While there are often big publishing trends—Dystopias! Superheroes! Thrillers with the word "girl" in the title!—sometimes you come across much smaller, often coincidental, trends. I read three books recently that all shared a plot point in common. This was an entirely unintentional reading choice, but made for an interesting comparison. These three recently published teen romance novels all feature a mysterious letter writer corresponding with the female protagonist. Whether online or via hand-written notes, romances develop before the letter writer's identity is revealed.
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Bailey strikes up a friendship with a boy named Alex on an online site for movie buffs. He happens to live in the same California town her dad moved to after her parents' divorce. So when Bailey moves there for the summer, she tries to use clues from their conversations to track Alex down. Unfortunately, she starts to fall for someone else before her search pays off. Will she give up an online romance for an in-person one?
P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Lily finds chemistry class boring, so she scrawls some lyrics on her desk. One day someone continues the lyrics and leaves a note. Lily and the anonymous note-writer keep up their correspondence with notes almost every day, sharing some deep, personal secrets. Lily has her suspicions about who she's writing to, but when she's given the chance to find out, will she take it?
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Jessie just moved to Los Angeles with her recently remarried father and has to start over at a new high school. Unsure how she's going to fit in at this elite private school, she receives an email from an anonymous fellow student, SN, who offers to give her advice about navigating the social scene. The two email and text, bonding over their mutual grief (Jessie's mother, SN's sister). As Jessie tries to figure out who SN is, will she be disappointed?
While I didn't read this recently, it also fits the theme, but with two male protagonists. One of my favorite books of the last few years, this one's also going to be a movie next year.
Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Simon is totally crushing on Blue, another boy from his school. But they've only been writing via email, so he doesn't know Blue's true identity. While Simon is content to keep up this online-only romance and not be out at school, a fellow classmate discovers their emails and threatens to tell all unless Simon helps him get a date.