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YA books set after high school

YA books are generally said to be directed at teenagers. But when it comes down to it, there’s very few (YA, not NA) books set in the last 2/7ths of teenagedom, ie after teenagers typically finish school. Having entered this stage myself, I’m finding that these books increasingly appeal to me, and I know plenty of other bloggers in this same stage of life. This post is a list of a few books that do take place after school. Covers link to goodreads/our review if we have one. Also, this is more of a list that can be perused or skimmed through rather than a post, so feel free to just look for certain titles or whatever. 

 YA books set after high school

Section one: Love Oz YA

#LoveOzYA does surprisingly well in this division? Maybe I just remember more Australian books that fall into this category? idk.

 The Intern and Faking It by Gabrielle Tozer

These books are about Josie, a supremely awkward new uni student who lands an internship at a fashion magazine. It’s very relatable and fun, even though I initially didn’t think I’d like it because fashion isn’t quite my thing. While these books aren’t amazingly written, Josie’s voice and story are intensely compelling.


 remind-me-how-this-endsRemind Me How This Ends by Gabrielle Tozer

This is about two teenagers at a loose end, stuck in a small town; they’re done with school but still figuring out what’s next. I didn’t love this book but I liked how it said that uni isn’t the only option.


 Night Swimming by Steph Bowe9781925498165

Kirby, the main character, is sure she doesn’t want to go to university. Like Remind Me How This Ends, it’s set in a small town and focused on two teenagers figuring out what to do after high school. It’s super cute.


 9781742612386Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Again, the post-high-school angst thing: Words In Deep Blue deals with this perfectly. I think it’s really realistic to have teenagers who work full time??

 Gap Year in Ghost Town by Michal Pryorgap-year-in-ghost-town-2

I haven’t actually read this, but it involves gap years, sassy dialogue, and ghost hunting, so it must be good. Plus Shanti has verified this.

new_sabriel300pxSabriel by Garth Nix

This fantasy that Shanti’s been pestering me to read for ages is about a girl who must leave her proper British boarding school to go to the Old Kingdom, where she’s from, on a desperate quest to save her father.


American books

fangirl-rainbow-rowell-coverFangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I adore adore adore this book so much! Cath and her twin sister Wren are in their first year of university. I hope this will guide me when I’m hundreds of kilometres away from my twin sister in university.

 A Little Something Different by Sandy Halla-little-something-different

It’s a very unique book with 14 perspectives, none of which are the main character, about two college students falling in love. I actually thought it was quite fun to read? I didn’t ship the romance but the style made up for it.

the-love-that-split-the-world The Love the Split the World by Emily Henry

Set in Natalie’s summer between high school and university, this is a twisty magical realism story that basically blew my mind.Also check out that cover like woah.

 When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menondimple-rishi

Like The Love That Split The World, this is in the summer before college starts. Dimple and Rishi are both compelling characters that are easy to root for and smart.

31681276 American Panda by Gloria Chao

This actually hasn’t come out yet, but it’s set in university, and explores a cross-cultural relationship between two people of East Asian origin (the MC is Taiwanese, and I think the love interest is Japanese?). It’s also about family and immigrant culture and sounds rather fun.

Warcross by Marie Lu9780399547966

I think Emika is actually a dropout, but she’s older than Lu’s characters in the Legend and the Young Elites series, and I’d argue her lifestyle is more like someone who’s finished school, as are the themes of the book. I didn’t love Warcross, but I do want to find out what happens in the sequel.

Is it YA?

It’s definitely on the older end of YA books. Personally, I find myself connecting most to characters in their last year or just out of school as I get older. Like, I’m not 14 anymore and don’t really want to relive that through books? The transition from YA to adult books is gradual, as themes change and the plot and issues characters grapple with change. At some point, post-high school books aren’t YA, but I’d say all of these ones are.

We Need Diverse Books emphasise how important it is for children and young people to see themselves in the books they read. But seeing yourself isn’t just about characters of your race and sexuality, I’d say. It’s also about characters who are dealing with the same kind of decisions and thoughts and experiences as you are. Post-high school life is very different from high school life, and we need more books like these that reflect this. You don’t cease to be a young adult after getting a high school diploma, and there are so many people who can still connect to YA even when they’re older. I hope they’ll help me as I get ready to be an adult (but also no because urgh).

Can you add to my list? (please, please do. I need recommendations!) What books do you read that are set in your stage of life? (be in adult, 14-year-old, or something in between :D)



7 thoughts on “YA books set after high school

  1. This is such a cool list! I never realised there was such a lack of books about this age group until I reached the “end of teenage-dom” myself and started wanting to read more like this so thank you for this list!! I just got a copy of When Dimple Met Rishi so that’s one of the next books on my tbr and I’m super excited to read it!

    Unfortunately I can’t think of any other books to add to this list…. But I will let you know if I do! Awesome lost!!


  2. I didn’t realise that “When Dimple Met Rishi” was set just before college! That’s really interesting. I love reading books about characters on the older side of YA because you can deal with slightly darker issues, and worrying about university and financing everything is too real right now. I remember reading funny book about a girl on a gap year ages ago but I’ve never been able to find it since. (very helpful I know)


  3. Ahhh I love that you made this list! I don’t know many books with characters dealing with life after high school and I too find myself seeking books that I can relate to in this stage of life. And YES diversity of different ages needs to exist more. Every stage of life deserves to be represented and this stage when you semi-leave your home and try to navigate through life on your own is just so scary, I wish there were more books about it. I think NA was originally meant to be about people in their late teens or twenties, but somehow it just turned into this genre of young adult erotic romance =_=
    We Are Okay is partly about two young adults in college but another part of it is when they were in high school. Also I know you’ve read it already and it probably doesn’t qualify, but Radio Silence features characters in uni (or who were about to be in one) so it gets an honorary place on my list haha. Another recommendation isn’t a book but a podcast series called The Bright Sessions. It features characters in high school, in uni, and one that’s 25 and working, and it’s about adventures, loneliness, and people with super power going to therapy; that’s probably enough to intrigue you 😀


  4. Thank you so much for sharing this fantastic list of books – we need more books like that in our lives, even if I’m already done with university, haha. I find that it’s a period, in between high school and university or at the beginning of uni, that’s very interesting and not enough mentioned in books – or maybe I just don’t know enough books set in that time-frame. I loved Words in Deep Blue and When Dimple, I can’t wait to read Fangirl someday and The Love That Split The World! ❤ ❤


  5. I’m not sure how many books I read with MCs in my stage of life. I feel like I need a separate category for readers-who-should-be-adults-by-now-but-aren’t-really. 😂 Older YA and younger adult protagonists are usually in their early 20s. And adult fiction tends to have middle-aged protagonists.

    I’m reading Bring the Distant Near, and it sort of counts as what you’re looking for. Or, at least, it’s set in different time periods, so it covers the time after high school. Starfish might also qualify. We Are Okay (but I hate it, lol). I Was Here (also didn’t like it much). I believe The Boy Most Likely To was after high school.


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