With more and more YA books written for an adult audience these days, I often wonder whether there are still any high school romance books for teens out there. So I spent some time investigating by myself and chatting with the teachers and librarians in our Facebook Group with good results! In this post, I’m sharing some of my personal favorite high school romance books for teens with a variety of tropes and settings. If you’d like more recommendations, you can see them on the Facebook Group (when you join).
Whether your teens love enemies-to-lovers, friends-to-lovers, romance as a subplot, romances featuring big families, or a good ol’ K-drama situation, there’s something for them on this list! I’ll also share which ones are best for a younger audience and some content warnings to note.
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The Best High School Romance Books for Teens
Table of Contents
Jump around with the table of contents. Here are some of the best high school romance books for teens:
Enemies-to-Lovers High School Romances
You Bet Your Heart
Published: May 30, 2023
Sasha Johnson-Sun and Ezra Davis-Goldberg became besties in third grade but lost their friendship after an explosive fight. Now they’re in the same high school and tied for valedictorian just months before their graduation. Sasha needs to win the spot because she wants the attached scholarship and also wants to honor her late father and hardworking mother.
Sasha and Ezra decide to settle things by a best-of-three, winner-take-all academic bet. But as they compete, old issues come to the fore, especially for Sasha, who keeps prioritizing “success” over all the other important things in her life. This book is a truly swoon-worthy romance with an enemies-to-lovers plot that is actually enjoyable.
I loved all the family and friend connections in the story and the core theme about redefining what matters most. Hand these to teen overachievers who need a dash of fun in their lives. Heads up for infrequent profanity — best for ages 14 and up.
Made in Korea
Published: May 18, 2021
Valerie Kwon is a business-savvy Korean-American teen who runs V&C K-Beauty with her cousin, Charlie, out of her high school locker. She’s saving up so that she can take her halmeoni to Paris on a memorable vacation. But when a new, good-looking Korean-American student Wes Jung unwittingly starts his own competing K-beauty business in their school, Valerie suddenly has competition.
Wes has his own reasons for needing the extra cash. He really wants to study music, but his dad thinks music should only be a hobby. Wes also needs to fix his saxophone, so when he realizes that students would willingly pay for branded lip balms and face masks, he is enticed into starting a business. As the two rivals collide, they learn that they have more in common than they thought.
This is a sweet, charming, and entertaining young adult enemies-to-lovers romance with mild, infrequent profanity that would be suitable for readers ages 14 and up.
As If on Cue
Published: September 21, 2021
In As If on Cue, sworn frenemies Natalie and Reid are forced to work together on a musical to save their school’s art programs after a prank by Natalie goes wrong. Reid is a band kid while Natalie is a scriptwriter, who used to play the clarinet (even before Reid).
Natalie prefers to do the arts as a “fun hobby” — or so she tells herself — whereas Reid is serious about his music and wants to become a composer. The two are close family friends, their tween sisters are best friends, and Natalie’s dad teaches Reid how to play the clarinet. But as they work as co-directors, Natalie’s years-long resentment of Reid and his bond with her dad continues to rear its ugly head. Will their musical see the light of day?
If you’re on the hunt for YA that centers Jewish culture, religion, and characters, don’t miss this one. Younger readers ages 13 and up can enjoy this one.
Friends to Lovers High School Romances
Rhythm & Muse
Published: May 30, 2023
Darren Johnson loves daydreaming and pining for his crush Delia Dawson. But when Delia announces a theme song contest for her popular podcast, Darren’s friends—convinced he’ll never make a move—submit one of his secret side projects for consideration.
After the anonymous romantic verse catches Dillie’s ear, she sets out to uncover the mystery singer behind the track. Now Darren must decide whether he’ll step out of his shadows and his head.
This was very sweet! I loved the message of putting yourself out there instead of living in your head. I also liked that while we’re in Darren’s head, we learn enough about his love interest that she’s not just a manic pixie dream girl. There are lovely teen-parent relationships and main characters who attend church without it being a preachy book. It’s really fun and perfect for younger teens ages 12+ with nearly no language!
Published: May 31, 2022
Prince Jones is one popular teen! He’s the host of the popular hip-hop show Love, Radio, where he dishes out love advice. His dream is to become a DJ and build a family of his own one day, but right now, he has his hands full with caring for his mom, who has multiple sclerosis, and looking after his little brother. All that changes when he meets Dani.
Dani’s main focus is getting into college in NYC, but she can’t seem to get her college essay together. Her mind keeps trying to block the near-rape incident she experienced some months ago. But when she meets Prince, the two are irresistibly drawn to each other. Dani must confront the past and Prince must open his heart to love.
