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A Lover’s Guide to the Young Adult Books of 2019

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A Lover’s Guide to the Young Adult Books of 2019

A Lover's Guide to the Young Adult Books of 2019

In the words of Simon Spier, things are about to get romantic as eff. Know why?

Because Taylor Swift’s sweetest album yet is finally out in the world! You know we’re getting all up in our emotions. And if you’ve hung around Epic Reads for the last few years, you know we’re big fans of the pop icon. We’re still not convinced ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ isn’t about Three Dark Crowns‘ Queen Katharine. But, you know, not why we’re here.

We’re embracing all the romantic notions of Taylor’s Lover album and thought we’d do a YA-inspired track-by-track breakdown! Want to find the perfect read to pair with that song you have on repeat? We’ve got your back. In fact, we promise you’ll never find others like these 🎶

 

18 ‘Lover’ Inspired Book Recs

TO FALL IN LOVE WITH THIS YEAR

 

1. I Forgot That You Existed

💖 Again, But Better: What if you had a blank slate? No grudges, no messy feelings, just a simple do-over, a chance to move forward and move on. To live your life the right way. We don’t want to give too much away about this book, but if you know, you know. This isn’t one you can just forget!

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart. But throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.

 

2. Cruel Summer

💖 Hello Girls: We’re stepping back from the romance of this one and focusing on the bad#&s vibes of this song. “Devils roll the dice, angels roll their eyes” honestly should have been these girls’ mantra. Plus, we can totally picture them blasting this as they drive away from the lives holding them back.

Winona has been starving for life in the seemingly perfect home she shares with her seemingly perfect father, celebrity weatherman Stormy Olsen. No one knows that he locks the pantry door to control her eating and leaves bruises where no one can see them.

Lucille has been suffocating beneath the needs of her mother and her drug-dealing brother, wondering if there’s more out there for her than disappearing tips and a lifetime of barely getting by.

One harrowing night, Winona and Lucille realize they can’t wait until graduation to start their new lives. They need out. Now. One hour later, they’re armed with a plan that will take them there. All they need is three grand, fast. And really, a stolen convertible can’t hurt. Chased by the oppression, toxicity, and powerlessness that has held them down, Winona and Lucille must reclaim their strength if they are going to make their daring escape—and get away with it.

 

3. Lover

💖 Red Scrolls of Magic: All right, not only does this book focus on one of the couples that anchors the entire Shadowhunter universe, but it also shines a light on the beginnings of another ‘ship that has us screaming OTP in the present time. ‘Lover’ is our love letter to Alec and Magnus, Helen and Aline. And thinking of Malec’s future after everything they’ve been through together… we’re very emotional.

All Magnus Bane wanted was a vacation—a lavish trip across Europe with Alec Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who against all odds is finally his boyfriend.

But as soon as the pair settles in Paris, an old friend arrives with news about a demon-worshipping cult called the Crimson Hand that is bent on causing chaos around the world. A cult that was apparently founded by Magnus himself. Years ago. As a joke.

Now Magnus and Alec must race across Europe to track down the Crimson Hand and its elusive new leader before the cult can cause any more damage. As if it wasn’t bad enough that their romantic getaway has been sidetracked, demons are now dogging their every step, and it is becoming harder to tell friend from foe. As their quest for answers becomes increasingly dire, Magnus and Alec will have to trust each other more than ever—even if it means revealing the secrets they’ve both been keeping.

 

4. The Man

💖 The Wicked King: This song was a poisoned arrow to the heart. Jude’s entire character is based in her desire to become stronger than everyone around her because she’s innately seen as less than, and that’s why, even when she’s making questionable decisions, we’re rooting for her. Who’s collecting the money for her vacation to live like Leo in San Tropez? We’d like to donate.

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring. The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

 

5. The Archer

💖 We Hunt the Flame: Zafira and Nasir embedded themselves in our hearts because they’re victims of circumstance, each doing what they need to survive. They’re doing the best they can, and both toe the line between being hunter and prey. We’re getting emotional again just typing this.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

 

6. I Think He Knows

💖 Don’t Date Rosa Santos: Rosa refuses to admit that she has a crush on Alex. She doesn’t! If she did, the curse would get him. But that doesn’t stop their relationship from flourishing, and she doesn’t need to confirm her feelings, right? We think he knows.

Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that’s what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you’re a boy with a boat.

But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about.

As her college decision looms, Rosa collides – literally – with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?

 

7. Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince

💖 The Field Guide to the North American Teenager: Just listening to this song flashes us back to the most dramatic high school nights of our lives, and Norris’s grand mess-up the night of prom can’t be topped. Plus, Aarti could totally be his Miss Americana. Just don’t tell her we called her that.

Norris Kaplan is clever, cynical, and quite possibly too smart for his own good. A Black French Canadian, he knows from watching American sitcoms that those three things don’t bode well when you are moving to Austin, Texas.

Plunked into a new high school and sweating a ridiculous amount from the oppressive Texas heat, Norris finds himself cataloging everyone he meets: the Cheerleaders, the Jocks, the Loners, and even the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Making a ton of friends has never been a priority for him, and this way he can at least amuse himself until it’s time to go back to Canada, where he belongs.

Yet against all odds, those labels soon become actual people to Norris. And the night of prom, he screws everything up royally. As he tries to pick up the pieces, he realizes it might be time to stop hiding behind his snarky opinions and start living his life—along with the people who have found their way into his heart.

