YA Books for the Back-to-School Season

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YA Books for the Back-to-School Season

YA Books for the Back-to-School Season

While this back-to-school season is anything but normal, you can still have the normal school experience (you know, awkward and embarrassing) through books! These five YA books for the back to school season below will take you back to high school this fall, whether it’s a public high school in the Carolinas, a preparatory school in California, or a boarding school in Connecticut.

1. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro (352 pages) (Published January 3, 2017)

Jamie Watson would rather not attend Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school only an hour from home. He knows that’s where Charlotte Holmes goes, and he’d rather admire the genius of Sherlock’s descendent from afar. When his father forces him to attend, he and Charlotte quickly become rivals, even though their ancestors were partners. And when a fellow student dies under suspicious circumstances, it’s Charlotte and Jamie who are framed for the murder, forcing them to team up. 

Why Read It

This book takes place in autumnal New England at a boarding school. Throw in murder and mystery, and it pairs perfectly with falling leaves and a classic Pumpkin Spice Latte. The rivalry between Charlotte and Jamie is top notch, and their banter kept me reading! P.S. If you love this one, there are three more books in the series! 

4.5/5 Brookie Stars


2. Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales (288 pages) (Published March 3, 2020)

For Ollie, Will was the perfect summer fling, and someone he wanted to stay in touch with after returning home. But when a family emergency keeps him in town, he has to enroll at Collinswood High, aka where Will goes to school. Only problem? Turns out the fun and kind Will from the summer is gone. He’s more of a jerk at school, and 100% closeted. Ollie backs away, only for Will to start popping up everywhere, and Ollie’s not sure he deserves a second chance.

Why Read It

This one gave me classic new kid feels, since California kid, Ollie, gets transplanted to North Carolina for his senior year. He has to make new friends, and try to fit in with a completely different crowd than he’s used to. There are football games, letterman jackets, and music practice rooms… It’s a classic fish-out-of-water tale, with drama and tension and, apparently when the author wrote it, she was inspired by Grease. Need I say more? 

4/5 Brookie Stars


3. Parachutes by Kelly Yang (496 pages) (Published May 26,2020)

Claire never thought she’d be a parachute—a teenager dropped off to live and study in the US while her parents stay in Asia. But now she’s enrolled in a California high school and living in a stranger’s house—and has way more freedom than she’s accustomed to. Claire’s host sister, Dani, isn’t thrilled that the extra room is being rented to Claire. Dani’s determined to earn her way to Yale, and won’t be intimidated by privileged kids who buy their way to the top. The girls’ collision is only a matter of time…  

Why Read It

This one has a lot to dissect, as it addresses some major issues, including cultural differences, familial issues, racism, poverty, and sexual assault. They’re woven into the story seamlessly, and wrap up to tell a poignant, realistic tale. Raw and relevant, this is a must-read of 2020. 

5/5 Brookie Stars

4. A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai (320 pages) (Published September 10, 2019)

Simi comes from a long line of Indian matchmakers, and while her mom’s convinced she’s inherited the gift, Simi’s not so sure. Then she accidentally sets up her cousin with a soon-to-be lawyer, which gives her best friend, Noah, an idea. With help from Simi’s brother, they launch a matchmaking app in their high school, in the hopes of standing out. But when one of their matches flips the high school hierarchy upside down, Simi and Noah are thrust to center stage, and they’re not always cast in the best light.   

Why Read It

One of my favourite things about this book is that Simi is 15 years old, and just trying to fit in her high school. She’s smart and artsy, and while the story is about matchmaking, that’s secondary to family and friendship. It’s a modern high school story about what it means to fit in and stand out. I recommend it if you’re looking for a light-hearted read!  

4/5 Brookie Stars –Check out my full review here!


5. Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson & Ellen Hagan (368 pages) (Published February 11, 2020) 

Sick of the way women are treated, even at their progressive NYC high school, Jasmine and Chelsea start a Women’s Rights Club. They post poems, essays, videos, and responses to racial macroaggressions online, and quickly go viral. And while they get support, they’re also targeted by trolls. It doesn’t take long for things to escalate and the school administration to get involved. But the principal shutting down their club will not stop Jasmine and Chelsea from being heard. 

Why Read It

This one is for (young) feminists, providing enlightenment and empowerment with a bit of edge. It tackles a lot of issues in a high school setting, and not only in prose! There are poems and art mixed in, bringing an extra layer to the story. Pick this one up for its realistic portrayals of teenagers and to experience conversations about feminism today.

4.5/5 Brookie Stars

What are some of your favourite books for this time of year? Let us know by emailing us here!

Jamie Mitchell

Jamie Mitchell is a writer, library assistant, former bookseller, and all-around lover of the written word. She’s currently working on her fifth novel, and if you’re wondering where the other four are, they’re safe on her laptop and in need of rewriting. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband, and enjoys traveling, bookstagramming and experimenting with gluten-free flours.


Favourite book: Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Favourite brunch spot: 1823 Bakehouse


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