Young Adult Civic Engagement Recommendations by Library Director, Sarah Palfrey

I was an avid YA reader for decades after being an actual YA, but over the last few years it hasn’t really held my interest.  Enter 2020 and the new trend of Young Adult fiction centered around civic engagement and voting, and I am back! I loved all of these books for their heart, their passion, and a new version of a coming of age story. YA trends can get pretty repetitive, pretty quickly and I felt each of these offered enough of a different twist to not burn out so quickly.

The thing that threads through all of these novels regardless of the outcome of their election, and most importantly in a YA novel, without being cheesy, is the importance of hope. That there is room for idealism, and mistakes, and first-loves in a messy and complicated world. I am always a fan of ‘coming of age’ stories in all shapes and sizes, and now in a very specific sub-genre of Election Lit.

All three titles are available at the Morgantown Public Library.

Yes, No, Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

There’s a lot going on in this book, political campaigns, teenage family drama, multiple religious and cultural perspectives, but it all works together.  The reviews on this one are fairly hot or cold, I think there is room to criticize, but it also leaves a lot of room for hope, which is something I appreciate in a 2020 title.

Hoopla (audio) WVDeli (audio and ebook)

The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

This circadian novel is a frustrating look at the logistical challenges some first time voters could face heading to the ballot box combine with the ‘meet cute’ story of Marva and Duke. I am not a huge fan of alternating narrators (somehow I picked two for this list), but Colbert does it really well. She uses it effectively to change up the pace of the story, an interesting touch to a book that takes place over the course of just a few hours. Colbert makes what could have been a very formulaic tale feel very personal.

Hoopla (audio and ebook) WVDeli

Running by Natalia Sylvester

Mari’s father is a Senator who is running for President which puts her at  the center of attention she never asked for.  Exactly where most teens would love to find themselves, right?   Social media in high school can be difficult enough, being thrown on a national stage ups the consequences for Mari.  Sylvester focuses her story along themes of friendship, family, and community, and leaves the romance out of the picture. Unless you count a deep love of the everglades and environmental activism, in which case love wins.