 

8. Paper Rings

💖 The Beholder: Selah’s eyes have been on her glittering happily ever after, but when she fails to get it, well, things change. Her journey over the book and the romantic pursuits that we fell in love with were so refreshing because they were so genuine. Selah begins to realize that she doesn’t need the shiny things. We don’t think she’d mind a paper ring—from the right someone.

Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic to visit a series of potential suitors—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From the gardens of England to the fjords of Norge, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks… and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

 

9. Cornelia Street

💖 Like a Love Story: This novel wrecked our emotions, but the relationship between the three characters at its heart is so strong and beautiful. “I hope I never lose you, hope it never ends,” hit us right in the same feels.

t’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.

Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself.

Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance… until she falls for Reza and they start dating.

Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the crisis through his photographs.

As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to 2find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart—and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known.

 

10. Death by a Thousand Cuts

💖 Defy Me: Is it enough to say that everytime Juliette and Warner part we suffer death by a thousand emotional cuts? Plus, this song is simply gorgeous. We aren’t sure what kind of note this series will end on when it comes to a close next year, but we know that we certainly won’t part any easier than this song portrays.

Juliette Ferrars isn’t who she thinks she is.

Nothing in her world is what it seemed. She thought she’d finally defeated the Reestablishment. She thought she’d finally taken control of her life, her power, and her pain. But Juliette has only just begun to unravel a lifetime of lies, and she finds herself faced with a familiar choice:

Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

This time, she’s not alone. Stronger, braver, and more resilient than ever, Juliette will fight for life and love with her friends by her side—but first, she has to survive the war being waged against her mind:

She has to remember who she was.

 

11. London Boy

💖 Wayward Son: What’s better than one London Boy? How about two? These two are hitting the road in their next outing, and we can’t help but imagine this blairing from their vintage convertible speakers. And, okay, maybe Simon is dramatically singing along to Baz, and Penny is cracking up, and Baz is begging him to stop…

The story is supposed to be over. Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after…

So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?

What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…

That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West. They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…

 

12. Soon You’ll Get Better

💖 Five Feet Apart: Sorry, don’t mind us for a second, we just need to cry. Thinking about these two still gets us so emotional. Have tissues ready for this one.

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But what if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

 

13. False God

💖 Serpent & Dove: Where to start? This is one of Taylor’s most intimately romantic songs, and this book goes there. The Church plays a big role in Lou and Reid’s star-crossed relationship, and as love begins to bloom between them, well, all will be made clear. We can only hope that they might just get away with it…

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

As a huntsman of the Church, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. But when Lou pulls a wicked stunt, the two are forced into an impossible situation—marriage. Lou, unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, must make a choice.

And love makes fools of us all.

 

14. You Need to Calm Down

💖 We Set the Dark on Fire: Okay, hear us out. We know this one is a little upbeat for a dystopian fantasy world, but Dani and Carmen’s relationship is so full of snark and sparks from the beginning that we couldn’t help it. Plus, the song is Taylor’s little love letter to the LGBTQ+ community, and the forbidden romance here between the two girls is everything. Someone get them crowns.

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from political uprisings.

Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society.

And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio.Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

 

15. Afterglow

💖 Call Down the Hawk: With lines like, “Why’d I have to break what I love so much?” and “It’s all me, in my head, I’m the one who burned us down,” it’s hard not to think of Ronan Lynch. Our favorite dreamer has the heartbreaking habit of burning his own world down. We just hope Adam can meet him in the afterglow.

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.

Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.

Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer… and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed…

 

16. Me!

💖 If I’m Being Honest: “I know that I’m a handful” is Cameron in the best way—she knows her own reputation. And so this wonderful story about her attempt to tame herself down for someone she believes to be her soulmate is truly a revelatory, fun time. Can she? Should she? Spoiler alert: We don’t think so. You’ll never find another like her.

High school senior Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: bitch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school—she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her cutting honesty. So when she puts her foot in her mouth in front of her crush, Andrew, she fears she may have lost him for good.

In an attempt to win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Katherine in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. First, she’ll have to make amends with those she’s wronged, which leads her to Brendan, the guy she labelled with an unfortunate nickname back in the sixth grade. At first, Brendan isn’t all that receptive to Cameron’s ploy. But slowly, he warms up to her when they connect over the computer game he’s developing. Now if only Andrew would notice…

But the closer Cameron gets to Brendan, the more she sees he appreciates her personality—honesty and all—and wonders if she’s compromising who she is for the guy she doesn’t even want.

 

17. It’s Nice to Have a Friend

💖 The Rest of the Story: The subtle beats of this song already take us lakeside, but the seeming simplicity of the lyrics brought us into Emma Saylor’s summer. She’s reconnecting with her family, growing close with Roo, and winning us over—we want her to find herself, and it’s easier to do that with a friend.

Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when Emma was twelve. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges. Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family that she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.

When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is also divided into two people. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.

A whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side—Emma or Saylor—will win out?

 

18. Daylight

💖 The Beautiful: “My love was as cruel as the cities I lived in,” this song starts, and both Celine and Bastien came to mind. These two have such a connection—with each other, and the dark underworld that seems to welcome them—that we only hope their story can lead to daylight. 

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger.

She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights… and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart.

 

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