Young Adult Authors Say Many Lessons Learned From Love and Literature

Laughter is the Best Romance
February 13, 2010
Heart-to-Heart: Samantha Sommersby
February 15, 2010

Debut novelists in the Young Adult genre agree that the deep impact felt by teens in love too often gets overlooked by adults. Author of the popular WVMP series of adult novels, Jeri Smith-Ready makes her debut as a YA author this year with her novel SHADE (Simon Pulse; May 4). Smith-Ready recalls “hearing adults chuckle over our [teen] heartbreaks, like, “Oh, how cute. Remember when things were simple?” Losing someone you love is NOT cute or simple. It’s the end of the world.” In Smith-Ready’s exciting paranormal novel, her “main character Aura is already in love with her first boyfriend Logan at the beginning of the book. This first love is tested—by his rock star ambitions, their failed attempts at intimacy (aka sex), and finally by his death and ghosthood.”

Fellow Class of 2k10 member and debut author Shannon Delany (13 TO LIFE: A WEREWOLF’S TALE; St. Martin’s Press, June 22) also agrees adults often accidentally marginalize first love. “As teens, things are so new, exciting and fresh. Things feel sharper somehow—emotions run higher and hurt cuts deeper.” Delany’s main character, Jessie, struggles to figure out the difference between emotions that can grow into love versus the power of crushes.


“There’s a reason they’re called crushes,” Delany suggests. “Those emotions hit suddenly and are so powerful they’ll crush everything else out of you.”

For many teens, crushes and first love help define them. Denise Jaden, author of LOSING FAITH (Simon Pulse; September 7) says, “A crush is different from love. My main character explores both sides of this through the novel, and it’s not until she experiences true love that she really starts to find out who she is.” Jaden’s novel “opens with Brie Jenkins planning her “first time” with her boyfriend.” The author says, “I won’t say what happens, but Brie eventually ends up with another boy, the first boy she can really trust. There are a lot of firsts for these two as they find safety in each other in the midst of their very unsafe worlds.”

Crushes and the blossoming of love help author Shari Maurer’s character Emmi (CHANGE OF HEART; WestSide Books; April 23) cope. “As Emmi starts getting sick and things get serious, she notices that Sam seems to like her. The growing romance helps distract her from her fears about her health.” The ability teens have to focus on things their grown-up counterparts might glaze over as being of lesser importance gives Emmi strength. Maurer says, “…even when facing a medical crisis, she [Emmi] still has time to worry about boys and her friends and other seemingly minor things.”

Author Kristina McBride (THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES; Egmont; May 25) reminds readers that “there are many different types of love. Some are healthy. Some are not. I hope that after reading this [her debut novel], teens consider what types of love they will allow into their own lives.” McBride points out “They [different types of love relationships] are modeled around us daily, and many of us can relate personally to some of the unhealthy relationships found in THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES.”

Must Friendship End When Teen Romance Begins?

Denise Jaden says of her characters in LOSING FAITH, “I don’t think the romance is integral as much as the trust between them. If they had never kissed, their relationship as friends would have still been enough to bolster them into making the changes they needed to make in their lives.”

In debut author Judith Graves’ paranormal novel UNDER MY SKIN (Leap Books, March 27) “Eryn’s perception of love is tainted. She hasn’t let people into her heart for a long time. As the plot develops and the relationships grow, Eryn (a wolven shapeshifter) begins to view her new friends/family as pack. The ultimate love she could give. Since Eryn’s a fighter, this is shown through her desire to protect.” Graves reminds readers love is not just some romantic ideal, it’s also an important component to building strong friendships and families.

In Jennifer R. Hubbard’s recently released debut novel (THE SECRET YEAR) “the main character, Colt, has two relationships with girls that begin as friendships. In one case, he is drawn into a situation that’s more than he wanted, when his long-time friend Sydney needs closeness and support at a bad time in her life. Because Colt is not completely honest with her about how he feels, that relationship gets rocky very quickly, hurting not only the romance but the friendship.” Hubbard adds, “In the other case, Colt sustains a more enduring relationship with a girl named Kirby, and it’s no accident that he is much more honest with her from the beginning. In the case of Kirby, the friendship didn’t end when the romance began; the romance was better because of the friendship.”

“Love and other powerful types of emotions can test friendships, as happens in 13 to Life,” Delany says. “It doesn’t mean that friendship has to end when love begins, but friendships will change. Some will deepen and some will dissolve. But life, like werewolves, is all about change.”

Is Teen Love Built to Last?

Although author Jeri Smith-Ready is quick to point out that there is probably no such thing as the “normal teenage experience,” she hopes the strength and growth of the relationship in SHADE resonates with readers. “Even death can’t destroy Logan and Aura’s love. His ghost remains a huge part of her life, which solves some problems (sex is no longer an issue) but brings lots of new challenges.”

