First Loves: The Best of Young Adult Romance

By Elise Damasco

Fall in love with these sweet books as the teens navigate love and relationships for the first time.

  • Heartstopper

    2020 by Oseman, Alice

    An adorable coming-of-age story that defies stereotypes and celebrates joy, while still realistically tackling problems with family, friends, mental health, and relationships. If you're looking for a lighthearted romance with beautiful illustrations, this one is for you.

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  • You Should See Me in a Crown

    2020 by Johnson, Leah

    This isn't your typical prom romance. When Liz Lighty's college financial aid plans fall through, she must compete for prom queen to get a chance at winning a scholarship. This quick-paced, funny romance has lovable characters and features themes of friendship, family, and identity.

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  • Felix Ever After

    2020 by Callender, Kacen

    After dealing with a transphobic bully, Felix Love decides to get revenge...but it doesn't exactly go as planned. This is a beautiful romance about self-discovery, acceptance, and first loves, with many wonderful characters and conversations.

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  • She Drives Me Crazy

    2021 by Quindlen, Kelly

    A fresh twist on the typical cheerleader/basketball star romance, this enemies-to-lovers fake-dating romcom is simultaneously sweet, silly, and serious. It's short but fun, and it's perfect if you like witty banter, reliable tropes, and happy endings.

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  • Here the Whole Time

    2020 by Martins, Vitor

    Felipe is distraught when his mother informs him that their neighbor Caio will be staying with them for the next two weeks--how will Felipe navigate his insecurities and the fact that he's had a crush on Caio since forever? This sweet character-driven romance explores body image, homophobia, and vulnerability.

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  • The Sun Is Also a Star

    2016 by Yoon, Nicola

    Taking place over the course of one day, this bittersweet romance explores the tiny ways in which strangers are connected. Even if you're not the biggest fan of insta-love, you might be surprised by how touching and intentional this is (especially the ending!).

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  • She Gets the Girl

    2022 by Lippincott, Rachael

    This opposites-attract romance is set during Alex and Molly's first year of college as they navigate love and life. It's technically a romcom, but don't be surprised by the emotional, heartfelt scenes--they're what make this book so special.

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  • Counting Down with You

    2021 by Bhuiyan, Tashie

    After Karina Ahmed agrees to fake-date bad boy Ace Clyde while her parents are away in Bangladesh, she knows she's in trouble. Her parents would never approve, and maybe those feelings aren't so fake after all. This is perfect for anyone who likes a mix of humorous and serious in their romance novels.

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  • Happily Ever Afters

    2021 by Bryant, Elise

    When romance writer Tessa is accepted into a prestigious creative writing program, she encounters one major problem: writer's block. Fortunately, her best friend has a solution, which is to find some real-life romance to inspire her. This is a wholesome, cute, and joyful read, with lovable characters and thoughtful conversations.

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  • Last Night at the Telegraph Club

    2021 by Lo, Malinda

    Taking place during the Red Scare, this serious, angst-filled romance tackles racism, homophobia, and self-acceptance, while still offering hope. This is a beautiful read if you're looking for a slower story with a historical setting and vivid imagery.

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  • Belly Up

    2019 by Darrows, Eva

    A hilarious and heartwarming book about teenage pregnancy and family. If you're a fan of character-driven books, Belly Up won't disappoint! Everyone is supportive, loving, and funny, making this a lighthearted and endearing read.

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  • I Kissed Shara Wheeler

    2022 by McQuiston, Casey

    If you're looking for something different and entertaining, this mystery-based romance will hold your attention. There are many clues to follow along with a lovable cast of characters, witty dialogue, and a plot that will keep you guessing.

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  • The Henna Wars

    2020 by Jaigirdar, Adiba

    This enemies-to-lovers romcom features two teen rivals who are competing to be the best henna business at their school. It's funny and sweet while still addressing topics such as culture, racism, and homophobia.

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  • Be Dazzled

    2021 by La Sala, Ryan

    Typically, books that begin with a breakup aren't so light and funny, but this is an exception. Centering around a dedicated cosplayer, Be Dazzled is a unique, emotional story about love, joy, passion, and creativity. Even if you don't know anything about cosplay and conventions, Ryan La Sala does a great job of keeping the details interesting and easy to follow.

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  • The Passing Playbook

    2021 by Fitzsimons, Isaac

    After a year of bullying, Spencer transfers to a liberal private school for a fresh start. But when a discriminatory law ruins his chances of playing soccer after his coach finds out he's transgender, things take a turn. This is a sweet, heartwarming sports romance that celebrates joy and love while navigating the obstacles of discrimination.

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