Celebrate self-love this Valentine’s Day

We’re all aware of the many romantic tropes that play out in the pages of young adult novels. For instance, there’s the misunderstood bad boy who steals the heart of the good girl and might possibly derail the future she has dreamed of her entire life (think Elena Gilbert and Stefan Salvatore from “Vampire Diaries”). Or, there’s the girl who got away and is pined over for far too many chapters, i.e. Maxine Baker endlessly pinning over Sophie Sanchez in “Ginny & Georgia.”

February is the month of chocolate boxes and roses, with romantic gestures and mood lighting, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the stories that focus on self-love, self-care, or depictions of healthy teen relationships sans the teen drama. You don’t need a drama-filled month or a significant other to celebrate this heart-shaped month, and neither do the characters you read about!

If you’re searching for comfort, check out our classic love story with a twist book list for a familiar classic that offers a modern sensibility. 

“My Fine Fellow” by Jennieke Cohen offers a twist on “My Fair Lady,” welcoming readers into a world of diverse characters navigating culinary school in 1830’s London.

“An Arrow to the Moon” by Emily X.R. Pan is a fresh take on “Romeo & Juliet” and the Chinese folklore of Houyi and Chang’e. Lead characters are born on a night when a star fell in reverse and cracked in half. 

While the frenetic (and sometimes unbearable) “will they, won’t they” of teen romance can be exhilarating, it’s also exhausting. Explore our healthy depictions of teen romances book list for more titles that give a different take on high school romance. Spoiler alert: not all love interests end up together but are refreshing nonetheless.

I Wish You All The Best” by Mason Deaver follows nonbinary high school senior Ben as they navigate starting a new school, finding their place, and meeting someone who loves unconditionally.

“Divergent” by Veronica Roth gives us a relationship that provides strength and healing for both main characters as they go against the established system in this modern dystopian classic.

Who says February is reserved for canoodling couples? We could all use a little more self-love and the characters on our self-love and acceptance booklist are great inspirations.

TJ Powar Has Something to Prove” by Jesmeen Kaur Deo is a self-acceptance story we didn’t realize we needed. TJ is an Indian-American high school student who decides to ditch her razor and skip her waxing appointment to challenge the traditional beauty standards. 

Felix Ever After” by Kacen Callender follows Felix, a black, queer, trans teen through the highs and lows of friendships, making the wrong decisions and learning to live with them, all while on a journey of self-discovery.

For more titles, check out our book lists. For more book recommendations, follow us on TikTok and Instagram @ppl.teens. 

Photo by Amy Shamblen on Unsplash.

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