Spring is here, and love is in the air (be sure to catch What Makes a Good YA Love Story? by Katrina Hedeen and Rachel L. Smith in the upcoming May/June 2013 issue of the Horn Book Magazine). Here are four more books that will make teens contemplate love in all its forms.
The main characters of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park meet on the bus at the start of sophomore year. Eleanor is the new girl in town, an ostracized, bullied “big girl”; Park is a skinny half-Korean townie who tries to stay out of the spotlight. Their slowly evolving but intense relationship is authentic in its awkwardness — and life-changing for them both. Rowell imbues the novel with rich character development, a spot-on depiction of the 1986 Omaha setting, and powerful descriptive passages. It’s an honest, heart-wrenching portrayal of imperfect but unforgettable love. (14–17 years, St. Martin’s Griffin)
At the start of This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith, sixteen-year-old Ellie strikes up a snappy, flirty email friendship with someone who turns out to be teen movie star Graham Larkin. As a result, Graham decides to spend the summer filming his next movie in Ellie’s small town. In person, they feel an instant attraction; however, their relationship faces challenges and disapproval from both sides. This wish-fulfillment fantasy features likable protagonists with undeniable chemistry. The thoughtful narration, from both Ellie and Graham’s perspectives, is slow and unhurried, just like its sleepy small-town setting. (14–17 years, Little Brown/Poppy)
Sixteen-year-old Mallory, star of Lindsey Leavitt’s Going Vintage, is shocked to learn that her boyfriend is emotionally cheating on her with a “cyber wife.” As a result, Mallory decides to go on a technology fast. A to-do list her grandmother made at age sixteen, in 1962, provides the perfect inspiration for a simpler life — with surprising and often hilarious results. Mallory’s experiences will help readers cope with their own breakups and undoubtedly make them think about their tethers to smartphones and social media. (14–17 years, Bloomsbury)
In Sophia Bennett’s The Look, fifteen-year-old Londoner Ted (short for Edwina) is tall, awkward, and clueless about clothes, but has nevertheless been scouted by a top modeling agency. Meanwhile, her vivacious older sister, Ava, is diagnosed with lymphoma. Readers get an inside look at the modeling industry through Ted’s earnest, naive eyes, including some tricky romantic entanglements. Equally compelling is Bennett’s sympathetic portrait of a family coping with a serious illness and getting through it with love and humor. (14–17 years, Scholastic/Chicken House)
From the April 2013 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.