Kids these days
January 6, 2015 12:49 PM   Subscribe

What is the best fiction that accurately portrays the thoughts and lives of teenagers or young adults in 2014?

(Characters are under 25 and made in the last 5 years, let's say, or the work is older but ahead of its time. Can be about any place/culture in the world that's real. Can be in any medium.)
posted by michaelh to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
"Eleanor & Park," by author Rainbow Rowell got a lot of attention this last year for it's portrayal of honest body imagery and teenage complexity.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:55 PM on January 6, 2015 [8 favorites]

One possible answer: things written by teens and young adults themselves.

Wattpad is one good place to find 'em.
posted by box at 1:16 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I just finished this War of the Encyclopaedists and it so thoroughly reminded me of the self absorption yet open-mindedness of people in their early 20s.

I know it's not published yet - if you wanted a copy I could probably dig one up for you.
posted by lyssabee at 1:20 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I haven't had the opportunity to discuss these with actual teenagers, but The Kings of Summer felt pretty close to me.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:47 PM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Some recent young adult books that I found excellent for capturing a 2010s experience of teenagerhood are "Gabi: A Girl in Pieces" by Isabel Quintero (ignore the cover, the cover is bad!) and Andrew Smith's "Grasshopper Jungle" and "Winger" - I had mixed feelings about Smith's books for various reasons but he does contemporary-teen-boy-voice superlatively well.

(I loved Eleanor and Park but it is set in the 1980s, so may not be covered under your criteria.)
posted by Jeanne at 1:59 PM on January 6, 2015

I think Boyhood does a pretty good job.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 3:15 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

You could read some YA by authors who were still teenagers themselves when they wrote it. Kody Kepplinger and Hannah Moskowitz come to mind; I'm sure there's others.
posted by Georgina at 3:24 PM on January 6, 2015

Response by poster: Does Eleanor & Park try to capture 1980s young adulthood or contemporary adulthood set in the 80s as a device? The latter would fit what I'm looking for - though it looks like a good read either way. Yes, certainly interested in writing and films by contemporary young adults so long as it's an accurate portrayal of their generation or can be read between the lines if unreliable. Thanks for everything so far, everyone.
posted by michaelh at 4:05 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are (both by Courtney Summers) struck me as very honest, if often painful and ugly, portrayals of young adulthood. I believe she wrote one of them she was 21 or so and the other very soon thereafter.
posted by artemisia at 4:45 PM on January 6, 2015

The movie Boyhood seemed to me to do this. Less in a whats-going-on-in-pop-culture way but about growing up. It was great overall.
posted by hepta at 4:50 PM on January 6, 2015

Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets
I really enjoyed this book. I feel like it is pretty accurate to real life young adult life.

I second Eleanor and Park even thought it is set during a past decade.

Losing It by Cora McCormack if the young adult is a female and old enough for the content.

I think Judy Blume's Hello God, it's me Margaret holds up.
posted by Jewel98 at 8:46 PM on January 6, 2015

As someone who was the same age as Eleanor in the year in which the book is set, I think someone could successfully argue either side of the question you pose in your followup.

Rowell's novel Fangirl is (mostly) set at a contemporary university, with a female freshman student protagonist. Please don't let that stop you from reading E&P, though.

Since you said any might be worth having a look at the short film Noah.
posted by gnomeloaf at 8:53 PM on January 6, 2015

If you don't mind any decade, then Jo Walton's Among Others might fit the bill.

Accuracy for modern (2010s) teens will be difficult because for published work you are primarily going to get an adult idea on what teens are thinking.

That said, here are some well received contemporary YA novels (disclaimer/warning: have only read 2 of these; these are primarily woman-oriented, white, middle-class books):
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle
3 Willows by Ann Brashares (also any of the Traveling Pants books)
posted by carrioncomfort at 8:54 AM on January 7, 2015

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