what i read // 2017 contemporary fiction favourites
honestly, I found it so hard to pick my favourite reads of
this last year 2017. therefore, there shall be a small string of favourites posts throughout January divided by genre. today we're starting with contemporary fiction. apart from the first three on this list, which are my top, top favourites, the only order is the order in which I read these novels throughout the year.
|photo by me. (this blanket is literally the softest thing on earth!)|
2 0 1 7 C O N T E M P O R A R Y F I C T I O N F A V O U R I T E S
X On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
What this novel did for me is remind me how much I love complicated dramas with messed-up, loyal friendship groups set in a place I can actually picture and why Melina Marchetta is one of my favourite authors. It's a messy, emotional, beautifully written story about finding your family and your past, high schoolers playing war games, and loving someone fiercely while wanting to push them into the path of an oncoming vehicle, featuring a pretty cool story-within-a-story. :)
favourite quote: 'Hold my hand,' she said, sobbing against him. 'Hold my hand because I might disappear.'
O Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
The existence of this novel, which is a lot about creativity and pressure makes me so very happy. I relate to the main character, Eliza, not only as a writer, but also as someone who has more online/long distance friendships than physical/in the same town ones and struggles with their own monsters (though not as severely as Eliza does). Also, the artwork, which I understand the author created as well, is incredible and the romance is very sweet.
favourite quote: Real people don't have concise character arcs.
X The Someday Birds by Sally J Pla
Charlie's dad was injured in Afghanistan and is awaiting treatment on the other side of the country, so naturally he and his siblings (and a strange family friend) end up road tripping to meet him there, which turns into a summer vacation, which turns into Charlie aiming to spot every bird on he and his dad's Someday Birds list. The family dynamics are realistic, the road trip is crazy, and Charlie offers serious, intelligent, scared, perfectly honest narration, which makes this the kind of heartwarming middle-grade coming of age story I love to pieces.
favourite quote: I imagine what it'll be like to tell Dad: 'Remember how I hate the outdoors? Well, I've come all the way across the country to you, and I've seen all the birds on our Someday list, Dad.' It will be like a hundred hand-washings of calm.
O Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
This novel surprised me by being more than a standard, feel-good, happy endings all around, contemporary romance. It squished together a few of my favourite things (friendship, lists, scriptwriting, and traveling) to make a sweet, memorable, fun summer story. Included were important themes of not giving up on your friends, of growing as a person without changing for other people and of having a working fuel gauge in your car no matter how good a memory you think you have.favourite quote: I somehow knew that the particulars didn't matter. She was my heart, she was half of me, and nothing, certainly not a few measly hundred miles, was ever going to change that.
X Laurinda by Alice Pung
This is the kind of novel that forces you to think about issues like multiculturalism and how hard it can be to not change in a society that wants to mold you certain way. A lot of the time life is hard work and injustice and you may regret the choices and changes you've made along the way. It's not the most easy story to read, but I think it's relevant, unique, and more importantly honest.
favourite quote: I never tell them about our lives. You know why? It is not because I am ashamed. It is because some things are just good, too good to be judged.
O A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland
This is a somewhat strange story about facing your fears that reads like a fairytale and frightens you with its emotional weight. There are elements of fantasy or magical realism and one of the sweetest romances in history and such a heartbreaking mental illness storyline. I think I need to re-read to work out my final thoughts, but I'll let you know that this story includes peonies left by Death, girls who wear a different costume everyday of their lives, and going viral online.
favourite quote: What other beautiful things had fear been hiding from her? What else had the curse long kept her from discovering? For the first time in a long time, she wanted to find out.
X A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
One of the things I loved most about this novel, I think, is the conversational writing style; it was easy for me, as a reader, to be welcomed into and immerse myself in Steffi's world, with her split-up blended together caring family, best friend who's going in a different direction, and first boyfriend, who sees her differently from anyone else and takes her on whole new adventures. I loved how Steffi's anxiety/selective mutism and Rhys' (her boyfriend) deafness were integral parts of the story, but they did not become their character's defining characteristics. At it's heart, this is a romance, a friendship, and a coming-of-age story, just a little different than all the others.
favourite quote: I want the world, I think. Even if it scares me.
O Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
So, full disclosure, while John Green is super famous in the world of young adult fiction, this is the first novel of his I've read, and, yes, it did impress me. Elements of the story, such as tracking down a millionaire and hanging out at this one restaurant for your best friend because it's the one you have coupons for, are refreshingly unique, and the characters of Aza and Davis are mature, philosophical individuals. It wasn't a perfect read for me (I got annoyed at the overly philosophical style sometimes and some of Aza's relationships) but it still kept me reading to the end. I also loved Davis' brother and thought his subplot was important.
favourite quote: You are as real as anyone, and your doubts make you more real, not less.
X The Girl, the Dog, and the Writer in Rome by Katrina Nannestad
This is a thoroughly charming story about Freja, who's zoologist mother is sick and goes to stay in Switzerland while sending Freja to live with the eccentrically absent-minded crime writer, Tobias Appleby. They end up in Rome, where shenanigans involving gelato, cheese-wheels, and priests in disguise ensue. Although, I found the ending a bit dissatisfying, I'm hoping to get more answers in the sequel, and I adored the whimsy of this all and the teapots Tobias takes along on picnics.
favourite quote: Within the week, Tobias Appleby had packed three boxes and two suitcases of necessities, leased an apartment in the centre of Rome, sent his motorcycle and sidecar ahead by rail, locked up Myrtle Cottage, and was boarding an aeroplane with a ten-year-old girl and an enormous Irish wolfhound. Apparently, if you pay for the seat and make sure there are no stowaway fleas, a dog can travel first class with the best in the land.
what were some of your favourite contemporary fiction reads of 2017? any of these?