This week’s topic:
August 16: Top Ten Books With X Setting (top ten books set near the beach, top ten book set in boarding school, top ten books set in England, etc)
I’m a proud Jersey girl, but I also spend a good deal of my time in NYC, so this week I wanted to make a list of five books set in New Jersey and five set in the City. I hope you’ll enjoy my list-some I haven’t read yet, so maybe you can tell me if they’re really worth a shot!
1. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
This is one of my all-time favorite books. A bunch of Levithan’s novels are set in suburban northern New Jersey, but this is probably one of my favorites because it’s such a hopeful, cute and optimistic love story. Really, if you haven’t read this book yet, you should. Soon.
2. Rosie and Skate by Beth Ann Bauman
This was the first YA book that I ever found that takes place down the shore (I go to the arcade and order ice cream from the Kohr’s from the cover ALL the time. And the little building under the Coca-Cola sign is where I had my first cup of coffee when I was thirteen. But besides being able to really connect and identify elements of the setting, I loved this bittersweet book about sisters on the brink of change.
3. Ferocity Summer by Alissa Grosso
I saw that this book’s cover had a blurb by one of my favorite authors and it’s set in New Jersey, so it immediately made it on my list. It also takes place in Sussex County, which is a rural area of New Jersey that I think challenges a lot of people’s misconceptions about what living in the Garden State is like. I haven’t read it yet, but I look forward to reading this book about addiction, bad decisions and hope for redemption.
4. Tell Us We’re Home by Marina Budhos
I’ve grown up (as a not-so-wealthy teen)and lived in the same wealthy New Jersey suburb all my life and the subtle tensions between class and ethnic groups here is something that really fascinates me, but I really haven’t seen portrayed in YA. I’m really excited to dive into this book about daughters in immigrant families in this setting.
5. The Summer After You & Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
I’m not sure if it’s going to be too soon for me to read this book because it deals with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. I found the storm and its aftermath very hard to deal with in my real life and I’m a really emotional reader. Still, I hope one day I’ll be ready to read this book about love, loss and the connections between them.
New York City:
1. Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando
This book was my first exposure to Coney Island (because I know some people might fight me on this one: 1) It’s my list and 2) It’s in Brooklyn so I’m still considering it to be part of NYC). I immediately fell in love with this world of old freak shows and amusement rides, but found the encroaching gentrification to also be really interesting. I’ve been to Coney Island since reading this, so I can say that Altebrando did an amazing job and that the place lived up to my expectations.
2. Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan
I love this book because it offers a glimpse into what living in NYC would be like for someone who is invisible. The story of a cursed invisible boy and the only girl who can see him, this novel will show you parts of the city like you’ve never seen before. Also, I can’t doubt that taxi cab curses don’t exist. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ll just have to read this delightfully magical book for yourself!
3. A Hundred Hours of Night by Anna Woltz
This was the first Superstorm Sandy book that I read, and it was tough, but I was able to make it through it because it took place in New York City. It was also a really interesting glimpse into what life was like for people in Manhattan in the immediate aftermath of the storm. The story of a dutch girl who runs away to the city to avoid her father’s scandal back home and finds shelter with a mismatched group of teens, this novel is equal parts sweet, enduring and heartbreaking.
4. The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle
I love Serle’s portrayal of the city so much in this book because she brings so much life and vibrancy to it. The most stereotypical representation of a rich girl living on the Upper West Side, this book is still a thrill. If you haven’t read this emotional story of a girl struggling to cope with the accidental death of her younger sister, than you need to soon.
5. Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen
The only book written in verse on my list, this book is set in NYC in the 1990s at the tail end of the worst of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and follows the story of a girl who unearths secrets about her family. The writing in this book is such a treat and the descriptions of the setting are so beautiful and vivid that this book should be on your TBR, shelf or read list if it isn’t already.