Since it’s fall, I thought it would be a perfect time to roll out my boarding school stories recs! The boarding school trope is a weirdly specific trope that I love, because it allows characters to grow reluctantly closer and get up to all sorts of hijinks. It oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with the forced proximity trope. All of them take place during the school year, which is ANOTHER thing in books that I love; the slice-of-life style makes it feel like you’re right there with the characters. FYI, all of these books have at least some measure of romance in them!
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
This is a YA romance that takes place in a boarding school in Paris, France! Anna transfers to a boarding school during her senior year of high school, where she meets Etienne St. Clair. However, St. Clair has a girlfriend, which prevents the two from becoming any more than friends for the majority of the story. The plot follows Anna as she navigates school, friends, and love in a new environment; it takes place across the whole school year. There is plenty of French culture and adventures through the city, and the friends-to-lovers romance is VERY slow burn! A warning: this book has been criticized for its apparent endorsement of cheating, so if that bothers you, don’t pick this up.
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
More thoughts on this book in my August Wrap up here. This book is a murder mystery with much more of an emphasis on characters and their dynamics. Oliver Marks is studying Shakespeare at an elite college of the arts, along with 6 more budding actors. They are a very tight-knit group who have been performing on stage together for 3 years, and suddenly one of them dies. From there begins a slow descent into chaos for the group as they try to cover their tracks and seek out the killer among them. This book is on the list because all 7 actors live in a house together, and much of the plot occurs inside the dormitory. The story was so engaging, and my emotions completely mirrored the characters’ as they slowly started to fall apart. There’s a SUPER slow burn romance in the plot, and the ending completely broke me.
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
This is book 1 of one of my all-time favorite series! It’s one of the few YA mysteries that I actually love, and the fall/ dark academia vibes are impeccable. Stevie Bell gets accepted into Ellingham Academy, a boarding school for the brightest teens of the country founded by an eccentric billionaire named Albert Ellingham. In the last century, Albert’s wife and daughter were kidnapped and never to be seen again; the only clue was a riddle left behind signed “Truly, Devious”. Stevie is determined to find out the truth while at Ellingham Academy. But during the first week of school, one of Stevie’s housemates dies and now she has two mysteries on her hands. Stevie’s house that she shares with 5 other students is a huge part of the plot and the setting, and her interactions and relationships with her roommates are fun to read about. In fact, one of my favorite parts of this book is the romance that Stevie has with one of her housemates.