Reading in your twenties can be difficult. Many readers find themselves trying to bridge the gap between young adult fiction and adult fiction. Many of these issues stem from the fact that a large amount of adult literature focuses on an older adult audience, featuring protagonists whose dilemmas may still seem foreign to someone in their twenties. Many twenty-somethings, including myself, often find themselves searching for books that feature characters their own age.
Well, look no further. Click “read more” to see our list of books about people in their twenties, with the ages of the protagonists included.
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Protagonist’s Age: 28
Lucy Hutton is colorful, quirky, and optimistic. Joshua Templeton is everything Lucy is not — uptight, careful, and composed. Normally the two’s paths would have never crossed, except that they both work as assistants to the co-CEO’s of a successful business. When both Lucy and Joshua are considered for the same promotion, their simmering hatred of each other quickly comes to a boil. However, as the game between them heats up, Lucy realizes that maybe the feeling between herself and Joshua isn’t hate, and that she’s been playing a much more dangerous game all along.
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
Protagonist’s Age: Teen to 20’s
Though Colleen Hoover is a veteran romance writer, It Ends With Us goes far past the genre description of romance. Though the story of Lily and Ryle starts out easily enough, when Lily’s first love, Atlas, unexpectedly comes back into her life, things take a drastic turn. This book tackles issues like abuse and domestic violence with grace, and reminds readers of the occasional dangers of the “bad boy” romance stereotype. For those worried about a love triangle, the two romances in the book happen at two separate times in Lily’s life, and thus have little overlap. Grab your tissues, because this one’s a tearjerker.
Playing With Matches by Hannah Orenstein
Protagonist’s Age: 22
In today’s world of Tinder, Bumble, and various other online dating apps and sites, nearly every twenty-something has a story about a match not quite made in heaven. Sasha Goldberg exists on the other side of the algorithm: she works behind the scenes for a matchmaking service in New York City. Though her recent college graduation and successful relationship seem to hint towards an idyllic future, her life is soon spun out of control when her boyfriend betrays her — and she ends up in the arms of one of her clients.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Protagonist’s Age: 28
Ani FaNelli knows what it’s like to not be perfect, thanks to a shocking incident when she was in high school. As an adult, she finally feels like she’s nearing perfection with her impressive job, impressive clothes, and altogether impressive fiancé. But she’s got a secret from her past that threatens her glamorous life, even more so than her high school humiliation. Facing the immense pressure from society to have it all together, Ani must decide whether or not she should keep her secret buried or finally come clean.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
Protagonist’s Age: 23
Out for a walk with her friend, April May comes across what she assumes is a sculpture, and uploads a video of it to YouTube. As it turns out, her discovery isn’t a sculpture at all: it’s one of several alien objects that have appeared on Earth, known as Carls. As the first person to document a Carl, April very soon becomes an Internet sensation, and she finds her new fame pervading every aspect of her life. In addition to finding a new balance, April must also figure out just what it is the Carls are, and what they may want from the people of Earth.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
Protagonists’ Age: 19-21
There are multiple Londons: Grey, Red, and White London, along with the long gone Black London. Kell is one of the only remaining Antari — magicians with the ability to jump between the three different Londons. Though he is from Red London, circumstances cause Kell to flee to Grey London, a place devoid of magic. There he meets Lila, a thief who convinces him to take her with him to the other Londons. With dangerous magic on the horizon, Kell and Lila must fight to save the worlds, and, more importantly, themselves.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Protagonist’s Age: 27
When he is thirteen years old, Theo Decker survives a horrendous accident that kills his mother. He is soon taken in by the affluent family of one of his friends, and finds himself struggling to face the world in the absence of his mother. The novel switches between Theo at thirteen and Theo at age twenty-seven, and the effect the loss of his mother has on his life. At the center of it all is a small painting of a goldfinch, which is the only thing Theo has that reminds him of his mother. This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
Protagonist’s Age: Teen to late 20’s
Junot Díaz’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel tells the story of the Dominican American Oscar de León, nicknamed Oscar Wao by friends, as he chases his dreams of falling in love and writing the next great fantasy/sci-fi saga. The only problem? Oscar’s family is cursed, and has been for generations, originating from before the family moved to New Jersey from Santo Domingo. Oscar doesn’t want that to get in his way, but, as the title suggests, things do not always go as planned. Equal parts Oscar’s story and his family’s history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a book you won’t want to miss.