Quirkiness is like irony--hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Far more charming than weird, far less studied than cool, quirkiness is that indefinable quality that turns an idiosyncratic, slightly rigid neurotic into a lovable, idiosyncratic, slightly rigid neurotic.
It seems as if these days, we're seeing a lot more quirkiness in YA novels, which is good news for me, since I write YA novels, most recently Love and Other Foreign Words [Dial, $17.99], which are regularly described as quirky. But this isn't a new trend. If anything, I'm coming late to this party, following on the heels of some of my all-time favorite quirky YA love stories. Here are my 11 favorites--or 10 favorites plus mine, which is a favorite, I admit, so, yeah, that's 11, and this is just redundant. Also unnecessarily complicated but correct math.
Quirk Factor: Teenage genius with a knack for languages takes on sister's pretentious fiancé in a battle of epic proportions. Her weapons of choice? Spaghetti sauce, vocabulary, and bathroom ambushes.
Quirk Factor: John Green and David Levithan. Need I say more?
Quirk Factor: Love blossoms over comics and a Walkman on a school bus in the 80s. A Walkman! Google it.
Quirk Factor: Charlie, a shy sophomore, copes with some dark, difficult issues, writes about his masturbation routine and makes remarks like this: "Incidentally, I only have one cavity, and as much as my dentist asks me to, I just can't bring myself to floss."
Quirk Factor: Intellectually matched, social opposites Min and Ed experience first love and then heartache in this story--or more a fabulous diatribe, as Min tells it--written by Lemony Snicket.
Quirk Factor: Best first-date story ever, written by David Levithan who is, after all, David Levithan, and Rachel Cohn, whose author bio begins, "The great wish of my adolescence was to be diagnosed with scoliosis."
Quirk Factor: Bewigged--I should just stop right here because where else can you use the word bewigged in literature--Lola is called "delightfully screwy" because she really is delightfully screwy and the compliment, like Lola, just works.
Quirk Factor: Its hilarious subtitle: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park. Jacqueline Kennedy as role model and a deaf six-year-old figure prominently, too.
Quirk Factor: More a loving friendship than a romance, this novel has the most gorgeously sardonic, self-hating narrator, Greg, who will never get over the fact that people like him.
Quirk Factor: Withdrawn, bullied Don, who calls his step-dad the "step-fascist," bonds over mutual hatred of classmates and an enduring love of comics with goth girl Kyra who renames him Fanboy.