When The Wrong Side of Right begins, Kate Quinn is like many American teenagers — the last thing on her mind is the upcoming presidential election. But after she learns she’s the daughter of the Republican nominee, she transforms from tuned-out teen to campaign It Girl with the whole country watching. When her father’s stance on illegal immigration hits too close to home, Kate has to make the ultimate political decision — whether to keep walking the party line or stand up for what she truly believes.
Kate’s not the only reluctant politico in YA fiction. Here are 7 great reads featuring other teens caught up in the political machine.
Hope Was Here, Joan Bauer
In this much-beloved novel from 2000, teen waitress Hope is hoping to make a new life for herself at a diner in Wisconsin, along with her aunt Addie. When she happens into a David and Goliath mayoral battle between honorable diner owner G.T. and the town’s corrupt incumbent, Hope does everything she can to help G.T.’s campaign — even after a revelation throws his candidacy into jeopardy. Upbeat and inspiring, this slice of small-town life is a love letter to democracy and the power of individuals to make a positive difference in their communities.
Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan
Seventeen-year-old ex-boyfriends Harry and Craig have a challenging but clear goal — to set a new Guinness World Record by kissing for over 32 hours. While they do, a crowd gathers, and then a social media audience, and protesters and counter-protesters, until a simple physical act becomes a powerful political one watched the world over. All the while, a Greek chorus cheers them on — the collective voices of the hundreds of thousands of gay men who’ve fallen to AIDS — making it even more clear how central these two ordinary teens are to the politics of their time.
The Secret Side of Empty, Maria E. Andreu
Drawn in part from author Maria E. Andreu’s own experience, this lively and compelling novel tells the story of brainy teen M.T., whose All-American exterior helps hide her biggest secret — she’s an undocumented immigrant. With a voice both funny and heartbreaking, M.T. dreams of a life in which she’s no longer a hot-button political statistic, and gives readers insight into the secret life that nearly one million children in America struggle to maintain today.
Immaculate, Katelyn Detweiler
In this forthcoming debut (out May 26th from Viking Children’s), Mina, a seventeen-year-old hyper-achiever — and virgin — finds her life derailed by an unexpected and unexplainable pregnancy. After her news catches the public’s attention, Mina’s very personal dilemma becomes a political one, with some factions branding her a liar and others calling it a miracle. A poignant look at how an ordinary teen is impacted by an extraordinarily politically-charged “what if.”
When Audrey Met Alice, Rebecca Behrens
This younger-YA novel tells the story of two first daughters chafing against the restraints and public glare of life in the White House — thirteen-year-old Audrey, whose mother was recently elected President, and Alice Roosevelt, daughter of Teddy Roosevelt, whose diary Audrey finds in a closet of the East Wing. Inspired by Alice’s real-life antics, Audrey resolves to fight for her right to a typical teenaged life, but both Audrey and Alice find that romance, fun and freedom aren’t such simple things when you’re part of the most politically powerful family in America.
The Tyrant’s Daughter, J.C. Carleson
Written by a former CIA officer, this YA novel delivers a gripping peek behind the curtain of international politics, in the form of Laila, the fifteen-year-old daughter of a Middle Eastern ruler. After her father is assassinated, Laila and her family are relocated to the US, where she struggles to find her place in a jarringly different world — and discovers that the political web she was born into is not so easily escaped.
A Mad, Wicked Folly, Sharon Biggs Waller
In this historical YA, seventeen-year-old Victoria dreams of becoming an artist — a lofty enough goal for a girl in the year 1909. But when she joins the suffragette movement, her personal aspirations bloom into political ones. A romantic page-turner, this book brings the turn-of-the-century feminist movement to electric life with a protagonist who must decide between the trappings of her sheltered life and a struggle for the equality and freedom she knows she deserves.