Young Adult Literature

3 New and Upcoming Diverse YA Contemporary Romances

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Aurora Lydia Dominguez

Staff Writer

Aurora Lydia Dominguez is a journalist, high school teacher and college professor based in Hollywood, Florida. A journalist at heart, she worked for places like The Miami Herald and J-14 Magazine as a reporter and editor before going from the newsroom to the classroom. Aurora's passions include reading a book on Saturday mornings with her cat Luna, time with her husband Seb and pop rock shows. You can email her at

Romance is in the air when it comes to young adult books, and there are some extremely exciting titles coming up and readily available on shelves that are sure to make you swoon.

Not only are these novels full of romance and relatable lessons, but they also feature a diverse cast of characters navigating love and life, which will keep you interested as you turn the pages.

In the vein of The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon or one of my favorites, Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno (her next book is featured on this list!), these novels also explore different cultures, friendship and family values.

See below for my top three diverse YA romances, two available now and one upcoming, that you must add to your TBR as soon as possible.

Made in Korea by Sarah Suk (May 18)

In this adorable novel, main character Valerie Kwon loves making a good sale with her cousin Charlie. The two run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s successful student-run enterprise. And, Valerie has a dream. Every time she makes a sale, she gets closer to taking her loved and adventurous halmeoni to the city of her dreams, Paris.

Then there’s the new kid in class, Wes Jung. He is determined to pursue music after graduation, despite his parents’ pure disapproval. When his classmates decide to purchase the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity at not only a sale, but tuition to music school.

Who’s the best entrepreneur? Let the competition begin. Suddenly, Valerie and Wes are battling it out to try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school. But could a spark also be developing between the two? It’s worth the read to find out and to see which business might win this battle.

Our Way Back to Always by Nina Moreno (October 12)

In this cute romp, Luisa (Lou) Patterson grew up across the street from Sam Alvarez in the small, quirky town of Port Coral. They used to be inseparable. The two would spend every holiday together, shooting silly YouTube videos, and rescuing stray cats.

Then middle school happened, including one embarrassing moment that tore their friendship apart. Lou and Sam haven’t talked in the four years since. Sam is now extremely popular with plenty of friends, while Lou is more of a reserved romantic who’s happy playing video games and creatively writing.

With her older sister having given up a scholarship to Princeton to have a baby and work at the local botanica, all of their mother’s expectations are now riding on Lou’s shoulders. Under pressure, she’s always studying and has her sights set on Ivy League schools, but is this really her dream or her family’s?

The one day, she finds the bucket list she and Sam wrote together as kids, before Sam’s father was diagnosed with cancer. She’s shocked to see that she hasn’t accomplished any of the goals she’d set for herself, including going to a party and having a first kiss.

​Torn between the futures that her mother, sister, and younger self planned for her, Lou sets out to finish the list, and in a stroke of destiny or fate, Sam decides to tag along. Will it bring them closer together, or tear them apart once more? The story unravels in a lovely way, and it’s a truly enjoyable one.

Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass (May 11)

In this great book, Reyna has spent a lot of her life at the Plumeria, her family’s gorgeous seaside resort in Tobago. But it’s been two years since Reyna’s mother passed away and two years since Aiden, her childhood best friend and first love, left the island to pursue his music dreams. Now, the resort life feels like it’s suffocating her.

While Reyna’s friends are all planning their futures and heading abroad, and her father seems to have wanderlust as well and dreams of leaving her Plumeria, someone appears in her life with unexpected results.

That someone is Aiden, who comes in as a VIP guest at the resort. Now, Aiden is one-third of DJ Bacchanal, the hottest group on the scene. While Reyna has stayed exactly where she’s always been, Aiden has returned to Tobago with his Grammy-nominated band and two L.A. socialites (one who he might be dating!). What’s a girl to do now?

The novel is a music-filled love story that will have you eager to find out if first love can endure fame.

What other diverse and romantic contemporaries have you read lately or are looking forward to? Let me know at @AuroraMiami and let us know at @BookRiot on Twitter!