With Valentine’s Day on the 14th, February is officially the month of luuurve and the perfect excuse to celebrate Oz YA romance! And so, from secret crushes to star-crossed lovers, steamy sub-plots to full-blown romance novels, we asked you to vote for your favourite Aussie love stories.
Put on your rose-tinted glasses and take a peek at the lush list you gave us. If you’re in the mood for love, you’re sure to find one (or ten) books here to smolder atop your TBR.
by Erin Gough
Hardie Grant Egmont, 2018
Harriet Price has the perfect life: she’s a prefect at Rosemead Grammar, she lives in a mansion, and her gorgeous girlfriend is a future prime minister. So when she decides to risk it all by helping bad-girl Will Everhart expose the school’s many ongoing issues, Harriet tells herself it’s because she too is seeking justice. And definitely not because she finds Will oddly fascinating.
Will Everhart can’t stand posh people like Harriet, but even she has to admit Harriet’s ideas are good – and they’ll keep Will from being expelled. That’s why she teams up with Harriet to create Amelia Westlake, a fake student who can take the credit for a series of provocative pranks at their school.
But the further Will and Harriet’s hoax goes, the harder it is for the girls to remember they’re sworn enemies – and to keep Amelia Westlake’s true identity hidden. As tensions burn throughout the school, how far will they go to keep Amelia Westlake – and their feelings for each other – a secret?
Perfect for fans of David Levithan and Becky Albertalli, this triumphant queer YA rom-com explores politics, privilege and power, and has a gloriously uplifting teen romance at its heart.
by Fiona Wood
Pan Macmillan Aus., 2016
For Van Uoc Phan, fantasies fell into two categories: nourishing, or pointless. Daydreaming about Billy Gardiner, for example? Pointless. It always left her feeling sick, as though she’d eaten too much sugar.
Van Uoc doesn’t believe in fairies, zombies, vampires, Father Christmas – or magic wishes. She believes in keeping a low profile: real life will start when school finishes. But when she attracts the attention of Billy Gardiner, she finds herself in an unwelcome spotlight. Not even Jane Eyre can help her now.
Wishes were not a thing.
They were not.
Wishes were a thing.
Wishes that came true were sometimes a thing.
Wishes that came true because of magic were not a thing!
Creepy & Maud
by Dianne Touchell
Fremantle Press, 2012
Hilarious and heartbreaking, Creepy & Maud charts the relationship between two social misfits, played out in the space between their windows.
Creepy is a boy who watches from the shadows keenly observing and caustically commentating on human folly.
Maud is less certain. A confused girl with a condition that embarrasses her parents and assures her isolation.
Together Creepy and Maud discover something outside their own vulnerability – each other’s. But life is arbitrary; and loving someone doesn’t mean you can save them.
Creepy & Maud is a blackly funny and moving first novel that says; ‘You’re ok to be as screwed up as you think you are and you’re not alone in that.’
by Jane Abbott
Penguin Random House Aus., 2016
Everybody knows everyone in Kincasey, and nothing ever happens. That’s what Jenny thinks when she moves there – until she meets the mysterious Michael Webster.
But when Michael gets into a fight with the town bully, long-held resentments simmer to the surface, loyalties are tested, and Jenny finds herself the centre of attention. Her situation isn’t helped by a deepening friendship with Michael’s stepbrother, Gabe, or her jealousy of Gabe’s beautiful but aloof sister, Caitlin.
Caitlin is the only one who knows the terrible truth: this isn’t the first life she and Michael have lived. They have a destiny to fulfil – and it’s time for Michael’s powers to awaken. But what use is power if it can’t give you what you most desire?
by Ellie Marney
Allen & Unwin, 2013
Rachel Watts has just moved to Melbourne from the country, but the city is the last place she wants to be.
James Mycroft is her neighbour, an intriguingly troubled seventeen-year-old who’s also a genius with a passion for forensics.
Despite her misgivings, Rachel finds herself unable to resist Mycroft when he wants her help investigating a murder. He’s even harder to resist when he’s up close and personal – and on the hunt for a cold-blooded killer.
When Rachel and Mycroft follows the murderer’s trail, they find themselves in the lion’s den – literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning again.
Sizzling chemistry and urban intrigue combine in this thriller from a fresh, exciting new talent.
by Cath Crowley
Pan Macmillan Aus., 2010
An intense and exhilarating 24 hours in the lives of four teenagers on the verge: of adulthood, of HSC, of finding out just who they are, and who they want to be.
Lucy is in love with Shadow, a mysterious graffiti artist.
Ed thought he was in love with Lucy, until she broke his nose.
Dylan loves Daisy, but throwing eggs at her probably wasn’t the best way to show it.
Jazz and Leo are slowly encircling each other.
by Lili Wilkinson
Allen & Unwin, 2015
Astrid Katy Smythe is beautiful, smart and popular. She’s a straight-A student and a committed environmental activist. She’s basically perfect.
Hiro is the opposite of perfect. He’s slouchy, rude and resentful. Despite his brains, he doesn’t see the point of school.
