Trisha (the Ya Ya Yas) and I discussed YA Romance in the comments to this post and she explores the question further at More Thoughts On YA Romance.
So, please, let me know: How do you define YA romance?
I pretty much see the definition as being not that much difference from adult romance, meaning that the end, the couple are together.
I actually get a little annoyed when people call books "romances" (whether YA or not) when it doesn't end with the couple together. Because part of what I want and expect out of a romance is a happy ending, by golly; and when you hand me something that doesn't have that happy ending, I feel misled.
This actually makes it hard to find decent YA romance. So, I thought, being a librarian and all, let's make a list!
What books would you recommend to a teen who wants romance?
Edited to add:
Go over to Reader's Carousel for some more conversation on YA Romance.
Books suggested to date (without links)
Twilight, Stephenie Meyer (Becky) (And while, as I said above, I like my HEA, I am convinced that this trilogy will end with the couple together. So I agree with this one.)
The Truth About Forever, Sarah Dessen (Becky) (Liz)
Sorcery & Cecilia by Wrede/ Stevermer (Liz)
The King of Attolia & The Queen of Attolia by Turner (Liz) (hey, I think the romance between Gen & Irene is hot.)
Dramacon by Chmakova (Liz) (Again, as with Twilight, the actual individual books don't have the HEA but I'm sure that's how it all ends).
I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Carter (Liz)
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Levithan/Cohn (Liz) (This is a hot, hot, hot book) (Trish)
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (Trisha) (Liz)
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (Trisha, Liz)
All's Fair in Love, War, and High School by Janette Rallison (Trisha)
East by Edith Patou (Trisha)
The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle (Trisha) (Liz agrees, and adds the other 2 books in the series, Close Kin & In the Coils of the Snake)
most Meg Cabot books (Trisha) (Liz agrees)
most Shannon Hale books (Trisha) (Liz agrees)
The Vampire Diaries series by L.J. Smith (vols. I and II being reprinted by HarperTeen) (Trisha)
Tithe and Ironside by Holly Blackum (Trisha)
Amazing Grace by Megan Shull (Trisha)
The Beet Fields (2nd Gen Librarian)
My Heartbeat (2nd Gen Librarian) (I think this has romantic elements, but I wouldn't call it romance...no HEA or promise, just an older but wiser girl.)
Romeo and Juliet (2nd Gen Librarian) (heh, I was the annoying girl in high school who said Romeo was annoying and didn't love Juliet any more or less than Rosamund or whatever the girl was he was interested in at the start.)
True Believer (2nd Gen Librarian)
Rainbow Boys (2nd Gen Librarian)
Thwonk (2nd Gen Librarian)
If You Come Softly (2nd Gen Librarian) (Liz is forced to agree despite the lack of HEA.) (Trisha: I LOVE If You Come Softly, but I doubt I'd feel the same way if I had picked it up under the impression that it was a romance.) (Liz: I'd give it to the ones who want a sad story romance.)
Dating Hamlet (2nd Gen Librarian)
Princess Diaries (2nd Gen Librarian) (note a general Meg Cabot, above)
Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging (Liz finds herself contradicting herself, because she very much agrees with the inclusion of Angus despite little HEA)
Dairy Queen (2nd Gen Librarian) (I disagree; I think it's much more a coming of age and friendship story)
Sloppy Firsts (and series) (2nd Gen Librarian) (Liz)
Boy Meets Boy (2nd Gen Librarian) (Liz)
The Changeover: A Supernatural Romance--Margaret Mahy (Alkelda)
Annie on My Mind--Nancy Garden (Alkelda) (Liz)
Constance--Patricia Clapp (Alkelda) (Liz says OMG, I LOOOOVVEEEE this book.)
Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (Trisha) (Liz)
On Fortune's Wheel by Cynthia Voigt
Anatomy of a Boyfriend (Sheryl)
A Certain Slant of Light (Sheryl) (Liz)
The Order of the Poison Oak, Hartinger (Liz)
Empress of the World, Ryan (Liz)
OK, Keep the titles coming! And, if you agree/disagree with a titles inclusion, please comment!
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer is one that pops into my mind when I think of YA romance.
Of course there are plenty of others. Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors. I loved, loved, loved The Truth About Forever.
Twilight has the whole starcrossed over thing, so I agree it's romance even tho it's not a HEA ending.
Agreed with Sarah Dessen.
I've been trying to think of titles (its easier at work when I can browse the shelves!):
Sorcery & Cecilia by Wrede/ Stevermer
The King of Attolia & The Queen of Attolia by Turner (hey, I think the romance between Gen & Irene is hot.)
Dramacon by Chmakova
I'd Tell You I Love You But then I'd Have to Kill You by Carter
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Levithan/Cohn
I think most romance readers see a distinction between a romance and a book with romantic elements (HEA included), but I'm not sure how many teens would do the same. Like I said before, outside the First Kisses, Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies, etc. series, what's left is usually of the "romantic element" variety. If that's enough to make our hypothetical teen happy, here are my suggestions (I'll try to stick to standalone novels and completed series):
Agree with Nick and Norah and some Sarah Dessen like This Lullaby and Just Listen (haven't read The Truth About Forever).
All's Fair in Love, War, and High School by Janette Rallison
East by Edith Patou
The Hollow Kingdom by Clare B. Dunkle
most Meg Cabot books
most Shannon Hale books
The Vampire Diaries series by L.J. Smith (vols. I and II being reprinted by HarperTeen)
Tithe and Ironside by Holly Black
um, how about Amazing Grace by Megan Shull?
I also need to go to work tomorrow and browse the shelves to think of more.
