YA Romances That Take Inspiration from Classic Romcom Movies

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Skybound Comet

For fans of PAPER GIRLS, ON A SUNBEAM, and THIS WAS OUR PACT! Welcome to Outpost Zero: the smallest town in the universe. The people there work the land, go to the fights every Friday night, and tuck their children into bed... but the Outpost is no place for dreams. To survive is ambitious enough. As Alea and her friends graduate to adulthood, under an artificial sky on a frozen world never meant to support human life, tragedy strikes.

It is the age of the YA romcom, and I am here for it. While romance — particularly funny romance — has oftentimes been looked down upon as a lesser genre, recent years have shown us that audiences are here for it. The explosion of YA romcoms lately shows that we’re all looking for a little funny comfort where everyone gets their happily ever after, and even movie box offices seem to be hinting that the romcom is on the rise once more. These three YA picks take their cues from classic romantic comedy movies from the ’80s and ’90s, and while they might not be straight up retellings, you’ll definitely find the premises somewhat familiar!

cover of while you were dreaming

While You Were Dreaming by Alisha Rai

Sonia has had a crush on the same guy from afar for ages, and she vows that she’s finally going to get the courage to talk to him at a local convention. But before she can get her chance, he has a medical emergency and falls into a canal, and Sonia rescues him! The act is caught on camera and goes viral, but here’s the problem: because of her costume, no one knows it was Sonia! And to make matters worse, she doesn’t want to go viral because her sister is undocumented and things could get really bad if people found out. It’s not easy to win over your crush while also keeping your secrets! This one takes its inspiration from While You Were Sleeping, that Sandra Bullock classic about a woman who saves a stranger who slips into a coma, only to lie to his family and tell them she’s his fiancée.

Last Chance Books by Kelsey Rodkey

Madeline’s dream is to graduate from college and take over her family’s independent bookstore. But that’s threatened with the opening of the newest location of Prologue, a chain bookstore, across the street. Determined to keep fighting, Madeline wants to take down the competition. Too bad she can’t help falling for the very cute and charismatic Prologue bookseller who keeps stealing her customers! As someone who loves the vibes of You’ve Got Mail but finds the underlying manipulation and gaslighting problematic, to say the least, I was so excited when this book came out, offering us a modern update on that story.

Sixteen Scandals cover

Sixteen Scandals by Sophie Jordan

To be clear, I don’t actually recommend rewatching Sixteen Candles because, holy smokes, there is a lot more misogyny and racism in that movie than what I recalled from my high school days, but this book is a fun Regency romp that plays with the same premise. Primrose is the youngest daughter and her debut into the London season has been cruelly delayed as her parents have older daughters to marry off first. On the night of her 16th birthday, upset that no one seems to want to mark its importance, Prim sneaks out to a masquerade ball, only to run into a handsome stranger who helps her keep her cover on a night of improbable, chaotic fun.

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