YA Friday: Modern Classic Romance

Happy Valentine's Day!

The term "modern classic" is a bit of an oxymoron. Classic literature has popular appeal and themes that usually stand the test of time, and modern literature tends to be produced in a time in which the reader is familiar. Therefore a modern classic is a book published sometime after World War II and tends to have themes and prose that lends themselves to longevity in the literary cannon. They are basically books that we think are great and will probably become classics someday, but it's too soon to tell.

While young adult literature has really only been around since the late 1960s, there hasn't been enough time to determine what stories would be in classic literature cannon, so most YA stories have to be considered modern classics.

I love both YA books and traditional romance novels, but there is something special when you combine the two. When it comes to YA romance you are experiencing all the firsts: first crushes, first love, first relationship, first breakups. Everything is immediate and the stakes are always high.

So whether you are celebrating this Valentine's Day or just looking for a little romance in your life, enjoy this list of modern YA romance titles that hold that classic appeal for years to come.

Eleanor & Park, book cover

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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.

Anna and the French Kiss, book cover

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna Oliphant has big plans for her senior year in Atlanta: hang out with her best friend, Bridgette, and flirt with her coworker at the Royal Midtown 14 multiplex. So she is none too happy when her father sends her off to boarding school in Paris. However, things begin to look up when she meets Étienne St. Clair, a gorgeous guy—with a girlfriend. As he and Anna become closer friends, things get infinitely more complicated. Will Anna get her French kiss? Or are some things just not meant to be?

Forever, book cover

Forever by Judy Blume

Katherine and Michael meet at a New Year's Eve party. They're attracted to each other, they grow to love each other. And once they've decided their love is forever, they make love.

It's the beginning of an intense and exclusive relationship, with a future all planned. Until Katherine's parents insist that she and Michael put their love to the test with a summer apart...

Boy Meets Boy, book cover

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

Annie On My Mind, book cover

Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden

Liza and Annie meet in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They live in different neighborhoods and go to different schools -- Annie, a public school, and Liza, the financially troubled private school, Foster Academy, where she's the student council president. Mrs. Poindexter, the headmistress of the school, is an overbearing, meddling battleaxe of a woman who should have been forced by the trustees into retirement around the time women started wearing pants. From the moment old Poindexter and her bible-beating minion Ms. Baxter start their anti-Liza campaign over another student's disastrous ear-piercing studio in the school basement you can bet your rainbow flag Liza and Annie's fledgling relationship is not going to be safe if it gets out in the open.

The Truth About Forever, book cover

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

That's what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy's father.

But sometimes, unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister's project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl's world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to question her sheltered life.

Further Reading

Graceling, book cover
Shiver, book cover
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, book cover
Perfect Chemistry, book cover
Beautiful Creatures, book cover
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, book cover
Pushing the Limits, book cover
Evermore, book cover
Twilight, book cover
The Summer I Turned Pretty, book cover
The Lovely War, book cover
To All the Boys I've Loved Before, book cover