Diversify Your Shelves with WNDB--September 7, 2015
Contributed by Brandy Colbert
Love stories have never been hard to find in fiction. From the unrequited to the unexpected to those two people who deeply care for each other but just can’t seem to get it together, love is often an underlying factor in a story, if not the main focus—and young adult fiction has plenty to offer.
Luckily there’s a host of new romances cropping up in YA, narratives that buck the trend and provide unique and underrepresented points of view. These are my personal recommendations for stories that will make you swoon and tear up and believe in true love.
Far From You by Tess Sharpe
Far From You is part murder mystery, part love story, and while the mystery component is expertly handled, it's the romance that stuck out to me. Sophie is fresh out of rehab when the story begins, intent on finding out the identity of the masked man who killed her best friend, Mina, months ago, while she was forced to watch. Mina and Sophie had an unbreakable bond and a nearly lifelong friendship, but as the plot progresses, we learn that their bond was stronger than either girl had ever admitted to anyone besides each other—they were in love. Told through alternating presentday scenes and flashbacks, Far From You is emotionally wrenching and nuanced. It's also the first book I remember reading in which the main character explicitly states she is bisexual, which was surprising and refreshing.
To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
A sweet, fun read, To All the Boys I've Loved Before is focused on sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song, a girl who is inexperienced in the romance department but has diligently written letters to her crushes over the years, which are safely stowed away in her hatbox. When those letters are sent out, unbeknown to Lara Jean, she tries to save face by pretending to be in a relationship with one of the recipients—and finds that her feelings for him just might surprise everyone, including herself. Lara Jean is biracial, with a Korean mother who passed away and a white father who raises her and her two sisters; the focus on family is strong, and you’ll root for Lara Jean to find true love until the last page.
Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
Set in Los Angeles—and centered around the filmmaking business in particular—Everything Leads to You is a beautiful story about Emi, a young set designer who essentially grew up in the movie business. Emi is dealing with a frustrating onagain, offagain relationship when she stumbles across a lifechanging letter. After tracking down the intended recipient of said letter, Emi is swept into the lives of the family of a Hollywood legend and finds love along the way. While this is a story about two girls falling for each other, it's not a coming out story—their love is slow and somewhat cautious, but ultimately satisfying in the end.
Brandy Colbert’s debut novel, Pointe (Putnam) won the 2014 Cybils Award for young adult fiction and was named a best book of 2014 by Publishers Weekly, BuzzFeed, Book Riot, the Chicago Public Library, and the Los Angeles Public Library. She has worked as an editor for several national magazines and is currently a copy editor for both books and magazines. Her next novel will be released by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in 2017. She lives and writes in Los Angeles, and is a team member of We Need Diverse Books.