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Reading Recs

Books to help you through a breakup

There’s just something about breakup books that we cannot stay away from. Maybe it’s a result of that innate “can’t look away from a disaster” part of all of us—but we think it might actually be because we all know that love can be a painful mess sometimes. And seeing it play out in the pages of our fave books with a (hopefully!) happy ending gives us a bit of faith for it working out in real life. Or it’s the disaster thing. Either way, here are some YA reads we recommend in the breakup category!

A Heavy Dose of Allison Tandy by Jeff Bishop

Breakups are a hard pill to swallow. The summer after senior year should have been a time for Cam to win back the love of his life, Allison Tandy, who’d dumped him so brutally the year before. Instead, Ally is left comatose after a terrible car crash, then Cam tears his ACL in a basketball accident. The operation leaves him confined to his couch and ruminating over the fact that his ex may not survive.

But when (after taking his medication) Cam starts seeing Ally, he starts to think: 1. He may be headed for a complete mental breakdown and 2. This summer might just be interesting after all.

With and Without You by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

If high school seniors Siena and Patrick were a superlative, they’d be Couple Most Likely to Marry.

But with college on the horizon, Siena begins to wonder whether staying together is the best idea. Does she really want to be tied down during the most transformative years of her life? So she makes a decision to break up with Patrick, convincing herself it’s for the best. Though, before she can get the words out, he beats her to the punch: his family is moving. He’ll be spending senior year in Austin.

Caught off guard by the news, Siena agrees to stay with Patrick, believing their relationship will naturally fizzle out with time and distance. But over a series of visits throughout the school year, Siena begins to see a different side of Patrick–one that has her falling in love with him all over again.

Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram

Breakups are messy enough without being in the spotlight. Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and getting covered by the gossipy press all over North America as well). Hunter is the only gay member of the band, and he just had a very painful breakup with his first boyfriend–leaked sexts, public heartbreak, and all–and now everyone expects him to play the perfect queer role model for teens.

Getting Over Max Cooper by Marcelle Karp 
This summer starts out strong when the cute new boy on the island seems to like Jazz (hello, first boyfriend?). But it’s hard to focus on her own crush when Macy’s still obsessing over her hookup from last summer, Max Cooper.
Jazz can’t believe how cold and mean Max is to Macy. But when Macy starts to seriously act out, Jazz begins to see that she knows only one side of the story . . . and that she has to help her friend before something terrible happens.

The Counselors by Jessica Goodman

Oof. Talk about a brutal breakup, especially one that leads to dark secrets and a body in the lake.

Goldie’s always had a special connection to the Camp Alpine Lake. Even with her “townie” background, Goldie has never felt more at home at camp and now she’s back as a counselor, desperate for summer to start, to forget her awful breakup, and for her friends to arrive. Because Goldie has a terrible dark secret she’s been keeping and she is more in need of the comfort than ever.

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Follow Juliet on a journey to self-discovery, love, and heartbreak. In a summer bursting with queer brown dance parties, a sexy fling with a motorcycling librarian, and intense explorations of race and identity, Juliet learns what it means to come out–to the world, to her family, to herself.

Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

First love can be amazing, life-changing, a dream come true—and it can also be an epic disaster. This new debut from author Krystal Sutherland perfectly captures the all-consuming nature of first love—and first heartache. The voice is unique and funny, the characters feel like friends by the end, and it manages to accurately portray the way love can be incredibly messy—but still change you for the better.

Zyla & Kai by Kristina Forest

Alternating between the past and present, we see the love story unfold from Zyla’s and Kai’s perspectives: how they first became the unlikeliest of friends over the summer, how they fell in love during the school year, and why they ultimately broke up… Or did they?

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

There’s nothing like a Dessen novel for your love fix. The Moon & More is about break-ups, sure, but it’s also about family, growing up, and how love can change dramatically at different stages of your life.

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

As Frank falls in love for the very first time, he’s forced to confront the fact that while his parents sacrificed everything to raise him in the land of opportunity, their traditional expectations don’t leave a lot of room for him to be a regular American teen.

Desperate to be with Brit without his parents finding out, Frank turns to family friend Joy Song, who is in a similar bind. Together, they come up with a plan to help each other and keep their parents off their backs. Frank thinks he’s found the solution to all his problems, but when life throws him a curveball, he’s left wondering whether he ever really knew anything about love—or himself—at all.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Sometimes finding love isn’t as much of an issue as keeping it. This quirky and hysterical coming-of-age story from John Green is about a guy named Colin who has dated nineteen girls. All named Katherine—and all of whom have dumped him (yeah, you thought your love life was tragic…). But this is definitely not a morose break-up book—be prepared for lots of laughs and a lot of heart.

