Valentine’s Day can be a day of cringing and hiding from your loved up friends if you’re flying solo. The weeks and weeks of flowers and chocolates and teddy bears can make you just want to retreat to the safe comfort of your bookshelves, and then you’re betrayed by them too – love is everywhere! We feel your pain and we’ve got the perfect solution: alternate YA romances.
We’re talking friendship, feminism and break-ups. Here’s a few recommendations.
‘Beautiful Broken Things’ by Sara Barnard
Sara Barnard’s debut novel is about two best friends, Caddy and Rosie, who are inseparable. But Caddy soon starts to wish she was as popular, confident and interesting as Rosie. Then Suzanne comes barreling into their lives: beautiful, damaged and complicated, she changes things for Caddy and Rosie. As they change and grow, both closer and apart, the stakes get higher and higher.
‘Beautiful Broken Things’ is a gripping, intense and heart-breaking story about the importance of friendship when your world is falling down around you. Plus, not a romantic relationship in sight!
‘Am I Normal Yet?’ by Holly Bourne
‘Am I Normal Yet?’ is about Evie. All she wants in the world is to be normal: to go on dates, go to school and hang out with her friends, and now she’s off her medication, it all seems possible. But how can she be normal after she tells her new friends what happened last year?
Though the blurb of this books talks romantic relationships, this book is really about friendship, feminism and mental health. It’s one that’ll keep you reading late into the night.
‘Maresi’ by Maria Turtschaninoff
The first book in the ‘Red Abbey Chronicles’ in one of our biggest surprise loves of our reading year so far. It’s a fantasy set on a far-flung island that is a refuge and place of education for women in a world where girls and women are vilified and persecuted. The island is sacred and is protected against men coming ashore by the mystical Mother. It’s immersive, original and all about girl-power – the perfect anti-Valentine’s read!
‘How Not to Disappear’ by Clare Furniss
Hattie’s summer isn’t off to the best start. Her best friends have deserted her – Reuben has gone travelling to find himself and Kat’s in Edinburgh with her new girlfriend – she’s stuck looking after her twin siblings and she’s just found out that she’s pregnant. Then a great-aunt no one even knew existed, Gloria, comes into Hattie’s life and they set out on a road trip to uncover Gloria’s past and sort out Hattie’s future.
This novel is gorgeous. Though ‘How Not to Disappear’ talks a lot about love, it’s the family and friendship love that it’s really about. It’s a beautifully written exploration of memories, secrets and difficult decisions.
‘Drop’ by Katie Everson
When Carla and her family move to London and she has to start at a new school, she’s desperate to fit in. She soon meets Finn and finds herself immersed in a world of partying and drugs. Everyone tells her that Finn is bad news – even his own brother – but does he have an ulterior motive?
‘Drop’ is a dark, intense novel that we loved completely. Though there is a romance in Everson’s debut, it’s definitely not your typical romance; there’s no swooning or becoming sad that you don’t have what they do! More than anything, this novel delves into a downward spiral and doesn’t pull any punches. Plus, it’s really beautifully written! If you read and loved Melvin Burgess’s ‘Junk’ back in the day, you have to read this too.
These are our favourite anti-romance novels and we hope you’ve found something to whet your appetite and get you through the cheesiness of Valentine’s Day.
Have you read any of these yet? Send us your thoughts and your anti-Valentine’s recommendations to @maximumpopbooks.
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