High school is a turbulent time for almost everyone. We might be dreaming about what we want out of life and how to get there. Seeing our families in a new light, navigating changing friendships, falling in love for the first time, and/or, most importantly, making the first real steps toward figuring out who we are and who we want to be. Relatable stories can help guide us through it and provide a little perspective along the way.
High School Books That Are #Relatable
1. We Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian
A major part of high school is worrying about what comes next. For those who are college-bound, athletic scholarships can ease the strain of pricey college tuition. The field hockey girls from We Are the Wildcats know all too well the real-world rewards of a successful season, and their tough coach is planning to push them harder than ever to recover from a poor showing last year. But during one wild night of team bonding, they start to realize that, instead of relying on their coach, they should start trusting each other instead.
2. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Young love is sweet, sorta awkward, and totally thrilling, but it comes with a built-in decision point. To stay together, or not to stay together. That is the question that all high school couples face as graduation day approaches, and oh boy, it can be a painful one. Iconic duo Lara Jean and Peter K. are not exempt. Their relationship is stronger than ever, but can it last past graduation? Should it?
3. Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju
Being a teenager usually means more freedom, and more freedom means meeting new people that help you figure yourself out. Nima is super shy until she makes friends with a group of drag performers. She’s intrigued by their bold self-expression and their contagious joy in flouting gender norms. When she tries a drag king routine of her own, she finds that performing unlocks something in her she didn’t know was there. Now, the trick becomes transferring this onstage swagger into day-to-day confidence, which is still . . . a work in progress.
4. When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey
While you may not relate to being an actual witch with magic powers, you might be able to relate to being part of a ride-or-die group of friends. They take your side no matter what. Even if you have, shall we say, a “blow-up” with your prom date. And let’s not forget the utter agony of crushing on your best friend. Can you risk the friendship by confessing your feelings? You never know until you try! #NotHelpful
5. Barely Missing Everything by Matt Mendez
Impending adulthood starts to get a little too real in high school, especially in the last few years. Any flaws your parents have tried to hide from you become more apparent as you try to decide whether you want different lives than they have and whether that even feels possible. Juan sees his single mom struggling to pay rent and dating the wrong guys, JD discovers evidence of his dad’s infidelity, and both of them wonder what the future looks like for guys like them.
6. Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao
Even when you know your parents just want the best for you, it can be hard to meet their expectations. Ali is the daughter of Chinese immigrants, her mom insists that, if she dates, she can only date Chinese boys, which is hard to pull off as the only Chinese-American kid in school. Until she meets the new guy who just might satisfy both her and her mom’s requirements. So Ali is shocked when her mom doesn’t approve, and Ali starts digging to find out why. When digging in your parents’ pasts, you’re bound to uncover a family secret or two.
7. SLAY by Brittney Morris
We’re all a little different online than we are face-to-face. If we’re doing it right, our online personas are a reflection of our best selves: confident, witty, personable. Kiera has taken this to the next level by creating an entire MMORPG inspired by Black Panther, and it’s the haven she needs to interact with other Black gamers who understand her in a way other friends can’t. But she’ll have to stay true to her vision when her game gets unfairly called out in the media and a troll infiltrates their ranks.
8. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
For a lot of people, high school is the first time you realize just how many injustices are happening in your community, but also that you have the power to take action against them. When a sexual assault survivor is bullied into moving while her attacker goes unpunished, three girls decide that enough is enough. They form an undercover club called The Nowhere Girls, and they vow to change their school’s culture around sex, sexual assault, and misogyny. During their meetings, different members have different ideas about how best to make these changes, which reminds us that even activists who agree on a desired end result will still need to have complex conversations they might not have expected.
9. The Past and Other Things that Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson
Some friendships aren’t meant to last forever, and this can become clear amidst all of the constant changing that happens during high school. Dino’s situation is even more complicated than usual, because his ex-best friend died before they could tie up loose ends. But Dino gets a second chance when his best friend comes back as some sort of zombie, and he’s the only one who can help her make amends before she dies again. For good this time.
10. Promposal by Rhonda Helms
Everyone wants to have a good story about prom, even if that story is what they did instead of prom. Some of the flashiest stories come from those epic promposals you can’t stop watching on YouTube. Joshua is crafting the perfect promposal for his longtime crush, Ethan, but Camilla has been surprised with a very public promposal she didn’t necessarily want. Will they each get the proms of their dreams, regardless of how the asking plays out?
Looking for more? Check out these books that depict modern dating culture.