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Just Contemporary — A Guest Post from Ems

Today is the first of a series of guest posts I asked some of my blogger friends to write for me about Contemporary and why it's awesome. This first one is actually written by my cousin (Ems of In Which Ems Reviews Books) , who has spent years and years telling me that she just didn't like Contemporary. I don't think it will take you long to see why I wanted Ems to write this post for me. (But I'll give you a hint, I am that little bird.:)

In Which Ems Reads Contemporary (and *shhhh* likes it)

In the past, I’ve shied away magnificently from anything contemporary that’s heavier than a Ramona book. I really had no urge whatsoever to read about suicide, cutting, alcoholism, drug abuse, bad relationships, etc. Because that’s what YA contemp was in my book. And besides, wasn't there enough of that in the real world? Why should I clutter my precious reading time with it? I’d stick with Beverly Cleary, thank you very much, when I wanted a dose of reality.

And then a little bird started talking to me *coughAshleycough* about how amazing and wonderful contemp was. I didn’t even bother trying to play along. Nah, I’d stick to my fabulous paranormal/fantasy/sci-fi and be perfectly happy with werewolf maulings, ghost hauntings, vampire bitings, etc. THAT was the reality I wanted in my reading life.

But this little bird WOULDN’T BE QUIET. Finally, in an attempt to, ahem, quiet this bird, I decided to read A contemp. That was going to be all. I picked up Dreamland by Sarah Dessen. And HAH! I was right!! Contemp was all about bad relationships and abuse. I’ve had bad relationships and NO THANK YOU. I definitely didn’t want to put the time in on those in literature. I didn’t like the book and thought I’d given contemp a shot, so I was happily going to be done with it FOREVER. (insert Sandlot ‘forevers’ here, because that’s totally how I was saying it in my mind. Maybe out loud too, but I’ll never admit to that.)

Well, then I was convinced to try one more book because after all, one book with a bad relationship wasn’t exactly a fair representation. So then I read The Truth About Forever, also by Sarah Dessen.

You guys.

I loved it. Seriously, truly loved it. Yes, there was drama. Yes, there were sad elements of real life. And yes, I loved it. It was SO well done. It examined these topics maturely and didn’t shy away from the dirty bits and try to gloss over them. I was floored. This was a contemp novel! I wasn’t supposed to like it even a little bit. I was sure it was an anomaly.

I was almost proven right too, when I read Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, also on the suggestion of Ashley. I didn’t just dislike that book, I pretty much hated it. I couldn’t get into it and I couldn’t relate to a single thing (although, considering that I’m a huge paranormal fan, you wouldn’t think that would be a problem…). I just didn’t like it at all. I was convinced that TTAB was a fluke. Then I read Shine by Lauren Myracle and was blown away by it’s awesomeness.

(And speaking of Shine, can I just say that Ms. Myracle is a rock star and I’m so impressed by her graciousness in the light of the recent scandal?) Shine dealt with some seriously disturbing topics…hate crimes against gays, attempted murder, death, assault, rape, you name it and it’s pretty much there. And I couldn’t put it down.

Then I picked up If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Big mistake on my part, where I intended to lay contemp down into an early grave. I loved it even more than I loved TTAB, and then, I loved Where She Went even more than that. I even gave WSW an ‘incoherent’ rating on my blog, which is my highest honor. It’s reserved for books that are so good, they leave me feeling incoherent and unable to string a sentence together.


Where She Went was the first contemp to earn this honor, and you know what? I hope it’s not the last.

Yes, you heard that right. I am not giving up my newfound enjoyment of contemp. I’ve found that I actually really enjoy it, given the right book. I’m not a fan of all contemp, but I’m definitely a fan of more than I thought possible. I’ll keep reading the genre and find more books (hopefully) to add to my ‘incoherent’ shelf. I know they’re out there and I’m actually excited to plow through contemp in an effort to find them.

Surprised a bit? I know I was.


My name is Ems, and I like contemp.


Just Contemporary — A Guest Post from Ems {TIME}