Three YA Romantic Comedies That Are Perfect Beach Reads

These rom-com–loving characters meta-spin the genre and push the boundaries of familiar tropes as they star and upend in their own love stories.

These rom-com–loving characters offer a meta-spin on the genre and push the boundaries of familiar tropes as they star in their own love stories—with others and with themselves.

Abtahi, Olivia. Perfectly Parvin. 320p. Putnam. May 2021. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593109427.
Gr 6-10–Abtahi’s charming debut will have readers cheering for Parvin as she navigates her freshman year of high school. Fourteen-year-old Iranian American Parvin Mohammadi is elated as she prepares to start high school in her Northern Virginia town. She’s just scored her first kiss from her first boyfriend and she and her friends, crafter-extraordinaire Ruth and social media sensation Fabian, are ready to take on James K. Polk High. Only Parvin is quickly dumped by her boyfriend, who tells her she’s “too much.” Parvin launches an initiative to tone down her voice, her hair, and her style, in order to catch the attention of a cute sophomore in time for the Homecoming dance. But she soon discovers that being demure like a rom-com heroine is difficult, as Parvin juggles Farsi lessons, changing friendships, and waiting for her aunt’s visit from Iran. Parvin is an incredibly charming, funny, and lovable protagonist who greets life with unbridled enthusiasm. Ruth, who is Korean, and Fabian, who is Mexican, are wonderful counterparts who support but challenge Parvin as they deal with their own issues. Parvin’s parents and aunt are fully realized characters who get to the heart of Parvin’s Iranian heritage as she navigates her two cultures with vim. A visa issue highlights immigration bans in the United States, giving readers a personal look at a complex political issue. ­ VERDICT A truly delightful story about a charming and engaging teen navigating freshman year–Elissa Bongiorno, Washington, DC

Lee, Emery. Meet Cute Diary. 400p. HarperCollins/Quill Tree. May 2021. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063038837.
Gr 9 Up–Lee’s debut is a butterflies-inducing rom-com. Mere weeks after coming out to his parents, trans teen Noah Ramirez finds himself spending summer with his college-student brother in Denver. Surrounded by beautiful trees, mountains, and boys, Noah writes embellished trans love stories based on real-life encounters for his viral blog “Meet Cute Diary.” A failed job interview reacquaints Noah with Drew (aka “Ice Cream Shop Guy”), who calls Noah out for featuring him on the blog twice. When Noah explains the truth about the blog, Drew agrees to pretend to date him—including taking photos—to help keep internet trolls at bay. Their pretending “for the Diary” quickly becomes real, but when Noah gets a job at a camp, he also grows close to his coworker Devin (who is nonbinary and asexual) and tensions arise. With his best friend and confidante Becca long-distance and MIA, what is a boy to do? Structured around Noah’s “Twelve Steps to the Perfect Relationship” framework, Lee’s writing smartly and reverently serves as a rom-com metanarrative. The characters are sharply drawn and their rich relationships run the gamut between familial, platonic, and romantic love. Though not without a few transphobic gaffes, the vast majority of characters notably accept and respect the fluidity of individuals’ pronouns and identities. Noah is white, Japanese, and Afro-Caribbean. Drew is white and Devin is Cuban. VERDICT Adorable, heartfelt, and affirming, this is a must-purchase for all collections serving teens.–Alec Chunn, Eugene P.L., OR

Loutzenhiser, Katy. The Girl Least Likely. 352p. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Jun. 2021. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062865700.
Gr 8 Up–Gretchen, a junior in high school, loves to hang with her sister and cousin who are in college. So when the two are home on break, rather than staying home eating snacks and watching vintage romantic comedies on Netflix, Hen and Carmen convince Gretchen to use a fake ID and join them on a night out at a comedy club. Totally out of character, Gretchen poses as Carmen’s roommate Sabrina and ends up onstage for the open mic night. It turns out that Gretchen likes being onstage in front of strangers. In the meantime, she begins to fall for her long-time BFF, Sam, who is moving at the end of the semester, and also starts to have feelings for Jeremy, who works at the comedy club and offers her guidance on how to perfect her act. She believes that her life might be mirroring the plot of one of her beloved rom-coms. Readers will truly be entertained by Gretchen’s exploration of the world beyond her little bubble at home. The large cast of characters has various skin tones; Gretchen and Hen are white and Carmen is half Filipinx. VERDICT Readers looking for a light romance will not be disappointed in this highly engaging story that will keep them rooting for the protagonist until the end.–Elizabeth Kahn, ­Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Acad., ­Avondale, LA

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