New Adult fiction is taking off–and many people are still trying to figure out if it’s a real phenomenon. What is it? YA rawness, plus more. The ones I’ve read are all contemporary with hotter (wetter? stickier?) romance.

Honestly, I’ve read a few and I’m hoping to find more, because it’s fun. I love the freshness. I love the romance. The uncertainty of ‘new adulthood’ is as energizing and rapturous as it is bittersweet.

And that’s how I felt about PRECIOUS THINGS by Stephanie Parent.

Isabelle is an excellent student. She’s been accepted to Johns Hopkins and Georgetown and her freshman year should be one of excitement and adventure, but it’s not.

Dad’s business is in the toilet and her college fund? Poof.

And, mom? She poofed years ago leaving Isabelle to help raise her younger brother, Corey.

Having not considered this possibility, Isabelle neglected to apply to a safety school that she could afford–so she’s wandering about Hartford Community College lamenting her extremely bad fortune and despairing over her ridiculous courses–not the least of which is Electronic Music Production which she abhors–that she only took because they were still open.

If life wasn’t bad enough, her Music TA Evan Strauss is hot, but runs hot-and-cold, and Isabelle, hoping against hope for financial aid from her real colleges so she can leave at the end of term, doesn’t want to reach out. She must however, because she’s clueless in Music and knows a failing grade will strand her in Community Collegeville. FOREVER.

She develops a friendship with Lily, a beautiful dance major and fellow Music classmate, and warms to her English prof finding that there is more to college than a GIANT DEBT, I mean, name.

Especially when she doesn’t just, ahem, warm to Evan…

Flames, people. Get the extinguisher.

And, of course there is conflict. Corey’s hanging with all new kids and his disrespectful attitude is stronger than teen-boy-foot odor. Dad’s poor business sense weighs on Isabelle, as does her resentment over high school friends finding their brighter futures. And Evan, delicious Evan, seems to be the next one to let her down.

Through it all, Isabelle develops an appreciation for being exactly where she is. Oh, and Depeche Mode. (Who doesn’t, BTW?)

What I loved?

Shit gets real. There are millions of kids out there living Isabelle’s disappointment right now–albeit without the hot TA who knows how to swing his hammer. It’s an important life lesson.  To borrow from The Stones: You Can’t Always Get What You Want in this life. And, yet, you must go on and do the best you can.

And sometimes, if you’re lucky like Isabelle, you get what you need.

And that is very precious, indeed.

Let me know if you pick up PRECIOUS THINGS in the comments. I’d love your take on it, or any New Adult title you’ve recently enjoyed.