Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Three Wild and Precious YA Books

If you are a well-versed YA reader, you have probably come across many common subplots and themes: self-creation, first love, and so much more. You have likely also have grown annoyed by repeated clichés, like love triangles and characters who let out breaths they didn't know they were holding. (Actually, I think that one might be common in books in general.)

And if you read a widely within the contemporary YA genre, you have likely seen a certain popular quote in a few of the books you have read. What quote is this, you ask?
I'm not complaining that this Mary Oliver quote is so common; in fact, I love its ubiquity. This message resonates with me because it reminds readers to really live—whether that means traveling, spending time with friends, or learning to play the piano—to do something they care about rather than merely going through the motions, But at the same time, it doesn't say how to spend your one wild and precious life or proclaim that you have to change the world. You don't have to spend your life following other people's plans or trying to win a Nobel Prize; you just have to live in a way that you (mostly) won't regret.

So, with that in mind, here are three books that remind readers to ask themselves what they're going to do with their wild and precious lives, just in case you somehow haven't stumbled upon this quote.

1. Golden by Jessi Kirby

Golden introduced me to Mary Oliver's "wild and precious life" quote, and its storyline fits the words perfectly. It follows Parker Frost, a senior who is about to graduate from high school #1 in her class—but without ever having taken a risk or having broken the rules. With the help of an unexpected mystery, Parker learns there's more to life than studying and that memories last longer than the thrill of perfect quiz scores. 

I read Golden right before my sophomore year, and it became my manifesto for the rest of my high school career. Despite striving for straight As, I would be sure to stop and ask myself if I was also enjoying my one wild and precious life, and I think I've succeeded with that promise so far.

2. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

The Beginning of Everything chronicles a romance—or maybe a not-quite romance—between two teenagers who unsuspectingly burst into each other's lives and teach each other about what it means to be alive. This debut novel is not a typical love story; instead of crafting a feel-good romance, the story focuses on each character's personal growth. By the end of the story, the characters and readers both feel determined to live their wild and precious lives on their own terms.

3. Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

Seventeen-year-old Rachel Walker has never had much of a say in the path her life takes. A member of an ultra-conservative fundamentalist Christian church, she is taught that children must obey their parents exactly and that women have no choice but to become wives and mothers. As she begins to question her family's belief system, she uncovers Mary Oliver's quote and decides to create her own wild and precious life. I absolutely love books about characters who question their religion—and I've read quite a few—but Devoted is easily one of the best, in part thanks to its use of Mary Oliver's words.

What do you think of this quote—do you agree with it and/or relate to it? Have you read any other books that feature it? Let me know in the comments. 


  1. I loved the beginning of everything! It had such a twist to it, and it was nothing that I had expected before.

  2. I've only seen that quote in Golden, but I really loved it and for me, it made it all the more special. Will be checking out Devoted, it sounds like something I'd enjoy. Fun post ^__^


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