Emelie Mano ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
February may be considered the most romantic month, but even when many choose to overlook the wildly superficial and overly emphasized concept of Valentines Day, readers are still privy to the happy feeling of purely fictional and happy romance stories. Sometimes, young adult authors are best suited to express the most accurate representations of unadulterated love. Here are a few YA romantic reads to brighten your February and revisit the intensity of feeling too many emoti ons at once through the written word.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
A light read, Jennifer E. Smith presents readers with the least romantic setting of an airport. Though the title insinuates that the story may be a “fluffy” read about love at first sight, it in fact reflects upon the carousel of life and the many experiences, good and bad, that people live through, including the feeling of love. Hadley and Oliver are strangers who meet by chance first at the airport, and then on the plane itself. Each character reflects on their own individual pain as their spontaneous interaction begins to change them. Though their time together is brief, Hadley and Oliver’s journey causes readers to reflect upon the feeling of uncertainty regarding falling in love for the first time, as well as the happiness and fear that comes with taking a risk.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
The lovely story of not-so-openly gay Simon Spier is both hilarious and heartfelt. Readers walk through the life of sixteen-year-old Simon as he deals with the anxiety of having his secret revealed through someone that could expose him entirely. Though Simon deals with the threat of being blackmailed, including the reveal of the boy he has feelings for, he nevertheless manages to juggle the messy dynamics of high school in the most humorous fashion. He ultimately recognizes his need to step out of his comfort zone before he is pushed out by force. Becky Albertalli captures a unique story balancing the conflict of coming out as well as falling in love for the first time; this combined with Simon’s lovable character has readers rooting for him all the way.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Though this is by no means as lighthearted and bubbly as the other romances, Jennifer Niven manages to capture the fleeting essence of love, even if it is felt for the briefest moment. Violet and Finch meet at the top of a roof, each about to end what they believe to be meaningless lives. Finch talks Violet out of it, though it is unclear who saves whom. Readers hear the narration of both characters as they both go through their own internal battles. Violet, still stuck in the PTSD of the death of her sister, finds new ways to live through the invigorating experiences with Finch, even though love might not always equal a happy ending.
The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
A form of magical realism, Anna-Marie McLemore presents readers with a wonderfully beautiful world with equally complex characters. Her gorgeous lyrical debut features two opposing circus families. Lace, a Paloma-family mermaid and Cluck, a wing-weaving Romani boy from the tightrope dancing Corbeau clan cross paths and experience an immediate personal connection. As they become closer, their families become more strained and they risk losing everything they hold dear. McLemore uses a refreshing amount of diversity, the comparison between two French and Spanish families adding a great sense of realism to the depth of the story, including the deeper familial conflict between the two sides. Each character deals with both trauma and pain, and their realistic love for each other is shown as they go through the burden of family expectations together in McLemore’s beautiful star-crossed circus community.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
A classic romance surrounding the experiences of an American teenager traveling to a boarding school in Paris, Stephanie Perkins wonderfully captures the romantic atmosphere of the city of love, while also presenting an equally swoon worthy character: Etienne St. Claire. Though Etienne does indeed have a girlfriend, Anna becomes quick friends with him, and their chemistry only progresses through a series of humorous as well as dramatic events. Perkins captures the essence of quirky teenage love with a witty protagonist and her struggle for a happy ending. This is a perfect read for Valentine’s Day, and will guarantee the soft and lighthearted happiness that is felt after experiencing the adorable romance of two unlikely characters.
Each of these novels, though placed in the young adult genre, nevertheless, manage to evoke all of the feelings that accompany love, including its pain, happiness, and sometimes discomfort; especially the overwhelming sense of feeling something new. For the month of romance, there is nothing better than the memories and experiences of first time love.