A Bad Romance– Love Gone Wrong in Teen Lit

By CMEarnest (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By CMEarnest via Wikimedia Commons
Springtime is when love is in the air.  New relationships are blooming, the warmer weather drives people outdoors and puts everyone in a better mood, and it just seems like the perfect time to fall in love…

But what happens when you don’t want to fall in love?  When you just want to snarkily smirk at those silly people holding hands and picking flowers?  How do you avoid, nay how do you embrace the idea that falling in love is just not for you..?

Well, one good way is to read books about love gone wrong.  Luckily, teen lit is filled with excellent examples of books about all the ways love can be so harmful to your well-being.  From bad breakups to unrequited crushes, check out the list below if you want to fall in love with a bad romance!

Star-Crossed Love

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The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones

Cassandra comes from a long line of vampire-like creatures who need human tears to survive rather than blood.  Cassandra is very good at collecting tears by being the shoulder for her friends to cry on, and even volunteering as a grief counselor.  However, Cassandra is growing tired of her life and wants to be human, especially when she begins to fall in love with Scott.

Swoon by Nina Malkin

Dice’s cousin Pen awakens an evil spirit, who takes possession of her body. The evil Sin is determined to exact vengeance on their town.  While Sin is  in Pen’s body Dice begins to develop feelings for him, and when he is made flesh Dice’s feelings only grow stronger.  However, Dice is determined to do the right thing and send Sin back to where he came from so he can’t wreak havoc on their town anymore.

Generation Dead by Daniel Waters (2011 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

Teens who die are not staying dead–they are coming back to life.  Seen as having a “living impairment,” these teens are still trying to live normal lives. Phoebe is falling in love with Tommy, one of the undead.  Her friends and family can’t understand their connection, and what’s worse is that some people just can’t get over that these teens were once dead.

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (2013 Odyssey Honor Recording, 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2013 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)

17-year-old Hester’s family legacy is one where all the women die in childbirth, so Hester has sworn off love, marriage, and even the thought of children.  What she doesn’t realize is that her family is cursed because of a mermaid’s need for vengeance when she gave up her fins for the love of human man more than 100 years ago.

Eve & Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Eve is lucky to be alive after she loses a leg in an accident.  The reason she’s so lucky: her mother is the powerful CEO of one of the largest pharmaceuticals company around.  While she is recovering in her mother’s state of the lab, Eve is given the opportunity to create the perfect guy as part of an experimental program.  Eve, thinking it is just a computer game, is shocked when her perfect guy comes to life.  Realizing that her mother is playing God, Eve is determined to figure out just what her experiments are for and learns more than she ever wanted about her mother’s plans.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

In this dystopian novel, Aria lives in the protected world of Reverie as the Earth outside of her world is ravaged by harsh weather conditions and mutations.  When she is caught up in illegal activity, Aria is banished to the ravaged land outside of Reverie.  There her fate is intertwined with Perry, who lives in the harsh lands.  While opposites attract here, Perry and Aria are literally from two different worlds and each of their fates are dependent on the other–whether they like it or not.


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I Know It’s Over by C.K. Kelly Martin

Feeling emotionally vulnerable after his parent’s divorce, Nick starts dating Sasha.  However, Sasha dumps Nick after things start getting too serious.  Still stinging from the breakup, Sasha shows up out of nowhere and tells Nick she’s pregnant.

The Heartbreakers by Pamela Wells

Four friends are all dumped on the same night.  To help each other get through this rough post-breakup time they develop the break-up code, a list of 29 rules that you can or can’t do.  The test will be whether or not these girls can follow their own rules.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (2007 Printz Honor Book, 2007 Best Books for Young Adults, 2008 Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults, 2009 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

Colin has just been dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine.  No, it isn’t the same Katherine doing the dumping; there have been nineteen different Katherines that Colin has dated.  Colin’s best friend Hassan suggests a summer road trip to pull Colin out of his post breakup funk.  Together, they end up in a small town in Tennessee where they find jobs and meet a girl who isn’t named Katherine, all while trying to figure out why Colin is always dumped by Katherines.

