I love reading about love, and 2021 has blessed us with an abundance of swoon-worthy YA romances that you definitely won’t want to miss! We’ve already highlighted some of the best books to pick up in the first half of the year; now it’s time to finish 2021 out strong with some of the best YA romances you can look forward to from July to December! With fake dating, childhood friends to enemies to lovers, bucket lists, heartwrenching family dynamics, and more wonderful romantic tropes, your romance TBR will be happy to welcome these love stories to the stack.
Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson
Set at a music festival called Farmland, this novel follows Olivia, who has a tendency to fall in love and get her heart broken a lot, and Toni, who is still grieving the loss of her dad and is uncertain about her future. They both arrive at Farmland hoping that the weekend can give them some kind of clarity and perspective going forward, but they find each other — and love and romance and unexpected complications that require them to work together if they’re to find a way forward.
You and Me at the End of the World by Brianne Bourne
When Hannah wakes up to the end of the world as she knows it, everyone has vanished except for Leo. Leo is the bad-boy of her high school, and he’s too slick and smooth talking for her tastes, even if he is handsome. But since they only have each other to rely on, Hannah and Leo soon find themselves opening up to one another and it’s not long before their true selves emerge. But as they begin falling for each other, they discover the dangerous truth about the end of the world.
Like a Love Song by Gabriela Martins
Natalie is a Brazilian pop star who’s just been dumped, and on live television no less. She is determined not to show just how heartbroken she is, but she’s unprepared when her publicity team comes up with a fake dating scheme for her. Natalie’s match is William, an indie film star from the UK, and he’s nothing like anyone she imagined herself being with…but that doesn’t stop her from falling for him for real!
Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance by Nisha Sharma
Radha is very nearly one of the world’s best kathak dancers when a betrayal wrecks her life and her dreams, and sends her to a new school her senior year. Jai is the captain of the Bollywood Beats dance team, and without much money for life after senior year, he sees the potential in Radha for helping him achieve his dreams. What neither of them expected was for them to fall for each other.
In the Same Boat by Holly Green
Everyone in Sadie’s family competes in the Texas River Odyssey, a paddling competition that’s long and grueling. Last year a mistake took Sadie out of the competition, but this year is her chance at redemption. Except, when her partner bails on her at the last minute, she must team up with Cully, her former friend and now enemy, in order to reach the finish line. But their journey proves as illuminating as it is challenging when secrets and feelings come to light.
Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms by Crystal Fraiser and Val Wise
Annie is sarcastic and antisocial, but when her mom and the high school principal stage an intervention, they (gently) force her to go out for the cheer team, for a bit of socialization. The cheer team is captained by Beatrice, the school’s only out trans cheerleader, and she welcomes Annie onto the team. It’s not long before the two are getting up early to train together, and their friendship deepens into something more…but it might be threatened by the cheer team’s performative support of Beatrice, and Annie will have to help her find the confidence to stand up for herself.
Our Way Back to Always by Nina Moreno
Sam and Lou used to be best friends, but an embarrassing incident in middle school set them on separate paths. Now, Lou is an introverted overachiever with a lot of high expectations placed on her shoulders, and Sam is a popular kid with tons of friends. When Lou finds an old bucket list that the two of them wrote before their friendship fell apart, she decides to take it on…and through a stroke of luck or fate, Sam decides to join her as they tick off items on the list and find their way back to each other.
Never Saw You Coming by Erin Hahn
Erin Hahn tackles toxic church culture in this story about Meg, who was raised in a conservative family and just found out that her entire life is a lie. She goes on a journey to find estranged family members, and meets Micah, a former pastor’s kid whose dad is in prison. As they fall for each other and try to unpack years of social conditioning, they deal with complicated families and figuring out how to imagine different futures for themselves.
You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith
Adam works at a pinball arcade, which was his late father’s business and the only place where he feels happy and safe. And Adam will do whatever it takes to protect it from the developers who want the space. Whitney is working on the social media team of her dad’s big tech corporation, which is pretty boring except for the small social media war she’s starting with a local arcade’s account…and Adam, who is behind the account. As the tension between them builds, they find themselves trapped overnight in the arcade when a storm hits, and their feelings threaten to reveal themselves.
How Not to Fall in Love by Jacqueline Firkins
Harper’s mom owns a wedding dress shop, so she knows that love is a scam — just a huge excuse to have weddings and spend money and believe in a fantasy. Her best friend Theo is a hardcore romantic who loses his heart constantly…and is constantly heartbroken. After his latest grueling heartbreak, Harper offers to teach him how not to fall in love with anyone and everyone, but is shocked when she finds herself catching feelings for him!
If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich
Ruben and Zach are members of one of the hottest boy bands in the world, but after years of performing together their group of four is starting to buckle under the pressure of fame, and Ruben in particular is starting to feel smothered by their management’s expectation that he stay in the closet. On a tour of Europe, Zach and Ruben start to rely more and more on each other to make it through…but when they realize that they’re in love with each other, they face one of the most difficult decisions of their lives.
Fools In Love: Fresh Twists on Romantic Tales Edited by Ashley Herring Blake and Rebecca Podos
If you love love, and you love all of the delicious romantic tropes that go with romance novels, then you’ll definitely want to pick up this genre-bending and inclusive collection of romantic short stories where love always prevails, with stories by Rebecca Barrow, Ashley Herring Blake, Gloria Chao, Mason Deaver, Sara Farizan, Claire Kann, Malinda Lo, Hannah Moskowitz, Natasha Ngan, Rebecca Podos, Lilliam Rivera, Laura Silverman, Amy Spalding, Rebecca Kim Wells, and Julian Winters.
Want to explore more great YA romance? We’ve got you covered.