they were well developed, still it’s an amazingly written book. It’s the same with Isla and the Happily Ever After and Highly Illogical Behaviour, both are amazing books with amazing characters.
    I haven’t read the other two but I have them on my to-read list, and now I’m really excited to get started on them! ๐Ÿ˜€

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    1. Oh thank you, Beth, I’m so happy you liked it! I agree, I have read so many books that were promising, and ended up falling a bit flat only because I couldn’t connect to the characters too much. This always makes me sad :/
      And you should read both of the books you haven’t read, especially Alice Oseman’s book. I LOVED IT so much ๐Ÿ˜€

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      1. That’s all right, and I think in some ways the characters are a more important aspect than the plot. I’ve read books with so-so characters I haven’t enjoyed but I’ve read books with so-so plots I’ve loved simply because the characters were amazing.
        I’ll be sure to move them both up my to-read list in that case! ๐Ÿ˜€ โค

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  4. Thanks to this post, I have now added three more books into my TBR. I don’t know if that’s positive or not, but thanks, hahah.
    Ari & Dante is definitely one to remember when talking about relatable characters. Ari is a character that I can relate a lot; he struggles with opening his heart to others, but he also wants his parents to express themselves more, so he lives in this paradoxe for a long time. I think the reason why I love this novel so much it’s because of how inspiring it is. These characters are so alive I feel like they could jump out of the pages!
    I hope this gets turned into a movie soon! It seems, to me, like a story that would be very appealing to watch as well.
    Great post, Marie! And thanks for the recommendations!

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    1. Well…more books is always a good thing, isn’t it? Even if it takes us years to get to them haha ๐Ÿ™‚
      Are there any plans to turn Aristotle and Dante into a movie or something? I completely missed that news, but I’d be ALL for it ahah. Thank you so, so much Lais! โค

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  5. I love contemporaries! Honestly, I don’t read that many of them, but I think they’re really good! I’m probably going to spend the summer catching up on them. I also have a contemporary that I want to read, but I saw it at the bookstore and forgot the name of it? XD Yes! If contemporaries are done right, the characters are great and the plot is awesome and everything fits well!

    I’ve heard of the Serpent King (but thought it was fantasy???) and Highly Illogical Behavior, but OOH Isla and the Happily Everly After sounds awesome too!

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    1. Haha, well…what was the book about? Who knows, with my superpowers I might be able to guess? (or not. I’m probably fooling myself into thinking that right now hahaha)
      AND THANK YOU for saying that, I SO thought that The Serpent King was fantasy just as well, for soooo long before I read a review about it, and realized nothing about it was fantasy haha. I hope you’ll want to read it, it’s fantastic! โค And THANK YOU so much!! โค

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      1. Well. I remember it was about a boy who was popular but couldn’t remember people’s faces, and then there was another girl who… uh… did stuff. XD Oh, the cover was white, with blue marbles on it. Maybe? IDK. XD
        It sounds like fantasy, but it seems interesting that the author would choose a fantasy-type title for a contemporary… Hmm… XD
        YOU ARE WELCOME! ๐Ÿ˜€

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      2. Isn’t it Holding Up The Universe, by Jennifer Niven? What you’re describing reminds me of that book…If I am right, call me the master of guessing books hahahaha.
        It does, I swear I expected it to be some kind of fantasy book with snakes and stuff and well… I wasn’t too keen on reading that until I discovered that I was completely wrong haha.

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  6. Such a wonderful post!! Agree with you so much about how wonderful the characters were in Serpent King- and yes they evolved so much over the course of the book- it was beautifully done. And I also found Isla so relatable. And yes, that book made me smile so much!! it’s definitely my favourite in the series (even though apparently that’s not a popular opinion) Great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thank you so much!! โค I think it's not a popular opinion either, ahah, I don't know why – I think some people found Isla a bit annoying, but to be honest for me that's what made her so real, her hesitation and nervousness and overall…I don't know, I could relate to her that way but I can understand some people couldn't love her as much. Thank you! โค โค

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      1. You’re welcome!! ah know right- yeah I’ve heard the same thing- but, I agree with you- it was the fact that she didn’t know what she was doing and didn’t have everything figured out that made me warm to her. Yeah I get it too- but I just related to her way to much ๐Ÿ˜‰ You’re welcome! โค โค

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  7. I’ve been meaning to buy Aristotle and Dante for a long time but I dunno why I don’t. It seems to be my kind of contemporary YA and just reading the title brings to mind long philosophical babbles of teenagers that I don’t mind reading at all!

