If you're anything like me then you've had thank u, next, Ariana Grande’s fifth studio album, on repeat since it dropped last Friday. The pop album explores themes of romantic love and failed relationships and flips heartbreak into empowerment and I am OBSESSED. Ariana sings about all the things I love to read about, so naturally I had to match YA books that deliver on the themes of each song. This list is filled with books about sweet and not-so-sweet relationships, boy and friend drama galore, books that will make you cry, and books about girls getting back up after they've fallen hard.
The first song and first promotional single from the album is has been described by Ariana to be about "a simple, beautiful love that is now (and forever) unattainable." It has been suggested that the inspiration for the song was about her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller, who passed away from a drug overdose shortly after they separated. The books selected below are also about star-crossed love stories that must overcome obstacles of family, class, or illness in order to last or ultimately fade.
Two misfits. One extraordinary love. Eleanor -- Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough -- Eleanor. Park -- He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises -- Park. Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds -- smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
To escape his abusive stepdad, bad boy Ryan Hess runs from his tiny Texas border town to Mexico. But his plans to keep his head down and stay out of trouble are shattered the minute he meets the beautiful and totally out of his league Dalila Sandoval. Dalila Sandoval shouldn't even know someone like Ryan Hess. The daughter of one of the wealthiest lawyers in Mexico, Dalila is focused on studying and planning for her bright future. Ryan is only a distraction from her dreams, but she's never felt more alive than when she's by his side. Ryan and Dalila are wrong for each other in every way. And yet they can't resist the sparks that fly when they're together. But their love is like a flame burning too close to the fuse. Something is going to explode. Will their love be strong enough to survive? Or will it burn them both?
When a rare genetic disorder steals away her memories and then her health, teenaged Sammie records notes in a journal to her future self, documenting moments great and small.
This song describes how Ariana can feel insecure and often craves the emotional support and attention from a romantic relationship. The books below also have characters who strive for the romantic attention of others either in a Groundhog Day style time-warp, or through reenacting their favorite K-Dramas, or maintaining a relationship exclusively through the phone.
A disaster in romance, high school senior Desi Lee decides to tackle her flirting failures by watching Korean television dramas, where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten.
When Penny Lee heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it's seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can't wait to leave behind. Sam is stuck, literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too; he knows that this is the chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he's a famous movie director but right now life is really testing him. When they cross paths it's a collision of unbearable awkwardness. But as they stay in touch via text and share their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.
This is song about needing space or emotional and physical distance from someone. NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which is an independent agency of the United States federal government. The agency is responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Ariana puts a twist on astronomy in this song by comparing how distancing herself from her lover will ultimately deepen their love and passion for each other. The books below also focus on the distance between two people who become separated by countries or even planets.
Two teens--Daniel, the son of Korean shopkeepers, and Natasha, whose family is here illegally from Jamaica--cross paths in New York City on an eventful day in their lives--Daniel is on his way to an interview with a Yale alum, Natasha is meeting with a lawyer to try and prevent her family's deportation to Jamaica--and fall in love.
High-school students Kady and Ezra have just broken up with each other when Kerenza IV, their mining outpost planetary home, is suddenly attacked by a rival company using both traditional and biological weapons. In the scramble to get off the planet, they are separated, ending up with a waning number of Kerenza survivors on two different space vessels that are trying to outrun one remaining BeiTech dreadnought; however, Kady and Ezra remain united in their desire to escape destruction, exact revenge, and maybe give each other a second chance.
Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth - with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication is via email - and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there's something worse than being alone...
In this song, Ariana simply wants to ‘have a good time,’ without having to fully commit to a relationship. The books below are also about girls who start casually or secretly dating friends to cure loneliness or boredom but ultimately end up falling for more.
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper starts sleeping with Wesley Rush, a notorious womanizer who disgusts her, in order to distract her from her personal problems, and to her surprise, the two of them find they have a lot in common and are able to help each other find more productive ways to deal with their difficulties.
High school relationships aren't meant to last forever. So says Aubrey Housing and her three closest friends: Melissa, Danica, and ringleader Shelby. They've navigated high school living by their "girl code," which doesn't allow for relationships, jealousy, or hurt. When they are done with a guy, they move on, sometimes employing an "exit strategy" should he get too clingy. Any girl who doesn't live by these theories, like ex-friend Chiffon, is to be ridiculed and belittled or pitied. But when Nathan Diggs shows up in Aubrey's senior drama class, it sets into motion a chain of events that causes Aubrey to question why she was living by the code in the first place. She might just be falling in love and trying her hardest not to be. And when other girls, even Shelby, move in on Nathan, Aubrey finds it hard not to become the jealous girlfriend she's sworn she'd never be.
