Sarah Dessen's The Rest of the Story is a consummate beach read! Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when Emma was 12. Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family, whom she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.
When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working-class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is also divided into two people. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.
Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake — and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well. For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her — Emma or Saylor — will she be?
If you love Sarah Dessen, try Saint Anything. Sixteen-year-old Sydney has always lived in the shadow of her handsome, perfect older brother, Peyton. When Peyton's involvement in a drunk driving accident sends him to jail for paralyzing another teen, Sydney feels even more invisible, disappointed that her parents are only concerned about Peyton, and not the boy whose life he changed forever.
After transferring to public school from her elite private one, Sydney becomes friends with Layla and Mac Chatham and their close-knit family, and their friendship helps her understand that she is not responsible for Peyton's mistakes. This is a bit darker in tone than many of Dessen's works, but if you love a good family drama with a bit of romance, you will love this book too.
If romance is your thing, you need to check out Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds. Perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon and John Green, this novel mixes love, loss and time travel (yes, you read that right!) to capture ALL of the feels.
When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling — hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack.
But then Kate dies, and their story should end there. Instead, Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. If he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death he’ll take it, even if that means believing in time travel.
Unfortunately, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences, and when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves. As Becky Albertalli, author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda says, “Read this one, reread it, and then hug it to your chest.”
If you connect with Emma/Saylor in The Rest of the Story, meet Jade, a high school junior who finds herself living in two worlds in Renee Watson's Piecing Me Together. Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she's ever going to succeed. Every day she rides the bus away from her friends and to the private school where she feels like an outsider, but where she has plenty of opportunities.
But instead of being accepted into the school's amazing study abroad program, Jade is invited to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for at-risk girls. Just because her mentor is black and graduated from the same high school doesn't mean she understands where Jade is coming from. She's tired of being singled out as someone who needs help, someone people want to fix. Jade wants to speak, to create, to express her joys and sorrows, her pain and her hope. Maybe there are some things she could show other women about understanding the world and finding ways to be real, and to make a difference.
Emma's family has its secrets, but those are nothing compared to the Sinclairs from E. Lockhart's We Were Liars. If you like books that leave you thinking “I didn’t see THAT coming,” this one is for you.
Seventeen-year-old Cady Sinclair Eastman comes from old money. We’re talking Kennedy-esque, summering on your family’s private island off the coast of Cape Cod, kind of money. She and her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and their friend Gat (they call themselves “The Liars”) have blissfully spent every summer together since birth.
But this year is different. Cady is recovering from a mysterious accident that occurred during her 15th summer, and she is left with debilitating headaches and amnesia. Through Cady’s narration, the story of the Sinclairs unfolds, and we find that some members of Cady’s family aren’t quite as perfect as they pretend to be.