Quick Picks: Teen Romances

August is Romance Awareness Month! I meant to put together this post early in the month, but I’ve been busy with the start of school. Hopefully, I can get together a nice post about how that’s going sometimes soon. For now, here are some of my favorite YA romances.

Quick Picks: Teen RomancesAlong for the Ride
by Sarah Dessen
Published 2009 by Viking Books for Young Readers
383 pages. Hardcover
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

Along for the Ride is an engaging coming-of-age story about second chances. It remains my favorite Sarah Dessen book, perhaps because it was the first one I read. Sarah Dessen is a very popular author with my students and for good reason! She does some amazing world-building in her books even though they’re realistic fiction and I love that about her.

Quick Picks: Teen RomancesCatching Jordan
by Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks #1
Published 2011 by Sourcebooks Fire
288 pages. Paperback
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult


What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though-she leads them as the captain and quarterback of her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university.

But everything she's ever worked for is threatened when Ty Green moves to her school. Not only is he an amazing QB, but he's also amazingly hot. And for the first time, Jordan's feeling vulnerable. Can she keep her head in the game while her heart's on the line?

Catching Jordan is better for older teens or teens looking for something a little less sweet than Sarah Dessen’s books. It’s still cute in it’s own way, but these teen characters do not shy away from sexual activity or very frank discussion about it. I love Miranda Kenneally settings. She’s fantastic at writing the South, and her books felt more authentic to my own high school experience. This is the first in her Hundred Oaks companion series. You don’t have to read these in order, but some characters makes cameos in other books.

Quick Picks: Teen RomancesThe Sky Is Everywhere
by Jandy Nelson
Published 2010 by Dial Books
288 pages. Hardcover
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life - and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie's struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

This is one of my favorite books ever. I listened to the audio in one day because I couldn’t stop listening. I just love Jandy Nelson. She’s such a beautiful storyteller. There’s so much more to this book than romance. It’s also about grief, confusion, and family. There are some lovely magical realism elements that really rang all the right bells for me, too. I can’t recommend this book enough.

Quick Picks: Teen RomancesSuch a Rush
by Jennifer Echols
Published 2012 by MTV Books
325 pages. Hardcover
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult

A sexy and poignant romantic tale of a young daredevil pilot caught between two brothers.

When I was fourteen, I made a decision. If I was doomed to live in a trailer park next to an airport, I could complain about the smell of the jet fuel like my mom, I could drink myself to death over the noise like everybody else, or I could learn to fly.

Heaven Beach, South Carolina, is anything but, if you live at the low-rent end of town. All her life, Leah Jones has been the grown-up in her family, while her mother moves from boyfriend to boyfriend, letting any available money slip out of her hands. At school, they may diss Leah as trash, but she’s the one who negotiates with the landlord when the rent’s not paid. At fourteen, she’s the one who gets a job at the nearby airstrip.

But there’s one way Leah can escape reality. Saving every penny she can, she begs quiet Mr. Hall, who runs an aerial banner-advertising business at the airstrip and also offers flight lessons, to take her up just once. Leaving the trailer park far beneath her and swooping out over the sea is a rush greater than anything she’s ever experienced, and when Mr. Hall offers to give her cut-rate flight lessons, she feels ready to touch the sky.

By the time she’s a high school senior, Leah has become a good enough pilot that Mr. Hall offers her a job flying a banner plane. It seems like a dream come true... but turns out to be just as fleeting as any dream. Mr. Hall dies suddenly, leaving everything he owned in the hands of his teenage sons: golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson. And they’re determined to keep the banner planes flying.

Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business—until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers—and the consequences could be deadly.

Jennifer Echols is another great Southern YA writer. Her settings are like characters of their own. She seamlessly incorporates so much of the towns and cities into her stories. It’s fantastic. This is my favorite of hers so far. I haven’t had a chance to read some of her more recent releases. Also, she’s from Birmingham!

