10 February Books You'll LOVE!Michael M. Guevara
If you're looking for your next date with a book, here’s a list of 10 young adult love stories that showcase the many different bodies, shades, and faces of love.
The Honeys: Honey, you’re going to love The Honeys by Ryan La Sala. It’s super cool and super creepy—kind of like the kind of book M. Night Shyamalan would ruin by making a movie out of it.
Mars, who is gender fluid and from a politically connected family, has lived in the shadow of the awesomeness of his sister Caroline, but when she dies mysteriously, Mars decides to return to the very hoity toity Aspen Conservatory Summer Academy where Caroline was the queen bee—almost literally.
While Aspen Conservatory Academy might seem like it’s all cliques and toxic masculinity, Mars soon discovers that making honey quite often comes with getting stung and that maybe it’s not always good to be the queen.
Mars will discover more than he expected, and what he discovers may just determine whether he ends up exactly like his sister.
Boyfriend Material: Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall is absolutely funny and full of wit, charm, delightfully quirky characters, and oh, so very British.
Luc O’Donnell is the son of aging rock-star parents—think Billy Mack from Love Actually. Luc’s antics are often the fodder for tabloids, which finally catches up to him when he finds his job at a nonprofit for dung beetles in danger because donors are beginning to pull donations because of his latest press.
Luc needs to clean up his reputation.
Oliver Blackwell is a successful barrister—guided by his ethics—who, partly because of all his failed relationships, just can't seem to live up to the expectations and doesn’t seem to compare to his doctors-without-orders-type brother. He also needs the perfect date for a family event.
And though Luc and Oliver have nothing in common, through a mutual friend—one of those delightfully quirky characters—they devise a plan to become fake boyfriends.
What could possibly go wrong? Let the hilarity, drama, quirkiness, and maybe even love begin.
Husband Material: Spoiler alert—kind of, but not really, but if you haven’t read Boyfriend Material yet, you can stop now.
In Husband Material by Alexis Hall, it’s been two years since Luc and Oliver from Boyfriend Material have progressed from their fake-dating ruse to real dating. Everything is going swimmingly—or something British people would say—until Luc’s old boyfriend, the one who sold Luc’s story to the tabloids, shows up to invite Luc to his wedding, which completely gets into Luc’s head.
And with everyone around Luc and Oliver getting married and having children, will Luc and Oliver follow the trend. Should they get married because it’s legal for them to get married? Will they get married because it’s what people who love each other do?
Just as witty, charming, British, and filled with those same quirky characters, Husband Material is definitely a book to love.
Love From A to Z: In Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali, the Z is Zayneb. Zayneb is constantly having to put up with microaggressions and Islamaphobia from her teacher. When one of her doodles in the teacher’s class is interpreted as a threat, Zayneb gets suspended and begins an early spring break to visit family in Doha, Qatar.
On the way to Qatar, literally on the plane, Zaynab meets, well kind of meets, Adam, the A in the novel, who, since his MS diagnosis has stopped to going to his university classes. Adam is on the way home to Qatar to visit his father who doesn’t know about the diagnosis. Adam has kept his MS from his father because his father is still grieving the death of his wife and Adam’s mother from MS.
Follow their love story and whether Zayneb will get the justice she deserves and whether Adam can live and fulfill his dreams as they both explore the marvels and oddities along the way.
Love from Mecca to Medina: Love from Mecca to Medina, by S.K. Ali, follows the ongoing love story of Adam and Zayneb from Love From A to Z.
Zayneb is now in law school and steal dealing with microaggressions and Islamaphobia in the form of rumors about her in the campus newspaper. Adam continues to try and live with his MS while trying to find his way in life as a maker/creator.
Adam and Zayneb end up on a pilgrimage to Mecca for Umra, but things in their relationship aren’t going smoothly. Will their relationship survive the struggles? Are they even meant to be together? Are they really destined for one another?
The sequel is more dense, more cerebral than Love from A to Z, but it is filled with the rich traditions and celebrations of Islam that add a rich tapestry of cultural context.
A Taxonomy of Love: A Taxonomy of Love by Rachael Allen is an oldie but a goodie—apparently published in 2018 makes you an oldie in the book world—but worth the read.
The story follows Spencer from ages 14 to 19. Spencer is neuro-diverse (Tourette’s Syndrome) and has always lived in the shadow of his older brother. In the summer before seventh grade, Spencer meets Hope and their friendship grows over the years, and, as is often the case, the friendships grows, morphs, and wanders into uncertain territory.
Spencer, an aspiring scientist, wants to make sense of his friendship/relationship with Hope and tries to do so the only way he knows how—as a scientist. He tries to identify and classify love by creating a taxonomy. There is only one problem—life is messy and hard to classify, which is what also makes the life and love worth experiencing.