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    1. Hahaha, well you SHOULD buy it, I am sure it’ll be your kind of read, because that’s exactly it. A story about teenagers and how complex life and feelings and just everything about it really is, mixed up with fantastic, realistic characters and a lovely, simple yet poetic writing style. I hope you’ll love it ๐Ÿ™‚

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  8. I’ve only read Isla and Ari & Dante and I am completely with you on them! The characters from both books, especially Ari & Dante, are some of my favorites. They really are some of the most relatable characters I’ve read. Another book where I’ve found the characters to be really realistic and relatable is Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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    1. Ohh, well you are the second one to tell me you found Fangirl relatable – maybe it’s time I read it. I am way too late on that hype train, I feel kind of ashamed about it haha. Thank you!! โค

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      1. You should so read it! Seriously, for me it’s probably one of the contemporaries I related to most just because of the MC. I hope you enjoy it whenever you do get around to it. And don’t feel ashamed, we all get to books at different times. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’•

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  9. The only book I haven’t read on this list is Radio Silence and I want sooo bad to change that! I’ve heard so many good things about it ahaha and I agree with you! The Serpent King is one of the best character driven novels I ever read and the characters are so amazing. I also love Sol from Highly Illogical Behavior and I relate SO MUCH to Isla! Reading Isla was like being back in high school, I was that insecure girl back then (still is, to some extent hahaha) ๐Ÿ˜› another character I relate to is Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series. I looooove those books so much โค

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    1. Ohhh yes, well you should put it at the very top of your TBR. Radio Silence is such a wonderful book, and I love how it emphasises on friendships โค
      Oh yes, I really like Lara Jean just as well – even if I can't relate to her now, my teenager-self really can ahah ๐Ÿ™‚

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  10. I’ve read Aristotle & Dante and absolutely loved it. It’s one of my favourites. Highly Illogical Behavior is on my TBR list. My WIP features an MC who suffers from anxiety and I’ve heard this book portrays anxiety really well so it’ll be good research for me ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Ohhh best of luck for your WIP! Highly Illogical Behaviour definitely is great research, I found that its portrayal of anxiety was so on point, and the characters were just so relatable.I hope you will love it! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  11. Radio Silence and The Serpent King were added to my wishlist because of you ๐Ÿ˜€ I still have to check Highly Illogical Behavior and see if I agree with the portrayal of agoraphobia ๐Ÿ™‚ Great recs my Sweechie!!!

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    1. YAY! I hope you’ll read them soon, they are both so, so great. And I really wish that you’ll like Highly Illogical Behavior, I thought it felt realistic, though I can’t speak for all of the aspects of agoraphobia, I could relate to some of it ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you my sweechie!! โค

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  12. Yes, characters are such an important part of a story! In fact, I think to me personally, they may be the most important. If the characters don’t feel real or multidimensional, chances are I won’t like the story.
    I love your choices! I read Ari and Dante, Highly Illogical Behavior and Isla and I completely agree that the characters in these books feel super real and relatable. I’ve heard so many good things about both Radio Silence and The Serpent King so I’m hoping to get to them soon ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Same thing here, if I really feel too distant to the characters, I have a hard time loving a story too much.
      Thank you! I hope you’ll read both of these books soon, they are very, very good โค

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  13. omggg I relate SO MUCH to the first 4 books on your list.๐Ÿ˜ I can’t even get over how beautifully perfect Ari & Dante were or how much I just adored The Serpent King crew. It’s amazing when books like stop being books and just start being another life we’re living. I LOVE BOOKS SO MUCH AHHH!!!

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  14. Though these are only on my TBR, this is such a great list (I only know this because a great consensus seems to love these titles as much as you do)! I recently added Benjamin Alire Sรกenz’s upcoming book to my TBR as well since I’ve heard it’s one without a romance. (And those are always so refreshing to read.)

