The recent passing of the beloved author Beverly Cleary (1916-2021) brought to mind some of my favorite Cleary reads, such as Cleary’s YA classics Fifteen (1956), The Luckiest Girl (1958), Jean and Johnny (1959), and Sister of the Bride (1963)–I recently reread these gems. This quartet of novels, sometimes called malt shop novels, are all set in California and revolve around first romances. In the deft hands of Cleary, these books rise above the pack. Still, there are new YA books to consider. Below are listed a few new YA arrivals at TOJL.
Happily Ever Afters (2021) by Elise Bryant is surely in the vein of Cleary’s Fifteen. It is contemporary and smart, and the romance narrative is set within the context of today’s issues. Budding romance writer Tessa struggles to find her place in a new town and a new school and encounters real-life romance as well. This is Bryant’s debut novel.
Another recent YA novel at the library is You Have a Match (2021) by Emma Lord. In this novel of “romance, sisterhood, and friendship” we meet Abby who signs up for a DNA service on a lark only to find a secret sister. Lord is also the author of Tweet Cute (2020).
Also recently published is Lore (2021) by Alexandra Brackman. According to Publishers Weekly, this tale, set in New York City, “blends Greek mythology and modern-day Manhattan.” Bracken is New York Times best-selling author of The Darkest Minds series of books.