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The Worst Consequences of Literary Teenage Romance

Teenagers have it rough when it comes to love. Their hormones are going haywire, their brains are still developing, and when they fall for one another, they fall hard. As our mothers always told us, boys are bad for you — and the more we read, the more we realize how true that can be. In literature, teen romance can be beautiful and eternal, but it can also be costly and crazy — or it can be all of that at once. Consider this our warning to all you teenage lovers out there: make sure your beloved is not a kidnapper, a psychopath, your brother, or a hundred-year-old vampire before you wear his letterman jacket. Or go for it. Up to you. Click through to see our list of some of the worst outcomes of young love in literature, and let us know which of your favorite tragic teen affairs (as there are oh so very many) we’ve missed in the comments.

Toby and Shelby (Citrus County, John Brandon): Child Kidnapping

As the back cover of this terrific novel muses, “teenage romance should be difficult, but not this difficult. Boys like Toby should cause trouble, but not this much.” When smart, achieving Shelby moves to rural Florida with her father and sister Kaley, she expects surfers and gets swamp rednecks. But she also gets mysterious, orphaned Toby, and briskly resolves to win him the way so many good girls have so many bad boys. Toby, mostly unaware of this, but trying in his own way to win Shelby’s affections while probing the limits of his own strangeness, goes decidedly overboard. Suffice it to say, 3-year-old Kaley goes missing, the police arrive, and Shelby is driven tearfully into his arms — but of course, for Toby, the victory is bittersweet, and he has to go check on something.

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