What YA’ Reading: Stunning standalone novels

Standalone novels are amazing, particularly when you want to read something new, but don’t want to commit to reading a full series. Check out a few of my favorite standalone novels.

XOXO by Axie Oh

Jenny wants nothing more than to pursue her dreams of playing the cello and getting into one of the top music schools in the country. Then she meets Jaewoo and spends a fun, exciting evening with him. He then disappears.

Months later, Jenny and her mother travel to South Korea to take care of Jenny’s grandmother and enroll Jenny in an amazing arts school. Imagine her surprise when she discovers Jaewoo is not only a student at the same school, but he is also a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world. As Jenny and Jaewoo navigate their growing attraction to each other, they have to figure out how to traverse the biggest hurdle: Jaewoo is not allowed to date. Can they find love without giving up on their dreams?

XOXO is perfect if you love reading about K-pop, forbidden love and people discovering who they are. Jenny takes us on her journey through a new country and new culture, with descriptions of Korea and Korean food that made me want to visit. Jaewoo is a mysterious stranger with inexplicable electric magnetism Jenny just can’t ignore. I love that this book dives into the awkwardness of finding love when it is least expected.

If you like XOXO, be sure to check out Susan Lee’s Seoulmates.

They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman

Jill knew her life would never be the same when her best friend Shaila died freshman year and Shaila’s boyfriend, Graham, confessed to the murder. Three years later, Jill has worked hard to rebuild her life. She’s a senior at the prestigious Gold Coast Prep and a member of the Players, the school’s exclusive society.

Jill starts receiving text messages proclaiming Graham’s innocence. She needs to find out the truth about what happened the night Shaila died. But can she do it without giving up everything she has worked so hard to accomplish?

They Wish They Were Us has the drama of Gossip Girl mixed with a good murder mystery. This story shows even if someone’s life looks perfect, they can have struggles no one else knows about. Jill grapples with the knowledge that everything she knows could be wrong. She also has to navigate the difficulties of high school, which makes her story feel relatable.

If you enjoy They Wish They Were Us, check out The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas.

The Upside of Falling by Alex Light

After her parents divorce, Becca no longer believes in love. When her ex-best friend makes fun of her for not having a boyfriend, she pretends she’s been secretly dating someone. Brett sweeps in to save the day. He’s perfect to be her fake boyfriend. Brett’s super popular, captain of the football team, and just happens to want to get people off his back for him not dating. As they navigate their fake relationship, they start to face the biggest question of all: can something that started out fake become something real?

The Upside of Falling is a the total package for anyone who likes fake relationships, awkward exchanges, and discovering people are not exactly what you thought they were. Becca is a shy and serious bookworm, who loves to lose herself in a book. Brett is quick-witted, while also being amazingly considerate. Their banter makes this book fun to read. It also has amazing substance as they both try to figure out how to navigate the challenges of high school and family expectations.

If you like the Upside of Falling, check out Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

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Abigail is the Community Services Librarian. Some of her favorite genres are young adult fantasy, inspirational fiction, and chick lit. She loves to listen to music, crochet, watch DIY television, and eat pretty much anything that involves potatoes or chocolate.