Young Adult Romance Literature

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Romance is a rapidly growing genre that has developed throughout the ages. The genre itself hasn’t changed over the years by a very large degree because the subject matter that appeals to the readers hasn’t changed much. Since the readers love the way romance novels work themselves out, the genre has cropped itself into many subgenres that will appeal to a wide group of readers.

In the world of romance, the story always focuses around the central love of two individuals. The protagonist of the story, who is usually female, is always looking at the antagonist, who is usually male. This love is made clear from the very beginning of the story, but is never accomplished until the very end. The reason that romance is such an eye-catching genre is because of the heart pounding thrills that drive the story. The road blocks, obstacles, and struggles that each of the characters must face to develop this love between them is an emotional trip that any reader would love to explore.

Since the genre is such an exciting one to explore, many subgenres have sprung from its initial path. The young adult romance subgenre is geared toward young adults by having the protagonist be a young adult themselves and have issues that would be relatable to young adult lives. The novel draws them in by having the protagonist struggle through the same emotional issues of the young adult and in the end gain the love which they set out for.


One of the most popular genres for women to read is Romance. It is debatable when the romance genre was initiated, but it can be dated back to the 16th century. However, it is believed that the first romance novel was written by Samuel Richardson, who wrote the novel Pamela in 1740. Pamela was a book about a courtship that ends in marriage; thus, this happy ending and overall story plot focused on romance. This genre started to take shape in the 19th century, when Jane Austen, who is considered an expert in this genre, published romance stories from the heroine’s perspective. Soon after Austen's work became proclaimed, the Brontë sisters were inspired to write their own romance novels. These novels all followed a similar outline that became an essential basis for romance novels, which included a hero and a heroine, the heroine finds the hero to be utterly impossible, yet finds herself attracted to him, conflict and tension arise, and the hero ends up saving her in the end. The romance genre continued its popularity, and soon enough books were being adapted into movies (such as Pride and Prejudice and Gone with the Wind).

It wasn’t until the 1950s that subgenres in Romance literature started to grow. Harlequin, a Canadian publishing company owned by Richard Bonnycastle, decided to start distributing books in the U.S., and he started to publish romance books by Mills and Boon. Soon enough, these formulaic romance novels were selling so well that Harlequin decided to solely publish romance novels. He marketed these books in different places, such as super markets and drug stores, where women could easily find them. This was the birth of a whole new era of romance novel enthusiasts.

Although the formulaic romance novels still exist and are still quite popular, modern romance novels have evolved over time. The character of the heroine has become more independent, and sexual content has become far less taboo. This has created controversy and there have been issues with censorship, especially for young adults. The book Forever, by Judy Blume, is a story two teenagers who fall in love and discover their sexuality, and this book ended up being banned for the explicit sexual content and suggestive language. Some feel that romance books for young adults can help them explore their sexuality and the obstacles of young love.


Note: (S) designates titles of series

Gay/Lesbian Romance

Vampire Romance

Fantasy/Supernatural Romance

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