These YA Romance Novels Will Make You Believe In Love

Some might say that the very existence of the category "YA romance novels" is redundant. Don't all YA novels fall under the category of romance? After all, romantic elements figure heavily into most YA novels. Even while barely surviving the extremely violent dystopia of The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen has time to ponder a love triangle.

And that makes sense. The teen years are when many people experience a whole new set of feelings for the first time. It would be like eating pizza, after years of having cheese and bread separately. You'd be like, wow — pizza is all I want to talk about. Why are people talking about taxes, when they could be talking about pizza? Why would I read presidential biographies, when I could read about pizza? Yes, that is what love is like when you're a teenager.

But it would false to proclaim all YA books were romances. Some books, like the ones in this round-up, are more concerned with love than others (No matter what anyone says, The Hunger Games is not a romance novel). These books will plunge you into the big, exploratory questions of the teen years, and make you a more empathetic adult in the process. Relive what it feels like to be 16 — you know you kind of want to.

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Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (2011)

Falling in love is a lot like exploring a new country. There's a lot to discover. So Paris is the perfect location for a story about a high-school senior sent to a boarding school by her father, and who falls for a charming local named Etienne St. Clair. Anna Oliphant learns about Paris, and she learns about love. Perkins wrote two companion novels to Anna and the French Kiss, each focusing on a different peripheral character.
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sanya Menon (2017)

Dimple Shah knows what she wants out of her life. The problem is, her parents also know what they want out of her life: A proper match with a good Indian boy. Dimple heads to a summer program about app development (goodbye, summer camp), and ends up meeting the guy they chose for her — Rishi Patel. Weirdest of all, she ends up liking him. Will Dimple be able to satisfy her parents, and her self?
Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann (2018)

Alice is the kind of person I would be best friends with. Her summer plans consist of TV marathons, working at the library, and reading. And definitely not thinking about her ex-girlfriend, who just broke up with her after Alice came out as asexual. And then, the unexpected happens: She develops feelings for her coworker, Takumi.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2013)

Eleanor & Park is one of the most universally beloved love stories to come out in the YA genre in recent years. The year is 1986. The place: Omaha, Nebraska. Eleanor Douglas is the new girl, and brings a whiff of chaos everywhere she goes. Park Sheridan, on the other hand, has learned to make himself as invisible as possible. Park and Eleanor's love story will make you remember that heady, no-holds-barred experience with first love.
To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (2014)

You can find a precise record of Lara Jean Song Covey's heart in a box she keeps under her bed. Lara Jean has a habit of writing letters to the boys she's loved, and stores them in her special, secret box. When Lara Jean's older sister, Margot, goes away to Scotland, Lara Jean feels unhinged. She misses her sister – but also has a crush on the boy her sister left behind. Worst of all, someone steals her box, and starts doing what Lara Jean had never intended: Mailing the letters to the recipients.
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (2017)

Over the course of her 17 years, Molly Peskin-Suso has racked up a whopping 26 unrequited crushes. Her twin sister, Cassie, has the opposite experience — she's tumbled head first into a thrilling romance with a girl named Mina. Cassie introduces Molly to a boy named Will, who's shaping up to be Crush Number 27. But Molly finds herself falling for her coworker, a Tolkien nerd – and that might not be unrequited at all.
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (2002)

Growing up, I would put down whatever book I was reading when a new Sarah Dessen novel came out, and immediately switch to that one. She's the queen of YA romance (or my queen). In This Lullaby, one of Dessen's first novels, a recent high-school grad named Remy has her cynical, rough exterior melted by an aspiring rockstar named Dexter. But their romance is spoiled by a looming end date — Remy's headed far away for college in the spring. This Lullaby showcases Dessen's ability to create compelling, three-dimensional characters whose interactions you won't be forgetting anytime soon.
Every Day by David Levithan (2012)

Every Day is a romance with an underlying thesis – you should love people for who they are on the inside. Gooey, I know. But Levithan packages the message in a truly unique conceit, and so the book works. A, the narrator in Every Day wakes up each morning in a different body. A has access to their memories, and can pretend to live like the person. It's an empty existence — until A wakes up as a man named Justin, and falls in love with Justin's girlfriend, Rhiannon. Every day, and in every different body, A finds Rhiannon. They love each others souls, people.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith (2013)

You might not think that JFK Airport would be the ideal spot for love at first sight, but this book will prove you wrong. Hadley Sullivan just missed her flight and is grumpily waiting to travel to London for her father's wedding to a total stranger. It's in the JFK waiting room that she sees the dashing British college student Oliver, who's on the same flight – in her row, to be exact. The book cleverly explores the magic ingredient of so many romance novels: timing.
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