But I’ve seen that I’m not alone there after all. It’s a great reminder that many of life’s supposedly iconic moments or experiences are not universal after all.
Books let me experience many different kinds of romances, though: summer flings and serious long-term relationships; crushes requited and unrequited; good boyfriends and bad boyfriends. Romances chaste and sexy, same-sex and opposite-sex. For me, summer love was often about lying in a lawn chair (or on a beach towel, or on the couch) with a book, and testing out the romantic waters that I would soon navigate in real life.
If your “summers of love” are similar, here are a few favorite fictional romances, summer and otherwise:
Struts and Frets, by Jon Skovron: This book is mostly about the struggles of a garage band. But there’s also a friends-turn-into-more plotline, told from a guy’s point of view.
My Invented Life, by Lauren Bjorkman: Romances need not be smooth and perfect. Bjorkman’s Roz is in love (or at least in lust) with her sister’s boyfriend. Or … maybe with the mysterious beauty in the drama club. Or … maybe with the quiet guy in the corner. Roz is questioning, but the one thing that’s clear is that she has a great sense of humor.
Shrinking Violet, by Danielle Joseph. This book about a shy girl finding her voice as a sassy DJ features one of my favorite teen couples. The love interest is nice but not saccharine, attractive yet believable.
Saving Francesca, by Melina Marchetta: I’m normally not a fan of romances that start out as rivalry, but this one works. This is also a book about friendship and family, but plenty of sparks fly in the romance department.
The Order of the Poison Oak, by Brent Hartinger: This one actually is a summer romance--with hints that it lasts beyond summer. Two boys meet at camp, and their relationship is full of the longing, misunderstandings, and distractions worthy of any romantic comedy.
I’ll leave you with a summer romance from my own growing-up years: Ellen Conford’s Hail, Hail, Camp Timberwood, in which a girl at summer camp copes with a bully, fights her fears of learning to swim and ride a horse, and—of course—pairs up with a swoony guy.