It’s finally summer in the northern hemisphere and what better way to bring in the summertime with a cool refreshing dessert paired with the perfect YA contemporary romance! Celebrate National Ice Cream Day (July 16) with these book and ice cream pairings!
Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life. Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers. Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?
When Abby signs up for a DNA service, it’s mainly to give her friend and secret love interest, Leo, a nudge. After all, she knows who she is already: Avid photographer. Injury-prone tree climber. Best friend to Leo and Connie…although ever since the B.E.I. (Big Embarrassing Incident) with Leo, things have been awkward on that front.
But she didn’t know she’s a younger sister. When the DNA service reveals Abby has a secret sister, shimmery-haired Instagram star Savannah Tully, it’s hard to believe they’re from the same planet, never mind the same parents — especially considering Savannah, queen of green smoothies, is only a year and a half older than Abby herself.
The logical course of action? Meet up at summer camp (obviously) and figure out why Abby’s parents gave Savvy up for adoption. But there are complications: Savvy is a rigid rule-follower and total narc. Leo is the camp’s co-chef, putting Abby’s growing feelings for him on blast. And her parents have a secret that threatens to unravel everything.
But part of life is showing up, leaning in, and learning to fit all your awkward pieces together. Because sometimes, the hardest things can also be the best ones.
Mint chocolate chip
Shy and softhearted Charlie Spring sits next to rugby player Nick Nelson in class one morning. A warm and intimate friendship follows, and that soon develops into something more for Charlie, who doesn’t think he has a chance. But Nick is struggling with feelings of his own, and as the two grow closer and take on the ups and downs of high school, they come to understand the surprising and delightful ways in which love works.
Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate — as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone) Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya. Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing— with some awkward dude she hardly knows — is beyond her. Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer–and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural crush of the century is another thing entirely.
Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer — they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.
Lenore Bennett has always been a force. A star artist and style icon at her high school, she’s a master in the subtle art of not giving a…well, you know what. But now that graduation is here, she’s a little less sure. She’s heading to NYU in the fall with a scarlet U (for “undeclared”) written across her chest. Her parents always remind her that Black kids don’t have the luxury of figuring it out as they go — they have to be 110 percent prepared. But it’s a lot of pressure to be her ancestors’ wildest dreams when Lenore’s not even sure what her dreams are yet. When her family embarks on a post-graduation Mediterranean cruise, her friend Tessa is sure Lenore’s in for a whirlwind romance. But Lenore knows that doesn’t happen to girls like her. Then she meets Alex Lee. After their parents bond over the Cupid Shuffle, she ends up stuck with him for the remainder of the cruise. He’s a hopeless romantic and a golden boy with a ten-year plan. In short, he’s irritating as hell. But as they get to know each other during the picturesque stops across Europe, Alex may be able to help Lenore find something else she’s been looking for, even if she doesn’t want to admit it to herself: love.
After an embarrassing loss to her ex-girlfriend in their first basketball game of the season, seventeen-year-old Scottie Zajac gets into a fender bender with the worst possible person: her nemesis, Irene Abraham, head cheerleader for the Fighting Reindeer. Irene is as mean as she is beautiful, so Scottie makes a point to keep her distance. When the accident sends Irene’s car to the shop for weeks’ worth of repairs and the girls are forced to carpool, their rocky start only gets bumpier. But when an opportunity arises for Scottie to get back at her toxic ex — and climb her school’s social ladder — she bribes Irene into an elaborate fake- dating scheme that threatens to reveal some very real feelings.
Aria Tang West was looking forward to a summer on Martha’s Vineyard with her best friends — one last round of sand and sun before college. But after a graduation party goes wrong, Aria’s parents exile her to California to stay with her grandmother, artist Joan West. Aria expects boredom, but what she finds is Steph Nichols, her grandmother’s gardener. Soon, Aria is second-guessing who she is and what she wants to be, and a summer that once seemed lost becomes unforgettable — for Aria, her family, and the working-class queer community Steph introduces her to. It’s the kind of summer that changes a life forever.
Simone Jung is a publicist and social media strategist at Books Forward, an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, we help authors find success and connect with readers.