Melt With You by Jennifer Dugan

Fallon is Type A, looks before she leaps, and always has a plan (and a backup plan). Chloe is happy-go-lucky, flies by the seat of her pants, and always follows her bliss.
The two girls used to be best friends, but last summer they hooked up right before Chloe left for college, and after a series of misunderstandings, they aren’t even speaking to each other.

And now, the two of them are headed on a roadtrip across the country on an ice cream truck…together.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Stephanie Perkins writes love like no other. In this companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, we finally get to see the love story unfold between Isla and Josh. Isla stands out from Anna and Lola, however, because there’s less of the “will they or won’t they get together?” question and more of a spotlight on the fact that, even if you find a person you absolutely adore, it doesn’t mean the road to happily ever after is easy.

Chasing After Knight by Heather Buchta

From Beyond the Break author Heather Buchta comes a funny, romantic novel about a girl trying to make amends with a former best friend. The thing is: healing someone else’s broken heart has its complications, especially when he’s now an A-list movie star.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

After the tears we shed for If I Stay, it’s hard to imagine any sequel could top it. But Where She Went is unforgettable. It picks up several years after the conclusion of If I Stay and gives us a new look at the story of Adam and Mia—from Adam’s point of view. Mia survives the tragic events of If I Stay but her relationship with Adam does not. Now, years later, he’s a famous rock star and she’s a talented cellist—and their paths are destined to cross over a single night in New York City. Read this now.

Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi

Parvin Mohammadi has just been dumped–only days after receiving official girlfriend status. Not only is she heartbroken, she’s humiliated. Enter high school heartthrob Matty Fumero, who just might be the smoking-hot cure to all her boy problems. If Parvin can get Matty to ask her to Homecoming, she’s positive it will prove to herself and her ex that she’s girlfriend material after all. There’s just one problem: Matty is definitely too cool for bassoon-playing, frizzy-haired, Cheeto-eating Parvin. Since being herself hasn’t worked for her in the past (see aforementioned dumping), she decides to start acting like the women in her favorite rom-coms.

Keep an eye out for…

Last Chance Dance by Lakita Wilson – Coming in February, 2023!

An utterly charming YA romance perfect for fans of Elise Bryant and Leah Johnson. Leila is devastated when her high school boyfriend breaks up with her right before graduation, but when she gets paired with four unrequited crushes in the lead-up to her school’s annual Last Chance Dance, she might just fall in love with someone new.

Never Vacation With Your Ex by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka – Coming April, 2023!

Seventeen-year-old volleyball star Kaylee Jordan lives a life of player rankings, constant training, and a carefully curated social media full of followers watching to see if she’ll go pro out of high school like her famous mom. Her one refuge, and the thing she looks forward to every summer? The vacation her family spends in Malibu with the Freeman-Yus.

This year, there’s only one problem: Kaylee and their son, Dean, dated for the past three months, and Kaylee just unceremoniously dumped him. Hoping to spare them the worst summer ever, Kaylee comes to Dean with her unconventional solution: she’s going to walk him through her rules for getting over an ex. But helping Dean follow her own rules starts becoming difficult when Kaylee feels herself falling for Dean for the same reasons and some new ones. With their trip coming to an end, Kaylee has to make the complicated choice between doing what’s expected and taking a (second) chance on love.

Lying in the Deep by Diana Urban – Coming May, 2023!

After being jilted by her ex-boyfriend and best friend, Jade couldn’t be more ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime—11 countries in 4 months, all from the luxurious Campus on Board ship—and to wedge an entire globe between her and the people who broke her heart.

But when Jade discovers the backstabbing couple are also setting sail, her obsession with them grows and festers, leading to a shocking murder. And as their friends begin to drop like flies, Jade and her new crush must race to clear her name and find the killer they’re trapped at sea with….before anyone else winds up in body bags.

Her Good Side by Rebekah Weatherspoon – Coming May, 2023!

Sixteen-year-old Bethany Greene has never had a boyfriend, date, or first kiss. She’s determined to change that but after her crush turns her down cold for Homecoming, she cautiously agrees to go with her best friend’s boyfriend Jacob…until Saylor breaks up with said boyfriend.

Dumped twice in just two months, Jacob Yeun wonders if he’s the problem. There are no guides for his particular circumstances, or for taking your ex’s best friend to the dance.

Bethany and Jacob decide to fake date for practice, building their confidence in matters of the heart.  

But things get complicated as their kissing sessions—for research of course!—start to feel real. This arrangement was supposed to help them in dating other people, but what if their perfect match is right in front of them?

Penguin Teen