The best romance novels labeled YA but equally great for gals old enough to drink wine at book club

Who am I?

I am a librarian and have published several short stories, and a couple of young adult novels, including a teen romance. But back in the day, when I was a quiet bookish teen who lived in used books stores and libraries, I would devour Judy Blume books like potato chips! To this day, I am still a sucker for a great romance no matter the age of the characters, whether they are in high school or teaching high school. Throw in a tropical beach or a wealthy architect slumming it on Nantucket and I’m all in. (Nora Roberts is the Queen of All Romance; I will challenge you to a duel on that fact!)


I wrote...

When You're With Me, I'm Smiling

By Cate Carlyle,

Book cover of When You're With Me, I'm Smiling

What is my book about?

Food is love and Annie’s Instagram baking account is blowing up just as Gran is losing her mind, Annie’s fitness-obsessed BF is driving her away and her extra BFF is fighting for his life. Add swoon-worthy Miles Godfrey to the mix and it’s a recipe that sends Annie’s mental health into a tailspin. Grab a cupcake and a tissue! Funny, intense, sweet, and heartbreaking, When You’re With Me, I’m Smiling will bring all the feels.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Fault in Our Stars

Cate Carlyle Why did I love this book?

If I hadn’t included this title in my book list I’d be in big trouble! An instant classic, the story revolves around two teens who meet in a cancer support group, 16-year-old Hazel who is terminal, and Gus who has lost a leg but is cancer free. The pair fall madly in love, and when Gus arranges for Hazel to travel to Amsterdam to meet her favourite author the pair embark on an adventure together. This book will grab your heart and rip it out of your chest, but in a good way. If there’s such a thing as a “tissue rating”, this one would be 5 boxes.

By John Green,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Fault in Our Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The beloved, #1 global bestseller by John Green, author of The Anthropocene Reviewed and Turtles All the Way Down

"John Green is one of the best writers alive." -E. Lockhart, #1 bestselling author of We Were Liars

"The greatest romance story of this decade." -Entertainment Weekly

#1 New York Times Bestseller * #1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller * #1 USA Today Bestseller * #1 International Bestseller

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters…


Book cover of Eleanor & Park

Cate Carlyle Why did I love this book?

Eleanor & Park is the story of two 16-year-olds who ride the school bus together and fall in love for the first time. Your typical first love story, right? Wrong. Eleanor and her mother are both victims of domestic abuse, Eleanor also suffers from poor body image, and she is bullied at school for not fitting in. Park is a half-Asian cool kid who tries to break through Eleanor’s tough exterior. Set in the mid-1980s with lots of cool cultural references, Eleanor & Park will appeal to the romantics, the quirky ones, and the misfits among us.

By Rainbow Rowell,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Eleanor & Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

'Reminded me not just what it's like to be young and in love, but what it's like to be young and in love with a book' John Green, author of The Fault in our Stars

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she's never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn't stick out more if she tried.

Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and - in Eleanor's eyes - impossibly cool, Park's worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to…


Book cover of Everything, Everything

Cate Carlyle Why did I love this book?

Maddy (a biracial black Asian teen) suffers from a rare illness that has made her allergic to literally everything! A modern-day “bubble girl,” the illness has kept her confined in her house for 15 years, her only company being her mom and her nurse. But when hot new neighbour Olly moves in across the street everything changes. Maddy falls in love and vows to leave the house and sneak away with Olly…cue the huge plot twist! No spoilers from me, but you will want to race to the end. Oh, and beware of the movie version, classic example of “the book was better.”

By Nicola Yoon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everything, Everything as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Everything, Everything is now a major motion picture starring Amanda Stenberg from The Hunger Games and Love Simon's Nick Robinson.

A #1 New York Times Bestseller!

'Loved this book!'- Zoella

Maddy is allergic to the world; stepping outside the sterile sanctuary of her home could kill her. But then Olly moves in next door. And just like that, Maddy realizes there's more to life than just being alive. You only get one chance at first love. And Maddy is ready to risk everything, everything to see where it leads.

'Powerful, lovely, heart-wrenching, and so absorbing I devoured it in one…


Book cover of If I Stay

Cate Carlyle Why did I love this book?

Mia is just 17 years old when her family is in a car accident and she is the only survivor. The gifted young cellist is left in a coma. Told through flashbacks of Mia’s life before the accident, including her love for her rock star boyfriend Adam, Mia ultimately has the power to decide whether to come back from the coma and be with Adam or give in and perish with her family. If I Stay is a tear-jerker that plucks at every heart string, romantic love, love of family, loss, and hope.

By Gayle Forman,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked If I Stay as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The critically acclaimed, bestselling novel from Gayle Forman, author of Where She Went, Just One Day, Just One Year, and I Was Here.

Now a major motion picture, starring Chloe Grace Moretz! Includes exclusive interviews with Chloe Grace Moretz and her co-star Jamie Blackley.

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and…


Book cover of Forever...

Cate Carlyle Why did I love this book?

Written in 1975, Forever is still going strong. The love story of 18-year-old Katherine and her boyfriend Michael and their first introduction to sex is real and intense. In the aftermath, separated by distance, Katherine struggles to come to terms with the fact that she is also attracted to Theo her tennis instructor, and that being her first physical partner does not necessarily make Michael her “forever.” A true mature coming-of-age romance.

By Judy Blume,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Forever... as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Do you remember the first time?

Forever is still the bravest, freshest, fruitiest and most honest account of first love, first sex and first heartbreak ever written for teens. It was a book ahead of its time - and remains, after forty years in print, a teenage bestseller from the award-winning Judy Blume.

With a contemporary cover, Forever is a teen classic ripe for a new generation of readers.


You might also like...

Hayley and the Hot Flashes

By Jayne Jaudon Ferrer,

Book cover of Hayley and the Hot Flashes

Jayne Jaudon Ferrer Author Of Hayley and the Hot Flashes

New book alert!

Who am I?

I grew up in a small town, with wonderful librarians who introduced me to books I remember fondly to this day. The Flicka, Ricka, Dicka series, the Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, and, of course, Little Women shaped my love for stories about relationships and the simple pleasures of daily life. Whether it’s a mystery or a memoir, I want interesting interactions between the main characters, meaty descriptions of daily activities and affairs, and, of course, a happy ending. As I’ve gotten older, I like books with older protagonists; those are hard to come by—one reason I wrote a novel about the adventures of five middle-aged girlfriends!

Jayne's book list on entertaining stories about relationships

What is my book about?

Country music diva Hayley Swift has fallen off the charts and into a funk. Desperate to regain her place in the limelight, she agrees to a low-budget tour of Southern venues, starting with her 35th high school reunion.

There, in an unexpected but fortuitous reconnection, The Girls Next Door —who sang together in their teens--become Hayley and the Hot Flashes as they embark on a road trip that will forever change their lives. You'll laugh out loud as the ladies deal with stage fright, stalkers, attitudes, egos, harmonies, hormones, and more. Middle age has never been moodier—or more melodic!

Hayley and the Hot Flashes

By Jayne Jaudon Ferrer,

What is this book about?

When five middle-aged girlfriends trade in carpools and casseroles for microphones and music halls, look out!

Hayley Swift, a country music diva who has slipped out of the limelight, gets more attention when she's mistaken for Taylor Swift's mom than for her former glory days. When she's invited to perform at her 35th high school reunion, a bus accident puts her back-up singers in a hospital, Hayley begs her long-gone-domestic quartet from high school to join her onstage for the gig. They're such a hit that she invites the women to fill in on a low-budget tour for a couple…


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