Skip to main content


February 23, 2015

You’re Never Too Old for Young Love: Five Unconventional YA Romances


Many of us are still in the afterglow of Valentine’s Day, still working on that box of chocolates or smelling the flowers that were delivered to us. It may remind us of those early days of life when we were naïve and giddy like schoolgirls at the prospect of someone special sending us flowers. There is something endearing and innocent about young love; it’s irresistible. We have seen it all over the media, and in novels like THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green and the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer. But there are some unconventional teenage love stories worth reading that may not immediately come to mind. From zombie romances to stories that break society’s romantic norms, here are some of the best young adult romance novels that you might have overlooked:

IF YOU COULD BE MINE by Sara Farizan
Fall in love: When two young women fall in love in Iran, the possibility of the relationship lasting seems impossible. Farizan tells us a love story that would inevitably result in beatings, imprisonment and even death. Our protagonist, Sahar, has been in love with her best friend since they were six. They have exchanged kisses and romantic promises but the law of Iranprohibits same-sex marriage. However, sex reassignment is readily accessible in the country and completely legal. Sahar struggles between being true to who she is and being with the person she loves.

This novel follows the rarely explored restrictions in Iran and the consequences when these laws are broken. IF YOU COULD BE MINE looks at love in diverse and unconventional ways, which is what we need in young adult novels today.

Fall in love: This novel-turned-movie is the story of unpopular “nerd” Denis Cooverman. Taking advantage of his valedictorian speech at his high school graduation, Denis declares his love for Beth Cooper in front of his entire graduating class. Though he’s immediately beaten up by Beth’s violent boyfriend, Kevin, Denis also discovers that Beth found his declaration of love sweet and sincere. The novel then follows the two in an unlikely romance, as they try to escape Kevin’s grasp.

While the movie adaptation was a flop, the novel was quite popular and rightfully so. Doyle does an excellent job at giving us humor and stereotypical characters that have depth, proving Denis is not just all about Star Wars and Beth is not just a cheerleading airhead.

WARM BODIES by Isaac Marion
Fall in love: Romance is probably the last thing anyone should be worrying about in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, but not so in WARM BODIES. R, apathetic but hopeful for the human race, is a recently turned zombie who meets Julie, a young human girl. It’s love at first sight for R but the same can’t be said for Julie --- which isn’t so surprising, all things considered. Marion gives us the thoughts and musings of the undead, and shows us that in a world seemingly without a cure, there is always hope in one form or another.

WARM BODIES was turned into a movie in 2013 and has received critical acclaim and generally positive reviews. DirecTV even picked up the film for immediate streaming prior to its theatrical release (more info here). The novel, however, does an even better job of taking an overdone theme and turning it completely on its head, adding some insight to its story and characters, alive or dead.

Fall in love: Astrid finds it impossible to confide in her parents about falling in love with another girl. To combat her troubles, she takes to staring at the sky, watching planes and asking the passengers different questions. King tells this unique coming-out story as Astrid struggles with acceptance from others and, more importantly, herself. Slowly, she finds that it’s okay not to have all the answers as she tries to discover her own identity.

JUST ONE DAY by Gayle Forman
Fall in love: The first book of a trilogy, JUST ONE DAY follows Allyson as she meets mysterious and adventurous Willem during a European tour. After she wakes up from spending the night with him, Willem is nowhere to be found. Although she questions what his intentions were, she cannot seem to shake him from her mind. The novel then follows the two in a seemingly fairy tale-like story about a foreign prince capturing the heart of an insecure girl. Forman does an excellent job of portraying love, heartbreak and fate in this coming-of-age story.