Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Paperback's Pondering's: The Lack of Diversity in YA Romance

If there's one thing I love about romance, it's that it's so easy to get through. I love how it can be a light refresher after a really dark book, or pull you out of a reading slump. Sometimes a good fluffy romance is all you need. I have read my fair share of contemporary romance novels, we're talking all in the YA genre here, and one thing that I've noticed about them is that they're all really cookie-cutter. And oh-so-un-diverse.

It's so annoying that every time I read a romance the characters are boy-girl, white, cis, girl has red hair, and usually has to fight a blonde haired cheerleader for her love. It's just so annoying that 99% of the books in the YA romance category all seem the same. I need a change!

I don't really wanna call an author out, but one observation I've made is about Jennifer E. Smith. I've read a lot of her romance, chick-lit YA books, and I think she has a great knack for romance, but all of her characters are the same! I'd love for her to go into more diversity in her books, because I find them seriously lacking.

It's also really weird how many romances stereotype on hair colour. Most romances like to paint the picture of the ditzy blonde girl who doesn't deserve love. Since when did blonde become a stereotype for evil? And apparently red hair is a symbol for an introverted smart girl who will eventually get the guy. What's with the hair colour grouping?

There is definitely an absence of LGBT representation, and PoC representation. I for one think it would be very cool for more romance writers to explore interracial couples, as they do exist, my parents are living proof of it! The point I'm trying to make is, I'm getting tired of reading about redheads and blue eyes. And I know not all romance writers are like this, but in my experiences, the books I'm reading are all extremely lacking.

What's your favourite diverse romance book? Give me all the rec's!

Emily @ Paperback Princess


  1. Agree! It's like: where are you finding these cookie-cutter people? Because honestly, very few people follow the script like that!

    As far as YA LGBTQ+ romance goes - The Invisibles by Francis Gideon & Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan are the only romance-genre, as opposed to books-which-happen-to-have-romance-in-them, that I've read (both M/M.) I think David Levithan's written a bunch more - inc. one called Will Grayson, Will Grayson, that he wrote with John Green (I know you love John Green, so if you haven't read it, it might be worth a try?)

    1. I have read Will Grayson, Will Grayson and I really did love it! Although I wish there had been a bit more romance in it. Thanks for the recommendations! I've only read that one Levithan book, so I'm definitely going to check out the one you recommended.

  2. I recommend Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour. It's a lesbian love story with a bit of mystery, and if I remember correctly, one of the main characters is latinx. I think. She's a woman of colour, I'm sure. And of course there's Eleanor and Park. Yes, Eleanor's a readhead, but Park is Korean. The Art of Being Normal is a bit romantic, if my memory is working, and that's heavily LGBT.

    1. Oooh ok! I think I've heard of Everything Leads to You before but I wasn't sure what it was about, but it seems interesting! I also desperately need to read The Art of Being Normal, I feel like everyone loves it! I also really loved Eleanor and Park :) Thanks Charlotte!

  3. It is so sad that we don't find that much diversity in romance YA. I wish we could have more characters that I could relate to.
    I don't know if you've read Simon vs. The Homosapiens Agenda yet, but everytime I think about diversity and romance, this book comes to mind! I also really loved Everything Everything recently and I hope to find more books like this one! If you find more good books, please share with us!

    1. I have read both of those books but I found them so amazing! This is definitely an issue that needs to be brought up, but I'm glad that there are books like these out there that push the boundaries.

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  5. just hold tight! i've been seeing a *ton* of lgbt+ YA books scheduled to release this year and in early 2017 up on netgalley and edelweiss so there's plenty about to come your way. poc/interracial romance is still rare, though. that fact makes me sad as i myself am mixed race and so not only were my parents an interracial couple, but by the fact that i am multiracial and not just biracial, that means that i can't date anyone from any race without it technically being an interracial relationship. and i think it's important to model interracial relationships to show that we can all come together and love each other. anyhoo, here are my recommends.
    poc/interracial romance:
    -everything, everything by nicola yoon
    -the sun is also a star by nicola yoon (releasing november 2016)
    -eleanor and park by rainbow rowell
    -the to all the boys i've loved before trilogy by jenny han
    -aristotle and dante discover the secrets of the universe by benjamin alire saenz

    lgbt+ romance
    -aristotle and dante discover the secrets of the universe by bejamin alire saenz
    -every day by david leviathan (explores the concept of gender fluidity through a magical realism twist)
    -girl mans up by m-e girard
    -georgia peaches and other forbidden fruit by jaye robin brown
    -everything leads to you by nina lacour
    -you know me well by nina lacour and david levithan
    -the inside of out by jenn marie thorne
    …and many more [lgbt+ romances] that I can’t remember their names but I remember seeing on netgalley

    there’s also 3-6 ya fantasies with lgbt+ main characters set to release this fall/winter/spring, so definitely hit me up if you’re interested in knowing more about those.

    1. I've read a few of these but the ones I haven't read are definitely going on my tbr now! Thanks so much! I actually just recently finished Ari and Dante and it will by far be my favourite book of 2016. It was just so incredible!

  6. I agree, such a shame to find a gorgeously fluffy romantic book with so little diversity. This is such an important discussion to have.