It’s Valentine’s Day! What better date to talk about my favorite diverse fictional couples? Of course, I scream about my ships quite often, but this day is special for it, so I just had to do a post.
Quite often, romances in YA feature straight, white, cisgender, neurotypical, and able-bodied characters. As an advocate for diversity in YA and simply a reader/blogger who enjoys reading diversely, I wanted to make today’s post not just about my favorite romances, but my favorite diverse romances.
Non-diverse characters aren’t the only ones who deserve love, and in YA, there’s a huge difference between the number of romances with non-diverse characters and ones with diverse characters. It’s sad.
Also, a lot of the time when I read bloggers’ favorite OTPs posts, they only feature white, cishet, able characters. And it’s disappointing. YA does have a lack of diverse romances, but they’re out there. Look for them!
(Note: I want to quickly acknowledge all the YA protagonists who are just as strong without a partner. Romance is a big thing in YA, but there are a lot of excellent stories that don’t revolve around or even involve a romantic relationship. A special mention to my aromantic/asexual YA characters without romances- however few that number is, it’s slowly growing, and that’s amazing.)
Without further ado, let’s get into my top 8 diverse couples of YA. In this case, I’m counting a couple as diverse if one or both characters have a specific marginalization. This list is in no order whatsoever, I cannot choose my top couple. All of these are absolutely swoon-worthy romances.
KAZ/INEJ FROM SIX OF CROWS BY LEIGH BARDUGO
I have to start this list out with this couple: Kaz, a disabled boy, and Inej, a WOC. This whole book is astoundingly diverse, but I adore this couple with all my heart. Their relationship is slow-burning and beautiful, for reasons you’ll see if you read the book.
NATASHA/DANIEL FROM THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR BY LEIGH BARDUGO
This is an interracial romance between the two main characters Natasha (who is Black) and Daniel (who is Korean). It’s one of the cutest and most well-developed relationships I’ve read, even though it takes place over a very short amount of time.
CAS/SWIFT FROM THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US BY EMILY SKRUTSKIE
We see f/f relationships in fantasy quite rarely, and this book is so perfect. It’s about this relationship, yes, but also features a fast-paced and intriguing plot- pirates! sea monsters! What more could you want? The relationship, as well as the whole book, is amazing.
SIMON/BLUE FROM SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA BY BECKY ALBERTALLI
This is one of the cutest books you’ll ever read, and the romance between Simon and Blue is just adorable. In the book, the identity of Blue is hidden, and you’ll be guessing until the review who he is.
JESPER/WYLAN FROM SIX OF CROWS BY LEIGH BARDUGO
This couple. These two adorable boys. I don’t have words to describe how much I love them, but know that they are one of my very favorite parts of this book, and I love everything about this book, so that means a lot.
NIX/KASH FROM THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE BY HEIDI HEILIG
Nix is Chinese, and Kaz is Persian, and they are so cute. The sass! This series has a lot of great things about it, but one of my personal favorites is this romance.
RHY/ALUCARD FROM A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC BY V.E. SCHWAB
You’ll adore these two male characters separately for their own reasons, but together…They are so, so perfect, as are these books. I’m hoping that in book three, we’ll see them together even more, because from what we have seen… Well, let me just say there is tension. A lot of it.
MIEL/SAM FROM WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS BY ANNA-MARIE MCLEMORE
Beautiful is the only word I can describe this book with. It’s a beautiful story, beautiful portrayal of a transgender boy, with beautiful writing and a beautiful romance. And no, I’m not exaggerating. Both characters are also different races: Miel is Latina and Sam is Pakistani.
I try and read diversely, and am only looking to improve with each year. These are some of my favorite diverse romances ever, in all the years I’ve been reading. I know I can still do improve. I read a majority of “diverse” books with queer characters, because that is what I relate to, but looking at my shelves, there is a definite lack of other types of diversity. I hope that number grows and grows, because at least for me, I feel ashamed that the part of this list other than LGBTQ+ couples wasn’t larger, even though this is only a snapshot of my favorite diverse books.
Still, I hope you find at least a few recommendations in this list and decide to check them out! Diverse romances are just as good-if not better- as non-diverse ones, because they truly reflect the diverse world around us.
What are your favorite diverse couples in books? Are any of them the same as mine? Why do you want diversity in YA romances? What is a pairing you have yet to read in YA but you desperately want?
Thanks for reading!