This is an unabashed love story with so much heart. It’s definitely much better on audio, especially with Prince’s radio segments. While there’s a traumatic sexual harassment scene, this is still a good one for teens ages 14 and up.
Charming As a Verb
Published: October 13, 2020
Henri “Halti” Haltiwanger’s mom says he’s “charming as a verb” — and she’s right! Henri’s parents are Haitian immigrants. While his dad is their building’s Super, his mom is studying to become a firefighter. He’s popular at his high school and runs a successful dog-walking business. The thing is: he tells customers that there’s an entire network of dogwalkers, of which he’s just one. When his neighbor and fellow high schooler Corrine’s mother hires him to walk their dog, Corrine quickly uncovers his sham of a company.
Corrine then essentially blackmails Henri into helping her get a social life (to look good on college applications) in exchange for keeping quiet about his fake company. It turns out Corrine is the only one who can seem to see past Henri’s charms. Henri is also hustling to get into Columbia, his father’s dream college. Together, Henri and Corrine form a friendship that eventually blossoms into something more.
This book tackles several themes from the immigrant experience, familial expectations, the pressure of college admission season, and finding a person with whom we can be our truest selves. It does have frequent profanity and mature content (underage drinking, etc.), so I’d recommend this to teens ages 15 and up.
Kind of Sort of Fine
Published: June 22, 2021
Kind of Sort of Fine is written from two perspectives, that of — overachiever-who-just-had-a-nervous-breakdown — Hayley Mills and Lewis Holbrook. Lewis is a fat teen who has decided that this will be his year. He will take charge of his life and perhaps even lose weight and ask the girl he likes to go out on a date with him. Hayley’s parents and guidance counselor insist that she let go of tasking electives and switch to something more fun, and less emotionally draining, like TV Production!
Hayley is less than thrilled to be hanging with the less ambitious crew, but when she and Lewis start making mini-documentaries about their classmates, Hayley starts to question the path she originally planned for herself. And maybe Lewis will finally get out of his own way?
This book is really funny and sweet, and I would recommend this to fans of very slow-burn friends-to-lovers stories (with more friendship than romance). Teens ages 14+ will enjoy this one.
High School Romances Featuring Big Families
My Sister’s Big Fat Indian Wedding
Published: April 19, 2022
Zurika Damani plays the violin with a sprinkle of hip-hop and has just been rejected by Julliard. Her current options are to go to college for pre-law or compete in a contest judged by major college scouts (including Julliard scouts). The only problem is that the contest is during her big sister’s week-long Indian wedding. Thankfully, her cousins band together to help her disappear during the ceremony without being discovered. But things get complicated when Zurika finds out that the group’s South African cousin is a fellow contestant. Fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen who enjoy family-based stories with a sweet romance subplot will adore this one. Good for ages 12+
10 Blind Dates
Published: October 1, 2019
Sophie is looking forward to getting time away from her parents for the holidays. They’re visiting her heavily pregnant sister over the holidays. But she’s especially happy because she’s looking forward to spend time with her boyfriend, Griffin. So she’s thrown for a loop when she overhears Griffin discussing his desire to break up with her — and then of course, she breaks up with him.
Sophie’s large family is very happy to have her with them for the holidays, particularly her cousins Olivia and Charlie whom she’s closest to. The family wants Sophie to enjoy the holidays and decide they will set her up on a date every day for the last 10 days of the year. 10 family members get to choose a different date — location, person, and all — for each day. She has the ability to decline one date. In the midst of all the chaos, Sophie begins to rediscover her connection with Charlie’s friend, Wes.
This is an entertaining young adult novel, perfect for lovers of Hallmark movies or anyone looking for a festive, fluffy read. It won’t satisfy you if you’re on the hunt for a richer plot or more complex characters. But if you love a good rom-com featuring crazy large families and a good ol’ friends to lovers trope, this is for you. Good for readers ages 12 and up.
The Rest of the Story
Published: June 4, 2019
Emma Saylor’s mom died when she was younger after a long struggle with addiction. Now her dad is remarried, and she’s staying with her mom’s mother while her father and his new wife are on their honeymoon. As she gets to know a whole other side of her family, Emma Saylor’s life, heart, and circle grows bigger. And, of course, there’s a sweet romance on the side. This is quintessential Sarah Dessen for readers ages 12 and up.
High School Romance Books with Love Triangles
The Summer I Turned Pretty
Published: May 5, 2009
Belly has an unforgettable summer in this stunning start to the Summer I Turned Pretty series from the New York Times bestselling author of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (now a major motion picture!), Jenny Han.
Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer—they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along. Good for ages 12+
Published: June 6, 2023
Jessie is a fifteen-year-old Palestinian-Canadian who’s getting into high school soon after an autism diagnosis. She feels “abnormal,” especially as she doesn’t have a cellphone, but is determined to belong to a friend group and fall in love this school year. However, when she finds herself caught between two very different boys, she realizes that things don’t always go to plan.
With a memorable younger teen protagonist, a lovable Arab-Canadian family, and a unique Canadian high school setting, this YA novel is sure to win many readers — especially younger teens and older tweens (ages 13+)! Contains infrequent use of profanity.
Happily Ever Afters
Published: January 5, 2021
Tessa Johnson and her family have moved into a new neighborhood, hoping for a fresh start. Tessa will be attending a high school for the arts where she can have dedicated writing classes and be surrounded by other creative kids. Her brother Miles, has disabilities due to a form of cerebral palsy, and Tessa looks after him a lot of the time. Tessa also enjoys creating love stories, which her best friend Caroline (and only Caroline so far) reads and enjoys.
As Tessa starts at the new school, she reluctantly cultivates a relationship with Sam, the culinary arts kid who lives next door to her and drives her to school (and also brings her baked goods!), but also with a couple of the other kids. But when Tessa attends her first creative writing workshop, she develops a crush on Nic, a guy in her class, as well as a major case of writer’s block mostly due to her severe anxiety around sharing her work with others. All of a sudden, the wonderful experience at her school (where she’s finally not the token Black person) is under strain — until Caroline encourages her to try living out a love story for some inspiration.
This is a sweet YA novel for fans of Jenny Han. Although the slow-burn friends-to-lovers romance is a major part of the plot, this book also tackles disability, family dynamics, race, friendship, anxiety, and the struggles of being a young writer. Heads up for frequent profanity — ages 14 and up.
Better Than the Movies
Published: May 4, 2021
Perpetual daydreamer Liz Buxbaum gave her heart to Michael a long time ago. But her cool, aloof forever crush never really saw her before he moved away. Now that he’s back in town, Liz will do whatever it takes to get on his radar—and maybe snag him as a prom date—even befriend Wes Bennet.
The annoyingly attractive next-door neighbor might seem like a prime candidate for romantic comedy fantasies, but Wes has only been a pain in Liz’s butt since they were kids. But as Liz and Wes scheme to get Liz noticed by Michael so she can have her magical prom moment, she’s shocked to discover that she likes being around Wes.
This book is so cute! Besides a strong love triangle, it also plays into the enemies-to-lovers trope, so fans of both will love it. Hand to teens ages 14 and up.
High School Romances with Fake Dating
This Time It’s Real
Published: February 7, 2023
What if you wrote an essay about how you met and fell in love with your boyfriend and it went viral—except the boyfriend doesn’t exist?
Eliza Lin has never had a boyfriend and moves every couple of years because of her mother’s exec role. Now she’s a new kid again at an international school in Beijing with a viral essay about as boyfriend she doesn’t have. She convinces a classmate and famous author to fake date her until the storm blows over. And we all know how fake dating goes.
This was a cute YA rom-com about identity (especially when it’s hard to put a finger on “home”), life in the spotlight, and embracing vulnerability. I liked this one, and it’s the kind of YA that younger teens ages 12+ can actually read.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Published: April 15, 2014
This is a sweet, compulsively readable book about Lara Jean, who gets herself in a fix when all the letters she wrote to five crushes get sent out by mistake. Over the course of the three books in the series, she also gets stuck in a love triangle. Lara Jean’s story is less angsty, sweeter, and I like it better than Belly’s story. Great for teens ages 13 and up.
High School Romances with Substance
Published: April 11, 2023
Sam and her mom Priscilla just can’t seem to get on the same page about anything. But things escalate when her grandmother falls into a coma. After a heated argument, Sam books a ride via a ride-hailing app and ends up in 1995 — as her mother’s classmate!
There’s so much to love in this story about a Gen Z girl navigating 90s high school life and getting to know her mom years before she becomes her mom. I loved the insight into mother-daughter relationships, Korean-American culture, first-gen immigrant perspectives, and so much more. This one is FUN, heartwarming, and oh-so poignant. Perfect for readers ages 13 and up with mild, infrequent profanity.
Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance
Published: July 13, 2021
Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance follows Radha, a skilled Kathak dancer who decides to stop dancing after anxiety and a family betrayal cause her to bow out of a contest. Jai is a student at the Princeton Academy of the Arts, where Radha transfers. Although she is insistent on not dancing, her dance skills may be Jai’s ticket to medical school (which he’s convinced he can’t attend). Add Radha’s grandfather’s cookbook, Jai’s family dilemmas, and plenty of dancing — and this story comes to life.