In library school I took a seminar on the young adult romance, so if I really thought about it I could probably come up with a lengthy answer. However, I will say that I don't think at the end the couple has to be together. I just think the plot has to mainly revolve around the "interpersonal relationship".
The books we had to read in class were:
The Beet Fields
Romeo and Juliet
If You Come Softly
Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging
I wouldn't necessarily recommend all of these as romances, though some clearly are. In addition to what's already been mentioned I would recommend almost Dairy Queen, Sloppy Firsts (and series), and Boy Meets Boy, to start.
My favorite Young Adult romances:
The Changeover: A Supernatural Romance--Margaret Mahy
Annie on My Mind--Nancy Garden
Constance--Patricia Clapp (sometimes shelved in children's)
I LOVE If You Come Softly, but I doubt I'd feel the same way if I had picked it up under the impression that it was a romance.
Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
On Fortune's Wheel by Cynthia Voigt
I'm heading over to Trish's blog to make a more complete comment, but just wanted to summarize here that Michael Cart, in From Romance to Realism, says that YA lit/junior novels started in the 1930s-1950s with a lot of romances. The 60s and 70s saw the rise of problem novels and realism. The 80s had a pendulum swing, and romance returned. (He lists some series that are now out of print.) He says horror was the big thing in the 90s, and I also made a note that publishers found a new target: the 12-14 age group. Which may answer some of Trish's question about where are the romances for older teens.
I'll add a question: What book might you recommend as a contemporary follow-up to Michael Cart's history of YA lit (copyright 1996)?
If you are talking "romantic" but not "a romance" (because I do happen to be one of those people who believe the couple must get together for a "romance"), Anatomy of a Boyfriend and A Certain Slant of Light are also good. Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist is definitely my favorite, however.
Elizabeth Marie Pope: The Sherwood Ring, The Perilous Gard
Katherine Sturtevant: A True and Faithful Narrative
Not a Swan, by Michelle Magorian (English title A Little Love Song). A tad racier than many, but an excellent book.
Get the Girl by Zusak
Good for guys. I thought it was excellent and have been recommending it to all my friends.
I second _The Perilous Gard_ and recommend a recent favorite: _Scrambled Eggs at Midnight_ by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler.
I agree with many of the books listed here.
Almost all of Dessen's books involve some sort of relationship, ranging from the abusive (Dreamland) to the unexpected (This Lullaby). They aren't always the focal point. For example, though the relationship with Wes is a big part of The Truth about Forever, I think of that book as a drama about self-discovery, whereas I consider This Lullaby a romance. (I'm not typically a romance person, and I like this book a lot, because the girl doesn't want a relationship.)
Similarly, most of Deb Caletti's books involve a relationship. The Nature of Jade, her newest, is my favorite. That definitely has a focus or main line on romance, as does Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, which is also about multigenerational friendships and rekindling loves. Wild Roses definitely has romance, with the other focus being an abusive stepparent.
There are relationships in the Body of Evidence series, which I categorize as MYSTERY, first and foremost. Interracial dating is addressed in multiple books, but it is the focus of Skin Deep. There's also the issue of dating someone ten years older/younger, with Jenna and Danny.
A Certain Slant of Light is a gorgeous, gorgeous book. I wouldn't call a romance immediately; I'd say ghost story first.
Hurrah for Empress of the World. Add the related title (new release!) The Rules of Hearts.
I highly recommend:
Bloom by Elizabeth Scott
Keeping You a Secret by Julie Ann Peters
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
All of those novels are dramas.
There are also comedies, like the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies. I recommend Major Crush by Jennifer Echols.
Nobody's mentioned the recently reissued Eva Ibbotson romances: A Countess Below Stairs and A Song for Summer. I've only read A Song for Summer, but I thought it was lovely, particularly Ibbotson's voice. I'd give it to a older girl who loved L.M. Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott when younger. There are two more Ibbotson reissues coming out in the fall, The Morning Gift and A Company of Swans. Another favorite of mine is
The Wind Blows Backward by Mary Downing Hahn. There's a lot of sadness in the course of this book (the male lead is dealing with his father's suicide, and has a bit of a death wish himself) but it ends mostly happily. The couple is together, at least.
Erin B., school librarian and longtime Tea Cozy lurker
I think I'm the first male to bite on this one, but I have to say that as a young reader I secretly loved a bit of a romance in a book.
One I really loved was the relationship in "I am the Cheese," a book that no one would ever think of as a romance.
By the by, one of my agent's many complaints about my ms "Nosepicker: a Love Story" was that the words "love" and "story" would turn off potential boy readers. I believe her. She knows.
Okay, I dipped into my LibraryThing and brought up everything that I'd tagged both "love" and "teen." So here are the ones not previousl y mentioned. They're not all, or even mostly, books with romance as the primary focus, but I think they have good love stories in them.
Skybreaker - Kenneth Oppel. Not the focus, but I really enjoyed the romance between Kate and Matt, and think you could sneak it most handily into a boy's hands on the strength of the rest of the story.
The Dashwood Sisters' Secrets of Love - Rosie Rushton. Especially for preexisting Jane Austen freaks who will enjoy the parallels.
The Magician's Ward - Patricia C. Wrede. Okay, confession time: does anyone else read that scene with Mairelon in the library over and over again?
Bella at Midnight - Diane Stanley
Knights of the Hill Country - Tim Tharp. Yes, really.
Feel free to argue. And I have to jump up and down seconding the vote for The Queen/King of Attolia. That was a skewed romance, but hoo, boy, it was romantic.
One more. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr.
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