Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2024) Featured Review: Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute


Celine Bangura and Bradley Graeme were best friends as children–until Brad ditched Celine and her “weird” obsession with conspiracy theories for the popular crowd. At least, that’s how Celine tells it. Since then, Brad has become a popular footballer at school and Celine has grown her unique interests into a thriving social media following. If it wasn’t for their inability to be in the same room without insulting each other, they probably wouldn’t ever speak. When Celine signs up for a leadership-based survival course in the woods with a scholarship as the grand prize, she’s shocked when Brad signs up too, and–horror of horrors–they’re forced to work together if they don’t want to fail. 

In her debut novel for teens, successful adult romance author, Talia Hibbert, brings her signature witty banter, lovably quirky characters, and emotional nuance to this delightful enemies-to-lovers romance. Celine and Brad narrate in distinct voices as they unpack the childhood betrayal that both remember differently and slowly regain each other’s trust. Brad’s OCD is thoughtfully portrayed as a part of his character. The confidence he has developed in managing it is a product of his maturity along with the help of supportive family and friends. Celine struggles with anger over her father’s abandonment of her family and, with help, begins to see how she’s let that anger define her. The outdoor survival camp, with its skills-based challenges, is entertaining and sets up humorous situations, while providing many opportunities for Brad and Celine to transform their relationship slowly and authentically. Side characters (friends and family) are the perfect amusing chorus through which to witness the growing romance. This romantic comedy is lighthearted and funny, but still realistically portrays teens’ messy emotional lives.

Teens who love feel-good romantic comedies that have characters with substance will want to pick this up immediately. Give this to readers who liked When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord, She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlan, and Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura.

-Krista Hutley

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: November 8. 2023
Release Date: January 10, 2023

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

The Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee appreciates teen feedback as members evaluate the nominated titles. Teen librarians are encouraged to share the List of Potential Nominees under consideration with their patrons and solicit feedback using the link:

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.

Continue reading Booklist: Romantic Comedies