YA Novels To Love At Any Age
If you were anything like me growing up, you probably spent many summer nights cooped up in your bedroom breezing through Young Adult fiction like nobody’s business. Now that I’m in my early 20s I often yearn for that warm, fuzzy, delectable feeling I’d get from reading the latest John Green or Sarah Dessen novel. Though I may not technically count as a “young adult” anymore (I mean, what really is the cut off these days?) there’s no good reason for me to stop chasing that feeling I’m so fond of.
Below are five YA novels that will transport you back to those late summer nights of your teenagehood. I am constantly looking for new YA novels to gobble up, so please feel free to share some of your favorites in the comments—particularly any queer and/or POC-centered recommendations you may have!
Set in Omaha, Nebraska in the late 1980s, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is a riveting story about an unlikely pair of teenagers who fall in love. Both outsiders in their own ways—Park because he’s half-Korean and Eleanor because of her big, red hair and awkward demeanor—the two find a sense of belonging in each other. Eleanor’s rocky home life and the social climate at school make for a less-than-ideal environment for their relationship to blossom. Yet against all odds, the two fall for each other. If you’re looking for a read that will make you feel all fuzzy inside, give Eleanor & Park a go.
Reviews | "Reminded me not just what it's like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.” - John Green
The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon is a story about a girl, a boy and the Universe. Natasha never believed in fate. Daniel had always been the “good” boy in his family. Yet, when the Universe brings them together on the bustling streets of New York City, the day before Natasha’s deportation, the two begin to question everything they’ve ever known. The Sun Is Also A Star is the kind of book that will have you flipping pages into the wee hours of the morning, with the continuous sensation of butterflies in your stomach. I don’t know about you, but I love that feeling.
Reviews | "An exhilarating, hopeful novel exploring identity, family, the love of science and the science of love, dark matter and interconnectedness..." - Shelf Awareness
It wouldn’t be a YA novel roundup without a Sarah Dessen book in the mix. Along For The Ride tells the story of Auden, an insomniac who, due to high expectations from her mother, has never experienced what it’s like to be a normal teenager. She decides to spend her last summer before going off to college with her dad in the beach town of Colby. It’s there that she meets Eli, a fellow and insomniac with a dark past. Over the course of the summer, the two spend their nights together, both on their own quests of self-discovery. If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading one of Sarah Dessen’s novels, this is precisely the place to start.
Reviews | “As with all Dessen’s books, [this] is a must-have” - VOYA
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli tells the story of a 16-year-old Simon, who hasn’t quite come out yet. However, when an email to a potential love interest gets into the hands of the wrong person, he’s forced into being his blackmailer’s wingman. As the blackmail situation threatens to compromise his friendships, and his email exchanges with his faceless love interest grow more and more heartfelt, Simon must choose between continuing to conceal his identity, and taking his shot at love. If you haven’t seen the movie Love, Simon, here’s an opportunity to read the book before you see the movie!
Reviews | “Though there are realistic moments of tension, the dominant sentiment here is the delicious excitement of finding your best self in the eyes of someone else...” - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
5. Paper Towns
Paper Towns is perhaps, one of my favorite novels by the man, the myth, the YA legend, Mr. John Green. It tells the story of an infatuated Quentin Jacobsen and his pursuit of his childhood crush Margo Roth Spiegelman. After spending one whirlwind of a night together, plotting revenge on Margo’s ex, Quentin is absolutely sure Margo is the girl of his dreams. However, Margo disappears mysteriously the next day, and in his quest to find her, Quentin realizes that he never actually knew her at all. If you’re looking for an exhilarating read with exciting twists and turns, this one will do the trick!
Reviews | “A suspenseful mystery, a compelling central metaphor, and one of those road trips that every senior hopes he or she will have round out this exploration of the kind of relationship that can’t help but teach us a little bit about ourselves.” — Bulletin For The Center Of Children’s Books