I love how this book creates the perfect Bollywood dance romance, with a focus on family, Indian food and culture, and pursuing one’s dreams. This book also zooms in on the struggle of dealing with anxiety and panic attacks (which Radha has) and highlights how loved ones can be supportive. If you like entertaining YA that addresses plenty of “heart” topics — with a generous serving of Indian food and dance, this one is up your alley! Good for teens ages 14 and up!
Published: November 15, 2022
After a horrific Valentine’s Day, Emilie Hornbie is ready for a do-over — or so she thinks. Her boyfriend is cheating on her, her dad is planning to move away without asking how she feels, and her car is totalled after an accident with a schoolmate. But she feels better after arriving at her grandma’s house that evening. Except… when she wakes up the next day, it’s Valentine’s Day again! Stuck in the time loop, Emilie tries to undo the calamities, but she keeps running into the same schoolmate, Nick — and falling for him too.
The time loop will appeal to readers who enjoy that element. The protagonist is relatable, her love interest is lovable, and this book is full of the warmth, banter, and delight common to all of Lynn Painter’s books. Recommend for kids ages 14 and up.
Love Is a Revolution
Published: February 2, 2021
Nala Robertson is a big Black girl who lives with her cousin Imani and Imani’s parents. Imani is an environmental activist with the group Inspire Harlem. When Nala attends Imani’s birthday open mic night, she meets a charismatic young man named Tye. Tye is also an activist who is immediately drawn to Nala. Nala is eager to impress and starts a series of lies, telling Tye that she is a vegan and pretending to be active in community work at her grandmother’s home for the elderly.
The two soon start dating, but the relationship is obviously built on lies. Nala quickly becomes uncomfortable, worrying that Tye only likes her for the fake persona she created. This is a thoughtful, sweet ode to embracing and loving oneself. Featuring a big Black girl who is comfortable in her body, in the fact that her thighs touch, this book highlights the challenges of family dynamics and balancing self with community and activism. Great for ages 13 and up.
The Silence Between Us
Published: August 13, 2019
Maya who is Deaf, has to move across the country to Colorado just before senior year. As if that isn’t bad enough, she’s moving from a hearing-impaired school to a hearing school. Maya lost her hearing at age 13 after an illness, so she can speak — she just can’t hear.
At the new school, she has to deal with people always addressing her interpreter instead of her and other struggles that Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing persons have to cope with. But Maya slowly begins to make friends; let people in. She befriends a nice girl named Nina, and begins to fall for a smart boy, Beau. Beau actually starts to learn ASL for Maya (even before they become friends). But Maya begins to have doubts about their relationship when Beau can’t understand why she’d prefer to remain Deaf when she can get a cochlear implant.
This is a rousing young adult novel with a Deaf protagonist who never lets her disability set her back. It explores the challenges of a Deaf/hearing relationship and addresses the strain a sibling’s chronic illness can have on a family. Good for ages 13 and up!
K-Drama/K-Pop-Inspired High School Romances
Published: July 13, 2021
XOXO is about a Korean-American teen and cello prodigy, Jenny. One night she meets and likes a stranger, Jaewoo. They basically go on a date, take photos in a photo booth, and exchange numbers, only for Jaewoo to stop responding to her texts. When her grandmother becomes sick, Jenny’s mother decides to travel to South Korea to look after her. She eventually agrees that Jenny can transfer schools and move with her. But soon after they arrive, Jenny realizes that Jaewoo is 1/4th of the popular new K-pop boy band, XOXO — and is forbidden from dating.
This is a swoon-worthy, adorable YA romance set in South Korea, great for readers ages 13 and up. If you enjoyed this book, try these other books like XOXO.
Tokyo Ever After
Izumi Tanaka finds out that her father (the one her single mother never wants to talk about) is the crowned Prince of Japan. Immediately, she’s whisked away to Japan to meet her father and the family she didn’t know she had. Of course, this means she had to leave close to the end of her senior year in high school, hoping to return in time for graduation.
When she gets to Japan, however, she’s met with a new (handsome) bodyguard, Akio; cunning cousins, and a whole lot of royal etiquette to learn. Will she survive and finally find belonging? Or will she crash and burn? This is a royal coming-of-age story perfect for fans of The Princess Diaries. Set in Tokyo and Kyoto, this young adult romance provides an immersive armchair travel experience. Good for ages 12+
There they are: 20 of the best high school romance books for teens! Obviously, this is just scratching the surface. So I’d like to know which romances your high schoolers are loving. You can also check out this post on my Facebook group for more recommendations.
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