I’m finding it hard to believe that 2013 has begun already. 2012 flew by in a blur of excellent books and I’d like to share the highlights of the contemporary and realistic YA fiction reviewed for the Australian Women Writers challenge this year.

holier-than-thouBy far the biggest theme throughout the books reviewed was growing up, and that also often involved relationships, whether it be with family, friends or romantically. Jess from The Readers’ Haven loves  Laura Buzo’s writing and regards Holier Than Thou to be full of “wit, grit and feeling”. Holier Than Thou is a book perfect for those who consider themselves too old for YA (really there is no such thing!), as Laura takes a look at what it’s like for a girl in her early twenties moving out of home, working at her first full-time job, and moving further apart from her childhood friends.

Ill-tell-you-mineOther books that fall into this category include: I’ll Tell You Mine by Pip Harry (reviewed by Bree at All the Books I can Read), Notes from the Teenage Underground by Simmone Howell, One Long Thread by Belinda Jeffrey, Preloved by Shirley Marr (reviewed by Belle at Belle’s Bookshelf), Cargo by Jessica Au (reviewed by Sian Campbell), Losing It by Julia Lawrinson, and Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield. These books have a focus on family relationships, whether it involves losing a parent, getting to know a parent who was absent from childhood, or the death of a sibling, or an emphasis on the awkwardness, excitement, and pain of growing up.

Reviews of books involving death or mental illness also appeared throughout the year, highlighting these subjects  in an accessible way: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, Shift by Em Bailey (reviewed by Tsana’s Reads & Reviews), Divine Clementine by Hayley S Kirk and Everything Left Unsaid by Jessica Davidson.

cinnamon-rainThis year there have also been some beautiful examples of YA verse: Cinnamon Rain by Emma Cameron and Against the Tide by Irini Savvides. Both capture the essence of Australia so well, and the writing allows the reader to feel as though they are sharing the narrator’s thoughts resulting in a wonderful reading experience.

The reviews showcase many newly released books such as The Reluctant Hallelujah by Gabrielle Williams (reviewed by Danielle at Alpha Reader) and Love-shy by Lili Wilkinson, as well as older titles such as Queen Kat, Carmel and St Jude Get a Life by Maureen McCarthy (reviewed by This Charming Mum), Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar (reviewed by Liza at Lizabelle), and A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley (reviewed by Erin at Healing Scribe).

queen-nightAnd last but not least, two books that are contemporary fiction with paranormal elements are  Queen of the Night by Leanne Hall (reviewed by the Female Factory) and Night Beach by Kirsty Eagar (reviewed by Lauren at The Australian Bookshelf). Both could be enjoyed by fans of either genre, and they are evocative, captivating stories.

2012 has been a fantastic year book-wise and I’m looking forward to reading more Aussie YA by women writers, as well as AWW participants’ reviews, in 2013.