Whether Valentine’s Day puts you in the mood for a heartwarming read or a heartbreaking one, these four new YA novels about love (and love lost) offer some of each.
In Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Hadley misses her flight to London, where she’s grudgingly going to her father’s wedding. She meets Oliver, a charming Brit, on the next flight. Their in-flight bonding culminates in a mind-blowing kiss at the airport — and then Hadley loses Oliver in the crowd. This elegant romance features a determined heroine who’s not afraid to make her own destiny. (14 years and up)
Daniel Handler’s remarkable novel Why We Broke Up is written as a (very long) letter quirky narrator Min plans to leave on her ex-boyfriend Ed’s doorstep, along with a box of tokens of their relationship (illustrated sparingly by Maira Kalman). Through Min’s eloquent thoughts on the significance of each item, readers come to understand both why the couple broke up, and why that outcome is not what matters most in this story. (14 years and up)
Hazel has stage four cancer and doesn’t know how much time she has left. Augustus lost a leg to osteosarcoma but seems to be in recovery. After meeting in a cancer support group, the two quickly develop a relationship that’s as profoundly intellectual as it is emotional and physical. With its acerbic comedy, sexy romance, and meditation on life and death, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars is funny, heartbreaking, and honest. (14 years and up)
In Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff, lines of sexuality and gender are intentionally blurred; connections in an alternative family of punk-rock street kids are strong and clear. Androgynous drummer Kid falls for guitarist Felix, but a devastating fire claims both Felix and their abandoned warehouse “home.” Though Kid feels lost without Felix, with another summer comes sweet-voiced singer Scout — and another chance at love. (14 years and up)