Retellings are nothing new, especially in Young Adult Lit, but contemporary retellings are harder to find. Here are a few retellings featuring modern, diverse teens with modern day issues.
Pride by Ibi Aanu Zoboi
Zuri is proud of her community and her heritage but her neighborhood is changing everyday as gentrification takes over. Enter the Darcy family, with their money and two snooty sons. The younger son, Darius, is especially judgmental and arrogant. Zuri doesn’t want anything to do with him. Zuri is struggling all around with college applications, four attention seeking sisters and general teenage life.
Pride is a really well done retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Zoboi weaves elements of the original story into modern day culture and creates characters that you actually care about. I come from a large loud family so I particularly loved Zuri’s unapologetic and close Haitian-Dominican family.
A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney
Alice deals with the monsters in the dark dream realm of Wonderland by training with magic weapons and hardcore hand-to-hand combat. The first time the Nightmares came, she nearly died. In addition to dealing with the dream realm, she has a curfew, an overprotective parent and school in Atlanta to think about. Alice is barely keeping up the balancing act when her mentor is poisoned. Now she’s must go deep into the most dangerous parts of Wonderland to save him.
A Blade So Black is seriously funny even though it’s much darker than the original Alice in Wonderland. Alice is smart, strong and street wise. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The whole book is wildly imaginative and relevant while still paying homage to the original Alice and Wonderland story.
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
Jamie Watson, the great-great grandson of Dr. John Watson, arrives at a Connecticut prep school on a rugby scholarship. He has lots of concerns about the school. His biggest worry is that the great-great-great granddaughter of Detective Sherlock Holmes, Charlotte Holmes, goes to that school. Charlotte is volatile and brilliant. Jamie admires her, but he has a healthy dose self preservation and knows he should stay away from her. However, the two are drawn together and their encounters turn into verbal sparring matches, much like their famous ancestors. Shortly after Jamie’s arrival, students start dying in the same ways as the Sherlock Holmes stories. Jamie and Charlotte are the lead suspects.
This retelling really dives into the characters of Holmes and Watson. The original Holmes was presented as an eccentric, brilliant detective with an addictive personality and Charlotte is no different. Her family history is seriously messed up and she fits right in. Jamie starts out as an adorable lackey. He quasi-reveres Charlotte at the beginning of the book. Part of his character growth is realizing she’s a person and not just her ancestors descendant. Their relationship is confusing and enthralling. A Study in Charlotte is a must read for Sherlock Holmes fans who enjoy YA.