Quick Picks: Teen RomancesPerfect Chemistry
by Simone Elkeles
Series: Perfect Chemistry #1
Published 2008 by Walker Childrens
368 pages. Hardcover
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult

A fresh, urban twist on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers.

When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created 'perfect' life is about to unravel before her eyes. She's forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for: her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect.

Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.

In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.

It’s been a while, but I remember eating this book up. The plot is a little cliche, but it’s hard not to get invested in the characters Simone Elkeles writes. The Fuentes brothers each get their own book in this series. They center around romance, but there are some other elements in each book. This is another good one for older teens who aren’t averse to teenage sex, drinking, and other nefarious activities.

Quick Picks: Teen RomancesShiver
by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1
Published 2009 by Scholastic Press
390 pages. Hardcover
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Speculative Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

This is one of those beautiful, haunting books that stays with you. Grace and Sam are one of my favorite couples in YA literature. They have that storybook, meant-for-each-other kind of romance that can be so fun to read. This series really has all the feels. It can be exciting and heartbreaking. It will always be a favorite. One of my favorite things about Maggie Stiefvater is that she really knows how to write moods. Her books take you to the place you need to be to experience what’s happening. It’s great.

Quick Picks: Teen RomancesImpossible
by Nancy Werlin
Series: Impossible #1
Published 2008 by Dial Books
376 pages. Hardcover
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Speculative Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Lucy is seventeen when she discovers that she is the latest recipient of a generations-old family curse that requires her to complete three seemingly impossible tasks or risk falling into madness and passing the curse on to the next generation. Unlike her ancestors, though, Lucy has family, friends, and other modern resources to help her out. But will it be enough to conquer this age-old evil?

A beautifully wrought modern fairy tale from master storyteller and award-winning author Nancy Werlin. Inspired by the classic folk ballad "Scarborough Fair," this is a wonderfully riveting and haunting novel of suspense, romance, and fantasy.

I want to throw another fantasy book into the mix. This book was such a treat when I first read it. It’s a lovely folk-tale retelling with the perfect mix of fantasy and romance. It just made me happy so I thought it would be a good recommendation.

Quick Picks: Teen RomancesAnna and the French Kiss
by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #1
Published 2010 by Dutton Juvenile
372 pages. Hardcover
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Okay, I’m recommending this first book in this companion series, but I strongly urge reading all of them. These books are amazing and we need more books by Stephanie Perkins! She writes wonderful, adorable characters with complicated and awesome relationships. Her secondary characters are amazing! The settings are great. All of it’s just awesome and it makes me gushy.

Quick Picks: Teen RomancesFangirl
by Rainbow Rowell
Published 2013 by St. Martin's Griffin
433 pages. Hardcover
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult

A coming-of-age tale of fanfiction, family and first love
CATH IS A SIMON SNOW FAN. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan... But for Cath, being a fan is her life--and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fanfiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to.

Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath that she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend; a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world; a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words...and she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

So, Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite authors. I adored this book. There’s so much going on in it and it’s awesome! I love Cath. She’s complex and going through so much. I really love that this is a YA book about college life. It deals with some of the issues that come along with leaving home and growing apart from old friends and family. Also, the romance is super cute!

Quick Picks: Teen RomancesPushing the Limits
by Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #1
Published 2012 by Harlequin Teen
392 pages. Hardcover
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult

"I won't tell anyone, Echo. I promise." Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. "You didn't do that-did you? It was done to you?" No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again..

Pushing the Limits is similar to Perfect Chemistry. The characters are dealing with darker and more mature issues. There’s some heavier content. It would be best for older teens or those looking for darker themes and a little more drama. I really loved it when I read it. I’ve read a couple of the companion books. I didn’t like them as much and they follow a similar formula as the first book, but my students seem to really enjoy this series.

I also want to give another shout out to One Man Guy and Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel. You can read more about those in my GLBT Book Month post.

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