Summer Lovin’: YA Romances to Start Off Your Summer

So it’s Friday and you might be asking yourself: where’s the weekly #MeettheBookstagrammer post on the QSReads blog?

Well friends, I hate to say it…but I’m taking a hiatus from that much beloved series (but it WILL be back eventually)! It’s been a true treat to interview some of the bright lights of our bookstagram community, but I’ve been wanting to revamp and revitalize my blog and work on more bookish content- which lead me to this idea…

For the entire month of May, I’m going to be posting themed book lists at least three times per week! What can you expect in these booklists? Well, honestly I’m not sure, but a few things are certain:

  • They will be fun & topical!
  • They will include as many diverse book choices as I can find- I’m tired of seeing the same ol’ books along my feed and there’s a bunch of small press or backlist titles that deserve some love!
  • I’ll try to include appeal factors to help you determine what would be hits for you!

Because it’s the beginning of May and we’ve been through the longest and most mentally taxing months of our lives so far (probably), I think it’s high time to squiggle our toes in the sand, smell the sea salt air, and fall in love with these summer-set YA romances!


What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

Perfect for: NYC fanatics, those who fell in love with the movie Serendipity, and Simonverse fans.

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them? Maybe nothing, maybe everything. What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play…but what if it is?


Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson

Perfect for: Those who adore classic retellings, quirky storytelling, and/or mistaken identities. Also this is technically a sequel but can be read standalone style.

Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn’t going to do this summer.

  1. She isn’t going to stay home in Sacramento, where she’d have to sit through her stepmother’s sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
  2. She isn’t going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
  3. And she certainly isn’t going to the Air Force summer program on her mother’s base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender’s Game, Ellie’s seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it’s much less Luke/Yoda/”feel the force,” and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn’t appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she’d be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she’s going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?


Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Perfect for: lovers of the movies You’ve Got Mail or The Shop Around the Corner, enemies to lovers devotees, and those who simply love floating in the water on a summer day.

Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.


The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Perfect for: those missing the absolute glory that are food trucks, silly prank enthusiasts, and those in need of a swoonworthy unexpected romance.

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?

With Maurene Goo’s signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.


If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann

Perfect for: readers for looking ALL the rep (seriously, ALL THE REP), baking fiends, and keen observers of family drama. It’s no secret that was one of my favorite books last year.

High school finally behind her, Winnie is all set to attend college in the fall. But first she’s spending her summer days working at her granny’s diner and begins spending her midnights with Dallas—the boy she loves to hate and hates that she likes. Winnie lives in Misty Haven, a small town where secrets are impossible to keep—like when Winnie allegedly snaps on Dr. Skinner, which results in everyone feeling compelled to give her weight loss advice for her own good. Because they care that’s she’s “too fat.” Winnie dreams of someday inheriting the diner—but it’ll go away if they can’t make money, and fast. Winnie has a solution—win a televised cooking competition and make bank. But Granny doesn’t want her to enter—so Winnie has to find a way around her formidable grandmother. Can she come out on top?


When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Perfect for: devotees of fated mate romances, strong female character stans, and those in awe of good writing.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.


Summer Days and Summer Nights, edited by Stephanie Perkins

Perfect for: those in need of cute HEAs (happily ever afters) in a short amount of time and YA author fanatics.

Maybe it’s the long, lazy days, or maybe it’s the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.


Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Perfect for: regular con attendees and fan culture followers, Cinderella retelling lovers, and supporter of famous romances.

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. 


Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud

Perfect for: royal romance enthusiasts, anglophiles, and those who miss the cinematic classic The Prince & Me.

Fiercely independent and smart, Zora Emerson wants to change the world. She’s excited to be attending a prestigious summer program, even if she feels out of place among her privileged, mostly white classmates. So she’s definitely not expecting to feel a connection to Owen, who’s an actual prince of an island off the coast of England. But Owen is funny, charming…and undeniably cute. Zora can’t ignore the chemistry between them. When Owen invites Zora to be his date at his big brother’s big royal wedding, Zora is suddenly thrust into the spotlight, along with her family and friends. Everyone is talking about her, in real life and online, and while Owen is used to the scrutiny, Zora’s not sure it’s something she can live with. Can she maintain her sense of self while moving between two very different worlds? And can her feelings for Owen survive and thrive in the midst of the crazy? Find out in this charming romantic comedy that’s like The Princess Diaries for a new generation.


Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Perfect for: readers who want to feel ALL the feels, nostalgia seekers, and fans of lyrical & beautiful writing.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.


The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding

Perfect for: fashion lovers, food fiends, and those needing to be transported to summer days ASAP.

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. She takes her first step in the fashion industry by landing a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, but she doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi… then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique, and she’s making friends with people she’d never imagine; is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story? Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?

Check out my full review of The Summer of Jordi Perez here!


The Summer of Us by Cecilia Vinesse

Perfect for: those wanting to travel Europe (though obviously cannot), those familiar with friend drama, and those in need of good international romance feels.

American expat Aubrey has only two weeks left in Europe before she leaves for college, and she’s nowhere near ready. Good thing she and her best friend, Rae, have planned one last group trip across the continent. From Paris to Prague, they’re going to explore famous museums, sip champagne in fancy restaurants, and eat as many croissants as possible with their friends Clara, Jonah, and Gabe.

But when old secrets come to light, Aubrey and Rae’s trip goes from a carefree adventure to a complete disaster. For starters, there’s Aubrey and Gabe’s unresolved history, complicated by the fact that Aubrey is dating Jonah, Gabe’s best friend. And then there’s Rae’s hopeless crush on the effortlessly cool Clara. How is Rae supposed to admit her feelings to someone so perfect when they’re moving to different sides of the world in just a few weeks?


Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Perfect for: those who have been waiting for their Lizzie McGuire moment, readers wanting to travel from the comfort of their couch, and those who love unraveling familial mysteries.

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.


Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

Perfect for: anyone all too familiar with parents’ high expectations, readers in need of a good travel destination, and admirers of absolutely gorgeous covers.

When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.

Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.

Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?


It should also be said that this whole list could be comprised of Sarah Dessen books so if you’re looking for a wide reading list of standalone summer romances, Sarah’s your gal (but she’s ultra popular so she didn’t need more love above).

Did your YA summer romances miss the list, or looking for more summer lovin’ reads? Comment below!

Until next time friends 💖

2 thoughts on “Summer Lovin’: YA Romances to Start Off Your Summer

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