It’s back to school time and we’ve got college dorms and homecoming games on our mind. In fact, August 30 is College Colors Day, which gives us that much more to celebrate. In honor of the leaves in the quad changing color and the marching band taking the field, here are some of our favorite YA books about college students.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl has a special place in our hearts. The vibrant green cover shows the dedicated and driven Cath, plugging away at her epic of a fanfic as Levi gazes lovingly at her. The cover’s a little bit of a spoiler, but we don’t mind. We’re too busy falling in love with Cath’s story -- the way she navigates being an individual rather than a twin, a daughter living away from home rather than someone who relies heavily on her dad. And it wasn’t until our second read that we realized just how relatably and wonderfully this novel deals with mental health on the page. It’s so caring.
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
The pale pink of this book cover, partnered with the gorgeous hair of protagonists Penny and Sam, is getting us in the school spirit mood. Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi is a freshman year novel that asks: Who can you trust to be there for you? When Penny and Sam trade numbers, the excuse is simple. Neither has an emergency contact. And they seem like normal enough people. But over the course of this novel, they make good use of those traded numbers, texting each other and sharing true vulnerability -- the kind of vulnerability it’s easy to share when you’re protected by a phone screen. It’s a sweet novel. And that’s exactly what we need as the seasons turn.
Grace and the Fever by Zan Romanoff
Zan Romanoff’s Grace and the Fever is technically a summer between high school and college book, but we know you’ll let it slide. Look at that yellow and red cover! When Grace Thomas runs into a member of Fever Dream, it’s like her middle school dreams are coming true. But Grace isn’t a preteen anymore. She’s eighteen -- and totally too cool for this boy band fawning. Or is she? Grace and the Fever is the perfect anecdote to the age old adage “Never meet your heroes, because they’re sure to disappoint you.” Grace knew the sentiment, but she didn’t know how.
Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston
We’re not the first ones this summer to recommend Casey McQuinston’s Red, White, and Royal Blue, but we may be the first ones to recommend it as a book about college students. This beautiful pink cover provides incredible contrast to the titular hues, but it’s what’s inside that’s the most exciting. Told through the POV of college senior -- and, oh yeah, first son of the United States -- Alex Claremont-Diaz, Red, White, and Royal Blue explores a queer coming of age story like we’ve never seen it before. We love authentic bi representation in our YA. More of that, please.