Let’s Talk…on Issue Books!

Posted August 31, 2012 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 18 Comments

Click here to see Let’s Talk!

I’m so excited that Melissa at i swim for oceans likes discussion posts because sometimes I get chatty and have things to say. What’s up, Melissa?? Let’s Talk. 

This week’s question:

Do you like issue books?
Why or why not?

I read to escape. I never really wanted to spend much time reading about things that happen in real life because real life is hard. And it can be in your face and unrelenting. So I’ve always turned my nose up at the dreaded issue books – YUCK!
While I know Melissa thrives on Issue Books, I am just the opposite – I have always run as far and as hard as I could in the opposite direction…until fairly recently. I’ve never been the biggest fan of the contemporary genre…until fairly recently. You guys know this. To me, issues and contemporary just always seemed to go hand-in-hand, which is why I always STAYED AWAY. Far, far away…

…with one exception: ELLEN HOPKINS.

I’ve loved Ellen’s books since I read my first one. They are raw and gritty, and they are sometimes painful to read. They are emotional and come from some place inside of Ellen that – I don’t even know. She is an incredible talent and I have the utmost respect for her as a writer. Her books are powerful enough to change the lives of people, which is huge. Before I ever began reading YA contemporary, I started reading Ellen Hopkins. (Sidenote: they are verse novels, which I have come to love intensely.)

Crank, Glass, Fallout by Ellen Hopkins

The thing is that lately, as I’ve started reading some YA contemporary, I’ve realized that if you throw a few issues in there and add some romance, I can hang with it. I even LOVE it. I typically don’t want all issues, but if you have some regular people trying to have a relationship, they are bound to have at least some issues. Heck, we all do!

I say all the time: issue contemps + romance contemps = happy Asheley!

Some of my favorites:

Easy by Tammara Webber
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker


Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire is a little bit of a different beast. It’s more of an issues book than a romance book – IN MY OPINION – but still enjoyable, as long as you read it with the right mindset. The writing is fantastic and the author did a great job with these trainwrecks of characters. It ain’t called Beautiful Disaster for nothing, people.


What are your favorite Issue Books??

Can you recommend some Issue Books
 for ME to read?? 


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


18 responses to “Let’s Talk…on Issue Books!

    • I've read one Sarah Dessen book – Just Listen. I remember actually being surprised that there were any issues at all in that book because the cover was so pretty and happy-looking, with the ipod. That was when I FIRST started reading contemporary YA, though, so I wasn't sure what to expect when I went into the book. I certainly plan to read more of her stuff. Thanks for recommending her to me!!

  1. I like issue books – but I need to be in the right mood for them. I've read most of the ones you included (except Something Like Normal, which I'm about to read!)

    • I agree…I don't really want to drown in the issue-type books one right behind the other, even the ones that are really great. I need to mix them with dystopians or fantasy, etc. Something Like Normal is fantastic. You're gonna love it!

  2. This is great! I should have give examples as well…I also got wildly off topic. Oh well.

    I haven't read Ellen Hopkins or Melissa Walker, but I love all the others you mentioned. And I like how you talked about reading being an escape. I do the same thing. And I prefer some romance in there too!

    • Ellen Hopkins is pretty hard core ISSUES, like seriously for real issues. There is nothing pretty or beautiful or sugar-coated at all in her books. She tells it like it is, and that's that. But that's also interestingly what I've loved about her books, even when I've always made faces at the words "Issue-Driven Books" in the past. For some reason, hers just hit me in a positive way. I checked out two from the library yesterday, in fact.

      And OH Melissa Walker…I read two of her books during my contemporary month. Unbreak My Heart and Small Town Sinners. I loved them both. There's a way she captures her characters that is somehow different from other authors, but I'm not sure that I can pinpoint it. She writes about the life experiences they are going through at whatever age she's writing about, and it is just SO GOOD. I inhaled those two Walker books. Unbreak My Heart had a neat little romance in it, but there was some heartache too. So good. 🙂

    • Yeah, I think so. 🙂

      I mean, it isn't an "issue book" but it is certainly issues-contemp + romance-contemp in that Echo, Noah, Beth, and some of the other characters have big-time issues that they're trying to work through – and I think the author spent a good bit of time on their issues in the plot of the story and worked it into the romance.

      I don't think it is straight issues nor straight romance, just comfortably in the middle. BUT I realize that there have been some mixed reviews about it. I really liked it though. 🙂

  3. I'm like you in that I read books to escape – and actually see enough issues in day to day life teaching college kids. But there are a lot of books that I read that have issues in them – some dystopians like When She Woke, and recently Who Fears Death (fantasy).

    • You're so right! I didn't include any dystopians, paranormals, or fantasies in my list. There are definitely some out there but if I'd include ALL of my favorites, my post would've been too long and I would've had a very hard time choosing. I had to narrow my focus down. Agree with Where She Woke, which I haven't read yet. But I need to check on Who Fears Death…thanks for mentioning that one, Tanya!!

    • Ellen is amazing. I love Triangles the most so far, although I don't really think it is YA. I'm kind of the same as you – I don't want to seek Issue-heavies out unless they really pull my heartstrings. But I'm warming up to them…

      I'm trying to be more well-rounded!

    • I totally understand. I bought 13 Reasons Why and it's been sitting on my shelf for months. I'm just so scared of that book…I've read reviews that make me SO EMOTIONAL and I can't imagine how the book will make me feel. Eventually I'll get to it, of course. I'm still new to the issue books.

      Wonder! That is one that I need to read and I need to get my children to read as well, from what I understand. I've read stellar things about it. Thanks so much for that recommend!

  4. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson FOR SURE. I also love Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, but it's lacking romance. Sold by Patricia McCormick is one of those really tough to read books, BUT it's in verse (absolutely no romance).

    What verse novels would you recommend aside from Ellen Hopkins? I'm looking forward to the boxed set of the Crank trilogy coming out in October (according to B&N). Trying to find more verse novels since I've LOVED the ones I've read so far!

    • I've been wanting to read all of those that you recommended, particularly Sold because of the verse!

      Verse: Lisa Schroeder is great. An example is Chasing Brooklyn. Also during Contemporary Month I read Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe and Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams.

      Ellen Hopkins are more hard-core, in your face (particular the YA ones, Triangles is a little more grown-up and less in-your-face although it is still issues-based). Lisa Schroeder's words are like floating on clouds, as were the words of Audition. Waiting was somewhere in the middle and just a beautiful book as well.

      There are other verse novelists that I haven't made my way to yet and I'm working my way there. I think for some, they are an acquired taste, but for me they are a great way to get to the core of the story without all of the fluff of the extra verbage. I like regular prose most of the time, but I can absolutely appreciate the authors that can tell a story in 1/3 or 1/4 as many words and let my mind fill in the rest of the gaps. Ya know?

      Certainly, there are other verse novel gurus out there. I am only just getting my feet wet. I learned to love them from Ashley @BasicallyBooks.

  5. I love the secondary characters in this book and the story was so interesting 🙂 I LOVE books set in college. And okay, the potential love triangle between Ben and Bea and Veruca is a little bit of a turn off, but ugh, college totally overrules that.

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