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Updated by Jen Blair on Aug 12, 2020
Headline for Books That Give Joy - High School - Spring 2020
Jen Blair Jen Blair
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Books That Give Joy - High School - Spring 2020

I think we could all use some books with happy endings right now. Here are some books with a little romance, a little humor, and DEFINITELY some happy endings.

Dumplin' (Dumplin' #1) by Julie Murphy

Dumplin’ - Julie Murphy
If you haven't read this one yet? Treat yourself. You will fall in love with Dumplin' too. (And yes, there is a movie as well! Go big or go home.

From the publisher:
Willowdean wants to prove to everyone in her small Texas town that she is more than just a fat girl, so, while grappling with her feelings for a co-worker who is clearly attracted to her, Will and some other misfits prepare to compete in the beauty pageant her mother runs.

Winger (Winger, #1) by Andrew Smith

Winger / Stand Off - Andrew Smith
You can't help but love Ryan Dean as he does EVERYTHING wrong in his new school. And you won't stop laughing....

From the publisher:
Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He's living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he's madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy. With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life's complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what's important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

An Abundance of Katherines - John Green
This book made me laugh out loud reading it. And I learned some quality insults as well. Nothing like a road trip book to make you forget your troubles.

From the publisher:
Colin has dated 19 different girls named Katherine. And they all have dumped him. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend named Hasan riding shotgun--but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens - Libba Bray
This book had me laughing so hard. It's like Lord of the Flies, but with some VERY resourceful pageant contestants. Don't underestimate the power of the straightening iron.

From the publisher:
When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island's other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.

Dan Versus Nature by Don Calame

Dan Versus Nature - Don Calame

From the publisher:
Shy and scrawny Dan Weekes spends his time creating graphic novels inspired by his dream girl and looking out for his mom as she dates every man in the state of California. Then his mom drops a bomb: she and her latest beau, Hank, are engaged, and she's sending her "two favorite men" on a survivalist camping trip to "bond." Determined to trick Hank into showing his true colors on the trip, Dan and his nerdy germaphobe best friend, Charlie, prepare a series of increasingly gross and embarrassing pranks. But the boys hadn't counted on a hot girl joining their trip or on getting separated from their wilderness guide-not to mention the humiliating injuries Dan suffers in the course of terrorizing his stepdad-to-be.

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager - Ben Philippe
Norris is brilliant. Maybe too smart for his own good. But not smart enough to know when to stop talking...

From the publisher:
Plunked into a new high school and sweating a ridiculous amount from the oppressive Texas heat, Norris finds himself cataloging everyone he meets: the Cheerleaders, the Jocks, the Loners, and even the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Making a ton of friends has never been a priority for him, and this way he can at least amuse himself until it's time to go back to Canada, where he belongs. Yet against all odds, those labels soon become actual people to Norris. But the night of the prom, Norris screws everything up royally. As he tries to pick up the pieces, he realizes it might be time to stop hiding behind his snarky opinions and start living his life--along with the people who have found their way into his heart.

Frankly in Love (Frankly in Love, #1) by David Yoon

Frankly in Love - David Yoon
This was one of my favorite books from last year. Frank is smart, kind, wise and FUNNY. This book has it all.

From the publisher:
High school senior Frank Li takes a risk to go after a girl his parents would never approve of, but his plans will leave him wondering if he ever really understood love--or himself--at all.

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder - Julie Halpern

From the publisher:
When high school sophomore Jessie's long-term best friend transforms herself into a punk and goes after Jessie's would-be boyfriend, Jessie decides to visit "the wild nerd yonder" and seek true friends among classmates who play Dungeons and Dragons.

Loveboat, Taipei (Loveboat, Taipei, #1) by Abigail Hing Wen

Loveboat, Taipei - Abigail Hing Wen
This is what happens when students are sent halfway across the world and are completely unsupervised.

From the publisher:
When Ever Wong's parents sent her away for the summer, she's expecting Chien Tan: a strict, educational immersion program in Taiwan. Instead, she finds the infamous 'Loveboat.' But her classmates are more interested in the nonstop Taipei nightlife than anything to do with the curriculum. Hookups abound, snake-blood sake flows, and adult supervision is nonexistent. For the first time ever, Ever is discovering what freedom tastes like and it's exhilarating. But summer will end and Ever will be back to her parents and the future they've planned for her. Will she let this glimpse of freedom go--or will Loveboat give her the courage to pursue the future she dreams of, and the Ever Wong she wants to be?

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Montague Siblings, #1)

The Montague Siblings series - Mackenzi Lee
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue / The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy
The most vivid characters getting into the most hilarious of embarrassing scrapes in 18th Century Europe. You say you don't like historical fiction, but I don't believe you.

From the publisher:
A delightful romp of a road-trip through eighteenth century Europe, packed with witty dialog, razor-sharp pacing, and the perfect amount of swoon. You should abso-bloody-lutely read this book. Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, Montague Siblings is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton

Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe - Preston Norton

From the publisher:
Cliff Hubbard is a huge loser. Literally. His nickname at Happy Valley High School is Neanderthal because he's so enormous-6'6" and 250 pounds to be exact. He has nobody at school, and life in his trailer-park home has gone from bad to worse ever since his older brother's suicide.