The Breakup Bible by Melissa Kantor

Jen is trying to stay positive when her boyfriend dumps her because he “just wants to be friends.”  However, when she catches him kissing another girl, she breaks down and turns to a book her grandmother gave her for advice on how to survive a breakup.

Fury by Elizabeth Miles

Emily is in love with her best friend’s boyfriend. Chase is falling for the new girl in town.  However, what Emily and Chase don’t know is that their fate is being controlled by three new girls in town.  So, when Emily finally breaks down and makes out with her best friend’s guy and Chase scores a date with the new girl, they don’t know that it will only end in tragedy.

Heart’s Delight by Per Nilsson

Our 16-year-old narrator has just experienced his first breakup and the end of his first real love.  Systematically, he takes readers through the destruction of all the  mementos of the relationship as he works through the anguish of heartbreak.

Unrequited Crushes

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Thwonk by Joan Bauer (1999 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

A.J. has a huge crush on Peter, so when a Cupid doll comes to life offering to help her with her unrequited love, A.J. jumps at the opportunity.  However, as in most cases with Cupid, Peter’s love and devotion is not necessarily as wonderful as A.J. thought it would be.

I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle (2008 Best Books for Young Adults, 2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

Denis takes advantage of having the stage as his high school’s valedictorian, by announcing his undying love for fellow classmate Beth Cooper during his speech.  What follows is a graduation night that night that Denis will never forget.

Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger (2000 Printz Honor Book, 2000 Best Books for Young Adults, 2000 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, 2002 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

John is working through a lot of stuff since his parents’ divorce.  He uses his zine, Bananafish, as an outlet for his issues.  When he meets Marisol, the author of one of his favorite zines, they instantly form a friendship.   But then John develops stronger feelings for Marisol, which cannot be returned because she is a lesbian.  Even though John knows this, and knew this even before he met her, he has to reconcile his feelings for Marisol to maintain the important friendship.

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo (2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2013 Morris Award Finalist)

Set in Australia, 15-year-old Amelia is falling in love with her 21-year-old coworker, Chris.  Little did Amelia know that when she started her new job at a local grocery store, she would have so much in common with her supervisor. However, what can she do when it is plainly clear, even to Amelia, that a relationship could never develop?

Escape Theory by Margaux Froley

Devon is grieving the loss of her friend and unrequited crush, Hutch, from an apparent suicide.  Sharing what she feels is a deep connection with Hutch, Devon works through her grief by trying to understand and figure out what drove Hutch to commit suicide, believing that there might be another explanation for his death.

Mixed signals

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Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults)

Best friends Naomi and Ely have a no kiss list because they both like boys and they want to make sure no guy will ever come between their friendship.  However, Ely kisses Bruce (Naomi’s number 2), and sets off a chain of events that causes both friends to take a closer look at what they mean to each other.

Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross (2013 Teens’ Top Ten, 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Mira runs away from home only to realize the life she has been living with her two aunts has been a lie.  When she visits the town where her parent’s lived and died, Mira learns the secrets of her parents’ past and gets caught up in a love triangle with two brothers– one who seems to hate her and one that seems too good to be true.

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber (2012 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2013 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)

Perry is mortified that he has to take his family’s Lithuanian foreign exchange student to his senior prom.  What he doesn’t expect is for the night to turn into a high stakes car chase, complete with explosions and bullets flying, and for Gobi to turn out to be an expert assassin on a mission.  As the night progresses and Gobi gets closer to her end goal, Perry can’t figure out if Gobi wants to kill him or if he is the only hope she has for surviving the night.

Fake Boyfriend by Kate Brian

After their best friend Izzy is dumped, her friends Vivi and Lane create a fake guy online for Izzy to move on with.  However, when Izzy wants to meet him in real life, Vivi and Lane have to deliver.  When they recruit Jonathan for the task, Vivi inadvertently starts to fall in love with him making the rouse even more complicated.

OK, so maybe maybe some of these novels end happily ever after, but at least the star-crossed lovers suffer before they get there first, right?

-Colleen Seisser, currently reading In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin