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Booklist: Romantic Comedies

There is nothing like escaping into a fun-filled romantic comedy, especially when the pressures of real life loom large, and one could use a little levity, love, and fun. Diving into a romantic escapade can be incredibly satisfying, especially if it is one that can provide “all the feels.”

Rom-coms are often predictable in the best sort of way. If the story is true to the genre, you know the most likely ending…the romantic interests will end up together, but it is the journey to that end that brings us in. There are also other key elements that every rom-com has:

  • Two Main Protagonists – one, if not both, is adorkable and charming. They will be easy to root for in love and in life.
  • Side Characters – the tapestry of people that surround our hopeful lovers. They can be supportive, offer comic guffaws, or are the ones helping create obstacles and/or distractions that keep our lovers apart or push hem together.
  • Location – often as much as a character as our side characters. Our lovers are often traipsing over an area creating memories in key spots.
  • The “Meet-Cute” or the person next door – how our characters come into contact with each. The meet-cute will often be awkward or filled with tension where the characters do not like each other at first, or it can be charming. Sometimes, often in YA fiction, our soon-to-be lovers have been friends since childhood, and it is just seeing them each other in a new light.
  • The Challenge – often a false start where there is a misunderstanding, other potential love interest, or obstacle that seems to big to surmount comes into play separating our would be lovers.
  • The Grand Epiphany – what brings them together in the end. One or both will have a revelation that they can not be without the other, and usually a grand gesture will be involved in declaring love.

Here are few recent Rom-Coms from this year:

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

  • Protagonist 1: Dimple Shah, recent high school graduate who is dying to get away from her parents and their constant obsession of finding her the “Ideal Indian Husband” (IIH). Smart and motivated she is attending a summer coding camp focused on app development in hopes of getting to meet her idol, Jenny Lindt.
  • Protagonist 2: Rishi Patel, heading to MIT in the fall and deeply loyal to his family, Rishi is heading to coding camp in hope of meeting Dimple, the girl his parents have chosen for him in an arranged marriage.
  • Side Characters: Coding camp roommates and teammates, and Rishi’s brother.
  • Location: Summer coding camp at San Francisco State
  • The Meet-Cute: Dimple has just gotten herself a delicious ice coffee when a strange boy (Rishi) comes up to her saying “Hello future wife.” She pours delicious ice coffee all over him.
  • The Challenge: Dimple was not aware of the arrange marriage, and is really is adamant of following her dreams and doesn’t want romance or marriage to get in the way.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

  • Protagonist 1: Desi Lee  – in charge of many school groups, on several sports teams, and she excels at most things in her life.
  • Protagonist 2: Luca Drakos – the artsy new kid.
  • Side Characters: A great group of friends and one of the best dads.
  • Location: Orange County, CA
  • The Meet-Cute: After meeting Luca in class and while talking to him about maybe trying out art club – her fashion sweatpants fall down.
  • The Challenge: While Desi excels at most things, she fails when it comes to dating. While one guy was trying to ask her out, she accidentally coughed up a large piece of phlegm that landed directly on the front of his shirt.  After meeting Luca, she decides to do things right and starts watching her father’s beloved Korean television dramas to use them as a blueprint on how to flirt and succeed in a relationship.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

  • Protagonist 1: Eugenia “Genie” Lo, a 16-year-old overachiever determined to get into a top tier college and get out of Silicon Valley.
  • Protagonist 2: Quentin Sun the weird new kid from China at Genie’s school who seems to have a weird obsession with her.
  • Side Characters: Genie’s best friend Yunie, and various gods and demons.
  • Location: Silicon Valley, CA
  • The Meet-Cute: Genie rescues Quentin while he is getting the crap beaten out of him by six grown men. When she arrives at school, she discovers he is now in her homeroom where he stands on a desk declaring to Genie, “You belong to me.”
  • The Challenge: Quentin is actually the Monkey King and Genie is a reincarnation of Ruyi Jingu Bang, the Monkey King’s weapon. There has been a “jailbreak” of demons from Diyu – hell – and Genie and Quentin hold the fate of mankind in their hands.

Meg and Linus by Hanna Nowinski

  • Protagonist 1: Linus – shy Trekkie that loves school and coffee.
  • Protagonist 2: Danny – hot new barista and classmate.
  • Side Characters: Meg – Linus’ well-meaning best friend that will do everything in her power to fix Linus up with Danny.
  • Location: Small town high school
  • The Meet-Cute: Linus spills his coffee and needs help getting it cleaned up by the dreamy Danny.
  • The Challenge: Linus is painfully shy, and not even sure if Danny is gay. Meg’s well-meaning actions often force Linus out of his comfort zone.

I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski

  • Protagonist 1: Sydney, a 19-year-old soon to be college sophomore that hasn’t ever ventured far from home for fear of leaving her agoraphobic mother behind.
  • Protagonist 2: Jackson, a hot Canadian that happens to be best friends with Sydney’s best friend’s ex.
  • Side Characters: Leela, Sydney’s best friend since early childhood who has recently broken up with her boyfriend Matt before they were supposed to go traveling across Europe. Leela has convinced Sydney to come with her instead.
  • Location: Europe
  • The Meet-Cute: Sydney and Jackson meet at the airport in London after finding out that Matt has decided to also continue plans of a European vacation.
  • The Challenge: Jackson is Matt’s best friend, someone who Leela often blames for Matt’s bad behavior. Sydney and Jackson, while having physical attraction to each other, keep getting thrown together as Leela and Matt reconnect, fall out, and reconnect again.

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Omsbee

  • Protagonist 1: Natasha Zelenka (Tash), serious fangirl of Leo Tolstoy, is a rising YouTube star with her webseries Unhappy Families, a modern-day adaptation of Anna Karenina and her Vlog Tea with Tash.
  • Protagonist 2: Paul – the boy next door and long time best friend.
  • Side Characters: Jack, Tash’s other best friend and sister of Paul, Tash’s family, and the others cast members of Unhappy Families.
  • Location: Lexington, Kentucky
  • The Meet-Cute: The boy next door and long time best friend.
  • The Challenge: Tash has had a long time crush on vlogger star Thom, who as her online popular grows, so does Thom’s attention. Also, Tash identifies as romantic-asexual and is unsure how that will play out in a relationship.

By Danielle Jones, currently reading Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward