Girl Unmoored by Jennifer Gooch Hummer may be the undiscovered young-adult novel of the summer. It has a killer Goodreads rating and has been called this generation’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. It’s set in the ’80s, when fear of AIDS was rampant and misunderstood, when being gay was not tolerated at all. It follows Apron, a young teen who has lost her mom and falls in love with her flower shop co-worker, Mike. Only Mike is gay and has a boyfriend — and has been diagnosed with AIDs.
Below, Hummer shares some of her favorite YA novels that inspired her own:
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: “It’s lightning fast, very intelligent dialogue and characters. I really admire the protagonist Hazel because she’s selfless. While everyone else is trying to leave a legacy or feeling sorry for themselves thinking they didn’t do anything important, she’s not about that. She’s more concerned with her parent’s feelings. She doesn’t want to hurt them or break their hearts. That’s the only thing she’s worried about; she doesn’t care about what mark she’s left on the world. It’s very elevated thinking.”
The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty: “I used to sleep with this book under my pillow, hoping the excellent writing would seep into me by osmosis! It’s my favorite coming of age story of all time. I related to the voice of Evelyn—the way the author drew this character to feel loneliness but not sadness. Evelyn had to step outside of herself at a very young age to take care of people—her mother and disabled brother—but she didn’t have self-pity. She took responsibility and rose to the occasion.”
She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb: “I also used to sleep with this book under my pillow! I loved it. I loved the character because she goes through one crazy hardship after another, but she keeps her sense of humor. Through all the confusing situations and the mistakes she makes, she ultimately finds herself. For a male author to write about a female character and to be so spot on—he’s brilliant.”