Do you remember that story where the broken guy meets the broken girl and together their love pulls them from the bowels of their crappy lives and into a world of hope and possibility? Well, my newest release Bleed Like Me is not that book. I didn't write that story because that's not the way my teenage life went. I was definitely the broken girl and I definitely dated the broken guy, but instead of our love bringing rainbows and unicorns into our existence, it actually pulled us further into what I like to call the vat of suck.
That was my truth and I suspect the truth of a lot of teenagers. Which is why I'm so grateful for bad boyfriend/girlfriend stories to exist in YA books. Not because I'm interested in leeching the hope out of young people, but more because I'm interested in young people understanding that sometimes dating and relationships can go very wrong.
Here are nine YA books in which it becomes abundantly clear that the main character is dating the wrong person:
Terra Elan McVoy's Criminal: Nikki is willing to do anything for true love. Including covering up a murder committed by her boyfriend.
Kelley York's Hushed: Archer might be the perfect guy for Evan, if Archer weren't so busy vengeance killing everyone who hurt his best friend Viv.
Amanda Grace's But I Love Him: Ann thinks she's met the perfect guy at the start of her senior year, until she gets into a cycle of dating violence with Connor that causes her to give up everything important to her.
Erica Lorraine Scheidt's Uses for Boys: Anna's entire identity is wrapped up into what she can do for boys. In a series of dysfunctional relationships, Anna thinks she is the one in control, until she meets Sam and the pieces of her life begin to fall apart.
Tabitha Suzuma's Forbidden: Theirs could have been a perfect love story, based on understanding and shared experience, if it weren't for the fact that they're siblings.
Brandy Colbert's Pointe: Theo is coerced into a relationship with a much older man as a thirteen-year-old girl. She thinks she has it all under control until years later when she learns the man was responsible for the abduction of her best friend.
Julie Murphy's Side Effects May Vary: Harvey has always loved Alice, but when she's diagnosed with stage-four cancer and convinces him to help her complete a nasty, get-even bucket list, the path to forgiveness is a long and life-changing one.
Carrie Mesrobian's Sex and Violence: Evan prefers sex without drama. He cultivates a carefree personality and is able to almost immediately target THE GIRL WHO WILL SAY YES, until he chooses the wrong girl and must face horrible consequences.
Christa Desir's Bleed Like Me: Gannon's efforts to be invisible and make it through high school unscathed are no match for the controlling and manipulative Michael Brooks who drags her into an addictive relationship that nearly destroys them both.