Perhaps I’m just being nostalgic for my own teen self, but I always feel a pang of empathy with the characters in teen romances. I get drawn straight back to that time of first love – how complicated, confusing, awkward, but totally romantic it all was. In Heartside Bay I get to bring this all to life again through lots of different couples. Love is a story that never ages. There are countless brilliant young romances littered through the bookshelves of time, full of secret crushes, first kisses, rejection and broken hearts. It’s hard to choose between them all, but here are my top 10 teen couples of all time:
Katherine and Michael – Forever by Judy Blume
Blush! This was the book we all hid under the pillow and pretended not to have read a dozen times. Judy Blume’s 1975 novel was controversial in its time, taking readers through the swirly waters of virginity and first love. If only Katherine and Michael’s relationship had made it to the end of the novel! But it doesn’t really matter that it didn’t. They taught us about first love and first times and I for one will always be grateful.
Katniss and Gale/ Peeta – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I still can’t decide who to choose! Gale or Peeta? Peeta or Gale? Katniss can’t really decide either, at least for the first two books. There’s no obvious choice (come on, we all knew that it was always Edward not Jacob), and that’s what makes this love triangle so perfect. They’re both hot, they’re both loyal and brave, and they both love Katniss. Who wouldn’t want to be in Katniss’s position? (Ignoring the whole ‘fight to the death’ bit, of course…)
Bella and Edward – The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer
“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb…” And I couldn’t help but fall in love with the lion either. There was barely a girl in the land who didn’t secretly, even a little bit, want to be Bella Swan: the quiet schoolgirl who fell for the impossibly gorgeous, dangerous, brooding Edward Cullen.
Cathy and Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The ultimate star-crossed lovers, sneaking on to my list even though it isn’t strictly a teen read. Bella Swan in Twilight loves them – and so do I. The thwarted passion of Heathcliff and Cathy has angered and obsessed readers for centuries. Love them or hate them, they’re one of the greatest stories of love and anguish ever written.
Hermione and Ron – the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling
I was shocked when JK Rowling said recently that she shouldn’t have put Hermione and Ron together. I hadn’t doubted them for a second. We saw these two grow up together, bicker with each other, infuriate each other, and ultimately fall in love. Opposites attract! It was blindingly obvious from the ball in The Goblet of Fire onwards. No one could make the other one happier: not Viktor Krum, not Fleur Delacour (not that Ron had a chance with her) – no one. And the idea of Harry and Hermione? Sorry JK, but no way.
Sam and Grace – Shiver, Linger and Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
I love Sam and Grace purely for the fact that they never once doubted each other or their love. Sure, he was a werewolf for half the year (his being a wolf is controlled by the temperature) but that didn’t mean their destiny to be together should be any different. From that first moment that Grace looked into his yellow eyes, she knew he was the one – and she made sure nothing kept them apart.
Saba and Jack – Dustlands trilogy by Moira Young
Saba isn’t like most heroines – she’s feistier, stronger, tougher and more discerning. The fact that Jack melts her heart (and literally makes her heartstone burn) makes him as hot as they get. Neither of them are perfect and their relationship is rocky, but it’s also real and passionate, and beneath their tough exteriors we can see how much they need each other. I don’t know how it’s going to end in Raging Star (out in May), but I’ll be rooting for them to the end.
Cassandra and Simon – I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
This book is a pure classic, and so is the unfinished love story between Cassandra and Simon. Chaste kisses and yearning plus the pressures of time, money and family… and why, why did he think her sister Rose was ever a better option? It frustrates me that we never know for sure that they’ll get together, but at least we’re sure that they’re both in love with the other, and each desperately hopeful that it’ll all be OK. It was all OK, right?
Isabel and Conrad – The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Isabel had a crush on Conrad from the time she was a little girl. How often does that work out well? Jenny Han’s trilogy is one of the most gripping, romantic and ‘let me just jump right into that page’ romances of recent years. I wanted it to go on and on, and thank goodness, yes, there was a happy ending. Perfect.
Hazel and Augustus – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” Just as Hazel falls in love with Augustus, I fell in love with this funny and heart-breaking love story. Hazel and Augustus are smart and sarcastic and unflinching as they acknowledge that, though their relationship might not last forever, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. This is the kind of love we all wanted at 16.
Books one and two in Cathy Cole's Heartside Bay series are out now, published by Scholastic.