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    1. Thank you so, so much, Summer! โค I agree that books without romance are refreshing – I love reading romance, but it's great when the focus is more on friendships and family at times, and Saenz's upcoming book definitely emphasises on these aspects ๐Ÿ™‚

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  15. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Haven’t read any of these. I once got Ari and Dante for a friend, since I went to the US and wanted to bring him a gift. Contemporaries used to be my go to ‘relaxed reads’ before got sucked into Historical Romances XD. I used to LOOOVE Elizabeth Scott’s contemporaries, back in 2011 when I’d just started reading, then I went through all Susan Colassanti’s books and :0 Awesome!. Now my favs are Kasie West and Emery Lord.

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    1. Hahaha, well…I think blogging has this crazy ability to turn us away from our usual reads and make us fall in love with new genres. I hope you’ll want to read a couple of these ๐Ÿ˜€
      I really enjoy Kasie West, well I only read one of her books for now, but I liked it. I have yet to read an Emery Lord book, but I got my eye on When We Collided for…like, months haha. I hope to read it soon! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  16. The only one of these books that I’ve actually had the chance to read is The Serpent King, and to be honest, I don’t remember ever reading a book before that one that gave me quite so many feels. The characters in that novel felt so realistic it was almost like I knew them personally. Definitely going to have to pick up some of these other books (considering I already own them all!), because you made them sound incredible.

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    1. I am so happy you loved The Serpent King so much – I just loved how real the characters felt too, I haven’t felt that way for many, many books. I hope you’ll read and love the other ones I recommend, they are all beautiful ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you so much Kelly!

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  17. I loved Ari & Dante and Highly Illogical Behavior! I was a bit worried to read HIB, but it was such good representation and so realistic to what I was experiencing. I REALLY need to read Radio Silence and The Serpent King!!

    Also, this has nothing to do with the post, but I just need to say again how much I LOVE your new blog design. It’s so pretty.

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    1. Ohhh yes, you should read both of these books, I feel like you’d really love them, Lauren! I hope you’ll be able to soon ๐Ÿ™‚
      Oh thank you so, so much, it means the world to me that you like it๐Ÿ’–

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    1. Oh yay, I’m so happy to hear it! She’s not the most popular character in this series I think, so I’m glad you like her just as much as I do ๐Ÿ™‚
      Both The Serpent King and The Inexplicable Logic are incredible, I hope you’ll enjoy them! Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. OH REALLY?! This makes me so happy to hear โค I hope you'll love Highly Illogical Behaviour just as much as I did – but since it seems like we have the same bookish taste…. ๐Ÿ˜€ Thank you so much Emily! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  18. I haven’t been reading so many YA contemporaries lately. This makes me really want to get back into them. I have been meaning to read Highly Illogical Behaviour for months.

    I’m reading This Adventure Ends right now and I loooove it ๐Ÿ™‚ Contemporaries have my โค

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    1. Oh, I hope you’ll enjoy Highly Illogical Behaviour, it’s really worth a read and I feel like you could enjoy it a lot ๐Ÿ™‚
      Ohhhh really? Will you write a review on that one? I need to check it out then! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  19. I love your YA contemporary corners! They are probably my favorite posts of yours to read, because it’s ALL I read, and it’s always nice to see someone else’s opinion on what I read or a question posed that I’ve never thought about.

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    1. It IS a fascinating book, Jeann, I really hope you’ll want to read it. I feel like Alice Oseman isn’t as “hyped” in the book blogging community, and she should. She’s great at writing relatable and REAL characters, also, she always writes about strong friendships which is awesome ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you!!

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  20. This list is awesome! I absolutely adored Ari/Dante – it was my first LGBTQ+ read and my eyes were opened to a whole new world. I wasn’t a fan of Stephanie Perkin’s writing, but I’m glad to see that you connected to Isla. ๐Ÿ˜€ I feel like The Serpent King is going to make me cry but I still can’t wait to read it, lol.

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    1. Oh thank you so much Aila โค Well…The Serpent King made me cry, but I guess it proved that I grew attached to the characters and the story so much that it made me so emotional ahah. I hope it'll be the same way for you ๐Ÿ™‚

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