10 Books to Send You Back to School
I don't think anyone could pay me enough to go back to high school, with everyone's mutual awkwardness and uncertainty making it an emotional minefield, all while trying to "prepare for the future."
I had a great time in college, but it wasn't without its occasional major hurdles and hardships, which is why when I think about revisiting those eras of my life, I prefer to do so fictionally.
This week, The Broke and The Bookish are asking us to get ready for "Back to School," and I'm sharing 7 books with high school settings and/or students that I've enjoyed, and 3 college related books that are well worth a read.
One of Us is Lying, Karen M. McManus
Touted by many as a Breakfast Club mashup, this sneaky little mystery is more like Agatha Christie meets modern day high school psychology. Multiple points of view help bring each of the characters to life, all why trying to guess "whodunnit." The answer is both cunning and concerning.
Holding up the Universe, Jennifer Niven
It's no secret that I love books with body-positive characters/story arcs, and this one is a gem. High school feels like one of the most socially critical times in life, and being made to feel "other" can be especially crushing. This book not only gives readers a female character who is becoming comfortable in her body, but a character living with the every day struggle of face blindness.
Dumplin', Julie Murphy
Naturally, after HUTU, Dumplin' is another high school favorite. Dumplin' is an imperfect character, which is what helps make her real. We don't get it right 100% of the time, but Willowdean does her best to love who she is and what she looks like despite those who would prefer she didn't. True confidence is a life changer, and I wish I had known that in high school.
The Female of the Species, Mindy McGinnis
This is one of the books that I feel defies categorization. Part reflection on vigilante justice, part exploration of sociopathy, and part common small-town drama, this book is so incredibly compelling. If you're looking for a truly unique read, this is a great option and a 4.5 star read for me. As I'm writing this, I'm contemplating a reread.
The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
If you feel like you've been hearing about this book all year, it's because this book is not only worthy of all the attention, but because the attention is necessary. We need more books with sharp vivid characters who can show readers of all backgrounds what it means to be a young black person in this country. This book is also full of heart and you will feel like these characters are real people.
Exit, Pursued by A Bear, E.K. Johnston
I feel like I talk about this book a lot, but it's because few books do this well in addressing the pitfalls of rape culture while showing the alternatives. This book makes it clear that no one, under any circumstance is "asking for it," and that victims of rape should not be treated as pariahs. The female friendship in this book is also beautiful, and shows what a difference genuine support can make.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling
Okay, this isn't your typical high school experience, but I can't not include it. Harry and the gang are not only dealing with beating a great and terrible evil, but trying to sort out crushes and personal identities as much as any other high school student. Plus, we all need to feel like we could get on the Hogwarts express come September 1.
Up to This Pointe, Jennifer Longo
Transitioning from high school to college can feel like the first major step on the path to achieving your dreams, and for dancers, it can be about moving from high school to being accepted at a company. When Harper's dream falls out of reach and she runs away from everything in an incredibly dramatic fashion, it actually gives her the time and space to reflect and start healing as she really needs to. I think I could have used more stories about flexibility in our dreams when I was younger.
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell
I get that not everyone likes the same kind of books, and that for some people, this book just didn't do much for them. I respect your opinion, but I am 100% here for this book. As someone who has dealt with some minor social anxiety issues, and eventually depression as well while I was in college, I love that this book deals with mental health as part of the story. Every student should know that it's okay to talk about mental health, and how crucial self-care is. I also adore Cath and Levi and remember all too well the glorious tension of falling in love.
The Magicians, Lev Grossman
This is one of my Top 10 favorite books of all time, and full of the kind of the kind of fantastical college years that I find to be the best kind of fun. As a fairly average achiever in high school, I never would have passed the Brakebills entrance exam, so all the better that I get to explore the campus, and head to Brakebills South, through the magic of the book.
What's your favorite back-to-school book?