Zae Monroe is over relationships. Between getting cheated on by the only guy she’s ever loved and watching her parents' marriage crumble, she decides to turn the tables and go after what she wants, and what she wants are kisses. Athletes, musicians, poets, bad boys—their lips are all on her agenda, and it's time to collect. Zae proposes a contest with her friends to see who can kiss the most boys during spring break. But what starts as a harmless competition leads to a downward spiral of drama.
5. fake smile
In this song, Ariana explains how she refuses to put up a facade to hide her emotions. Ariana has been through a difficult year personally with the media exposure of her relationships and breakups, the death of her ex-boyfriend, as well as suffering from PTSD since the Manchester arena bombing in 2017. She broke down crying in an Apple Music Beats 1 interview while speaking about mental health and this song is her testament to the importance of recognizing when someone is suffering and not trying to hide behind a fake smile. The books below are also about girls who are suffering from past incidents and trauma that lead them new places to cope with their grief and loss.
Followed by Grandpa Ed in his RV and backed by her brother and friends, Annabelle, eighteen, runs from Seattle to Washington, D.C., becoming a reluctant activist as people connect her journey to her recent trauma.
Rumi Seto plans to spend her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea. When Lea dies in a car accident, her mother sends Rumi to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Struggling with the loss of her sister, abandoned by her mother, and without music in her life, Rumi turns to the friendship of a teenage surfer named Kai, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe. And Rumi is determined to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.
After leaving her life behind to go to college in New York, Marin must face the truth about the tragedy that happened in the final weeks of summer when her friend Mabel comes to visit.
6. bad idea
In this song Ariana discusses several “bad ideas” that she has ,how she is using relationships to escape and “numb the pain” and to forget about her exes and herself. The books below explore forbidden and dangerous romances and how the girls in them escape into these relationships to run from something else.
When wealthy, seemingly perfect Brittany and Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, develop a relationship after Alex discovers that Brittany is not exactly who she seems to be, they must face the disapproval of their schoolmates--and others.
Sixteen-year-old high school senior Emma's life is transformed by Dylan, her new foster brother, but she finds herself torn between romantic and familial feelings in a tale reminiscent of Wuthering Heights.
7. make up
This song and these books are about breaking up and making up. Giving that special someone a second, third, or sometimes even a seventh chance in the hopes that it will work out.
Budding costume designer Lola lives an extraordinary life in San Francisco with her two dads and beloved dog, dating a punk rocker, but when the Bell twins return to the house next door Lola recalls both the friendship-ending fight with Calliope, a figure skater, and the childhood crush she had on Cricket.
When teens Zorie and Lennon, a former couple, are stranded in the California wilderness together, they must put aside their differences, and come to terms with lingering romantic feelings, in order to survive.
This is a song about being with someone but loving a different person. The title is a term used to describe a person in a relationship who suddenly, and without explanation, ceases all communication. This song discusses Ariana's struggles with her heart towards former relationships. The books selected below are also about the loss of someone and finding solace in another person who has also experienced that loss.
Meredith "Middie" Daniels calls it the leaving season—the time when kids are graduating and leaving home for the first time. Her boyfriend, Nate, isn't leaving for college, though. He's taking a gap year volunteering in Central America while Middie finishes high school. When a horrible tragedy strikes within weeks of Nate's departure, it sends Middie reeling. None of her friends or family understand just how unmoored she feels. Well, no one except for Nate's best friend. Lee Ryan, a slacker who Middie never liked, who calls her Yoko, who is everything Nate is not, seems to be the only one who understands her grief. But can this ungrounded guy really help her reach solid ground again?
Anna was best friends with Frankie and her brother, Matt, until all three are in a car accident in which Matt is killed. A year later, Anna and Frankie, struggling to get past Matt’s death, head to California with Frankie’s parents for a beach vacation, determined to have “the Absolute Best Summer Ever (A.B.S.E).” But Anna has a secret: her friendship with Matt had become an intense romance shortly before the accident, and she cannot determine “the statue of limitations on feeling guilty for cheating on a ghost.”
9. in my head
This song begins with a voicemail recording introduction from one of Ariana's friends about how she fell in love with a version of someone she created in her head, to later find out that, in reality, that is not at all how that person is. The girls in these books also fall in love with someone thinking they are one thing, but end up discovering that some people and relationships are not always as they seem and sometimes can't be fixed.
