More than a decade ago, the success of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series showed that YA romance novels could attract hordes of teen and adult readers alike. The strong crossover appeal of adolescent love stories extends beyond the paranormal to realistic fiction, including tearjerkers such as John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. Now, with the success of the recent Netflix adaptation of Jenny Han’s rom-com To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before—which the streaming service called one of its most widely viewed original films to date—audiences appear to be clamoring for more contemporary love stories starring teenagers of all backgrounds and orientations. Here are five of the buzziest YA romance offerings pubbing this season.
96 Words for Love
Rachel Roy and Ava Dash. Little, Brown/Patterson, Jan. 2019. Ages 15–up.
Roy, a prominent fashion designer and a UN Women Champion for Innovation, teams up with her 17-year-old daughter for a modern retelling of the Indian legend of Shakuntala and Dushyanta. In the #OwnVoices novel, American teen Raya journeys to the ashram in India where her grandparents first met, finding clarity and a new love of her own.
Don’t Date Rosa Santos
Nina Moreno. Disney-Hyperion, May 2019. Ages 14–18.
Pitched as Gilmore Girls meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Moreno’s #OwnVoices debut follows the 18-year-old daughter of Cuban immigrants as she sets out to break the curse that has doomed the love lives of three generations of women in her family, including her mercurial mother and loyal abuela.
Field Notes on Love
Jennifer E. Smith. Delacorte, Mar. 2019. Ages 12–up.
The author of several beloved YA rom-coms, Smith delivers a dual perspective tale about two teenagers—both reeling from rejection—who meet-cute on a cross-country train ride. The book is based on the true story of a Canadian man who advertised on Reddit for a woman with the same name as his ex-girlfriend to join him on a nonrefundable trip he’d booked before his breakup. Smith’s work has been translated into 33 languages, and her novel Windfall has been optioned for film.
Clémentine Beauvais. Wednesday, Jan. 2019. Ages 14–up.
When Eugene and Tatiana are reunited in Paris after years of separation, the two find a second shot at love in this sweeping story reminiscent of romance flicks One Day and Before Sunrise. Beauvais has written more than 15 books for young readers in English and French, including the Royal Babysitters series and, most recently, Piglettes.
The Meaning of Birds
Jaye Robin Brown. HarperTeen, Apr. 2019. Ages 14–up.
This LGBTQ love story unfolds in chapters that alternate between past and present, exploring the relationship between Jess and Vivi, and Jess’s emotional breakdown after the sudden death of Vivi—her artistic muse and first love. Brown is the breakout author of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit, which was selected for ALA’s 2016 Rainbow List and named among the best YA rom-coms of 2016 by the B&N Teen blog.