5 YA Contemporary Books For Your Staycation

Like me, you might still mostly be staying home, given coronavirus. You might also still have time available in your vacation bank at work. While I do love traveling and going places and having new experiences, I also greatly enjoy a good staycation. My home is a place that I love to be in and just really enjoy. That’s because of purposeful cultivation. While I am on staycation or just off work in general, I love to pick up a good book or two or ten (let’s be real here – I am addicted to reading). Personally, I tend to whip through contemporary young adult books and think these five diverse reads are just the ticket to a great staycation.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

5 YA Contemporary Books For Your StaycationThe Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo
Also by this author: I Believe in a Thing Called Love
on May 8, 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Social Themes, Friendship, People & Places, United States, Asian American, Dating & Sex
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

An NPR Best Book of 2018A Boston Globe Best Children's Book of 2018A We Need Diverse Books 2018 Must-ReadA TAYSHAS 2019 Reading List BookA California Book Award FinalistFrom the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a laugh-out-loud story of love, new friendships, and one unique food truck.
Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn't so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind? With Maurene Goo's signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

I am just obsessed with Maurene Goo’s books. Now that I have read The Way You Make Me Feel, I am feeling sad because I only have one unread Maurene Goo book left. If you’re looking for young adult contemporary books that tread more on the light side with characters you can’t help but like, pick up Goo’s books. The Way You Make Me Feel falls perfectly into this category as we follow main character Clara through a summer of working her dad’s food truck.

The Way You Make Me Feel opens with Clara being voted prom queen, but because she is a class clown and above such things as earnest caring, she ends up pulling a Carrie prank at prom, burning the gym, and getting in a fight with class president Rose. As punishment, Clara is forced to spend the summer working on her father’s food truck, KoBra, to pay back the money it will cost to fix the damage of her prank and fight. Oh, and Rose has to work the truck too. It does help that there’s an extremely good looking guy who works at the coffee shop near where they park the truck and he also waves the sign around – Hamlet.

What results is a summer where romance finds Clara even though she is resistant. She also partakes in true friendship with another girl – which is rare given her two close friends are guys. Plus, Clara learns to actually care about things and that there is nothing wrong with that. We also get an excellent look at Clara’s relationship with her parents – friends – her dad is only two years older than I am as of the time of writing this. I could absolutely relate to Adrian, her dad, in that he cares so much about Clara. I thought it was an interesting choice that her absent mother who gives the best gifts happens to be an influencer.

The Way You Make Me Feel was such a good read. I had a giant smile after reading it. This book made me just as happy as Goo’s other books do. I am glad I saved it for a time when I was feeling a little bit sad. It helped to pick up my mood.

I love sitting down and just inhaling a book – by that I do not mean smelling a book although that is great – I mean ripping through the pages so fast that you look up and you’ve read the book in one go. Four Days Of You And Me by Miranda Kenneally is a book that I picked up after reading a real door stopper and I just fell right into the story so easily. I completely gelled with this book.

Four Days Of You And Me is about Lulu, who is running for freshman class president as the book opens. She loses to Alex, a baseball player and popular kid. This makes Alex Lulu’s mortal enemy. So, we get to where Alex and Lulu are on the freshman class trip together. They end up locked in an escape room. After they figure out the way to escape, they have this attraction to each other. So, the book details four years of on and off relationship between Lulu and Alex. The pivot moments are around the annual class trips. You see, there is an endowment at their school for a special class trip every year. I should also say Lulu is working on writing a graphic novel and Alex works at his family’s restaurant but is also a really talented baseball player.

I don’t know what exactly it was about this book that I just ate up. There was something interesting about the plot structure and timing. It would go into detail on the trips but then we would get flashbacks from the previous year to get context for certain events during the current year’s class trip. I think this moved the story along and kept it from being mired in the mundane or boring.

There are SO many elements of this book I enjoyed – from the chemistry between Lulu and Alex – to her friendships with Grace her cousin and Max her best friend. I loved seeing Lulu’s interactions with her classmates over four years and how she grew as a person. Plus, how Lulu chased her dreams. The romance scenes were sweet. I mean, yes there’s some graphic moments so maybe don’t hand this to a kid. Still, overall, Four Days Of You And Me is an excellent young adult contemporary and the perfect beach or vacation read (even if that vacation is just in your backyard given the times we are in).

I like that 10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon has a title that reminds me of one of the best teen romantic comedies ever made – 10 Things I Hate About You. Menon’s story is the third set in her Dimple and Rishi universe and is simply excellent. This book is the perfect beach or summer vacation read.

