14 Best Young Adult Romance Books

Featured image with text - Best Young Adult Romance Books

If you’re searching for tales of first loves, heartbreaks, and everything in between, look no further. 

Today, we’re diving into the enchanting world of young adult romance literature, where stories come alive with the fervor of youthful passion. 

Let’s begin. 

Best Young Adult Romance Books

1. “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell

“Eleanor & Park” is a novel set in the 1980s, telling the story of two sixteen-year-olds, Eleanor, a misfit with a troubled family life, and Park, a half-Korean boy who feels out of place in his own community. Over the course of one school year, these two outsiders slowly but surely share comic books, mixtapes, and eventually, fall in love. 

The book is celebrated for its honest portrayal of first love, the struggles of teenage life, and its memorable, well-developed characters.

What makes it amazing?

This book stands out for its authentic depiction of teenage love and the complexities of growing up. Rowell’s ability to capture the essence of the ’80s, combined with her skill in creating relatable, fleshed-out characters, makes “Eleanor & Park” a heartfelt and nostalgic read. 

The novel’s exploration of difficult themes, such as bullying and family dynamics, is handled with sensitivity and depth, making it not just a love story but also a compelling narrative about finding one’s place in the world.

2. “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli

“Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” follows Simon Spier, a not-so-openly gay sixteen-year-old, who prefers to save his drama for the school musical. However, when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. 

Now, Simon must step out of his comfort zone before he’s outed against his will, or worse, the part of his community he didn’t choose to share himself with will be. It’s a story full of humor, poignant moments, and a heartfelt exploration of identity and love.

What makes it amazing?

The book shines with its witty, engaging narrative and a charming cast of characters that readers can’t help but root for. Albertalli’s writing captures the confusion and exhilaration of finding oneself and falling in love for the first time. 

What sets “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” apart is its uplifting and inclusive message, offering a refreshing take on the coming-of-age story that speaks to the importance of being true to oneself while navigating the complexities of adolescence.

3. “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Set in the 1980s, this novel explores the friendship and eventual romance between two Mexican-American boys, Aristotle “Ari” Mendoza and Dante Quintana. As they navigate the trials of adolescence, family relationships, and their own identities, they form an unbreakable bond. 

Through lyrical prose, Sáenz addresses themes of cultural identity, masculinity, and the complexities of love and friendship.

What makes it amazing?

The lyrical writing style and deep emotional undercurrents make “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” a standout novel. It beautifully captures the journey of self-discovery and acceptance, portrayed through the eyes of two relatable protagonists. 

The book’s exploration of cultural and sexual identity, combined with the evocative setting and poignant narrative, offers readers a profound and moving experience that lingers long after the last page is turned.

4. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her — one for every boy she’s ever loved. When the letters are mysteriously mailed out, her love life goes from imaginary to out of control. 

This book is a delightful mix of light-hearted romance and family dynamics, showcasing Lara Jean’s growth as she navigates the complexities of adolescence, friendships, and first love.

What makes it amazing?

Jenny Han’s “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is celebrated for its charming blend of innocence and introspection. The novel’s strength lies in its relatable protagonist and the authentic depiction of teenage life. 

Han crafts a story that is as much about the importance of family and sisterhood as it is about romance, making it a heartwarming read that appeals to a wide audience. The book’s engaging narrative and memorable characters make it a modern classic in young adult romance.

5. “The Sun Is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon

Natasha is a girl who believes in science and facts. Daniel is a dreamer who believes in destiny, poetry, and the universe. 

Over the course of a single day in New York City, their paths collide in this story about fate, love, and the myriad possibilities of the universe. “The Sun Is Also a Star” explores questions of identity, culture, and the connections that bind us, all within the frame of a serendipitous love story.

What makes it amazing?

Nicola Yoon’s novel is a testament to the power of love and the beauty of the unexpected. Its narrative is compelling and multifaceted, weaving together themes of fate, science, and the immigrant experience with a poignant love story at its heart. 

The book’s unique structure, alternating perspectives, and lyrical prose enhance its exploration of love’s complexities and the small moments that can change the course of our lives. “The Sun Is Also a Star” is a thought-provoking, deeply romantic novel that challenges readers to consider the forces that draw people together.

