If, like me, you've spent the past 14 months finding comfort in feel-good YA, you have a lot to be excited about this spring. Some of your soon-to-be favorite additions to your bookshelf are out now — or out very, very soon. And the best part is, we're seeing all kinds of diverse, all-too-relatable heroes, heroines, and love stories, often paired with fresh takes on the genre's best tropes. (Fake dating fans, you'll definitely want to head to your local bookstore ASAP.) Read on for eight of our favorite new and upcoming releases.
Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan
Out now, Inkyard Press
Karina is used to following her parents’ very specific, strict rules, but everything changes when they leave for a month-long trip to visit family in Bangladesh — especially when she’s then asked to tutor Ace, her school’s resident notorious, seemingly careless bad boy. But as she anticipates her parents’ return, grows closer with Ace, and finds the strength and courage that, really, she had all along, Karina begins to question what she wants her life to look like once they’re back. In her debut novel, Tashie Bhuiyan introduces readers to one of the most memorable, lovable YA heroines we’ve seen in awhile, all while crafting a warm and nuanced story about family, expectations, and love in all its forms.
She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen
Out now, Roaring Brook Press
After a run-in with her ex-girlfriend causes basketball star Scottie to get into a fender bender with Irene (a cheerleader, her school’s resident ice queen, and her personal arch-nemesis), she ends up forced to carpool with the enemy. But as they start spending more time together, Scottie realizes that her sudden proximity to Irene presents a perfect opportunity to get back at her ex. In She Drives Me Crazy, Kelly Quindlen tells a touching story about assumptions and sexism, heartbreak and healing, and love — and she also gives queer girls the tropey, swoony, John Hughes-esque rom-com we’ve been waiting for.
From Little Tokyo, With Love by Sarah Kuhn
Out May 11, Viking Books for Young Readers
As a biracial girl living with her cousins and aunties instead of parents, Rika has never quite felt like she’s fit in anywhere... that is, until she gets a pretty big sign that famed rom-com queen Grace Kimura might actually be her mom. Desperate for answers, Rika embarks on a zany journey throughout L.A. (with some help from a very cute Hollywood star) to find Grace and learn the truth, but along the way, she learns a few other lessons about belonging, family, and love. Although Rika tells us off the bat that she isn’t a princess, her story is the best kind of fairy tale: one full of rich familial and romantic relationships, a stunning, crystal-clear California backdrop, and a killer happy ending.
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
Out May 25, Page Street Kids
Ishu is prickly, stubborn, and focused on school; Hani is bubbly, friendly, and popular. Needless to say, they aren’t exactly close, but when Hani’s so-called friends question her identity after she comes out as bisexual, she decides to fake a relationship with Ishu — and (you guessed it!) the feelings slowly start to become real. It isn’t easy to follow up a book like The Henna Wars, but Adiba Jaigirdar infuses her sophomore novel with just as much heart and depth as her standout debut.
Perfect On Paper by Sophie Gonzales
Out now, Wednesday Books
No one knows that Darcy’s the anonymous expert behind Locker 89, her school’s de facto, Sex Education-style romantic advice hub — and she’d like to (she needs to) keep it that way. So when Brougham, a guy she can’t stand, discovers her secret, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep her identity under wraps (read: help him win back his ex-girlfriend). Reading a Sophie Gonzales book feels like hugging someone who really, really gets you, and Perfect On Paper is a funny, romantic, and fast-paced love letter to messy, big-hearted bisexual girls.
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney
Out now, HarperTeen
Quinn keeps all her difficult, embarrassing, and sometimes hard truths — the fact that she didn’t actually get into Columbia, for example, and the fact that she isn’t okay hearing her white classmates say the N-word — in a journal. So when that journal goes missing and an anonymous bully starts blackmailing her into facing her fears and living more honestly, she understandably starts to panic. With a little help from a cocky, charming classmate, Carter, Quinn embarks on a quest to find her journal (and blackmailer)... and maybe, find the strength to want to face those fears and live honestly. In her debut, Joya Goffney seamlessly, beautifully blends important topics and themes with hijinks, drama, and and a romance you’ll root for from page one.
Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan
Out May 18, G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
After her private Catholic school attempts to punish her for being openly gay, track star Morgan has to transfer to a new school... where she soon meets Ruby, a guarded, closeted pageant queen with a penchant for old cars. Although these two don’t seem to have a lot in common, they’re drawn to each other — but Ruby isn’t ready to come out, and Morgan is determined not to hide who she is. Can they make their relationship work? An empathetic, relatable love story, Some Girls Do might be Jennifer Dugan’s best novel to date.
What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
Out now, Viking Books for Young Readers
Alison and Ethan are nemeses — like, the kind of nemeses that can hardly be in the same room without debating, insulting, and trying to one-up each other. This is why their teachers usually try not to put them in the same room — but when they end up incentivized to plan an alumni reunion together, they start to realize their feelings for one another aren’t just competitive. Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka’s fourth book, like its three predecessors, has a wonderfully and realistically flawed heroine, charming banter, and a thoughtful reminder that the present can be just as wonderful and surprising as the future.
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Lydia Wang is a writer, a Pisces, and one of BUST's digital editors. Find her on Twitter or say hi: firstname.lastname@example.org.