But when Astrid meets Hiro at the shopping centre where he’s wrangling shopping trolleys, he doesn’t recognise her because she’s in disguise – as a lobster. And she doesn’t set him straight.
Astrid wants to change the world, Hiro wants to survive it. But ultimately both believe that the world needs to be saved from itself. Can they find enough in common to right all the wrongs between them?
by Holden Sheppard
Fremantle Press, 2019
In a small town, everyone thinks they know you: Charlie is a hardcore rocker, who’s not as tough as he looks. Hammer is a footy jock with big AFL dreams, and an even bigger ego. Zeke is a shy over-achiever, never macho enough for his family. But all three boys hide who they really are. When the truth is revealed, will it set them free or blow them apart?
It Sounded Better in My Head
by Nina Kenwood
Text Publishing, 2019
When her parents announce their impending separation, Natalie can’t understand why no one is fighting or at least mildly upset. And now that Zach and Lucy, her two best friends, have fallen in love, she’s feeling slightly miffed and decidedly awkward.
Where does she fit in now? And what has happened to the version of her life that played out like a TV show—with just the right amount of banter, pining and meaningful looks?
Nothing is going according to plan.
But then an unexpected romance comes along and shakes things up even further.
It Sounded Better in My Head is a tender, funny and joyful novel about longing, confusion, feeling left out and finding out what really matters.
Making Friends with Alice Dyson
by Poppy Nwosu
Wakefield Press, 2019
My hand, which is following a stray pencil rolling across the floor, stops dead right in front of two ratty green sneakers.
My gaze follows the shoes up over long legs to a towering figure.
I stand abruptly.
Tall, black eyes, messy hair, a permanent scowl on a permanently angry face. Our school’s delinquent, a waster, the kind of boy who always sits at the back of class.
The kind of boy even popular people like Sophia are afraid of.
Alice Dyson knows exactly how she’ll be spending her final year of high school: with her head down, concentrating on her textbooks and homework. She’s focused on the future, and nothing is going to get in her way.
Until a bizarre encounter with the school’s most notorious troublemaker derails all her plans, turning Alice into the unwilling centre of attention and her life into one enormous complication.
And even worse? Now Teddy Taualai won’t leave her alone.
A romantic story about rumours, friendship, and discovering who you really are.
by Steph Bowe
Text Publishing, 2017
Imagine being the only two seventeen-year-olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow—named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history—and her best friend Clancy Lee, would-be musical star.
Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried: her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s-milk soap-making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?
But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…
On the Jellicoe Road
by Melina Marchetta
Penguin Random House Aus., 2010
Taylor Markham is not a popular choice. She is erratic, has no people skills and never turns up to meetings. Not to mention the incident when she ran off in search of her mother and only got halfway there. But she’s lived at Jellicoe School most of her life and as leader of the boarders that’s her greatest asset. Especially now the cadets, led by the infamous Jonah Griggs, have arrived. The territory wars between the boarders, townies and cadets are about to recommence.
But Taylor has other things on her mind: a prayer tree, the hermit who whispered in her ear, and a vaguely familiar drawing in the local police station. Taylor wants to understand the mystery of her own past. But Hannah, the woman who found her, has suddenly disappeared, leaving nothing but an unfinished manuscript about five kids whose lives entwined twenty years ago on the Jellicoe Road …
Queens of Geek
by Jen Wilde
Pan Macmillan Aus., 2017
Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.
Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie – no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favourite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.
Remind Me How This Ends
by Gabrielle Tozer
HarperCollins Aus., 2017
Layla Montgomery’s life fell apart at thirteen. After her mum died in a shock accident, Layla’s grieving father packed their bags and forced her to leave behind everything she’d ever known.
Milo Dark has been stuck on pause since the Year 12 exams. His long-term girlfriend moved 300 kilometres away for uni, his mates bailed for bigger things, and he’s convinced he missed the reminder to plan out the rest of his life.
As kids, Layla and Milo shared everything – their secrets, a treehouse and weekends at the river. But they haven’t spoken since her mum’s funeral. That is, until Layla shows up five years later in his parents’ bookshop without so much as a text message.
Pretty soon they’re drawn into a tangled mess that guarantees someone will get hurt. And while it’s a summer they’ll never forget, is it one they’ll want to remember?
A boy-meets-girl-again story from the award-winning author of The Intern and Faking It.
by Melina Marchetta
Penguin Random House Aus., 2006
Francesca is at the beginning of her second term in Year Eleven at an all boy’s school that has just started accepting girls. She still misses her old friends, and, to make things worse, her mother has had a breakdown and can barely move from her bed.
But Francesca had not counted on the fierce loyalty of her new friends, or falling in love, or finding that it’s within her power to bring her family back together.
A memorable and much-loved Australian classic told with humour, compassion and joy, from the internationally bestselling and multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi.
by Kirsty Eagar
Allen & Unwin, 2016
A searingly honest and achingly funny story about love and sex amid the hotbed of university colleges by the award-winning author of Raw Blue.Jess Gordon is out for revenge. Last year the jocks from Knights College tried to shame her best friend. This year she and a hand-picked college girl gang are going to get even.
The lesson: don’t mess with Unity girls.
