If you're like me, you're anxiously awaiting Election Day on Tuesday. This is the first presidential election I've been eligible to vote in, and I cast my ballot with pride on the first day of early voting in my state. The books featured in this series contain teens casting their ballot, fighting for social and systemic change, and engaging in politics for the first time. One post will go up today and a second on Election Day. Let these books teach you about new issues, inspire you with their amazing characters, and push you to make your voice heard this election!
Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.
Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.
Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely.
Most Likely by Sarah Watson
Is it Ava, the picture-perfect artist who's secretly struggling to figure out where she belongs? Or could it be CJ, the one who's got everything figured out...except how to fix her terrible SAT scores? Maybe it's Jordan, the group's resident journalist, who knows she's ready for more than their small Ohio suburb can offer. And don't overlook Martha, who will have to overcome all the obstacles that stand in the way of her dreams.
This is the story of four best friends who have one another's backs through every new love, breakup, stumble, and success--proving that great friendships can help young women achieve anything...even a seat in the Oval Office.
Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno
Marin has always been good at navigating these unspoken guidelines. A star student and editor of the school paper, she dreams of getting into Brown University. Marin’s future seems bright―and her young, charismatic English teacher, Mr. Beckett, is always quick to admire her writing and talk books with her.
But when “Bex” takes things too far and comes on to Marin, she’s shocked and horrified. Had she somehow led him on? Was it her fault?
When Marin works up the courage to tell the administration what happened, no one believes her. She’s forced to face Bex in class every day. Except now, he has an ax to grind.
But Marin isn’t about to back down. She uses the school newspaper to fight back and she starts a feminist book club at school. She finds allies in the most unexpected people, like “slutty” Gray Kendall, who she’d always dismissed as just another lacrosse bro. As things heat up at school and in her personal life, Marin must figure out how to take back the power and write her own rules.
War and Speech by Don Zolidis
A new school promises a fresh start. Except Eaganville isn't exactly like other high schools. It's ruled with an iron fist by a speech team that embodies the most extreme winner-takes-all philosophy.
Sydney is befriended by a group of fellow misfits, each of whom has been personally victimized by the speech team. It turns out Sydney is the perfect plant to take down the speech team from within.
With the help of her co-conspirators, Sydney throws herself into making Nationals in speech, where she will be poised to topple the corrupt regime. But what happens when Sydney realizes she actually has a shot at...winning? Sydney lost everything because of her dad's obsession with being on top. Winning at speech might just be her ticket out of a life of loserdom. Can she really walk away from that?
You Say It First by Katie Cotugno
Colby is stuck in a rut, reeling from a family tragedy and working a dead-end job—unsure what his future holds, or if he even cares. The last thing he has time for is some privileged rich girl preaching the sanctity of the political process. So he says the worst thing he can think of and hangs up.
But things don’t end there.…
That night on the phone winds up being the first in a series of candid, sometimes heated, always surprising conversations that lead to a long-distance friendship and then—slowly—to something more. Across state lines and phone lines, Meg and Colby form a once-in-a-lifetime connection. But in the end, are they just too different to make it work?
Dress Coded by Carrie Firestone
Because Olivia was yelled at for wearing a tank top when she had to keep her sweatshirt wrapped around her waist.
Because Liza got dress coded and Molly didn't, even though they were wearing the exact same outfit.
Because when Jessica was pulled over by the principal and missed a math quiz, her teacher gave her an F.
Because it's impossible to find shorts that are longer than her fingertips.
Because girls' bodies are not a distraction.
Because middle school is hard enough.
And so Molly starts a podcast where girls can tell their stories, and soon her small rebellion swells into a revolution. Because now the girls are standing up for what's right, and they're not backing down.
The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert
Duke Crenshaw is so done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band's first paying gig tonight. Only problem? Duke can't vote.
When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn't spent months doorbelling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right. And that's how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote. They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva's missing cat), it's clear that there's more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy.
Romantic and triumphant, The Voting Booth is proof that you can't sit around waiting for the world to change, but some things are just meant to be.
Running by Natalia Sylvester
In this thoughtful, authentic, humorous, and gorgeously written novel about privacy, waking up, and speaking up, Senator Anthony Ruiz is running for president. Throughout his successful political career he has always had his daughter’s vote, but a presidential campaign brings a whole new level of scrutiny to sheltered fifteen-year-old Mariana and the rest of her Cuban American family, from a 60 Minutes–style tour of their house to tabloids doctoring photos and inventing scandals. As tensions rise within the Ruiz family, Mari begins to learn about the details of her father’s political positions, and she realizes that her father is not the man she thought he was.
But how do you find your voice when everyone’s watching? When it means disagreeing with your father—publicly? What do you do when your dad stops being your hero? Will Mari get a chance to confront her father? If she does, will she have the courage to seize it?
Do you plan to pick any of these books up? Maybe some fictional politics can distract from absolute absurdity that is our *actual* political mess!