Hi everyone! Today I’ll be wrapping up the contemporary YA books reviewed in January for the AWW Challenge.

alex as wellThere are two reviews I’d like to highlight first as they focus on two of my favourite reads of 2013 (yes, it feels a bit early to be making that call!) The first is Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman, as reviewed by Danielle. The story revolves around intersex teen, Alex, raised as a boy but who identifies as female. This is definitely a subject that I think we will see more of in future YA titles and here’s what Danielle had to say on that topic “Young adult literature is about making connections for young readers who find a little of themselves in these stories and take comfort from reading characters go through similar hardships and survive all the stronger for it. This is perhaps especially important for LGBTQI youth, who already have a hard enough time finding themselves represented in other aspects of society and media.”

The Midnight DressMy second favourite book so far this year is The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee. It’s the story of Rose, her alcoholic father, a dressmaker,and a small town shrouded in mystery. Tonile says “This story is about more than a missing girl in a beautiful dress. It’s about broken people and shattered families. It’s about love and the many different forms it can take. It’s about growing up and dealing with the consequences of your actions.” The Midnight Dress is also being published in America, so the international readers will easily be able to get their hands on this wonderful book.

If you’re looking for YA with a good dose of romance then why not try The Boys of Summer by C.J Duggan – it features a sleepy coastal town, the sort of place most Aussies will associate with summer holidays. Antonietta reviewed it and writes “Like most romance novels, I’ll admit it’s fairly predictable, and yet I still loved it because the characters felt fresh and were genuinely interesting.”

The last three books I’d like to talk about have a strong focus on the setting. The first two, Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield and Love Like Water by Meme McDonald. Friday Brown was a favourite of mine last year but I hadn’t heard of Love Like Water until writing this recap and I’m happy to have another book to add to my ever increasing to-read list. Jacqui says “Friday Brown is a beautifully written story. The contrasts between rural Australia and the city are distinct and vivid.” And Mel says of Love Like Water “This was such a lyrical read, the words often read like music. It was easy to fall into the story and almost let it take you along, even when the story made unpleasant twists.”

alaska-salibaAnd lastly Alaska by Sue Saliba is set in, you guessed it, Alaska, which is probably not the most used setting in YA fiction. The story focuses on Aussie teen Mia who moves to Alaska to be with her sister while their mother is in hospital. On the topic of the setting, Belle writes “The setting of Alaska is one I’ve never read before, but Saliba makes it real and vivid and incredibly beautiful. Her descriptive writing made me feel the exquisite coldness of the frozen landscape, even though I was sitting in 30-degree heat.”

I’ve enjoyed reading the variety of reviews submitted so far and am already looking forward to the wrap up in February.