I tend to try and decide what YA book was truly my #1 favorite out of the year, and it was no less easy to do so in 2020. 2020 was truly a fantastic year of YA contemporary. I really didn’t embrace fantasy in 2020, so it makes sense that nearly, if not all, of the books on this list are indeed contemporary. This might be more of a sentiment to share in one of my final 2020 wrap-ups, but 2020 (to say the least) was a year about embracing what you love as much as you can and for me, this was contemporary books!
I think this year’s favorites are truly books that have unique premises that also nail everything else I look for in my YA reads, mostly self-growth, relationships, family, and a good romance or two. My YA this year was also really about solidifying some authors as my favorite authors with their new releases and also introducing myself to some new-to-me authors that have also become auto-read authors too!
Favorite YA Books of 2020
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Thinking about Emma Lord’s Tweet Cute makes me want to make a grilled cheese and pan of monster cookies and then lay under a blanket and reread it! Tweet Cute is the first book on this list of many with the enemies-to-lovers trope that I absolutely loved – even though the leads, Pepper and Jack, were more rivals than enemies (if that makes sense) in my eyes because I truly just sensed the chemistry between them and little to no animosity. The family restaurant inspired premise and rivalry was executed so,so well.
More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn
Like many of the books here, More Than Maybe was honestly just a perfect read. It’s either hit or miss for me when it comes to YA books with such a music-inspired premise, but Erin Hahn’s writing also knocks this sub-genre in YA out of the park for me. I literally immediately starting reread You’d Be Mine after finishing More Than Maybe and I loved it even more this second time around. More Than Maybe was both so light and swoon-worthy while also tackling future ambitions and complicated family dynamics.
What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter
What I Like About You is the perfect love letter to book blogging and the YA community. I read What I Like about You honestly during the worst part of my personal life this year and it just bought me so much joy. Its romance was so fluffy and cute, and the book also delves into Halle’s friendship, family, and her relationship with Judaism. The book overall just captures so much of how I feel as a reader and blogger. While I got my blogging start in college vs. Halle getting her start in I believe high school, her feelings about blogging and reading bought me back to my teenage bookish self and my current blogger (and still reader) self. Also, make sure you have a cupcake close by as you read this one!
A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
Speaking of books where you might have to a baked treat or five close by while reading, A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow made me want to eat its food & desserts right off the page. Following a girl whose dream is to run her family’s Cuban-inspired Miami bakery but is instead sent to England for the summer, A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow was this perfect blend of coziness while also tackling grief and self growth. I’m so happy so many readers are just loving this one and it totally deserves to be a Reese’s Book Club pick.
Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Based on its synopsis and after loving Rachel Lynn Solomon’s You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone in the spring, I figured I was going to love Today Tonight Tomorrow, but I LOVED it. You heard it here first, Today Tonight Tomorrow is my #1 favorite YA book of 2020. Everyone knows I love an enemies-to-lovers contemporary, and I’m officially declaring this book as the YA queen of my favorite trope. Its female lead, Rowan, is one of the most relatable characters I’ve ever encountered. Today Tonight Tomorrow just balances all of its elements so well, including romance, family, friendship, self growth, serious conversations about identity and religion (both MCs are Jewish), and its Seattle setting.
Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Harley in the Sky deserves so much love and hype. I feel like I’ve mentioned it multiple times on the blog this year because I want more readers to pick it up! I often know before going into a book that it likely could be a favorite, but Harley in the Sky is just one of those books that just snuck up on me. It is so much more than its circus/acrobatic premise, diving into mental health and family dynamics.
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
I finally fulfilled my promise (to my TBR) that I would read With the Fire on High in 2020. In my usual fashion, I regret not reading this book sooner because I LOVED it. With the Fire on High had such fantastic representation and told a story we don’t often seen in YA. Emoni wants nothing more than to go on a study abroad culinary program in Spain, but between raising her daughter and helping her grandmother out, can’t imagine how it could work out. I loved Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing style, and the story was just so amazing. Growing up in a predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood in Philadelphia there are also somer really great discussions surrounding race, as Emoni identifies as Afro-Puerto Rican.
We Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian
PSA that you don’t need to be a field hockey player or even a sports fan to read & enjoy Siobhan Vivian’s We Are the Wildcats. I’m probably a little biased because I do come from a field hockey background and loved the setting, but this book is really about female friendship and empowerment.
Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett
I recently talked about Chasing Lucky in my 2020 5 Star Prediction Results (you can likely guess if it was a 5 star read or not since it’s on this list). This book was a culmination of my favorite things to see in a summery YA contemporary, aka a bookstore, a East Coast town, and a former friends turned lovers romance.
Have a Little Faith in Me by Sonia Hartl
I know I tend to throw ‘laugh-out-loud’ around (especially when it comes to rom-coms), but Have a Little Faith in Me seriously has one of the best senses of humors I’ve read in a book while delving into serious issues. This book takes place at a Christian summer camp our main protagonist, CeCe, doesn’t necessarily want to be at so she can get back her ex, and drags her best friend, Paul, along with her. CeCe becomes a sex education expert of sorts for her cabin mates, which creates some fantastic conversations about faith, relationships, and sexuality.
Anna K by Jenny Lee
I think it’s just time we embrace ‘rich kid’ YA books (can you tell I listened to a ton of Bad on Paper Podcast this year??), because Anna K seriously might be my favorite book in this ‘genre’. Blame it on me being in my early in 20s, but I’ve really grown to seek out more mature YA books, which is the best way I would describe Anna K. Yes, it is a romance and retelling of Anna Karenina, but there are a few scandals revolving around relationships, family, money, romances, and/or drug and alcohol use.
You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon
Majesty (American Royals #2) by Katharine McGee
Recommended for You by Laura Silverman
Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson
Break the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli
Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Interested in finding out my favorite books over the years? Check out my favorite books from 2019!
As the year begins to come to a close, thank you so much for supporting Fangirl Fury in 2020. I hope you are able to relax and unwind with some great books by your side over the next two weeks. I hope you are having a happy & safe holiday season, and wish you a happy & healthy new year! Here’s to more reading & blogging for all of us in 2021!
What were your favorite YA books of 2020? Have you read any of my favorites? Are they any books you think I would like based on my favorites? Share in the comments!