Winter can be a tough time of year for a lot of people. Between the freezing temperatures, the cold, dark days and the stresses the holidays can bring, it's easy to get into a bit of a slump. It might sound like a cliche, but enjoying a warm drink somewhere cozy and reading a good book can be a great way to break out of those doldrums. At least for me, one genre that always does the trick is teen romances. First crushes, first dates, first kisses and even first heartbreaks always have such a feeling of hope and optimism that's exactly what I need to cheer me up. I wanted to recommend a few of my favorites to brighten your new year.
If you loved Heartstopper on Netflix and haven't read the books, now is the perfect time to check them out. And for those of you who have already read all the graphic novels, I have great news. There is new Heartstopper content in the form of Nick and Charlie, a new novella that continues the story of the most adorable boyfriends ever!
Crumbs was an unexpected favorite of mine last year and is also featured in our Best Teen Graphic Novels and Manga of 2022. This sweet graphic novel is set in a world similar to ours, but where magic is commonplace. Ray is a young witch with dreams of helping people with her gifts. Laurie wants to be a professional musician but currently works in the bakery Ray visits all the time. They quickly fall for each other but find it difficult to maintain their relationship and work towards their goals at the same time. Between the gorgeous art style and the cozy, magical setting, this book is bound to draw you in.
The wonderful Tess Sharpe's newest book, 6 Times We Almost Kissed (and One Time We Did), comes out this month and I couldn't be more excited. I absolutely loved her last book, The Girls I've Been, so this automatically caught my eye. Penny and Tate's moms are best friends, so they've always had to spend time around each other, even though they've never really gotten along. Now, because of their families' financial and medical circumstances, they're going to have to live in the same house all summer. Once they can't get away from each other it becomes harder to ignore their feelings. As the story unfolds, you get to see how the summer progresses and all the times over the years they almost ended up together.
Love Times Infinity is the book on this list that explores the darkest themes, but also the one I found most uplifting. Michie is stuck on what to write about for her college essays. She knows her story of academic success, despite the tragic events of her birth and her abandonment by her mother, could land her the scholarships she desperately needs. She's just not sure if she wants to define herself by something that could be extremely difficult to revisit. Things only get more complicated when she meets the new kid, Derek. Now not only does she have to decide whether to disclose her past to scholarship committees, but also the guy she's falling for.
What other teen romances have you enjoyed recently? Are there any you're looking forward to in 2023?