From the genius that is Pride and Prejudice to the snark that makes up Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen is pretty much my literary hero. She’s smart, she’s funny, and she tells an amazing story—which is why I love reading/watching all the Jane Austen retellings I can get my hands on. (Lizzie Bennet Diaries, anyone?) Luckily, there are a lot of excellent Austen retellings in the YA world, starting with these gems.
The Dashwood Sisters’ Secrets of Love, by Rosie Rushton
The Dashwood girls handled it all right when their father left their mother for his new trophy wife. After all, he was still their doting dad. But when he dies and leaves behind a heap of debt and their house to the girls’ new stepmother, everything changes. A modernized version of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, The Dashwood Sisters’ Secrets of Love follows Ellie, Abby, and Georgie as they navigate their newfound poverty—and, of course, love. Because with a new house in a new town comes new boys, and with new boys comes new trouble in many, many forms.
First & Then, by Emma Mills
Devon has her life down to a nice, steady rhythm…until her parents decide to take in her awkward cousin Foster. With Foster comes Foster’s bizarre aptitude for football, and with Foster’s bizarre aptitude for football comes Ezra, the captain of the football team. For Devon, things with Ezra are even more awkward than things with Foster—and that’s saying something. But underneath all the annoyance and the tension, Devon just might have a thing for Ezra. Full of its own personality and some excellent Pride and Prejudice references, First & Then is a Jane Austen modernization crossed with the one thing you never expected: sports.
Enthusiasm, by Polly Shulman
Julie is used to her best friend’s crazy phases. But when Ashleigh gets hooked on Pride and Prejudice, she decides it’s time to find true love; unfortunately for Julie, this means volunteering for the local all-boys prep school’s play. Before long, they find the perfect specimen for Ashleigh’s quest for love. The only problem? Julie’s pretty sure she’s falling for him, too. With a blend of elements from Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and a few other Austen-y tidbits, Enthusiasm is perfect for anyone who has ever felt like the side character in their own novel—or one of Austen’s.
For Darkness Shows the Stars, by Diana Peterfreund
Speaking of Jane Austen crossed with the unexpected, For Darkness Shows the Stars takes Persuasion and adds sci-fi dystopia. And it’s so, so worth it. In a postapocalyptic world, a failed genetic experiment resulted in a new Luddite-ruled class system and limited technology. As a Luddite, Elliot knows she can’t ever be with her childhood crush, Kai—which is why she turned him down when he asked her to run away with him years ago. But when Kai reappears in her life with a secret that could bring about the end of the Luddite system, Elliot might get the chance to change her old decision and mend both their broken hearts. All she has to do is turn her back on everything she has ever known.
The Trouble With Flirting, by Claire LaZebnik
Franny will take the chance to be near her crush, Alex, any way she can, even if it means sewing herself to death working for her aunt at the Mansfield Summer Theater Program. But with Alex caught up with a girl who’s not Franny, Franny decides to take matters into her own hands and indulge in a little harmless flirting with the seemingly interested Harry Cartwright. Before she knows it, Franny’s caught up in a weird love triangle (quadrangle?), and she’s pretty sure all that “harmless” flirting is to blame. With all the lovable Fanny-ness of Mansfield Park plus some modern humor, The Trouble With Flirting is a fun take on Austen’s original.
The Espressologist, by Kristina Springer
Jane loves to meddle, and she has a habit of determining peoples’ personalities by their coffee orders. So it’s no surprise when she combines her two favorite hobbies and starts matchmaking her friends based on their drink of choice. But when her boss catches wind of the idea and turns it into an in-store promotion, Jane starts to question her decisions. Everything seems to be going fine…so why is she so sad about it? Funny and cute and perfect for reading while you curl up with a nice, hot latté, The Espressologist is an adorable take on Jane Austen’s Emma that’s almost as awesome as the YouTube-ified Emma Approved.