And we’re off! As the first real post in this special month, I wanted to take a look at what we all love so much: adorable teenage love stories. They’ll warm and break your heart at the same time.
For the sake of spotlighting many authors, I’m going to limit myself to one book per author so we don’t have an entire list of Katie McGarry. But don’t worry. Just because a book doesn’t show up here doesn’t mean we won’t still talk about it soon…
Top Ten Favorite YA Love Stories
1. The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
Yes, this is my Sarah Dessen pick. I feel like that’s maybe controversial (trust me, I really debated between this and This Lullaby), but there was something about the lake setting in this one and the family issues and the class dynamics that just made this such an interesting read for more than the romance. I think Dessen is at her finest with this one.
2. This is How it Happened by Paula Stokes
This is more of a low-key book that maybe few of you have heard about, but it was so good. Again, I tend to gravitate toward stories that have something else major happening in the story beyond just a love story. In this book, Genevieve was in a car crash that killed her boyfriend, a YouTube star and singer named Dallas, and she’s trying to deal with that on top of the media that won’t leave her alone. To escape, she moves in with her dad and helps volunteer at Zion National Park. So there’s also lush scenery to pay attention to!
3. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
It’s been 12 years since I first read this and this story still guts me Every. Single. Time. It’s so raw and real. Maybe I’m being a little generous calling it a love story, but the connection between Mia and Adam is just masterful.
4. Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat
Ok, we’re starting to move toward books that have somewhat lighter themes, I promise. This one deals with class conflict, as a rich girl finds herself moving to “the wrong side of the tracks” and having to redefine who she is. There’s a big emphasis on music in this story as well, which drew me in, but I stayed for the characters and the humor. It’s delightful.
5. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
This is another oldie but a classic. It’s been years since I’ve picked this one up, but I still vividly remember some scenes between Brittany and Alex. I feel like this is like, OG contemporary romance for my generation? This book was a big deal in my high school back in the day.
6. Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
I love it when a debut just completely exceeds my expectations, as this one did. A fantastic romance coupled with an intimate look at mental illness, this book will not disappoint in any way. I need to find some time to reread this one soon.
7. On the Fence by Kasie West
Kasie West has a lot of strong offerings that I considered for this list, but ultimately I had to go with the one that I related to the most: a story of a girl who grew up around boys and plays sports and doesn’t fit the “girly” stereotype. I love this simple romance of a girl falling for the boy next door (or shall we say on the other side of the fence?).
8. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
This book holds a special place, as many of you probably relate. I felt seen when I read this. Of course, this came out right after the Twilight craze and during the tale end of the Harry Potter movie franchise. Having a character who wrote fan fics and was introverted and was incredibly awkward was such a revelation.
9. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
If Perfect Chemistry is the OG, then Anna is the heir to that crown. Utterly sweet characters, fantastic scenery (as we’re in PARIS!), heartbreaking love that just keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting for that happy ending…classic.
10. Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry
Initially, I’d picked Dare You To for my Katie McGarry pick, but I changed my mind. I feel like this book, which introduces us to the Reign of Terror Motorcycle gang, is just so much fun. It’ll make you laugh and it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat and it will make you swoon. It was so much fun to read. I really struggled putting it down.