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That Summer Fling

Fun, light, and slightly indulgent, books about romance are usually best read in the summer time. Here are four books about summer romance that you should check out before the heat wave ends.

Let’s face it, guys need some romance in their lives, too. I’ve got the perfect book for that guy who’s looking for just a hint of it: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.

An Abundance of Katherines

John Green is one of the funniest authors in YA fiction today, and An Abundance of Katherines is one of his best-received books. As summer vacation begins, washed-up child prodigy Colin Singleton has just been dumped by yet another girl named Katherine. The 19th in a row, to be exact, and the one who he believes is “the one.” In an effort to pull Colin out of his post-break-up, post-child-prodigy funk, his best friend Hassan decides that they need to take a road trip. Just a few days in, Colin and Hassan find themselves in Gutshot, TN being shown the supposed gravesite of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a girl named Lindsey Lee. Something about Gutshot calls to the boys, and they decide to stay and help Lindsey Lee’s mother with a project. Meanwhile, Lindsey Lee helps Colin develop a mathematical theorem that he hopes will correctly predict the duration and outcome of any relationship and win him back Katherine IX’s love. Green’s sarcastic and witty sense of humor is on full display here, and readers will totally relate to Colin’s desperate fear that he is, in fact, not special, that he does not matter.

Now, for the girls: There’s a plethora of paranormal romance out there these days, but what I’ve been jonesing on lately are classic, realistic romance stories. The best that I’ve read in a while is the wonderful story The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.

The Sky Is Everywhere

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker has just lost her older sister, Bailey. Used to hiding comfortably in outspoken Bailey’s shadow, Lennie finds herself in the spotlight for the first time in her life as summer ends and Lennie must go back to school. As she deals with her grief over Bailey’s death, unresolved feelings about her mother, who left when the girls were little, and coming to terms with who she is independent of her sister, Lennie also suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two boys. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend when she died, and he understands Lennie’s grief like no one else can. Joe is the new boy in town with a swoon-worthy grin and the longest eyelashes Lennie has ever seen, and he makes Lennie laugh again. The ultimate outcome of this love triangle is tied up with Lennie’s journey of self-discovery, and it totally made me melt. This heartfelt story set in a dreamy California landscape – there’s literally a canopy bed in the middle of a forest glade in one scene – is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Read it and swoon.

Two GLBTQ romances that have caught my eye recently are Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson and Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd.

The Bermudez Triangle

In Bermudez Triangle, perfectionist Nina, shy Mel, and cynical Avery have been BFFs for as long as they can remember, nick-named the Bermudez-triangle, after Nina’s last name, in grade school. But everything changes the summer before their senior year. Nina goes off to a leadership workshop for the summer and falls for a hunky environmentalist. Meanwhile, Mel and Avery, who are spending their summer waitressing at the same restaurant, discover that their feelings for each other are more than just friendship and share an intimate kiss. Mel is convinced it’s love, but Avery’s not so sure and convinces Mel to keep their new relationship a secret. When Nina returns home and catches her best friends kissing, their friendship is changed forever. Johnson deftly portrays Mel’s realization of her homosexuality, Avery’s confusion and uncertainty about her sexual identity, and Nina’s hurt and frustration at feeling left out. Although it ends well, the struggle to get there is long and difficult as Johnson plays out the ambiguities and gray areas today’s teens face when coming to terms with their sexuality.

The Vast Fields of Ordinary

In Vast Fields of Ordinary, Dade Hamilton is just trying to get through his last summer at home before college starts in August. Until then, he has to deal with a boring job, the disintegration of his parents’ marriage, and a complicated relationship with his sort-of boyfriend, Pablo, who ignores Dade unless they’re alone. Then, Dade meets handsome, mysterious Alex, and things begin to look up. This love triangle and Dade’s whirlwind romance with Alex result in some dangerous, violent events that force Dade to reexamine his life as he comes out and comes of age. Burd’s writing is beautiful, and his narrative tone is raw and honest. This tale of a summertime first romance is perfect reading for the dog days of summer.

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