Look, we all love a James Dean-esque rebel with and sometimes without a cause. I’m no different. I love me some rebellion in a loveable package. I mean, we all know my favorite fantasy archetype is the silver-tongued thief (thank you Hanson Alister). But I often find that the most inspiring and heart-stealing rebels are the ones from contemporary fiction. In part because many of these fictional teens are doing things I was definitely not brave enough to do when I was in high school, and probably not even now! So here is a list of contemporary rebels who’ve stolen our hearts!
After her white-collar-criminal dad is sent to prison, Sydney Williams fails almost all of her classes and moves into a dingy apartment with her mom who can barely support them with her minimum wage job. Her new school, which was supposed to promise a new start, is ruled with an iron fist by a speech team that embodies an extreme winner-takes-all attitude. But Sydney has a plan to overthrow the speech team with the help of her fellow misfits. War and Speech gives off serious Mean Girls vibes and Sydney is the high-school rebel to stand behind as she battles an absurd speech team and forged unexpected friendships
Jack doesn’t necessarily want to be a rebel, but just by being himself and refusing to try to be anything else, he kind of becomes one. He has a lot of sex, and he’s not ashamed of it. When he starts writing a teen sex advice column for an online site, he begins to receive creepy love letters that try to force him to curb his personality and sexuality. He and his best friends must uncover the stalker before their love becomes dangerous. Jack’s refusal to stick to the status quo with impeccable style stole my heart from page one!
Dove "Birdie" Randolph
Okay, Dove isn’t exactly the most rebellious child. She’s not even mildly rebellious. Honestly, she’s kind of the perfect daughter. She even quit her beloved soccer to focus on her studies, just like her parents want. But when she falls for Booker, the sweet boy with a troubled past that her parents would never approve of, and her aunt Carlene comes back from rehab for substance abuse, she starts to want to break free. But while she’s learning to spread her wings, family secrets long buried rise to the surface and threaten to turn her world inside out. She’s my favorite kind of rebel, because she desperately needs a little freedom from her overbearing parents and she gets that in the usual teenage way – going to parties, and *shock horror* hanging out with friends her parents would not approve of.
Harriet and Will
Harriet and Will are an unlikely pair. They can barely stand each other – strike that, they CAN’T stand each other. Harriet Price is the perfect Rosemead student – wealthy, smart, and overachieving. Will Everhart, on the other hand, is a social justice warrior with a chip on her shoulder. But when a worrying incident with a swim coach is swept under the rug, they band together to expose him and other wrong-doings at their school, creating the persona Amelia Westlake. These two rebellious teens use ingenuity and pranks to try creating change, and if that isn’t enough for you, there is a fantastic enemies-to-lovers romance that makes me squeal!
Okay, less rebel more loveable weirdo, Brendan is a man-bun clad, tutu-wearing hospital volunteer with a penchant for the absurd. And he’s the one who helps Chamomile Miles traverse her two universes. One, a school with a relentless countdown to prom, graduation, and college applications. The other, home, where her father fights a slow, bitter battle with her father’s terminal illness. Brendan helps her build a much-needed bridge between her two worlds, and if that’s not enough to capture your heart, I don’t know what is.
Nicholas Cox came. to. play. Or fence, more accurately. I’m completely in love with all the boys on the Kings Row fencing team, but as the resident underdog, Nicholas has a special place in my heart. He is the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, and he dreams of getting the proper training he could never afford. Watching him clash with his rival, Seiji, is *chef’s kiss* incredible, and I love watching the romantic missteps of all these adorable baby boys of Kings Row. If you like fencing, sports anime, or a rebel with an unbreakable spirit, this is the book for you!
Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole-matchmakers. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled she has the “gift.” But Simi is an artist and has no desire to deal with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. Until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah’s social status. So she starts matchmaking service – via app. But when she connects a wallflower girl with the star of the boys’ soccer team, her school’s hierarchy is turned on its head and now she’s enemy number one. Simi is my favorite kind of rebel – the unintentional one! I mean, obviously, she rebels against her family’s expectations. But what starts as an innocent attempt to become more popular becomes a way to change her whole school! For the better? Who can say? You’ll have to read to find out!
All The Girls
Speaking of stealing hearts, this thieving trio has made off with mine and ridden off into the sunset. Tabitha, Elodie, and Moe: a beauty queen, a wallflower, and a burnout. They couldn’t be any different. But what unites them? A shoplifters anonymous meeting for one. When Tabitha challenges them to a steal-off, they forge a strange alliance linked by the thrill of stealing and the reasons that spawn it. They’re all rebels in different ways, but also the same way – they steal for different reasons but they still steal. And I guarantee they’ll steal your heart too!