To quote the inimitable RuPaul, “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” The characters in the following books are trying to do just that, and I encourage you to join them.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Tough Ari meets sensitive Dante at a critical time in his adolescence, and through the course of a summer starts to chip away at the walls he’s built around himself. This is a slow-burning stunner of a story that is full of lush language, and one that deftly explores the challenges of two Mexican-American boys from immigrant families wrestling with their cultural and sexual identities. A must-read.
Wife 22 by Melanie Gibson
Due to her participation in an online study about modern marriage, Alice begins to question the rut in which she finds herself after 20 years of seemingly happy marriage. Complicating the matter is her growing feelings for the mysterious and anonymous researcher of the study. Alice’s mid-life crisis is touching, funny and at times poignant, even if you guess the twist at the end long before it happens.
Anyone but You by Jennifer Crusie
Self-doubt can be a formidable roadblock to relationship bliss. Recently divorced Nina’s newly adopted, lovingly lethargic Basset Hound named Fred gives her a chance to meet the charming and handsome Alex, a doctor who is ten years her junior. Sparks fly, but both let their insecurities interfere with the chance for a romantic relationship. Jennifer Crusie fills this quick read with her trademark snappy dialogue, several laugh-out-loud moments, and a refreshingly honest look at body image, age and the pressures people put on themselves to feel worthy of love.
Though slightly less romantic, the following books on this theme are also worth checking out:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Dive from Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer
The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd