I like to read light, fluffy books in the summer...who doesn't? So I've been reading lots of young adult contemporary romance mixed in with my Harry Potter and classics. :) Lately, though, I've noticed that they all seem to have a similar formula so I thought I'd explore that here and see what you think. Note: none of this will be outright spoilers for any of the books mentioned, but general summaries that would be on the back of the book anyway. Also, just because there's a formula, doesn't mean these aren't good books. Several of these are 4-5 star books for me! What can I say? I'm a sap for a love story. And I'd love to hear your thoughts (if you agree or not) and suggestions below!
1. It's summertime (duh). There is lots of sunshine, but there will probably be at least one rainstorm that the main characters will get caught out in.
2. The setting is usually on the coast somewhere and near a large body of water (lake, ocean, large pool). Thus, the main uniform is bikinis and board shorts with an occasional sundress and cargo shorts thrown in.
3. Main characters are almost always neighbors. They've either known each other forever or have never spoken. No middle ground. If they are not neighbors, one of them is a tourist, just visiting for the summer.
4. One of the characters realizes that they are in love with the other, somehow conveys that to the unsuspecting other, and suddenly they are in a serious relationship.
5. One or both sets of parents usually disapproves of this relationship because they are: too young, on the wrong side of the tracks, have a giant family, too smart/responsible to fall for the slacker, etc... This does not keep the young lovers apart and usually pushes them even closer.
6. Boy & Girl are super happy, spending their days swimming and playing water sports, eating ice cream, looking at the stars, and watching fireworks. Occasionally one or both will work, but it does not detract from gazing into each other's eyes and sharing their deepest secrets.
7. The BFF (usually of the girl) will feel neglected due to the relationship and lash out at a most inopportune moment. Sometimes she will apologize and help fix things, other times the friendship is completely ruined.
8. The summer and relationship go along beautifully until roughly the middle of July. Then, something disastrous happens (a death, cheating, lying, etc...) and the relationship is put to the test. Usually, this means a breakup and dating other people (bonus if it's a sibling of boy/girlfriend).
9. This drama will continue until about the last 5-10 pages of the book. Then, something big will happen again to bring the two back together. Someone will have an epiphany, a secondary character will convince one of them that they are being stupid, another accident (not life-threatening) will occur, and so on.
10.Both characters will realize that they made mistakes and apologize. They kiss and make up, resolve to be together no matter what gets in the way (50 states, college, ex-girlfriends, whatever) and the book ends. There are generally fireworks at the end of the story.
Bonus: The title has either "Summer", "Boy", or "Next Door" in it. If the book is called "The Summer I Met the Boy Next Door", you have the trifecta of contemporary romance and never let it go. ;)
Books that I have read that fit this formula:
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler (review)
The Summer I Turned Pretty series by Jenny Han
The Boys Next Door series by Jennifer Echols (almost a trifecta!)
Books that I haven't read yet that I think will fit this formula:
How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
The Boys of Summer series by CJ Duggan
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (I'm reading this right now!)
Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin