Riot Recommendation

Teen Romances with Real-Life Issues: A Reading List

running leanThis installment of the Riot Recommendation is sponsored by Running Lean by Diana L. Sharples.

A debut YA coming of age story with issues of love, loss, self-esteem and trust explored in a realistic and engaging way.

Diana Sharples’ first young adult novel, Running Lean, tackles serious issues, including living with grief and the destructive realities of a serious eating disorder. Told through alternating perspectives, readers are given a window into the minds of two teens as they struggle with their genuine affection for one another and the complexities of life. As Calvin’s sorrow over his soldier brother’s death increases, he finds himself turning to his girlfriend, Stacy, for support. But she is dealing with issues of her own, the largest being the false belief Calvin will stop loving her unless she stays incredibly thin. Solving their problems could destroy their relationship, but the alternative could be much more costly.


We often talk about fiction as a window into other lives, but just as often, it’s a mirror that enables us to see ourselves in new ways. Though it is not real, fiction can help us make sense of the very real issues in our lives. For teens (and teen characters), that often means exploring love, romance, and relationships.

We asked you to give us your favorite titles that tell the story of teen romance and tackle real issues.  Here’s what you came up with:

The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Forever by Judy Blume 

On the Count of Three by Maureen Johnson

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Being Emily by Rachel Gold

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Eleanor & Park and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Into the Wild and Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth

Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Chines Handcuffs by Chris Crutcher

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen

Easy and the Between the Lines series by Tammara Webber

The Coincidence of Kallie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

Do you have any titles you’d like to add to the list? Leave your recommendations in the comments below.


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