The stark difference between rich and poor is often a plot point in young adult books. I love seeing how different authors take that common premise and make it their own. Here are a few titles that highlight challenges between those with wealth and those without.
Little White Lies (Debutanes, #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Tomboy Sawyer Taft and her mother are just scraping by in a small town. When her estranged grandmother, Lillian, comes to town, Sawyer’s life changes in a big way. Lillian offers Sawyer $500,000 to come live with her and go through the debutante season. Lillian tells Sawyer this may be her only chance to learn who her biological father is. While Sawyer expected becoming a debutante to be awkward, she did not anticipate that politics, blackmail, kidnapping and maybe a trip to prison would be part of the process.
I had so much fun reading this book! The story alternates between the past and the present. The past progresses forward so fast that eventually the past and the present meet. The mystery builds as characters are introduced and the story unfolds. The author keeps everything lighthearted and amusing through the banter between the characters and through Sawyer’s thoughts that waffle between “What am I doing here?” and “I’ve totally got this.”
If you are looking for a lighthearted, fun read, this is the book for you.
City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson
Tina lives in Sangui City, Kenya. Since her mother’s murder, she has lived on the streets and became a master thief for the Goondas, a local gang. Tina knows who killed her mother – Roland Greyhill. With help from the Goondas, she breaks into her home to take her revenge. She runs into Michael, Greyhill’s son and her onetime friend. Tina learns nothing is like she thought and her life turns upside down.
The author notes that many of the book’s events are based on real life events. Much like real life, this book has moments that will make you laugh, moments that will make you cry, and moments that will make you feel absolutely horrified. Tina’s rules for her life are a thread that runs through the entire book. Her rules bring out her personality and help the reader realize how difficult her life has been. While Tina has accepted where she is in her life, she longs for what has been and what she knows will never be.
If you are looking for a book that reads like real life, you will want to read this book.
My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn
Elle Zoellner’s mother is in jail, she’s never known her father and she’s living with a foster family that doesn’t care about her. When her father finally comes forward, she learns he is a Japanese hotel mogul. He whisks her away to Tokyo where she attends an amazing school with other international students. Elle quickly falls in with a group of popular students and it seems like everything should be great, right? Sure, except for a few problems. Elle knows nothing about this new culture. She has a crush on a guy her new friends despise. She is living with a father, aunt and grandmother who don’t know what to do with this new person in their lives. What’s a girl to do?
This was a fun book that explores what to do if you are dropped into a completely new life and what it means to be a family. Elle is given everything in Tokyo – an amazing school, home in a fancy in a hotel and the ability to get anything with a simple phone call. Her realization that what she really wants is simply to be accepted is very relatable.
If you are looking for a book about discovering yourself what it means to be family, this is the one for you.