10 Things I Hate About Pinky tackles the greatest romance tropes – hate to love AND fake dating. I think it’s a tall order to put both tropes in a book at the same time, but Menon makes it work. Pinky is a loud and proud social justice activist, colorful hair and all. She champions quite a few causes to the frustration of her mother. Samir is extremely type A – he puts everything in his planner and plans out all his days.

Samir was planning to do an internship in DC at a prestigious law firm, but it falls through at the very last minute. Pinky is spending the summer in Cape Cod in her family’s lake house with her parents, her aunt and uncle, and cousin Dolly. Pinky ends up asking Samir to be her fake boyfriend in order to prove to her mom that not all her boyfriends are trash and that she doesn’t always make bad decisions.

So, what happens is a summer spent fake dating and those fake feelings inevitably turn into real feelings. I loved the opposites attract angle. FYI, I am so much more of a Samir, and I loved that. He’s not portrayed as bad or one dimensional for liking to make to do lists. That’s his coping skill and it is my coping skill too. There is absolute chemistry between Pinky and Samir and it does take a bit of a slow burn throughout the book -but that makes the payoff excellent.

Set against the backdrop of summer, 10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon is an essential vacation read that you won’t regret. And heck, you might as well pick up the rest of Menon’s books while you’re at it. It won’t take you long to get through them though, her books are made to be gobbled up.

Symptoms Of A Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra really had me in the mood to read more medical based books. I’ve heard the term sick lit and I would say this book does not fall under sick lit, even though there’s some elements there. Rather, this is full on contemporary with a medical bent – which is important – but for me the biggest part was Saira’s coming of age.

Symptoms Of A Heartbreak is about a 16 year old girl who has finished medical school and happens to be the youngest doctor in America. Dr. Saira Sehgal aka the Girl Genius. Saira has a calling to be a pediatric oncologist due to the loss of her best friend Harper at 8 years old. So, now she’s working this program at Princeton Presbyterian in Pediatric Oncology where she hopes to find a job at the end. Along the way, Saira meets a boy, Link, who just so happens to be a patient. Also, Saira has all these expectations placed upon her by her family.

Charaipotra’s book is poignant and deeply engaging. I like that it looks at medicine from an ethics standpoint. It also resists being saccharine and just over the top. This book is so well written and moving. There’s sad moments, but some really sweet and happy moments too. Honestly, Symptoms Of A Heartbreak knocks it out of the park on portraying a loving family, on portraying a girl who is trying to find her place, and exploring first love. I absolutely LOVE this book and can’t wait to pick up more from Sona Charaipotra (I also really liked Tiny Pretty Things).

Credit where credit is due, I picked up this book because Andi at Andi’s ABCs told me I need to. I trust her taste implicitly. Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye is a coming of age young adult book about a gay biracial teen boy. I had no idea prior to picking this up that it was ownvoices rep either. I cannot believe I almost missed this delightful book.

The premise of Date Me, Bryson Keller is that every week Bryson Keller dates a different person as part of a dare. Kai Sheridan happens to ask Bryson out on a whim and to his surprise, Bryson agrees to date him secretly. As it turns out though, Bryson has got some layers and is actually a really great boyfriend. Kai finds himself starting to actually fall for Bryson. Further complicating matters is that Kai is not out, as far as he knows Bryson is straight. Oh and also, it is senior year and they are waiting to hear back from colleges.

Okay so I loved the dynamic between Kai and his best friends Donnie and Priyanka – who happen to be dating. They all go to private school together. Donnie’s family is incredibly wealthy but he’s not at all a jerk. I just loved how supportive Donnie and Priyanka were. They’re good people and so loyal. Also, Kai can absolutely trust them.

The romance in Date Me, Bryson Keller is so sweet. I was kind of expecting a jerk moment from Bryson, but it doesn’t happen. Rather, that comes from other quarters. Kai and Bryson balance each other out really well. And if you like reading the falling in love parts, you’ll just love Kevin van Whye’s book.

I happened to read the audiobook because the library had it and that meant I could get to this book so much faster. That was a great choice. Vikas Adam is the narrator and he perfectly embodies Kai. He also takes on a South African accent while narrating the parts with Kai’s dad. I felt like the narration was so skilled and flawless. Don’t miss out on Date Me, Bryson Keller.


I tend to whip through contemporary young adult books and think these five diverse reads are just the ticket to a great staycation.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. The books are very impressive, thank you