14 Diverse Romances that Deserve Their Own Movie Adaptations
Because it isn’t only straight white people who fall in love
Let’s give a big round of applause to Crazy Rich Asians for topping the box office two weekends in a row! The general plot of the book (and the movie) is basic and universal: girl meets boy’s family, and family does not approve. Cue the shenanigans. The movie is fun, but what’s driving the hype is that Crazy Rich Asians is the first major Hollywood movie with a predominantly Asian American cast in 25 years. That’s right, it took Hollywood 25 years since The Joy Luck Club to produce a movie with an Asian cast.
Hollywood is infamously bad with diversity, but it’s movies like Crazy Rich Asians that get the ball rolling towards more nuanced representation. That being said, Crazy Rich Asians alone is not enough. One movie can only represent a few people, and in this case it’s the wealthy Singaporean Chinese elites. That’s a pretty narrow scope.
We need more great books up on screen as adaptations to tell more stories. Netflix is doing its part with the casting of Asian American actress Lana Condor in the lead role of the recent hit adaptation of Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and there are many more wonderful characters that have been sidelined or completely erased in movies. We need more diverse meet-cutes, star-crossed lovers, and rom-coms, because straight white people aren’t the only ones who fall in love.
Here is a list of romances that can follow in the trail-blazing path of Crazy Rich Asians and shine the spotlight for underrepresented groups.
When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri
Katie Daniels is drinking away her sorrows after being dumped by her art curator fiancé for her best friend when she bumps into Cassidy, a fellow lawyer and a confident woman wearing a man’s suit. Katie (who always thought of herself as straight) finds herself intrigued by Cassidy and a romance ensues. Vogue called When Katie Met Cassidy “a delightful, sexy, sweet novel about two women falling in love.”
Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
Biromantic asexual Alice gets dumped when her girlfriend catches on to her lack of sexual interest. Fed up with dating and ready to melt her summer, Alice throws herself into binging her favorite shows and occasionally heading off to her library job to pay off rent. It may not be the most fun, but at least it’s a break from the pre-law courses her parents pressured her into. Then she meets Takumi, the painfully attractive, fun, and flirty new face at the library. Now Alice has to decide whether to keep it platonic or if the outbreak of butterflies in her tummy are worth coming out of the ace closet and risk getting dumped again.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
In a logical universe, there is nothing that cannot be calculated, predicted, or reasoned out, and that includes romance. Stella Lane doesn’t get romance, especially the practical side of it, so the only reasonable course of action would be to hire a professional to help her learn. Enter Michael Phan, a hired escort who is very good at his job. Stella soon finds her world view shaken to its core and doesn’t mind it as much as she’d thought.
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Dimple Shah’s somewhat traditional Indian-American family are eager to matchmake her with a perfect husband, but Dimple could care less as she is more interested in her future career as a web developer. Rishi Patel on the other hand has his head full of hearts and roses, so when he hears that the woman his family wants to set him up with will be taking part in the same summer computer course as he is, daydreams of courtship begin to sprout. Their mismatched intentions set the entire affair off on the wrong foot.
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The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
When an attractive man and an attractive woman are stuck in an elevator for a significant length of time, it is only natural they come out as a fake couple. Drew Nichols needs a date to his ex-girlfriend’s wedding. With some convincing and more than a few peeks at his well shaped backside, Alexa Monroe agrees to play the part. The plan goes perfectly, and when the weekend ends, the two go their separate ways, but out of sight doesn’t necessarily mean out of mind. Cue the start of a pining, long-distance relationship.
I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
Desi Lee has a crush and no idea how to proceed from there, so she turns to the most authoritative source of romance she can find: Korean dramas. With a meticulous plan to get her guy by episode ten, she has every confidence in her strategy, but real life doesn’t work the same way as a K-drama no matter the extreme length she goes to ensure success. It is obvious Goo loves K-drama with all the hilarious ways she exploits its tropes. She has no shame about poking fun at the cliched romance plots of the genre in the most ridiculous ways.
To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin
This uplifting story features an unashamedly plus-sized heroine who rejects the world’s insistence that she love her body any less. Stuck at home until she can graduate and move out, Savannah must deal with her diet obsessed mother whose unhealthy fads threaten to tear apart the household. As if that weren’t enough her own worsening anxiety disorder adds to the stress. Luckily with supportive friends and George, a cute guy with his own insecurities, Savannah has a shot at beating back the gloom.
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Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
Though funny at times, Emergency Contact changes up the tone with a quiet story about midnight texts and finding a person that makes you feel a little less lost in the world. Two strangers meet under less than ideal circumstances and through an exchange of numbers become closer than either thought possible. The distance of a screen allows each to open up; family baggage, homelessness, sexual assault, and unhealthy relationships all come to light as they type messages back and forth. In the end, an emergency contact is the number you can always count on to be picked up.
Intercepted by Alexa Martin
The first of two books in Martin’s Playbook series, Intercepted dives into the crazy world of football wives. Marlee Harper has had enough when she catches her NFL baller boyfriend cheating with multiple other women. She was too good for him anyway, and an old flame from her past has the sense to realize it and make his play while he can. Even after swearing off athletes, Marlee decides this one may be worth a chance. Too bad for them a relationship mid-season doesn’t just involve the two lovebirds but the whole team, which includes a crew of over protective wives.
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez
Arturo and Alma Rivera bring their teenage daughter from Mexico to Delaware after Maribel suffers a traumatic brain injury. Life is not easy in their new country, Arturo is reduced to the back-breaking work of picking mushrooms for a living and Alma struggles to adapt. The Riveras find kinship in their Panamanian neighbors Rafael and Celia Toro and their son, Mayor and a romance blossoms between Mayor and Maribel. But trouble comes in the form of a racist local teenager.
My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma
Vaneeta “Winnie” Mehta believes that her boyfriend Raj and her are soulmates, after-all their match was divined in a star chart. So Winnie is heartbroken when she discovers on social media that Raj is cheating on her. In a fit of rage, she breaks into his house to bury all the momentos of their relationship only to get caught. Scripted like a boisterous Bollywood movie, this book embraces Indian culture as Winnie tries to find the happily-ever-after she is destined for.
The Victoria In My Head by Janelle Milanes
Victoria Cruz is a shy, sheltered scholarship student at a private high school, trying hard to meet the high expectations placed by her overprotective Cuban parents. Determined to break out of her mold, she auditions to be the lead singer of her school’s rock band. Victoria catches the attention of “sex god” guitarist Strand and nice-guy bassist Levi, leading to a complicated love triangle.
Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
Ayesha Shamsi dreams of becoming a slam poet, but settles for working as a substitute teacher in order to repay her debts to her rich uncle. She meets Khalid Mirza, a handsome and conservative project manager who immediately annoys her with his haughtiness and judgmentalness. But Ayesha can’t stop thinking of him and their attractions grows until an unexpected engagement between Khalid and her sister Hafsa is arranged. Ayesha At Last is a modern twist of Pride and Prejudice set in the Muslim community of Toronto with a Hijab-wearing Elizabeth Bennet.
It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura
16-year-old Sana Kiyohara has moved from a predominantly white town in Wisconsin to super-diverse California: “In Wisconsin, I was constantly trying to escape the fact that I was Asian, and hoping that people either didn’t notice or didn’t care. Now…I can be openly Asian. For the first time in my life, I feel like I belong.” At her new school, Sana develops a crush on Mexican American classmate Jaime Rodriguez, but issues of race, identity, and sexuality hamper their budding relationship.