It may just be mid-May, but for me, summer cannot come soon enough. With its laid-back vibe, warm, sultry evenings, and sense of possibility, summer is a time of new beginnings—and summer love. If you love a good YA romance novel, you’ll devour these fresh love stories to hit you in the feels.
The Names they Gave Us by Emery Lord
From the author of When We Collided comes one of the hottest debuts of the spring–Emery Lord’s contemporary YA romance, The Names they Gave Us. A raw, emotional account of one girl’s perfect summer going terribly wrong, and how she triumphs over her struggles and finds love in unexpected places. Lucy Hansson is planning to spend a glorious summer working at her parents’ Bible Camp and spending time with her boyfriend. But her world comes crashing down when her mother’s cancer returns, her boyfriend eases out of their relationship, and she is forced to question her religious upbringing. Heartbreaking and emotionally-charged, this novel details Lucy’s journey through family secrets, her own faith crisis and love lost and found. Be prepared to encounter an amazing cast of characters and experience poignant friendships in this diverse summer read about struggle and resolution.
The Nerdy and the Dirty by B. T. Gottfred
This fun YA romance novel from B. T. Gottfred (Forever for a Year) can best be summed up in one word: quirky. In a good way. Awkward Benedict lacks social skills, and a girlfriend, and a best friend. When his best friend, a fellow outcast who puts up with Benedict’s lack of tact and extreme honesty, abandons him, Benedict is adrift. At the same time, Penelope (aka “Pen”) has a reputation for going along with whatever her heinous friends and boyfriend do. As a member of the in-crowd, she barely has to say anything to coast along. Except Pen is hiding secrets of her own, and when she tries to bust free from the cage her peers and her very religious mother put her in, she, too, finds herself lost and alienated. By all accounts, they shouldn’t be a couple. After all, Benedict has little to no respect for Pen, whom he thinks is dumb and forgettable… until circumstances push them together and he realizes she is unforgettable. This—here’s the word again—quirky love story is unlike anything you’ve ever read. Alternating points of view give you two very unique viewpoints. For both of these misfits find love together, it’s as raw and realistic as first romances really are.
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Becky Albertalli’s debut novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapien’s Agenda, took the YA world by storm when it was first released in 2016. Simon won rave reviews from critics and readers alike. So Albertalli’s second novel, The Upside of Unrequited, had a steep hill to climb to even match Simon. But fear not, it’s just as good if not better. In The Upside of Unrequited, you could say seventeen-year-old heroine Molly’s longest-standing relationship is with unrequited love. Her twin sister, Cassie, is blunt and tough on Molly, telling her to woman-up and get over her hopeless crushes. But then a new girl comes along who turns guarded Cassie into heart eyes. While Molly tries to plot how to get her other half back, her royally geeky co-worker Reid might break the unrequited cycle—and capture her heart.
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Okay, who else cannot get over this great cover? I see that iced coffee, and I want some, and I want it now! And, really, this charming debut YA romance is the perfect match to a chilly reading day in a frosty, air-conditioned Starbucks. Plus that smile! It’s an instant draw to this fun love story. After graduation, Dimple is hoping her mother will drop the “Ideal Indian Husband” pressure and let her enjoy single life. When she accepts an offer from her parents to go to a six-week intensive coding academy over the summer, Dimple is overjoyed, especially since she’s a techie herself. On Day 1, she meets Rishi, an earnest, hopeless romantic… and someone who introduces himself as her future husband, thanks to an arranged marriage by both of their parents. Dimple is annoyed and angered. To spite her parents, she resolves never to marry Rishi. The thing is, though, Rishi is cute, sincere, kind, super-smart… all the things she could ask for in a boyfriend. Part of what makes this novel so fun is the undeniable chemistry between the hero and heroine. Though their relationship might start out arranged, watching attraction blossom into an undeniable love makes for a satisfying summer romance read.