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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

YA Bloggers Want...Category-Defying Love: Cafe Saturday

Erica from Café Saturday is in the house today, but first we must give her a big shout-out for finishing the very first draft of her very first novel!


Plus she's also rocking NANOWRIMO this next month, so stop by her blog to cheer her on. I had the pleasure of meeting Erica through the blogosphere, and I got to meet her in person when she came through Seattle not long ago.

Welcome, Erica!


When it comes to relationships, books are full of swoon-worthy romances. But every now and then a book comes along about love – non-romantic love that defies labels – and it makes me want to crawl into the pages of that book and live there. In my experience, life is full of those gray, in-between areas where feelings and acceptance and honesty are twisted together into something that is more than simple friendship but not exactly romance.
These relationships refuse to fit into a nice box that the outside world can wrap a ribbon around and hold up as something beautiful. Sometimes these friendships don’t make sense to the outside world, and can even be messy and confusing to those involved, but they are the ones that can forever change the perspectives of the people in them. It’s a hard thing to write well, but when it is I want to stand up and cheer.

Here are some books that include examples of this kind of friendship:

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker


Thanks for stopping by, Erica!

Readers, what are some of the books that have struck you with their unconventional, non-romantic love relationships? Do you think a book is as compelling without the tension of a romantic relationship? I loved SWEETHEARTS and thought it was a terrific example of this, defying the norms of typical YA books. Have you read it? What did you think of the conclusion?

Comments are entered to win prizes (US only), and don't forget to check out the rest of What YA Bloggers Want, in honor of YALSA's Teen Read Week and National Book Month!


  1. Congrats Erica. Great choices of books. I need to read them all. I do think books can work without focusing on romance. A lot of fantasies may have a romance subplot but it's not the main focus of the story. And they are just as compelling.

  2. Wow. I had never really thought of this one. The boy meets girl plot is so prevelent in today’s YA, it’s hard to recognize anything else as noteworthy.
    I’m sitting here, attempting to remember a book that had this very interesting relashionship angle, and am having a hard time. The following ellipse should portray the time I sit and think... I can only think of girlfriend characters, or the relashionship between a parent and child.
    I can’t wait to find one of these and see what I think!

  3. It's interesting - I just saw a discussion about this very thing among booksellers: YA books that don't feature a romance of some sort. Both Sweethearts and How to Say Goodbye in Robot came up as great examples. I loved Sweethearts - it's one of my favorites!

  4. I really think a story can be compelling without any romance. I really like it when there's a YA book that had romance in it, but the characters never go too far, and the romance isn't the only part of the story. I think "Tunnels" by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams did a really good job at this. Also, all of Rick Riordan's books. I know they aren't really young adult, but I still love them, and think everyone should read them.

  5. I might have misunderstood the question but I'll answer it anyways. I recently read Rose Sees Red and I really enjoyed that YA book. There really isn't romance at all, other than a small crush. It's all about finding yourself and also kind of standing up for others. I really enjoyed it, plus I liked the history aspect.

    I really like Tell Me a Secret too for the same reason. Not too much romance but there was major character growth.

    I love YA romance but I am also happy to read well written books that don't really involve it.

    Truth Be Told
    Truthbetold004 at gmail dot com

  6. I am not sure If I can really answer this. I've been on a huge romance kick and all the books I have read have revolved around this. It doesn't mean I wont pick up a non romance book, but the ones I have grabbed off the shelf haven't been YA. I've read The Shack, which opens the doors to god and gives you something to think about, The Road was another really good read about an insane future and troubles that humanity faces. Revolutionary Road is another book that takes a look at the innerworkings of marriage and family. Atonement was another book for me that didn't center on the romance as much as a lie that was told through the sister and the events it triggered. Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner was a book that focused on mother's and children and the struggles they face. The only YA book that I can think of is Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews. I loved those books, she gave great descriptions and lots of struggle that was what I thought riveting as the books focused on a fractured family and the choices made and the effect it had on the children. I'm always open, if the the plot sounds good and I've heard great things, it's something I want to get my hands on. I'm still discovering YA and I know there is so much out there I need to get my hands on

  7. I have to admit, I do enjoy romance in my YA. However, I think books without romance can be wonderful, too! Recently I read Patrick Ness' The Knife of Never Letting Go, which had no romance. I loved the bond of the two main characters, and how despite being a boy and a girl, they focused on protecting each other rather than falling for each other.

    I also love familial relationships-- Elizabeth Knox's Dreamhunter is an example of a book with a variety of great family relationships (cousin-cousin, niece-uncle, father-daughter, etc)

  8. I read mostly romance books because I guess I'm a sucker for those happy endings. I haven't read a lot of books were the guy and the girl are just friends but I have read a great book where two girls are best friends and it is a really heart breaking story. The book is A Time for Dancing by Davida Wills Hurwin.
    I'm reading an ARC of Vixen right now and there is a good friendship between one of the female leads, Gloria and her friend Marcus.


  9. Congrats! I haven't really read a lot of these kinds of books but I have read and LOVED Sweethearts! The characters were so wonderfully written and I couldn't get enough of them!

  10. I really really loved this quote: "In my experience, life is full of those gray, in-between areas where feelings and acceptance and honesty are twisted together into something that is more than simple friendship but not exactly romance."
    I completely agree. I'll admit to liking romance in books, but only if it's not the foundation of the story. One of my favorite authors is Melina Marchetta and I love her books (Saving Francesca, Looking for Alibrandi, Jellicoe Road, The Piper's Son) because there's a strong romance, but only as a backdrop to everything else going on in the protagonist's life. It's all about balance for me--the white and black blending to make a beautiful, imperfect shade of grey. I love Sarah Rees Brennan's books, but the reason I go around forcing friends and family members her work isn't because of romantic connections (though those are admittedly awesome) but because of the friendships and familial relationships. Those types of books are a lot rarer in the YA market (or any market for that matter, now that I think about it) but I cherish them all the more when they come along because of their rarity.
    melodiousrevelry (at) gmail (dot) com

  11. I loved Will Grayson, Will Grayson! I definitely enjoyed it a lot not only because of the romance. It's also one of my favorite books this year.

    Hmmm.... Stolen by Lucy Christopher also struck me as a great and unconventional romance. I don't even know if I could even qualify it as a romance novel because the relationship between the main character and the love interest is so controversial. I thought it was a great book nonetheless. It was so weird rooting for the antagonist because I knew it was just wrong!

    Cialina from Muggle-Born.net

  12. I found one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I just read The Beautiful Between by Alyssa Sheinmel and had to come back and mention it!