There's no one Cliff hates more than the nauseatingly cool quarterback Aaron Zimmerman. Then Aaron returns to school after a near-death experience with a bizarre claim: while he was unconscious he saw God, who gave him a list of things to do to make Happy Valley High suck less. And God said there's only one person who can help: Neanderthal.

But fixing a broken school isn't as simple as it seems, and just when Cliff thinks they've completed the List, he realizes their mission hits closer to home than he ever imagined.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist - Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Yes, also made into a movie.

From the publisher:
"I know this is going to sound strange, but would you mind being my girlfriend for the next five minutes?"

Nick frequents New York's indie rock scene nursing a broken heart. Norah is questioning all of her assumptions about the world. They have nothing in common except for their taste in music, until a chance encounter leads to an all-night quest to find a legendary band's secret show and ends up becoming a first date that could change both their lives.

Ordinary Girls by Blair Thornburgh

Ordinary Girls - Blair Thornburgh
A re-telling of Sense and Sensibility that delighted me from the first page to the last. Don't wait. Read this one NOW.

From the publisher:
For siblings as different as Plum and Ginny, getting on each other's nerves is par for the course. But when the family's finances hit a snag, sending chaos through the house, a distance grows between them like never before. Plum, a self-described social outcast, finally has something in her life that doesn't revolve around her dramatic older sister. But what if coming into her own means Plum isn't there for Ginny when she, struggling with a hard secret of her own, needs her most?

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Pride - Ibi Zoboi
A modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice, this is like poetry in celebration of, and for, the hood. The fierce and fabulous Benitez Sisters will remain in your heart for a long time.

For the publisher:
When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can't stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding. But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick's changing landscape, or lose it all.

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

Pumpkinheads - Rainbow Rowell
Only Rainbow Rowell can write a relationship story that is this charming and satisfying.

From the publisher:
Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends. Every autumn, all through high school, they've worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. But this Halloween is different--Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner

Rayne and Delilah’s Midnite Matinee - Jeff Zentner
From one of my favorite authors comes one of my favorite friendship stories. One that will make you laugh and cry. In the best way.

From the publisher:
Every Friday night, best friends Delia and Josie become Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, hosts of the campy creature feature show Midnite Matinee on the local cable station TV Six. But with the end of senior year quickly approaching, the girls face tough decisions about their futures.As the tug-of-war between growing up and growing apart tests the bonds of their friendship, Josie and Delia start to realize that an uncertain future can be both monstrous...and momentous.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

The Rest of Us Just Live Here - Patrick Ness
Did you ever wonder what the lives of the "normal" kids were like? The ones who aren't magic or superheroes?

From the publisher:
What if you aren't the Chosen One? The one who's supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you're like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again. Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week's end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life. Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Save the Date - Morgan Matson
C'mon. Even the COVER is hilarious. This books looks fun without even opening it!

From the publisher:
Charlie Grant's older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can't wait--for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster. Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she'll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

The Upside of Unrequited (Simonverse #2) by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited - Becky Albertalli
This is my favorite book in the Simonverse. I just soooo related to Molly and her need to lay low and avoid rejection.

From the publisher:
Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can't stomach the idea of rejection. So she's careful. Fat girls always have to be careful. Then a cute new girl enters Cassie's orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly's cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back.

Virtually Yours by Sarvenaz Tash

Virtually Yours - Sarvenaz Tash
Everything about this book is perfect. The cover. The sparkling dialogue. The delightful characters. The fact that it is a charming, light-hearted romance that also explores deeper themes of trust, love. and identity is just icing on the cake.

From the publisher:
How bad can one little virtual lie be?

NYU freshman Mariam Vakilian hasn't dated anyone in five months, not since her high school sweetheart Caleb broke up with her. So, when she decides to take advantage of an expiring coupon and try out a new virtual reality dating service, it's sort of a big deal. It's an even bigger deal when it chooses as one of her three matches none other than Caleb himself. That has to be a sign, right? Except that her other match, Jeremy, just happens to be her new best friend IRL...

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

The Way You Make Me Feel - Maurene Goo

From the publisher:
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?

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli

What If It’s Us - Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Meet-cute perfection written by the masters of YA romance.

From the publisher:
Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it's that the universe can deliver a show-stopping romance when you least expect it. Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn't be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend's things. But when Arthur and Ben meet at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

XL by Scott Brown

XL - Scott Brown

From the publisher:
WIll Daughtry is a late bloomer--at least, that's what everyone tells him. On his sixteenth birthday, Will is just shy of five feet, and he is bitterly resigned to being tiny forever. Then he starts to grow. And grow fast. Astonishingly fast. For the first time, Will's happy with his stature, and the world's at his feet (for a change). People see him differently; more important, he sees himself differently. But the highest heights come with some low, low lows, and his most precious relationships suffer excruciating growing pains.