It’s that time again. Spring has sprung, love is in the air, and finally—finally!—publishing has started featuring kids of color front and center in their YA romances. Let’s hope it’s a thread that continues, because this latest crop of diverse YA romances is sure to leave you swooning.
My So-Called Bollywood Life, by Nisha Sharma
Bollywood meets Hollywood in this hilarious and lovelorn sendup of classic rom-com Only You. Winnie Mehta’s family psychic—because, yup, that’s a thing—has forever told her she would meet the love of her life before she turned eighteen, that his name would start with an R, and that he would give her a bracelet. So of course, Raj is the one, right? Except they broke up. Which foils everything. And when she meets fellow film geek Dev, well, he so does not fit the prophecy. Can Winnie learn to let go of what she believed and take her fate into her own hands? And, more importantly, will she get her perfect Bollywood ending?
Let’s Talk About Love, by Claire Kann
One of the still rare YA contemporaries to feature a black girl on the cover, Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love is a standout for more than one reason. A sweet romance with plenty of twists and turns, it centers on Alice, a biromantic asexual teen smarting from a breakup with her girlfriend, who doesn’t get why Alice isn’t into sex. Then Alice falls hard for male coworker Takumi, which makes her even more confused about what (and who) she truly wants. She’s trying to figure herself out on all fronts, and it’s definitely worth going along for the journey in this quirky, fun contemporary.
The Way You Make Me Feel, by Maurene Goo (May 8)
Goo’s follows up her utterly swoonworthy I Believe in a Thing Called Love with this charming rom-com about Clara Shin, whose dad insists she work in their family food truck as punishment for a prank gone awry. She expects a boring summer slinging Korean fusion fare, but instead she’s surprised by her connection with uptight coworker Rose and a boy named Hamlet. (Yes, Hamlet.) Expect laugh-out-loud funny. After all, that’s Goo’s signature.
Ship It, by Britta Lundin (May 1)
Cons, chaos, and cuteness galore mark this adorable debut by Riverdale writer Lundin. Fangirl Claire is uber-obsessed with the hit show Demon Heart—and she totally ships Heart and his frenemy Smokey, her ultimate OTP and the stars of all her fanfic. But they’re hardly canon. So when, at a conference, she suggests to Heart actor Forest that this pairing might be ah-mazing, he freaks: his character is so not gay. This causes a social media frenzy, and to do damage control, the show decides Claire should join Forest and the gang on tour. Things intensify when Claire starts exploring a possible first love of her own.
Calling My Name, by Liara Tamani
Houston teen Taja has always walked the straight and narrow path. She’s smart, pretty, religious, and decidedly not rebellious—until, suddenly, she is. Told in gorgeous, poetic vignettes, this coming of age story tells the tale of Taja’s exploration of faith, first love, sexuality, family, and the ties that both bond and bind. As she sheds the role of obedient daughter for something bolder, will she lose faith and family?
The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo
Perhaps one of the most anticipated debuts of the year, this New York Times bestselling novel in verse (a feat, if ever there was one!) centers on Dominican American Xiomara, a young girl growing up in Harlem with her religious immigrant family. Her mom is overbearing in impressing Catholicism on Xio and her twin brother, but Xio spills her soul in the pages of her journal, documenting the dramas and traumas of first-generation life, addressing religion, crises of faith, sexual harassment, and the rush of first love (and lust).
American Panda, by Gloria Chao
Mei is struggling. She’s germaphobic, her parents are super strict, her brother is MIA, and she’s got a crush on Darren, of Japanese descent—and definitely off limits to a Taiwanese girl, as American as she may be. Still, she’s got to pull it together when she gets into her (parents’) dream school, MIT. Can she embrace her newfound freedom while figuring out who she really is—even if that’s not who her parents want her to be?
From Twinkle, With Love, by Sandhya Menon
Menon made her mark with her 2017 debut, When Dimple Met Rishi, and Twinkle offers more rom-com rompiness. It centers on a wannabe filmmaker with no real ambition to actually make a film until the chance pretty much falls into her lap in the form of sweet Sahil, a geektastic kid who’ll do anything to get the girl’s attention. Unfortunately, her heart thumps instead for his super-hot and super-cool twin brother, Neil. What could go wrong? A lot, as Twinkle dishes on her triangle traumas to her favorite filmmakers in this epistolary romance.