YA Friday: #DormLife

Girl sitting at her dorm room desk

Back To School

When you think of YA books, most of the time you think of high school. But college is also a time of growth and a chance to explore your identity after leaving home for the first time. Stories about those post-high school years have been difficult to find in the past, but recently there has been a publishing boom about YA books set in college and beyond. So whether you’re a student looking ahead, applying for college, or already at university and looking for a good book set in that confusing place you’ve found yourself, the books in this list are for you.

Girls dancing in their dorm room

Virtually Yours book coverVirtually Yours, written by Sarvenaz Tash

NYU freshman Mariam Vakilian hasn’t dated anyone in five months, not since her high school sweetheart Caleb broke up with her. So, when she decides to take advantage of an expiring coupon and try out a new virtual reality dating service, it’s sort of a big deal. It’s an even bigger deal when it chooses as one of her three matches none other than Caleb himself. That has to be a sign, right? Except that her other match, Jeremy, just happens to be her new best friend IRL. Mariam’s heart is telling her one thing, but the app is telling her another. So, which should she trust? Is all fair in modern love?

American Panda book cover

American Panda, written by Gloria Chao

Mei is only 17 and already a freshman at MIT, but her Taiwanese immigrant parents won’t be satisfied until she has a medical degree, a Taiwanese doctor husband, and children. To ensure the success of this plan, Mei’s mother monitors Mei’s behavior, calling constantly, nagging her to be more feminine, and engineering meet-ups with approved boys. But there’s so much her parents don’t know: the boy Mei likes is Japanese American, she’s too germophobic to be a doctor, and she’d rather be dancing. Worse, she’s in touch with the brother her parents disowned when he failed to meet family standards.

We Are Okay book coverWe Are Okay, written by Nina LaCour

 It’s the winter break during Marin’s first year at college, and she is facing the holidays thousands of miles from her San Francisco home. Since her grandfather died the previous summer, Marin feels set adrift. Not only has she lost Gramps, her sole caretaker, but he’d been keeping secrets, and when she discovers the truth, it shatters everything she believed was true about her life. Engulfed in pain and feeling alone, she shuns her best friend Mabel’s numerous calls and texts. But Mabel flies cross-country, determined to help her friend deal with her grief. Marin is afraid that Mabel regrets the physical intimacy that had grown between the two girls while she was still in California, and braces herself for more heartache, but Mabel surprises her in more ways than one.

Finding Felicity book cover

Finding Felicity, written by Stacey Kade

Caroline Sands has never been particularly good at making friends. And her parents’ divorce and the move to Arizona three years ago didn’t help. Being the new girl is hard enough without being socially awkward too. So out of desperation and a desire to please her worried mother, Caroline invented a whole life for herself—using characters from Felicity, an old show she discovered online and fell in love with. But now it’s time for Caroline to go off to college and she wants nothing more than to leave her old “life” behind and build something real. However, when her mother discovers the truth about her manufactured friends, she gives Caroline an ultimatum: Prove in this first semester that she can make friends of the nonfictional variety and thrive in a new environment. Otherwise, it’s back to living at home—and a lot of therapy. Armed with nothing more than her resolve and a Felicity-inspired plan, Caroline accepts the challenge. But she soon realizes that the real world is rarely as simple as television makes it out to be. And to find a place where she truly belongs, Caroline may have to abandon her script and take the risk of being herself

Just One Day book cover

Just One Day, written by Gayle Forman

When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Again, but Better book cover

Again, but Better, written by Christine Riccio

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents...sounds ideal -- but Shane's made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance...what's that? Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time's a ticking, and she needs a change -- there's nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She's going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure! Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart. Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic - the possibilities are endless.

Further Reading

Fangirl book coverEmergency Contact book coverGiant Days book coverRoomies book coverAll The Feels book coverNice Try, Jane Sinner book cover

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