The Weight of Blood: The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson is a different kind of a book to love. If you love Stephen King and the supernatural—or even if you love the television show Supernatural, this book is for you.
An homage to Stephen King’s Carrie, The Weight of Blood follows the story of two journalists trying to uncover the truth behind what happened the night of the prom. Yes, that prom but not that prom. Homage, remember.
Maddie Washington has been the object of ridicule and teasing by her classmates for most of her life. She’s the Carrie of this version, but did she do it and how did she do it? (The it includes killing classmates and destroying the town with her supernatural powers.)
And, of course, there is the question of whether Maddie is still alive and where she could be.
Suspense, supernatural powers, and racist traditions make for a thrilling page turner. Yes, at one point a Texas A&M shirt is described as burgundy instead of maroon (Sorry, Aggies), but The Weight of Blood is book to love.
Why We Fly: If you loved I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal—and why wouldn’t you because that book is awesome, Why We Fly by the same authors is another book you’ll love.
Like in NDWYT, chapters alternate between the main characters relating the story from their experience and perspective. This time it’s cheerleaders Eleanor and Chanel narrating alternating chapters.
Eleanor is Jewish and recovering from a concussion suffered in a cheerleading stunt. She hopes her doctor will finally clear her to fly again because she sees cheerleading as her best way to get into college because her grades are an issue.
While Eleanor is rehabbing over the summer, Chanel is off at a high-performance cheer and gymnastics camp learning the stunts and techniques to take their squad to success at nationals. Chanel is also thinking about her future and has her sights set on being selected to the Young Visionaries Project and acceptance to the prestigious Wharton School for Business.
Eleanor and Chanel’s friendship is tested when, after missing most of the past year with injury, Eleanor is voted cheer captain instead of Chanel. Things are further tested when the squad, in a Colin Kaepernick allusion, decide to take a knee to protest racial injustice at the first football game, and Chanel is punished more harshly than any other student who participated.
Why We Fly is a story that treats cheerleading as the sport that it is, tackles the tough issues of taking a stand in the face of objection and consequences, and navigates the intricacies of friendship through challenging circumstances.
Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun: Julian, in Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa, is just living his life as a senior playing soccer and hoping to get into his dream school UCLA and get out of his hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas.
On a whim, Julian sends a tweet and comes out as gay. Now his school and the Twitterverse knows he’s gay, and he has to face the ramifications that come along with coming out—especially because he attends a very Catholic school and has a very traditionally Mexican machismo father.
But with the tweet, Julian also meets Mat, a guy who slides into his DMs to congratulate him on coming out. The two strike up a friendship and ultimately, a long-distance relationship because Mat is 1500 miles away in sunny California and also wants to attend UCLA.
Will they ever get to meet in person? Will they both get into their dream school? It turns out that there is more than 1500 miles trying to keep them apart. See if love and friendships can traverse distances and disappointments.
Breakup from Hell: What better way to finish off a month of books to love than with Breakup from Hell by Ann Davila Cardinal.
You know, sometimes a guy, especially the stunningly hot stranger guy who all-of-a-sudden shows up in your small Vermont town on vacation is just too good to be true. And sometimes, life is far scarier than the dark fantasy you love to read.
At least that’s the case for Miguela “Mica” Angeles.
When Sam shows up to her small Vermont town, the town Mica can’t wait to leave because she has secretly applied to and been accepted into UCLA, everything is just a little too perfect. He’s cover-model beautiful and they are both obsessed with the same author. Sam is in search of the author’s latest book, but Mica has the last copy available in town. She lends Sam his book, which brings them together, and soon they are dating.
But just as Sam has shown up in town, things, like the normally cold weather, begin to change and Mica experiences exponential growth and strength in her martial arts abilities. She soon learns that she and her friends are part of unknown family roots about good vs. evil, apocalyptic battles, and that breaking up with Sam will let all hell loose.
Breakup from Hell is a real page burner.
Watch Michael break down his February book recommendations!
Michael Méndez Guevara is a former high school journalism and English teacher who spent his time in the classroom helping students see themselves as writers and fall in love with reading through the world of young adult literature. As an educational sales consultant with Perfection Learning®, Michael works with teachers and schools on improving their literacy instruction and providing resources to help students achieve academic success. He has taught elementary school, middle school, and high school and has worked as a district level leader and served on the Texas state standards revision committee that developed the state’s current literacy standards. He is the father of three adult sons, the youngest a student at the University of Kansas—Rock Chalk! Michael is working on a professional development book for literacy educators and currently has agents reading the manuscript of his young adult novel, The Closest Thing to a Normal Life. When he's not reading, writing, or running, Michael is fully committed to watching as much Law & Order as possible.