Confession: Normally, I scrupulously avoid novels with love triangles. Too often, they’re stressful and messy and heartbreaking. Who needs that when the world is anxiety-inducing enough on its own?! And yet. And yet, every once in a while, a book comes around with a complicated love story that’s so relatable, so authentic, that it proves to be the exception to my rule. As it happens, I’ll forgive these books anything, even a sleepless night spent wondering how it’s all going to turn out. Want to see what I mean? Here are six books with love triangles you shouldn’t miss, even if you, too, hate love triangles:
You can’t choose who you love, a truth explored beautifully in DISOBEDIENCE, which inspired the movie by the same name starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams. Raised in a strict, Orthodox Jewish household, the rule-breaking Ronit knows not to expect the warmest of welcomes when she returns home for the funeral of her father, a rabbi. What she isn’t prepared for is the rush of emotion she feels upon learning her first love, Esti, has married Ronit’s cousin Dovid to fit into the heteronormative culture. Despite their best intentions, Ronit and Esti can’t stay away from each other, forcing them to consider what sacrifices they’re willing to make—and who they might hurt—to be together. Good luck putting this book down.
Finding The One is difficult at any age, let alone when you’re a teenager, so it makes perfect sense that Belly can’t help but crush on two boys at once. The problem? They happen to be brothers, and her next-door neighbors, and friends of her family that she’s spent all summer with for years. How awkward! This can’t possibly end well, right? Yet when in doubt, keep in mind that Jenny Han is the queen of contemporary YA romance for a reason, and you can trust that she will not only deftly navigate this beloved trope but also use it to remind you that there are no easy answers when it comes to matters of the heart, not least because different people may simply be right for you at different stages of your life.
Belly has an unforgettable summer in this stunning start to the Summer I Turned Pretty series from the New York Times bestselling author of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (soon to be a major motion picture!), Jenny Han.
Some summers are just destined to be pretty
Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer -- they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.
Look, we all deserve to have some fun and play the field before settling down, so how can you begrudge Bridget Jones that? You can’t! An enduringly popular rom-com, Helen Fielding’s BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY chronicles thirtysomething Bridget’s harrowing adventures in dating, through which she also gains more self-confidence and learns about herself. Sure, maybe it’s pretty obvious from the start which guy truly has the potential to be Bridget’s One True Love, but watching her figure it out is a grand old time. In case you need one more reason to forgive the Bridget/Mark/Daniel triangle, remember it’s inspired by PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, so you can rest assured the happy ending is worth all the drama.
Loosely based on Pride and Prejudice, this laugh-out-loud chronicle charts a year in the life of Bridget Jones, a single girl on a permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement. Caught between her Singleton friends and the Smug Marrieds, Bridget struggles to keep her life on an even keel—or at least afloat.
There’s no “right” decision for the heroine in Taylor Jenkins Reid’s ONE TRUE LOVES, and isn’t that true to life? Yes, Emma found her Mr. Right, Jesse, in high school. And yes, the two married in their twenties, eager to travel the world and build a future together. But only a year into marriage, Emma’s happiness is shattered when Jesse goes missing and is presumed dead. It takes years to even think about moving on, until an old friend, Sam, rekindles that desire in her. When he proposes, she joyfully says yes. Fate throws Emma another curveball, though, because she learns Jesse is in fact alive and has been trying to get back to her all along. Now she’s faced with an impossible choice between the two loves of her life. The nuances of this bittersweet tale are sure to stick with you and make you think about what you might do in the same tragic situation.
It’s not only angsty love triangles that have managed to worm their way into my heart—I’ve also been known to enjoy a romance featuring two supercute options. In Victoria Schade’s LIFE ON THE LEASH, businesswoman Cora Bellamy has devoted so much energy to her dog training company that she’s had zero time for dating. All of a sudden, though, she has not one but two new men in her life: a hot-but-taken client, Charlie, and a sweet-and-lovably-geeky friend, Eli. What seems like a no-brainer to pursue one guy becomes a hopelessly confusing situation when she realizes she may have feelings for both. Luckily, this is a rom-com, so there’s no risk of getting burned here—love will conquer all.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I couldn’t let this opportunity go by without mentioning one of my favorite love triangles in literature. Like Heather, I find love triangles messy and quite frankly too dramatic for someone like me who actively avoids conflict. But the dynamics between the three characters in this humorous thriller—Tade, a handsome, well-to-do doctor; Korede, a nurse with a huge crush; and Ayoola, Korede’s charming sister who might also be a serial killer—make this novel one I couldn’t put down.
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