With the beginning of summer comes the craving for sweet young adult romcoms that I can devour in a day! As a teenager, I was happy to let authors let Morgan Matson and Sarah Dessen rule over my summer vacations, so it only seems natural to crave their newest novels as the temperature rises.
Save the Date by Morgan Matson
Matson’s books used to be tragic, more Nicholas Sparks-y. Her second, Second Chance Summer, made me bawl. But this, her fifth, is a fun, not-so-tragic story. Save the Date follows main character Charlie and her large family as they prepare for a wedding, and it’s so chaotically unrealistic that I was honestly relieved for the characters once it was all over! Between all of the wedding conundrums Charlie must solve with the wedding planner’s college-aged assistant, Bill, she must also decide where she wants to go to college, deal with the dramatic homecoming of her estranged brother Mike, face a fallout with her best friend Siobhan, and come to terms with her feelings for her long term crush (and Mike’s best friend) Jesse, all before her parents drop a bombshell on the family. With so much going on, it’s no surprise that Matson fails to deliver anything more than a one-dimensional story, but like most young adult novels, a satisfying conclusion comes with the turn of the final page. Though Save the Date often lacks clarity and depth, it’s a sweet, fun novel that made me grateful for my small, relatively calm and unproblematic family.
Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch
Welch’s debut, Love & Gelato, absolutely captured my heart. I love young adult novels that include international travel, and I loved traveling through Italy with Lina. I was excited for Love & Luck, Welch’s sophomore effort, a companion novel in which Lina’s best friend Addie travels through Ireland on her way to visit… and deals with a horrible heartbreak while on her journey. Love & Luck is a sweet, wholesome story; I loved following Addie around Ireland, and I felt myself really rooting for her to get over her ex and rekindle her relationship with her brother, maybe because it reminded me of my close friendship with my own brother. Disappointingly, though common among the young adult genre, Welch barely skims the surface when it comes to the protagonist’s internal conflict, and a resolution comes all too easy, but it was an enjoyable novel that acknowledges Welch as a must-read YA author. I can’t wait to see her next heroine will travel!
The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
Ah, Sarah Dessen! I’ve read all of Dessen’s novels, and I was so excited to read The Rest of the Story that I had to get is as soon as it came out. Given that this is her first novel with HarperCollins (her previous thirteen having been published by Penguin), I was worried that it would feel different than her other books, but The Rest of the Story has that same Dessen charm I’ve come to love. It follows anxiety-stricken Emma Saylor as she unexpectedly spends the summer at the lake with her mother’s family, who she hasn’t seen since she was four. As Emma gets to know her long lost family, including her childhood best friend Roo, she is forced to come to terms with the nature of her mother’s death and the stories her father failed to mention growing up. Caught between her two selves, the Emma her friends at home know, and the Saylor her new lake family gets to know, Emma must decide just who exactly she wants to be. My only complaint is that it seems as though Dessen would include certain things just for the sake of including them, specifically Emma’s friend Ryan’s newfound lesbianism, which had no role in the story but instead felt like Dessen was trying too hard to tick all of the boxes. The tale felt choppy at times, and the middle dragged on, but Dessen never fails to deliver a cute, summery romance.
What young adult books have you loved recently? Let’s chat!