Delany’s characters face challenges of their own. “As if being a teen isn’t tough enough, the struggles between love and concepts of loyalty, honesty and friendship put Jessie and Pietr to the test time and time again. Love is seldom simple and they have things pressing in on them from all sides as the story unfolds.” Delany says that although her paranormal definitely has what her editor likes to call “werewolf-y goodness” and “supernatural funk” it’s still very much a novel about normal teen issues.

Smith-Ready says, “I think for a lot of people, that first love is the one we hang onto harder and longer than any other. We fight for it to last, sometimes way longer than it should.”

Love Changes Things

If characters are supposed to grow and evolve during the course of novels, is love a major force pushing those changes? Of her novel LOSING FAITH, Denise Jaden says “Finding a safe place to be herself changes everything for Brie. She no longer needs to strive to fit in, and for the first time, she can see who she really is.” Sometimes the power of love doesn’t just change us, it changes our perception and our entire world.

In the beginning of Maurer’s CHANGE OF HEART “Emmi and her best friend Becca had a pact that they wouldn’t have sex in high school. I like the fact that they had empowered themselves like this. Things change as the story progresses that make them question their decision, but it’s a great thing for a teen girl to be able to feel like she can control this part of her life.”

In UNDER MY SKIN “The feelings wolven shapeshifter Eryn develops for Alec – a human, and Wade – a vampire, are confusing and scary. The bonds these three characters forge are crucial to Eryn’s motivations throughout the story, causing her to take risks, to face her inner demon and come out the other side a changed person.”

And things aren’t static for the characters in THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES either. “As Tessa’s best friend, Noelle, returns home after a two-year abduction, Tessa struggles to connect with her and regain the lost friendship. Many things get in the way, one of which is the new (very hot) guy named Max. Tessa’s relationship with Max causes her to question everything she has done since Noelle’s kidnapping. Namely, her failure to live her own life.”

“Love does remarkable things to us,” 13 TO LIFE’s author claims. “It blinds us at the same time it betters us. It tests our perceptions and helps define us in both life and literature.”

Change can often bring epiphany as it does for CHANGE OF HEART’s Emmi. “Without giving too much away, I think she [Emmi] thinks love can only be one way, but realizes that love sometimes comes from places that surprise you,” Maurer states.

With Valentine’s Day upon us, dances and the inevitable break ups, first dates and high drama, some debut YA authors hope we all remember to try and be patient and supportive. As LOSING FAITH’s author Denise Jaden points out, “Teens can have much more depth than they’re often given credit for,” and “all relationships, teen or otherwise, are as unique as the individuals involved in them.”

The authors quoted above may be contacted separately through the following websites and are receptive to interviews:

  • Jeri Smith-Ready (YA paranormal; SHADE; Simon Pulse; May 4)
  • Shannon Delany (YA paranormal; 13 TO LIFE: A WEREWOLF’S TALE; St. Martin’s Griffin; June 22)
  • Denise Jaden (YA contemporary; LOSING FAITH; Simon Pulse; September 7)
  • Shari Maurer (contemporary YA; CHANGE OF HEART; WestSide Books; April 23)
  • Kristina McBride (contemporary YA; THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES; Egmont USA; May 25)
  • Judith Graves (paranormal YA; UNDER MY SKIN; Leap Books; March 27)
  • Jennifer R. Hubbard (contemporary YA; THE SECRET YEAR; Viking)

These authors and more can also be contacted through Class of

Comment to Win
Shannon Delany’s also going to give away a couple prizes to one lucky random commenter. The winner will score a 13 TO LIFE pin (shiny!), some tasty chocolate and a copy of Rachel Hawthorne’s trade paperback MOONLIGHT. One winner will be chosen by February 28th!


  1. I love it the take on the new books. Thanks for doing the blog tour..

  2. Heather Long says:

    Thanks for dropping by — these are some terrific authors with terrific novels. I can't wait to read them!

  3. Liyana says:

    I love the Class of 2k10 and learning more about theit books. It helps me understand the characters' motivations better.

  4. Kristen says:

    I can't wait to read all of these books. THey all look so amazing!!

  5. Some great books! Can't wait to read them! What an awesome post. I still have minimal contact with my first "love" and I remember all to well the things we did and what we went through to try and stay together, when the whole of society, including my family, tried to keep us apart.

    Looking back, I realize how stupid I was, and how wrong that relationship was for me, but back then it was life or death. We had to be together and nothing could stop us. Except the law. Story for another time, perhaps.

    Happy Valentine's day!

  6. Note: I'm trying to tweet it via the link, but it tells me the URL points to the wrong story.

  7. Heather Long says:

    If you hit the "retweet" button, it should work, it may be too long, I usually remove the RT Tweetmeme on it.

  8. Margay says:

    I think the teen years are the most sensitive and character-building of all and it is nice to know that these authors are handling them so well. We need more people like this, people who actually gt teens and don't minimalize their experiences. I wish they were around when I was a teen!


