Book List

Books to Read if You Loved Never Have I Ever

July 7, 2020
Jenny Lu

Netflix’s Never Have I Ever brought us all the feels—we laughed, we cried, and we experienced some extreme second-hand embarrassment. Both a laugh-out-loud comedy and a gripping exploration of grief, the show is dramedy and coming-of-age at its finest, brought to life by a charismatic, diverse cast. Our only complaint was that the series was so short! So, we’ve compiled a list of YA novels that hold a similar perfect balance of humor, spunk, and realness—to hold you over until the next season comes around.

Books to Read if You Loved Never Have I Ever

1. 10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon


The newest in Sandhya Menon’s series of related contemporary romance novels starring spunky Indian-American leading ladies, 10 Things I Hate About Pinky, is about rebellious social justice warrior Pinky Kumar who pretends to date Harvard-bound Mama’s boy Samir Jha. What begins as a summer scheme for Pinky to get her parents off her back and Samir to land an internship, ends up being a summer the both of them will never forget. With the same lovable stubbornness as Devi, Pinky is sure to capture your heart—as Samir captures hers.


2. Notes from a Former Virgin by Emma Chastain

By the end of the first episode of Never Have I Ever, Devi’s plans for a perfect sophomore year devolve into a mission to lose her virginity to dreamboat Paxton Hall-Yoshida. For another coming-of-age involving plans of losing your V-card gone awry, Notes from a Former Virgin is a hilarious and addicting Bridget Jones Diary meets Mean Girls story about a protagonist as lovably flawed as Devi. Chloe Snow chronicles her junior year as she navigates the highs and lows of family, friendship, school, and losing her virginity.


3. Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Take the gritty, introspective heart of Never Have I Ever and replace Devi’s outspoken weirdness with an unexpected plot twist—and you just might get Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything. Raquel Vasquez Gilliland’s debut is an astonishing, genre-bending novel about Mexican-American teen Sia Martinez who lives in a tiny Arizona town where ICE raids are rampant and whose mother has been missing for three years. Sia knows her mother must be dead, but every new moon Sia drives into the desert and lights candles to guide her mother home. Then one night, a blue-lit alien spacecraft crashes in front of Sia’s car…and it’s carrying her mom.


4. Turtle Under Ice by Juleah del Rosario

For those looking to lean into the more serious side of Never Have I Ever, Turtle Under Ice is a haunting and evocative novel-in-verse about Filipina-American sisters navigating questions of grief, identity, and guilt in the wake of their mother’s death and one sister’s mysterious disappearance.


5. When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey

For fans of Fabiola’s plotline, When We Were Magic is a celebration of female friendship and embracing your identity. Keeping your magic a secret is hard. Being in love with your best friend is harder. Alexis has always been able to rely on two things: her best friends, and the magic powers they secretly share. But when Alexis accidentally uses her magic to kill her prom date, Alexis and her friends must come together to right a terrible wrong, and Alexis must confront what caused her to make this magical mistake in the first place.


6. Start Here by Trish Doller

So we don’t even want to think about what would happen to Devi if she tried to man a sailboat, but while Start Here may be about a cross-country sailing trip, it is mainly an exploration of grief, friendship, and forgiveness—right in the vein of our favorite dramedy. Willa and Taylor were supposed to spend the summer after high school sailing from Ohio to Key West with their best friend, Finley. But Finley died before graduation, leaving Willa and Taylor 2000 miles to figure out how life works without Finley—and to decide if their friendship is worth saving.


7. This Might Hurt a Bit by Doogie Horner

Much like the way Devi has been avoiding her grief, This Might Hurt a Bit’s Kirby Burns has been running from his grief since the day his sister died. The day before the anniversary of her death, Kirby decides to sneak out of his house and pull a prank with his friends—and the consequences are disastrous. Doogie Hormer’s novel is a touching and hilarious page-turner, an authentic meditation on the pain of loss, and a testament to the challenge of getting paint to stick to cows.


8. Road Tripped by Pete Hautman


Another fellow master of running away from grief is Stiggy of Road Tripped. In a Devi-styled harebrained plan, Stiggy leaves town in his dad’s car armed with only his mom’s credit card and a tourist map, hoping to forget his mother who is a shell of her former self, his sort-of girlfriend who ghosted him, and, most of all, his grief over his father who recently took his own life. This captivating story from National Book Award-winning Pete Hautman is about loss, love, and changing your ways.

Looking for more? Check out these books to read if you’re obsessed with Outer Banks!

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