6. “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell

“Fangirl” follows Cath Avery, a freshman in college who is struggling with the challenges of leaving home, her twin sister’s desire for independence, and her own social anxiety. Immersed in the world of fanfiction, Cath finds solace in writing about Simon Snow, her favorite fantasy series’ characters. 

But as she navigates her first year at college, she must learn how to open her heart to new experiences, including real-life love. It’s a story that beautifully captures the transition from adolescence to adulthood, the power of fandom, and the courage it takes to step out of one’s comfort zone.

What makes it amazing?

What sets “Fangirl” apart is its deep understanding of fan culture and the role that fandom can play in providing comfort and community. Rowell crafts a relatable protagonist in Cath, whose journey towards self-confidence and embracing change is both inspiring and heartwarming. 

The novel’s nuanced take on mental health, family dynamics, and romance, combined with its witty and engaging prose, makes it a standout in the young adult genre. “Fangirl” is not just a love story; it’s a celebration of creativity and finding one’s voice.

7. “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart

Set against the backdrop of a private island off the coast of Massachusetts, “We Were Liars” centers on Cadence Sinclair, a young woman from a privileged family who is grappling with the aftermath of a mysterious accident. 

As Cadence struggles to remember the events of Summer Fifteen, the narrative unfolds a tale of love, friendship, and the destructive power of secrets and lies within a seemingly perfect family. The novel is known for its twisty plot, lyrical prose, and the intense relationship at its heart.

What makes it amazing?

The brilliance of “We Were Liars” lies in its ability to weave a compelling mystery with a poignant exploration of family dynamics, privilege, and the pain of loss. Lockhart’s storytelling is masterful, with a twist that leaves readers reeling and rethinking everything they believed about the characters and their stories. 

The novel’s evocative setting, complex characters, and the tragic love story at its core make it a unique and unforgettable read in the young adult genre.

8. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars” is the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, two teenagers who meet in a cancer support group and embark on a journey of love, laughter, and tragedy. Despite the cloud of illness hanging over them, Hazel and Augustus share a deep bond that is both beautiful and heartbreaking. 

Green’s novel is celebrated for its honest portrayal of illness and its impact on young lives, as well as for its memorable characters and sharp, insightful dialogue.

What makes it amazing?

John Green’s novel is remarkable for its ability to address profound themes—such as mortality, love, and the meaning of life—with humor, grace, and a deep respect for the intelligence of its readers. 

The authenticity of Hazel and Augustus’s relationship, combined with Green’s unique voice, makes “The Fault in Our Stars” a powerful, emotional experience that resonates with readers long after they finish the book. It’s a testament to the strength found in vulnerability and the incredible impact of love.

9. “An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir

“An Ember in the Ashes” is set in a brutal, ancient-like world inspired by the Roman Empire, where Laia, a slave, and Elias, a soldier, fight against all odds for their freedom and survival. 

Their paths intersect in an epic story of tyranny, resistance, and the desperate choices they must make to protect their loved ones. Tahir’s richly imagined world is filled with danger, mysticism, and a compelling cast of characters, making it a thrilling blend of fantasy and romance.

What makes it amazing?

Sabaa Tahir’s debut novel is a masterpiece of world-building, creating a vivid and oppressive universe that immediately captivates the reader. The dual perspectives of Laia and Elias provide a deep, emotional core to the story, exploring themes of duty, family, and the costs of rebellion. 

The intense, slow-burning romance that develops in the midst of chaos adds a layer of depth and humanity to the narrative. “An Ember in the Ashes” is an amazing young adult novel for its breathtaking scope, intricate plot, and the unforgettable journey of its characters.

10. “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson

“I’ll Give You the Sun” tells the story of twins Noah and Jude, who are inseparable until tragedy and secrets tear them apart. Told in alternating perspectives, with Noah narrating the years when they were thirteen and Jude at sixteen, the novel is a complex tapestry of love, art, and forgiveness. 

As the siblings grapple with their own personal demons and desires, they must also confront the lies that have driven a wedge between them. Nelson’s writing is vibrant and full of life, capturing the intense emotions of adolescence and the transformative power of grief and love.

What makes it amazing?

