By: Danielle Matta
It is common knowledge that most people start reading a love story with high levels of skepticism and low expectations. It is just the nature of the beast, and the many attempts with disappointing results most readers have to face after force-feeding themselves yet another overdramatic, improbable and exasperating romance novel proves it.
But this Valentine’s Day, for once, wouldn’t you like to spend the lonely evening reading about a fantastic fictional love that will take you away from your single reality instead of disgustedly chucking chocolate that you bought for yourself at the rejected mistakes of romance literature you once tortured yourself with? There are very few modern young adult love stories which can do the impossible, and to save you the trouble of spending a lifetime of struggle and endless searching, read the following books, which are guaranteed to only make you gag and scoff a little bit.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
There is no better romance than one that takes place in the City of Love: Paris, France. Despite the AWFUL and extremely cliché title, this novel goes beyond the average unrealistic and predictable teen romances.
Besides the obvious teenage love theme, Anna and the French Kiss is also a story that flawlessly brushes against the premises of self discovery and understanding the difference between where you come from and where you belong. The book also has incredible character developments and a natural progression of the relationships made between them. Each individual character has flaws and ambitions, quirks and personality. Unlike most young adult love stories, the main character becomes someone you can actually relate to and wish to befriend, which is the exact opposite from the typical flat, unlikable, and annoying protagonists common in this genre. The characters also don’t just wake up one morning and decide they’ll all be best friends- it’s a slow-going, but beautiful, process of reading about people who intertwine, learn, argue, and grow from each other, just like in real life.
The reader is immediately immersed into the troubles of senior Anna Oliphant, who has been shipped away from her family, friends, and only home to the School of America in Paris. Although the move was first met with dread, Anna soon finds herself in love with not only someone who is tragically already taken, but with the magical city of tiny bakeries, lucky parks, ancient cathedrals, disorderly bookstores, and isolated cinemas where the aspiring-to-be film critic spends much of her time. You may even admit to falling in love with fictional Etienne St. Clair, a half-American, half-French boy with messy hair, a paralyzing fear of heights, a despicable relationship with his dad, and an English accent. Can you say ooh-la-la? In no time you’ll find yourself flying through the story in a desperate attempt to finally see Anna and St. Clair together.
Reading this book is practically as good as a trip to Paris, with a lot of great laughs and—surprisingly— life lessons. Trapped between two worlds, and the pressures of divorced parents and frustrating relationships, Anna is kind of one of the best YA romance novel protagonists brought to the shelves of angsty and valentines-frustrated teens everywhere.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Sometimes even quick reads are good reads. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is nothing complex by far, but a cute, speedy book about a coincidental flight and four minutes that changed everything. Slightly Romeo and Juliet-esque, the romance takes place over only 24 hours, and therefore is fast paced. But considering it has the elements of every cliché “love at first sight” story, Love at First Sight was carried out in a unique way.
This novel is all about claustrophobic and nervous Hadley Sullivan, who is about to embark on a flight to England by herself for her father’s second marriage, an event that she’s being forced to go to by her mother. Hadley frustratingly misses the flight, though, and finds her fate somehow entangled with Yale-bound Oliver, who just so happens to have the seat right next to her on the plane. Amicable because of their mutual aversion towards London, their similar sense of humor and harmless flirting escalates until they get separated at the airport with many things left unsaid. Although some of the plot points lack realism and the novel proves to be very short, this little love story manages to evolve and develop naturally, and it eventually sucks you in. Hadley is yet another commendable protagonist- Smith does not try to sugarcoat the fact that Hadley really hates the idea of her father remarrying and feels abandoned. Hadley does not suddenly in a few hours of meeting her step-mother feel better and changed, but instead reacts and deals with her issues the same way many of us would— she runs away from them. Oliver too proves to be a more than a two-dimensional love interest. Surprisingly, this novel brings up themes of grief, desertion, and acceptance other than the bubbly, giggly feelings of young love.
This love story may not have you hardcore skeptics beginning to believe in the glittery, wonderful magic of love at first sight. For some, however, you will be forever anxious to find your soulmate the next time you step onto a plane. Either way, as far as teen romance novels go, this book could definitely distract a light reader from feeling the valentine’s blues.
Jane by April Lindner
This book is on the list to satisfy all you old-school, classically romantic types with a modern retelling of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Jane is a novel that puts a spin on the classic. It features a college dropout who suddenly finds herself an orphan in desperate need of a job as Jane and a multi-millionaire rock star as Edward Rochester, Jane’s forbidden love interest, renamed in this contemporary remake as Nico Rathburn.
This novel definitely gets high points for writing and suspense. While mostly a dark love story, Jane offers a more complicated, mysterious plot than other romances. Even those who have read the original will be intrigued by the way the book was rewritten in modern times to relate to the modern generation. Jane finds herself employed by Nico, whose 5 year-old daughter needs a nanny while Nico tries to get his career back on track. The longer she works and stays with the Rathburns though, the more Jane comes to realize there are secrets that are not being told, mysterious noises coming from the forbidden top floor, terrifying “accidents” and precautions being whispered in hushed tones, and a haunted past, all somehow leading back to her employer. If this were not strange enough, Jane starts to develop feelings for Nico, who clearly has a lot of baggage, a shady history, and is notoriously known in the tabloids as a star-gone-wrong.
Most definitely not a typical romance, this novel will appeal even to the most opposing to teen love stories because its plot is doused in a whole lot of thrilling, dark mystery. The characters are also interesting and defined, and not only the two love-birds, but even sub-characters, which adds a whole other level to this novel. So, with intriguing characters, a twisting plot, and forbidden love, how can anyone who’s heartbroken and lonely resist?
These three books will surely help anyone get through the painfully single day, February 14th, and optimistically bring back a little hope for you hopeless romantics, reminding you that true love is only a page turn away…well, keep telling yourself that and hopefully you can save some money by borrowing from the library instead of buying all those Kleenex boxes.