If You Shipped Brenda & Dylan On '90210', You Need To Read These 11 YA Novels
Confession time: Luke Perry, who passed away earlier this week, was my first celebrity crush. Yes, I was only a year old when Beverly Hills, 90210 premiered in 1990, but by the time I was four or five years old, I had become a massive fan. My mom (for reasons unknown) thought it was totally fine that I sat down to watch the show with her every week — probably because I was already enamored with Perry, thanks to the 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer film in which he starred. I'm also certain she figured that I, a very small child, would have no idea what was actually going on in the halls of Beverly Hills High.
Whatever the case, I owned all the 90210 merchandise you can imagine: bedsheets with the Peach Pit logo, a nightgown featuring all four of the cast's male stars, a full set of dolls, and of course, a poster of Jason Priestley (all the Luke Perry posters were sold out.) It's only as an adult, though, that I can acknowledge how formative an experience it was to have my age-inappropriate crush on Perry as 90210's resident bad boy with a heart of gold, Dylan McKay. I've tended to root for the gorgeous screw-up in most of my favorite media ever since (think Jess Mariano on Gilmore Girls) and Dylan and Brenda were probably the first couple I ever shipped.
Perry and Shannen Doherty became household names because of the show, of course, but their portrayal of Dylan and Brenda's relationship has remained one of their biggest contributions to pop culture. The star-crossed duo seemed fated from the start, and viewers watched from the edge of their seats as they romantically, dramatically got together — and then fell apart. And while there are some fans out there who ship Dylan and Kelly, I will always be a mega fan of the show's OG high school sweethearts.
And if you also love high school-set stories about the sweet, misunderstood bad boy falling in love with the awesome yet sheltered heroine, well, you're definitely going to want to read the 11 books below:
'By Your Side' by Kasie West
When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library with Dax Miller for an entire weekend, she doesn't think things could get any worse. Autumn doesn't know much about Dax, except that he's trouble. But she soon learns that there's more to him than meets the eye.
'Everything, Everything' by Nicola Yoon
When Olly — handsome, brooding, dressed all in black — moves in next door to Maddy — allergic to the outside world and sheltered at home with only her mother and a nurse for company — they fall for each other and into a forbidden romance that changes them both forever.
'The Summer I Turned Pretty' by Jenny Han
Belly has spent every summer of her life with sweet Jeremiah and rebellious Conrad, the sons of her mom's best friend. But this year, new feelings between Belly and Conrad begin to bubble over, and tragedy puts all three on a path they never expected.
'How To Love' by Katie Cotugno
I'm not saying that this book is what would have happened had that iconic Brenda/Dylan pregnancy scare led to an actual baby, but I'm not not saying that either. Three years after Sawyer LeGrand disappeared from Reena Montero's life, he suddenly returns home — to discover that he is the father of Reena's three-year-old daughter.
'One Of Us Is Lying' by Karen McManus
Yes, this book is technically a mystery. But at the heart of the story is a sweet romance between bad boy Nate and "good girl" Bronwyn — which, yes, develops as they try to solve a murder they've been accused of — that is sure to get anyone's Dylan and Brenda-shipping heart pumping.
'I Believe In A Thing Called Love' by Maurene Goo
Brenda fell for Dylan with very little prior dating experience, and so it was no suprise that she was sometimes a little in over her head... much like Desi Lee. When inexperienced Desi falls for elusive artist Luca Drakos, she employs the tropes of her favorite K-Dramas in the hopes of getting him to fall for her.
'The Education of Margot Sanchez' by Lilliam Rivera
When Margot Sanchez starts spending time with a neighborhood activist named Moisés (whom her father does not approve of) he helps her see her dysfunctional family, her ever-changing neighborhood, and the prep school friends she is desperate to be accepted by in a whole new light.
'The Beauty of the Moment' by Tanaz Bhathena
Susan is the new girl — she’s sharp and driven, and strives to meet her parents’ expectations of excellence. Malcolm is the bad boy, growing up without his mother and a negative relationship with his father. Susan knows exactly what she wants; Malcolm has no clue — until he meets her. Sound familiar?
'Alex, Approximately' by Jenn Bennett
When Bailey moves to the California town where her father lives, she hopes to meet Alex, the boy she has been talking to online. Instead she meets Porter Roth, the irritatingly hot security guard at the museum where she works. What she doesn't know is that Porter is Alex, and she is about to get swept up in his complicated world.
'The Victoria In My Head' by Janelle Milanes
If Dylan McKay had ever been in a band, he would have been something like Strand, the unattainably gorgeous lead singer of the group that Victoria is desperate to join. But her overprotective Cuban parents might stop her from pursuing her dream of musical stardom — and her feelings for Strand.
'There's Something About Sweetie' by Sandhya Menon (May 14)
When Ashish Patel (rebel with a broken heart) and Sweetie Nair (formidable athlete who is body-shamed by her family) are set up by their traditional Indian parents, they both have something to prove. But as they date, they realize there is an unexpected magic growing between them.