YA books to gift your crush
Let’s celebrate love and friendship in all its forms! We recommend our favourite warm, fuzzy and loved-up books that are suitable to give your crush, or a cherished friend, or even yourself.
Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli & Aisha Saeed
Love blossoms during a political campaign in this sweet cross-cultural romance, which also happens to be our YA Book of the Month.
Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state candidate – as long as he’s behind the scenes. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes… until he meets Maya.
Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is cancelled, her parents are separating and now her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing – with some awkward guy she hardly knows…
Euphoria Kids by Alison Evans
Babs is made of fire, and ever since the witch cursed her, she also turns invisible sometimes. She has her mum and her dog, but teachers and classmates barely notice her. Then, one day, Iris can see her. And Iris likes what they see. Iris grew from a seed in the ground. They have friends, but not human ones. Not until they meet Babs. The two of them have a lot in common: they speak to dryads and faeries, and they’re connected to the magic that’s all around them. There’s a new boy at school, a boy who’s like them and who hasn’t yet found his real name.
Soon the three of them are hanging out and trying spellwork together. But when the witch that cursed Babs returns, the three friends must overcome their fears. Euphoria Kids is a sweet and magical paean to queer friendship.
Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Sometimes finding a great friend who truly appreciates you is akin to finding yourself for the first time.
Persian-American Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones, and he takes medication for his clinical depression. He’s never felt like he fully fits in at home, so he doesn’t have high hopes for his first-ever trip to Iran. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy who lives next door to his grandparents, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush – the original Persian version of his name – and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab.
This pick is a bit of a tearjerker, but it’s also a beautiful, insightful depiction of a caring friendship that’s certain to win hearts.
Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
Ever Wong thinks she’s attending a strict educational program in Taiwan, but when she arrives she finds herself on ‘Loveboat’ – a summer-long free-for-all where hookups abound, adults turn a blind eye, and the nightlife runs nonstop. But not every student is quite what they seem. Ever is working toward becoming a doctor but wants to study dance at college. Rick Woo is the Yale-bound child prodigy bane of Ever’s existence whose perfection hides a secret. Boy-crazy, fashion-obsessed Sophie Ha turns out to have more to her than meets the eye. And under sexy Xavier Yeh’s shell is buried a shameful truth he’ll never admit.
Yes, there’s steamy scenes and love triangles in Loveboat, Taipei, but the friendship break-ups, make-ups and quandaries are just as important in this entertaining romp-with-substance.
19 Love Songs by David Levithan
Born from David Levithan’s tradition of writing a story for his friends each Valentine’s Day, 19 Love Songs operates as a playlist of nineteen love-themed ‘tracks’, featuring familiar faces from his other works, as well as brand-new characters. A resentful member of a high school Quiz Bowl team with an unrequited crush. A memorable Valentine’s Day in the life of A, the protagonist from Every Day protagonist, A.
This collection includes a mash-up of fiction, non-fiction and verse, all with Levithan’s trademark witty, romantic and honest touch.
Jackpot by Nic Stone
Seventeen-year-old Rico splits her time outside school between looking after her younger brother and working in the local gas station to help her mum pay the rent and bills. So when she sells a jackpot-winning lotto ticket and the money goes unclaimed, Rico thinks maybe her luck has changed. If she can find the ticket holder within 180 days and reunite them with the cash, hopefully she will get a cut of the winnings. Rico asks her wealthy classmate Zan to help her using his computer hacking skills, and a lively and unexpected friendship (and maybe even romance) begins to form across economic and racial divides. This is fun and fast-paced read tackles contemporary issues of healthcare costs, privilege and economic inequality.
The Prom by Saundra Mitchell
A YA novel adapted from a Broadway musical? Amazing!
The Prom tells the story of high school couple Emma and Alyssa. Emma came out via a Youtube video in Ninth Grade, and wants only one thing before she graduates – to dance with Alyssa at the senior prom. Alyssa is her high school’s It girl and keeps her relationship and her sexual identification private. Then word gets out that Emma plans to bring a girl as her prom date, setting off a community-wide uproar that spirals out of control. When two publicity-hungry and well-intentioned Broadway starts show up to get involved in the cause, it creates the perfect prom storm. Only when this unlikely group comes together do they realise that love is always worth fighting for. This is another fast-paced read, with a sweetly hopeful feeling,
The Long Distance Playlist by Tara Eglington
Taylor and Isolde used to be best friends but, after a fight, they haven’t talked in 18 months. When Taylor emails Isolde to sympathise over her recent shock breakup, their long-distance friendship is slowly rekindled. Taylor has been struggling to keep her ballet dreams alive, and snowboarder Taylor’s Winter Olympics plans have derailed due to a serious accident. As they start start to lean on each other, the distance between them begins to feel not so distant after all…
This very modern – and romantic – epistolary novel (told in emails, texts, playlists, DMs and Skype conversations) bounces between Taylor, who lives in Queenstown, New Zealand, and Sydney-based Isolde. The two teens have a genuine bond, big dreams they’re striving for, and challenges they have to face.
Me Time by Jessica Sanders
This pocket guide to positivity and self-care is beautifully illustrated and focusses the reader on being their own best friend. Me Time reframes self care, from acts of indulgence to a holistic practice of self love that nurtures both mind and body. It is full of facts, ideas, information, quotes and evidence-based activities that balance comfort and nurturing with putting in the hard work.