I tend to have a love/hate relationship about books with rich kids. Done right, I like and feel sympathetic towards the rich main character, or treat the book as escapist; but done wrong, I turn into the "get a real problem!" type of reader with a side dose of "and imagine if that were your problem and you didn't have any money!" Yes, Holden Caulfield, I'm looking at you.
Carlie takes issue with a column that says all YA is about the rich folk nowadays (she also takes issue with the conflating of YA and middle grade, but that's another issue.)
I know we've done this before, but heck, let's do it again! (See here for our look at Class in YA books).
List of YA/middle grade books, written in the past few years, that do not have Rich Kids as the main character. Yes, I'll count struggling to stay in middle class as not being rich. Let's try to keep this contemporary, that is, not fantasy or historical fiction.
Beige by Cecil Castellucci
Clementine books by Sarah Pennypacker
Gilda Joyce books by Jennifer Allison
A Room on Lorelie Street by Mary Pearson
Rules of Survival by Werlin
The Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
That Girl Lucy Moon by Amy Timberlake
Waiting For Normal by Leslie Connor
Here are just a few:
Cicada Summer by Andrea Beaty
Free Baseball by Sue Corbett
Julia's Kitchen by Brenda Ferber
Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff
Dairy Queen and sequel by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch
Heat by Mike Lupica !!
A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
Jumping the Scratch by Sarah Weeks
Blood Brothers by S. A. Harazin
Behind the Eyes by Francisco X. Stork
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Snitch by Allison van Diepen
Tyrell by Coe Booth
Graffiti Girl by Kelly Parra
Season of Ice by Diane Les Becquets
Black and White by Paul Volponi
maybe Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott?
Wake by Lisa McMann
Madapple by Christina Meldrum
Diary of a Chav by Grace Dent
Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going
A Little Friendly Advice by Siobhan Vivian
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock and its sequel, The Off Season.
Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson
Deadline by Chris Crutcher
Contents Under Pressure by Lara Zeises
Born Blue by Han Nolan
Spellbound by Janet McDonald
Rules of the Road by Joan Bauer
Thanks for doing this -- the other day Read Roger had a post talking about how dropping designer brand names into YA didn't really matter, and I felt like I couldn't really articulate why it DID matter -- but it DOES matter because the world is 9/10ths **NOT** made up of rich kids, and it's healthy for YA'ers and kids to see themselves in their literature. They already are well aware that there are people whose lives are "better" than theirs, that's an easy message to catch. It's just so important to me that normal lives are portrayed as interesting and cool, too.
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
Peeled by Joan Bauer
I Know Who Likes You by Doug Cooney
The Aurora County All-Stars by Deborah Wiles
Hilary MacKay's Casson family books (starting with Saffy's Angel) are about a fantastic and outside-the-norm family with two bohemian artists as parents and no designer brands being worn...
This is a mix of MG and YA, but here's some of my recent (pretty new) reads whose main characters aren't wealthy and that others haven't mentioned yet:
The Dead & The Gone, Susan Beth Pfeffer
Orphea Proud, Sharon Dennis Wyeth
Down to the Bone, Myra Lazara Dole
Sunrise over Fallujah, Walter Dean Myers
Shooting the Moon, Frances O'Roark Dowell
The Wild Girls, Pat Murphy
If A Tree Falls at Lunch Period, Gennifer Choldenko
Hugging the Rock, Susan Taylor Brown
The God Box, Alex Sanchez
Feathers, Jacqueline Woodson
Chess Rumble, G. Neri
Boy Toy, Barry Lyga
Hero, Perry Moore
I think the Joey Pigza are pretty firmly in MG these days too.
That's not counting SF/F or historical fiction set before the 1960s (like A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce or others that have fairy-tale poor heroes and heroines.) Also not counting Sarah Dessen's latest :).
So I'd say probably about 2/3 of what I've been reading is not (upper-)middle-class characters... which I agree is a shockingly large number of wealthy protagonists!
What about people who lose wealth and/or home? Some chose to runaway / be homeless, others move to shelters with family.
Shelter by Beth Cooley
Hershey Herself by Cecelia Galante
My Lost and Found Life by Melodie Bowsher
Wonders of the World by Brian Yansky
Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen
The Double Life of Zoe Flynn by Janet Lee Carey
The Blue Mirror by Kathe Koja
I feel the need to go post now (or add these to my Tough Issues for Teens booklist!)
Sequel to: Blue girl.
I strongly second A Little Friendly Advice by Siobhan Vivian - Go Carlie!
I loved the Falconers series by Gordon Korman - those kids are solid middle class even before they're on the run.
Scribbler of Dreams/Pearson - improbable but cute (heroine middle class farm stock, although hero is affluent)
Alive and Well in Prague NY - heroine is daughter of artists who leave town because they can't really afford NY plus the father is ill and doesn't want to be there any more (actually, I found this book kind of predictable but others liked it).
My Life the Musical - heroine spends her college fund on Broadway tickets. Oops.
Small Gains - a great new K.M. Peyton is quite heartbreaking in its depiction of the heroine's poor family and her sister dying of consumption. I had to order it from the UK so I think not yet published here.
How Not to Be Popular/Ziegler - I can't remember the heroine's affluence/lack thereof but this book was very very funny.
I loved the Beany Malone series because she and her sisters were always trying to make ends meet by making meatloaf, trying to sew their own clothes (disastrously), etc.
I'm a bit late to this and agree with many of the books already mentioned, but I really appreciated the fact that the kids in the middle-grade novel "The Qwik-Pick Adventure Society" by Sam Riddleburger live in a trailer park and have parents who need to work on Christmas Day to keep the family financially afloat.
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