Hello again! I hope you’re having a wonderful day today 🙂 It’s time for another YA Recommendations post! This time, I’m going to be sharing my favorite YA romance novels. Making this list, I realized that 1) I don’t read a whole lot of books that primarily focus on romance (although romance is pretty much an essential part of every YA novel rooted in other sub-genres), and 2) Most of the of the ones I could think of I read quite a while ago and I’m unsure whether or not I would feel as strongly about them now. With that said, this probably isn’t the best or most comprehensive list of YA romance recommendations out there, but without further ado, here are my top five favorite pieces of YA Romance, along with a few honorable mentions:
1. Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Okay, I’m kind of cheating with this one because it’s borderline contemporary, but I feel like it has enough of a focus on romantic relationships that it could count as a romance. Windfall is about a girl named Alice who decides to buy a (winning) lottery ticket for her best friend Teddy, who she is (secretly) in love with. The book follows her journey as she deals with her best friend’s fame, college decisions, her grief over her parents’ deaths, and figuring out who she wants to be. To be honest, the whole childhood friends to lovers situation is my LEAST favorite YA trope, but what I love about this story is that there’s so much more to it than the cliché.
2. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
You’ve most likely heard of this book, or at least the Netflix movie adaptation, after all the hype it got this past year. It follow Lara Jean Song (honestly, she’s basically me but in another body) and how her life unfolds after the letters she’s written to every guy she’s ever loved (for the purpose of getting over them) get mysteriously sent to them. I read this series a couple of years ago, and it really stood out to me because unlike most of the other romance-focused novels I’ve read, it deals with issues that aren’t addressed in YA too often such as culture clash, growing up biracial in the United States, and shifting family dynamics over time. On top of that, it’s written by an Asian-American author, which I think makes it a pretty cool, diverse read.
3. Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
This book is actually one I read relatively recently, unlike the others on this list. It follows a wedding planner’s daughter, and like most YA romances, it started off with a lot of cliché high school stereotypes I wasn’t a fan of. However, the other struggles (can’t reveal- plot twist!) the main character was facing and the subtle ways they were revealed throughout the novel really surprised me, in a very refreshing way. Everyone has issues they’re dealing with other than their love life, and it was great to see that actually represented in a young adult romance.
4. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Everything, Everything follows a girl who spends her life indoors at all times due to a condition that prevents her from going out into the world. I initially picked it up because of the uniqueness of the premise, and stuck with it because of how adorable it was. I loved the exploration of the mother-daughter relationship and various family dynamics, something I feel is often overlooked in YA (especially in the romance genre), and even though there was definitely some insta-love and the plot was filled with some questionably realistic moments, the romance was sweet enough and the characters deep enough that it was overall an enjoyable read that left me feeling very happy!
5. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
If you’re an introvert and looking for a book to put to words how you feel about being introverted, I highly recommend reading this book. There were so many moments when I was reading through Cath’s (the protagonist’s) thoughts that I thought “this is exactly right!” because I’ve felt that way about either either social situations or writing without ever realizing it. The book follows Cath (you guessed it – a fangirl), who’s a pretty popular fanfiction writer, and her first year college experience; I personally didn’t enjoy the romance all that much, but I appreciated the book’s representation of college, complicated family dynamics (!), and the overall fangirl experience.
Let me know down below if you’ve read any of these books or have any other YA Romance books you’d like to recommend; I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks so much for reading!