He’s the boy she’s known forever, the one who is just a friend. She’d never dream of dating him.
But then one day, something changes; perhaps it’s something small, like the fact that time is passing and they’re both getting older. Or perhaps it’s something big, like a grand gesture on his part that shows her how much he cares. All she knows is that he’s not just her friend anymore. She has feelings for him. But does he return her affection? Of course he does!
There’s nothing I love more than a good “friends to lovers” story, and young adult authors do them just as well—if not better—than adult authors. For young adults, friends are everything, and a friend who turns into a boyfriend is even better. So what are some of the best new examples of this trope in YA fiction?
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins is the companion novel to Perkin’s awesome debut novel Anna and the French Kiss. Lola is a budding fashion designer with a quirky sense of style and a sexy older boyfriend named Max. Life couldn’t be better until the annoying Bell Twins—Calliope and Cricket—move back to the neighborhood. Lola has a troubled history with Cricket, who’s a brilliant inventor, but he’s determined to insert himself in her life again. And she realizes that he just might have changed in an irresistible way.
Based loosely on the plot of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Sass & Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler is about two sisters, Daphne and Gabby, who are complete opposites. The younger sister Daphne is a ditzy, shallow optimist who still adores their father and believes in true love, even if she has trouble recognizing it. The older sister Gabby is a smart, down-to-earth pessimist who resents their father for divorcing their mother. She doesn’t believe in love, but she ends up forging a true connection to a boy she thought she despised.
In Love Story by Jennifer Echols, Erin Hunter dreams of attending a prestigious creative writing program in New York City, but her wealthy grandmother wants her to major in business and run the family racehorse farm in Kentucky. When Erin refuses, her grandmother disinherits her and leaves everything to Hunter, a stablehand and the son of Erin’s mother’s former lover. Erin and Hunter were friends until her mother’s tragic death when Erin chose to push him away. Erin struggles to make ends meet in the city and to forget Hunter and her family, but then Hunter shows up in class with Erin. He’s attending the same program as her. They write romantic stories about each other, reading them aloud in class, until they are able to confess their love for each other directly.
In Crush Control by Jennifer Jabaley, Willow and Max were best friends when they were children, but when Willow was nine, her mother dragged her away from her hometown in Georgia to work in a hypnotism show in Las Vegas. Before she left, Willow hypnotized Max and told him they would be best friends forever. Now Willow is seventeen, and her mother has dragged them back home again. Willow reunites with Max and wants to be more than just friends, but his heart belongs elsewhere. She tries to use hypnotism to make him jealous, but when everything goes wrong, she realizes that mind control may not work on the heart.
Just released is The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas, about a girl named Rose whose mother dies and leaves behind a survival kit with objects symbolizing life lessons, like a crystal heart for loving and a paper star for making a wish. While coming to terms with her mother’s death, Rose increasingly relies on the support of a boy named Will, her family’s gardener and her high school’s hockey star.
Do you like boy-next-door stories? What are your favorites?
Brittany is a freelance writer, aspiring novelist and small business owner who hopes that heaven will be like a bookstore with an endless supply of free books, free coffee and super comfy chairs.