Stella suffers from depression and her objectives are limited to surviving high school, staying out of her parents' fights, and warding off unwanted feelings enough to hang out with her friends Lin and Katie. Things change when she meets Kevin who understands her lows and with him she becomes more hopeful. But to keep that feeling she lets her grades go and friendships slide. She soon discovers how troubled Kevin is and her life starts spinning out of control.
Isla has had a crush on classmate Josh since their freshman year at the School of America in Paris, but after a chance encounter over the summer in Manhattan they return to France for their senior year where they are forced to confront challenges every young couple in love must face.
Desperate to escape her small California town and the home of her controlling parents, aspiring artist Grace falls in love with Gavin, a charming young man who gradually reveals a controlling and dangerous nature.
10. 7 rings
This song boasts about money and many other luxuries, including diamonds and houses. The title is in reference to a collection of matching friendship rings Ariana and six of her friends bought in New York. The books below also focus on big city life, fame, beauty and material wealth.
Sadie, Darcy, and Rosanna are living together in New York City the summer before their freshman year of college begins. With no parents, no rules, and an entire city to explore, these three girls are on the verge of the best summer of their lives.
Born one of the revered Belles in the opulent world of Orleans, where people are naturally born gray and seek the talented Belles to transform themselves with beauty, Camellia dreams of being declared the queen's favorite before her arrival at court exposes dark and dangerous realities within the palace walls.
When seventeen-year-old Paige is discovered in Portland, Oregon, and brought to Hollywood to star in a major motion picture, she finds all of the fame and adulation she had dreamed of but also gets caught in a romantic whirlwind, both on and off screen.
11. thank u, next
The titular song on the album discusses themes of self-love, growth, and empowerment after a breakup. Ariana references her most public romantic relationships over the years and does not shy away from name-dropping in the process. The books below also dive into the reasons for failed relationships that were brief but passionate or were never given the chance to fully bloom and how the girls come out stronger on the other side.
Sixteen-year-old Min Green writes a letter to Ed Slaterton in which she breaks up with him, documenting their relationship and how items in the accompanying box, from bottle caps to a cookbook, foretell the end.
High school senior Avery Dennis runs the prom committee, and she has always had a date for everything, but when a public breakup with her current boyfriend makes her start wondering about her own dating history, she sets out to investigate why her relationships never seem to work out--and ends up discovering some hard truths about herself and her dating choices.
Lara Jean writes love letters to all the boys she has loved and then hides them in a hatbox until one day those letters are accidentally sent.
12. break up with your girlfriend, i'm bored
Ariana meets a boy at a party and is attracted to him, only to realize that he has a girlfriend. She tells him to break up with his girlfriend so she can have him for herself however in the music video, the aforementioned girlfriend looks exactly like Ariana suggesting that she is breaking up with her boyfriend to start loving herself. The girls in these books also fall in love with boys already involved in relationships and have to reconcile their love in order to not ruin their friendships.
Who wouldn't jump at the chance to spend her senior year at a boarding school in Paris? Anna Oliphant, that's who. Besides barely speaking French, Anna is perfectly happy at home in Atlanta, Georgia. But Anna's father insists, so Paris it is. And Anna does warm up to the city...especially after she meets gorgeous Etienne St. Clair, who seems to return her interest but already has a girlfriend.
Molly Barlow isn't that girl anymore. A business major at her college in Boston, she's reinvented herself after everything that went down a year ago... After all the people she hurt and the family she tore apart. Slowly, life is getting back to normal. Molly has just said I love you to her new boyfriend, Ian, and they are off on a romantic European vacation together, starting with scenic London. But there on a tube platform, the past catches up to her in the form of Gabe, her ex, traveling on his own parallel vacation with new girlfriend Sadie. After comparing itineraries, Ian ends up extending an invite for Gabe and Sadie to join them on the next leg of their trip, to Ireland. And Molly and Gabe can't bring themselves to tell the truth about who they once were to each other to their new significant others. Now Molly has to spend 9 days and 9 nights with the boy she once loved, the boy whose heart she shredded, without Ian knowing. Will she make it through as new and improved Molly, or will everything that happened between her and Gabe come rushing back?
While high school senior Claire Jenkins and her beautiful best friend, Megan, have a long history of supporting each other when it comes to family, they tend to compete over guys. After a handsome soccer player named Luke moves to their small town, Megan gets him first, much to Claire’s dismay and anger. But Luke keeps paying attention to Claire, and soon he’s breaking up with Megan, and Claire is risking their friendship to keep her romance with Luke a secret.
Submitted by Megan Maloy on Friday, February 15, 2019 - 9:00 AM.