If you’re searching for romantic novels in the young adult genre, you will only have to look for approximately ten seconds before being buried beneath an annal of books. Just recently, Hub bloggers have compiled a great list of interracial romances and a list of their favorite recent releases in YA contemporary romances.
This makes sense, as romance tends to be an important part of people’s lives and everyone remembers the relationships they either had or wanted to have in high school. Older adults read these books to reminisce about their own experiences. Young adults may read these books because they are interested in stories that align with their experiences or what they wish their experiences had been.
One of the complaints I’ve heard (and made) about a lot of young adult romance novels is that they’re not always very realistic and are oftentimes cliche-ridden and predictable. The awkward and/or quirky girl or boy meets up with the girl or boy who is popular but really has these hidden depths that only the quirky unpopular person can truly understand. These may be fun, escapist, well-written, and engrossing stories. They just maybe don’t reflect the reality of most teen relationships.
Many readers like a little romance now and again, but still want some romance that didn’t follow tropes or ended with the ambiguity that often occurs in real life.
These are books that do a good job of tackling romance in more realistic ways.
The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman
This is a book about a boy named Wes and a girl named June who meet and do not immediately fall in love with each other. They also don’t hate each other and then come together a lá Pride and Prejudice. They meet each other and exist. Eventually June starts pity-dating one of Wes’ friends but even then, he isn’t overwhelmed with a jealous desire for her. Eventually they just start spending time together and before you know it, they’ve got some hard decisions to make about the future.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (2014 Michael L. Printz Honor Book)
Eleanor and Park meet and bond over her needing somewhere to sit on the bus. Park reads comic books every day and she secretly reads along with him. They start to hang out with each other even though they don’t have a lot of opportunity and they seem to be total opposites. That mantra might sound familiar but this is “opposites attract” without the requisite clichés.
The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
Ezra has to reinvent himself when an injury during a car crash robs him of his identity as a tennis star. He tries new things, reconnects with old friends along the way, and meets a girl who seems like the perfect manic-pixie dream girl. But is she the reason he’s changing? Is she perfect for him? Does she have to be?