Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, everyone! This weekend is Valentine’s Day, and I am a big Valentine’s Day fan–red, hearts, chocolate, bring it on. So for today’s Friday Fifteen, I’m going to change it up a little and make some book recommendations.

When I was a teen, I never dated anyone. I had a ton of guy friends, but there was never anyone I was interested in dating, so my closest relationships were with my friends and family. And I’m guessing I wasn’t the first nor the last teen to feel this way. When people get down on Valentine’s Day for being all about couples, I want to remind them that love exists in all kinds of relationships, and that love is just as real as romantic love. Today, I want to share fifteen favorite YA/children’s lit book recommendations that put the focus on friend and family love.

  1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: the ultimate book about kindred spirits and sometimes you have to find your family.
  2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: in case you didn’t cry enough at Anne of Green Gables.
  3. A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle: four generations of women come together to help one move on in this beautiful portrayal of family.
  4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: about being sisters, being friends, and learning how to grow apart and together.
  5. The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock: DJ Schwenk is my favorite, and this is the Dairy Queen book that focuses most on her family; so genuine and so touching.
  6. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki: a touching, beautiful story about growing up and realizing your family is more complicated than you thought.
  7. Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty: forever my go-to book about how friendships form and grow and change.
  8. How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr: love Zarr’s look at grief and loss and hope and how families can evolve.
  9. Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma: the complicated and dangerous devotion of two sisters who can only rely on each other.
  10. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: a devastating story of bravery and friendship and all my feels.
  11. Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler: even when their paths may be diverging, Reagan and Victoria’s supportive friendship rings so true to me.
  12. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt: this story about the messiness of grief and love and illness sticks with me.
  13. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: this layered story of generations of friends wrecked me in the best way.
  14. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth: I got to the end of this book and thought, “Oh my gosh, this is a family love letter.”
  15. Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker: fighting for your family with a creepy Southern gothic style.

Other favorite non-romantic love stories? Share them in the comments. Happy Valentine’s day, everyone!

Love-ly Reading

The Horn Book has some fantastic suggestions for YA novels to get you in the Valentine’s Day mood. They’re not “romance” novels, but they all deal with love or heartbreak. A few suggestions of my own:

Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block
When I was in high school, Weetzie Bat had one of my favorite descriptions of a kiss: “A kiss about apple pie a la mode with the vanilla creaminess melting in the pie heat. A kiss about chocolate, when you haven’t eaten chocolate in a year. A kiss about palm trees speeding by, trailing pink clouds when you drive down the Strip sizzling with champagne. A kiss about spotlights fanning the sky and the swollen sea spilling like tears all over your legs.” Swoon! The whole series is fantastic, too, especially in how it looks at love.

Searching for Dragons by Patricia Wrede
The whole Enchanted Forest Chronicles series is fantastic, but this one is a compelling take on the Prince (ahem, King) meets Princess (ahem, (Chief Cook and Librarian to the King of the Dragons) story.

Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty
Mostly a book about friendships, but Moriarty also handles budding romance and heartbreak really well. Elizabeth Clarry gets letters from imaginary organizations like the Young Romance Association telling her she needs to stop being such an embarrassment and get a boyfriend already. Probably one of the most hilarious and relatable novels for teens without a lot of relationship experience.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Technically not a YA novel, but it’s about teens at a kind of boarding school, so I think it counts. A great example of a love triangle, with a creepy dystopian backdrop and gorgeous writing.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Also technically not a YA novel, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a reason not to put it on a teen reading list. It’s got a dashing pirate, a beautiful princess, a giant, a fencing expert, miracles, an evil prince, an evil-er count, and Rodents of Unusual Size. What more could you want than true love and high adventure?

What are your favorite novels about love?