  9. Dani. says:

    Class of 2k10 rocks! I want to read everyone of their books! :]

    Ahhhh 2010 really is the year of the books!

  10. Kate says:

    I'd love to be entered! Thanks for the giveaway!!

    kpic724 (at) gmail (dot) com

  11. There are some FANTASTIC books coming out this year by new authors and established authors alike. I am peeing my pants to read Shade and 13 to Life…

    Please enter me for the contest! Thank you 🙂

  12. loreleimarsh says:

    Pretty excited. Hope to win!
    Laura from Tattooed Books
    tattooedbooks AT gmail DOT com

  13. Karen says:

    As a high school librarian, I see the effects of teen romance and crushes all the time. I'm so glad YA writers are there to help teens through these times!

  14. Virginia C says:

    Happy Valentine's Day! A great post and giveaway. Love does indeed change everything…it will make you or break you, but you won't be the same! Romantic fiction serves two great purposes. It enhances and reinforces our own similar experiences, or it takes us to a fantasy world we can only inhabit in dreams.

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  15. Spav says:

    I would love to read the book. Count me in, please!


  16. Robin K says:

    Happy Valentines Day! I cannot wait to read these books!

  17. Kathy Martin says:

    The class of 2K10 sure does have a lot of fantastic books coming out. I am looking forward to read so many of them. Very nice, thought provoking post!

    kmartin802 AT gmail DOT com

  18. Justine says:

    Perfect for Valentine's Day! Wow, I love reading all about the romance aspect in the books. It's my favourite part of the book, actually. I'm a sucker for these things. Haha. Anyway, I'll make sure to check these books. They all sound amazing!


  19. I can't wait to read all these books but especially Shade by Jeri. I remember when I was 14 I wished I could see ghost my first real crush died 13 yrs ago today! and I would have loved to see him now I'd probably be freaked out.

  20. I loved THE SECRET YEAR & am so excited to read the others 🙂 Happy V-day (or happy anti-V-day for Shannon, LOL)

  21. Jessy says:

    All these books sound so great!

  22. donnas says:

    Great post. I am really looking forward to reading the 2K10 authors.

  23. InABox says:

    I could give or take the chocolate, but I definitely want to try out Moonlight. 🙂

    whatinabox at gmail dot com

  24. Caitlin says:

    I loved to be entered!!! Thanks for the giveaway!!!

    Idk if u need this but my e-mail is

  25. lanna-lovely says:

    I actually got really mad about pretty much the same issue a little while ago where a guy in his early 20's was lecturing teen girls, saying they know nothing about love and all that and said it's not real love until you move in with someone and have to live with their flaws everyday (actually, I think he even said it's not real love until you're over 18… what warped logic). =/

    Anyway, great post

  26. ikkinlala says:

    It looks like I've got a bunch more books to look for!

    ikkinlala AT yahoo DOT ca

  27. pickle.06(at)hotmail(dot)com

    I would love to be entered. Fantastic giveaway! Thank you!

  28. Yay! That's so cool! The book covers look fantastic! Sounds like a very interesting read!!!

  29. Stacey says:

    Great Books!!! Super excited to read them ALL!

    secsec1 (at) gmail (dot) com

  30. vonze says:

    I'm an aspiring writer and I feel that the majority of my story ideas come from experiences I had as a teen.

    Thanks for interviewing so many authors! Very interesting!

  31. Brodie says:

    Great post! It was really interesting reading their different perspectives and has encouraged me even more now to check out many of those books upon release. Which I can't wait for!

    I'd love to be entered in the giveaway if it's open internationally.


  32. This year is going to be expensive huh…Class of 2010 are fantastic, some REALLY exciting books coming out this year and I want all of them!! Therefore I'm trying to enter as many competitions as I can! Thanks for the contest, please enter me 🙂

  33. Anonymous says:

    Hello !
    Am excited to buy all these books for my daughter ! (and for me !!!)

  34. God's gal says:

    Ooh, shiny! How totally awesome.
    I'm all for this contest. It's a blast to know about this. Sounds scrumptious to be sitting down, to curl up with good chocolate and an even better book. Here's hoping!

  35. FireandIce says:

    Thanks so much for the giveaway! I am dying to read 13 to Life!!!

  36. Holly says:

    A contest with chocolate and a book, i think yes!



  37. Emily W. says:

    This giveaway seems awesome! Great post, as well.


  38. jada17 says:

    Wow nice Giveaway! I hope I win!!

  39. Kelly says:

    This is such a great post. Part of why I love YA lit. is because the love stories and emotions seem more real to me and are often more tastefully written than adult fiction books. Great giveaway! Please enter me!

  40. one6ylady says:

    Wow… now I have MORE books to add to my collection. I'm excited.


  41. elaing8 says:

    These books all sound great.I'm really looking forward to 13 to Life.