Jandy Nelson’s novel is a stunning exploration of family, identity, and the redemptive power of creativity. The use of art as both a theme and a narrative device enriches the story, adding layers of meaning that unfold with each page. “I’ll Give You the Sun” is notable for its beautiful, lyrical prose and the vivid, tangible emotions it evokes. 

The novel’s portrayal of love in its many forms—romantic, familial, and self-love—along with its optimistic message about the possibility of healing and reconciliation, makes it a truly amazing read.

11. “Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon

“Everything, Everything” tells the captivating story of Maddy, a teenager who is allergic to the outside world, living a life confined within the safety of her home. Her world turns upside down when Olly, a boy next door, moves in and they start to communicate through their windows and text messages. 

As their bond deepens, Maddy begins to question the limitations of her existence and yearns for a taste of the outside world. Nicola Yoon crafts a touching narrative about love, freedom, and the risks we take for the people we care about.

What makes it amazing?

This novel stands out for its inventive storytelling, including diary entries, emails, and illustrations that bring Maddy and Olly’s relationship to life. Yoon tackles themes of isolation, health, and sacrifice with sensitivity and depth, making readers ponder the true meaning of living versus just being alive. 

The love story between Maddy and Olly is both tender and powerful, demonstrating the lengths to which people will go to reach out to each other. “Everything, Everything” is a heartwarming and innovative story that resonates with anyone who’s ever dreamed of experiencing a life beyond their boundaries.

12. “The Sky Is Everywhere” by Jandy Nelson

“The Sky Is Everywhere” centers on Lennie, a seventeen-year-old girl who is grappling with the sudden loss of her older sister, Bailey. 

As Lennie navigates through her grief, she finds herself torn between two boys: Toby, Bailey’s bereaved boyfriend, who offers a connection to her sister, and Joe, the new boy in town who brings a spark of life back into her world. Jandy Nelson’s lyrical prose beautifully captures the chaos of first love and the complexities of grief, making it a deeply moving and unforgettable story.

What makes it amazing?

Nelson’s ability to weave grief and joy together in such a raw and realistic manner sets “The Sky Is Everywhere” apart. The novel is not only a journey through loss but also a celebration of life, love, and the healing power of music and art. 

Lennie’s character is compelling and relatable, and her path to finding herself in the wake of tragedy is both inspiring and heartrending. Nelson’s poetic writing style and the vivid, emotional landscape she creates make this book a standout in young adult literature.

13. “Dumplin'” by Julie Murphy

“Dumplin'” follows Willowdean Dickson, a plus-sized teenager who decides to enter her small town’s beauty pageant as a protest. Willowdean’s bold move sparks a revolution among other unlikely contestants, challenging traditional beauty norms and inspiring a community. 

As Willowdean confronts her own insecurities and complicated feelings for her crush, Bo, Julie Murphy crafts a powerful narrative about self-confidence, friendship, and the importance of being true to oneself.

What makes it amazing?

Murphy’s novel is remarkable for its heartfelt portrayal of a protagonist who defies stereotypes and embraces her body with confidence. “Dumplin'” celebrates diversity and challenges societal expectations of beauty, making it a refreshing and empowering read. 

The book’s humor, warmth, and genuine characters add depth to its message of self-acceptance and the value of standing up for what you believe in. It’s an uplifting story that resonates with anyone who’s ever felt out of place.

14. “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses” is a spellbinding tale that blends elements of fantasy and romance. Feyre, a young huntress, finds herself entwined in the affairs of faeries when she unknowingly kills one in the woods.

As punishment, she is taken to a magical land that she’s only heard about in legends. What starts as captivity in the Spring Court under the watchful eye of its enigmatic High Lord, Tamlin, evolves into a passionate love story with deep secrets and the looming threat of a greater darkness.

What makes it amazing?

Sarah J. Maas masterfully builds a lush, fantastical world that is both captivating and unique, drawing readers into its depths with intricate lore and vivid imagery. 

The romance between Feyre and Tamlin is intense and beautifully developed, set against a backdrop of political intrigue and ancient magic. “A Court of Thorns and Roses” is celebrated for its strong, complex characters, particularly Feyre, who grows from a survivor driven by necessity to a powerful heroine in her own right. The novel’s blend of action, romance, and fantasy elements makes it an unforgettable read in the YA genre.

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