The target: Blondie, a typical Knights stud, arrogant, cold . . . and smart enough to keep up with Jess.
A neo-riot grrl with a penchant for fanning the flames meets a rugby-playing sexist pig – sworn enemies or two people who happen to find each other when they’re at their most vulnerable?
It’s all Girl meets Boy, Girl steals from Boy, seduces Boy, ties Boy to a chair and burns Boy’s stuff. Just your typical love story.
The Long Distance Playlist
by Tara Eglington
HarperCollins Aus., 2019
Taylor and Isolde used to be best friends – before THAT FIGHT, 18 months ago. It’s been radio silence ever since – until Taylor contacts Isolde to sympathise with her breakup: the breakup that she never saw coming; the breakup that destroyed her confidence and ended her dreams of joining the National Ballet School.
Taylor’s had his own share of challenges, including a life-altering accident that has brought his hopes of competing at the Winter Olympics to a halt.
Isolde responds to Taylor, to be polite. But what starts out as heartbreak-themed Spotify playlists and shared stories of exes quickly becomes something more.
And as Taylor and Isolde start to lean on each other, the distance between them begins to feel not so distant after all …
The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling
by Wai Chim
Allen & Unwin, 2019
A novel about growing up in a migrant Asian family with a mother who is suffering from a mental illness, from the highly commended author of Freedom Swimmer.
Anna Chiu has her hands pretty full looking after her brother and sister and helping out at her dad’s restaurant, all while her mum stays in bed. Dad’s new delivery boy, Rory, is a welcome distraction and even though she knows that things aren’t right at home, she’s starting to feel like she could just be a normal teen.
But when Mum finally gets out of bed, things go from bad to worse. And as Mum’s condition worsens, Anna and her family question everything they understand about themselves and each other.
A nourishing tale about the crevices of culture, mental wellness and family.
Tilly Maguire and the Royal Wedding Mess
by Emma Grey
HarperCollins Aus., 2018
Aspiring writer, 18-year-old Tilly Maguire, is a totally reformed ex-superfan of British boyband singer, Reuben Vaughan. Yeah, she was going to marry him when she was thirteen, but that fangirl phase is way in her past now, along with an unfortunate side ponytail and a weird obsession with galaxy leggings – ugh. Cringe!
When her writing wins Tilly a six-week internship at a top London PR firm, she doesn’t expect to stumble from a long-haul flight straight into an A-list debacle of her own making, but these things happen. She proves to the entire world that jet lag and social media definitely don’t mix.
Obviously, Tilly didn’t intend to get tangled in a ridiculous scandal involving the British royal family. She’s not the attention-seeking type! She’s just a socially awkward introvert, with a galloping case of anxiety made even worse after a high-profile run-in with the very last person she ever imagined she’d meet for real.
Not on her gap year, anyway.
And not like this!
by Emma Grey
HarperCollins Aus., 2017
Seventeen-year-old Kat Hartland loathes Unrequited, the world’s biggest boy band.
She’s 100 per cent immune to ‘perfect’ singer AngusMarsden and his unfailingly predictable lyrics. Show her the anti-fan club … she wants to be its president!
Just give her a proper musician. Or maybe the seriously hot med student who rescued her on the train. Ideal formal partner, right? Ideal everything …
But when Kat comes face to face with Angus Marsden himself, things start to get complicated. Throw in a deranged female singer, an enraged fandom, final exams, a part in a musical and a mum who just doesn’t get it.
by Jodi McAlister
Penguin Random House Aus., 2017
Sarah J. Maas meets Holly Black with an OzYA twist. Valentine is the first book in Jodi McAlister’s page-turning paranormal YA series featuring Pearl Linford and Finn Blacklin.
Strange and terrible things begin to happen to four teenagers – all born on the same Valentine’s Day. One of these teenagers is the Valentine: a Seelie fairy changeling swapped for a human child at its birth. The Unseelie have come to kill the Valentine – except they don’t know who it is.
Pearl shares a birthday with Finn Blacklin. She’s known him all her life and disliked every second of it. But now Pearl and Finn must work together to protect themselves from the sinister forces that are seeking them out.
What I Like About Me
by Jenna Guillaume
Pan Macmillan Aus., 2019
You know those movies where teenagers have the summer of their lives?
This summer is probably not going to be that.
Here lies Maisie Martin, dead from embarrassment, aged sixteen.
The last thing Maisie Martin thought she’d be doing this summer is entering a beauty pageant.
Not when she’s spent most of her life hiding her body from everyone.
Not when her Dad is AWOL for Christmas and her best friend starts going out with the boy she’s always loved.
But Maisie’s got something to prove. And she’s not going to let anything or anyone – including herself – hold her back.
Words in Deep Blue
by Cath Crowley
Pan Macmillan Aus., 2016
Second-hand bookshops are full of mysteries
This is a love story.
It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets, to words.
It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea.
Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal. She’s looking for the future in the books people love, and the words that they leave behind.
Sometimes you need the poets
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Tags: Australian YA, loveozya, teen fiction, teen love stories, teen romance fiction, YA romance, young adult booklist, young adult books, young adult literature, Young Adult romance