Young Adult EducationTop Ten Most Crushable Dudes in YAKerry Winfrey

Young adult fiction has a lot more to offer us, guy-wise, than just Edward Cullen. No offense to you Twihards out there—I read Twilight, too, okay?—but the whole “unhealthy, codependent relationship” thing isn’t really for me. I’ve assembled this list of the most swoon-worthy, crushable, totally awesome dudes in YA. Of course, this is just my opinion and you’re welcome (and encouraged!) to disagree with me in the comments. My list is certainly not all-encompassing, so I’d love for you to fill in any YA heartthrobs I may have inadvertently left out. Without further ado:

10: Nick O’Leary from Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist: He’s in a band. He’s in touch with his feelings. He has a sense of adventure. Most importantly, he gets a Heathers reference. Is there anything else you could ever want in a guy?

9. Ed Slaterton from Why We Broke Up: I know. I know! Ed is objectively the worst, and we know from the title that things between he and Min are gonna turn sour. None of that matters much to me, though, when I reread the things he said and see the drawings of the things he wrote. Ed is symbolic of that guy you dated who turned out to be nothing more than a stinking, festering pile of human garbage, but you’d totally date him again anyway.

8. Brian McBrian from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: The relationships between Lena and Kostos and Bridget and Eric may be a little more exciting, but I’m way more into Tibby and Brian. No matter how many times Tibby pushes him away, he still takes her back. The dude is in it to win it. Please don’t talk to me about the last book, though. My heart is still healing.

7. Jacob from North of Beautiful: Terra meets Jacob when she almost hits him with her car (what a meet cute!) and they spend the book traveling to China and geocaching. The book jacket describes him as a “handsome but quirky Goth boy.” Well, okay. I’m in.

6. Etienne St. Clair, Anna and the French Kiss: He already wins because of his name, because of his English accent and because he’s in France. Maybe he loses a few points because of the chaste sleepovers when he had a girlfriend, but he’s still great anyway.

5.Wes, The Truth About Forever: I have Feelings for most Sarah Dessen love interests, but Wes is hands down the best one. Like so many great YA guys, he’s Troubled But Artsy. He learned to weld (!) in reform school (!!), so he makes amazing sculptures. His other hobbies include running, being very attractive and playing personally revealing games of Truth.

4.Cricket Bell, Lola and the Boy Next Door: Two Stephanie Perkins creations on the same list? If you’ve read them, you understand. The lady knows how to create a charmingly unique love interest. Cricket Bell is an eccentric with a heart of gold. He dresses well, acts awkward and he’s an inventor. And, unlike a lot of YA guys, he doesn’t have some girlfriend he keeps going back to; he’s open about being into Lola. Any guy who loves a girl with a wig collection is someone I respect.

3.Peeta Mellark, The Hunger Games: I know there are Gale fans out there, but I think they’re either lying to themselves or crazy, because hello? Who was the guy who gave Katniss that bread? Who engaged in some sexy cave snuggling? Who looked out for her during a fight to the death that tested their physical endurance as well as their emotional bond? That was Peeta, you guys. I bet if you threw Gale into a cave he’d just be like, “Cave snuggling? No thanks, I need to go hunt some wild animals and have weird priorities now.” Peeta 4ever.

2.Michael Moscovitz, The Princess Diaries: He’s nice, funny and really, really smart. Not only is he Mia’s algebra tutor, but he confesses his love to her via a videogame he designed himself. Then he ends up inventing some sort of robot arm, because he’s a super genius. I don’t even know why Mia tried to convince herself she was into What’s-His-Name when Michael Moscovitz was right there, being like, “I just built this robot arm and I totally support your romance novel writing career and remember that time I wrote a song about you because I’m also a musician?”

1.Marcus Flutie, Sloppy Firsts: What is there to say about Marcus Flutie that hasn’t already been said (by me, in my column from a few weeks ago)? Marcus Flutie is the best. He’s a burnout heartthrob, mysterious, poetic and rebellious. He also enjoys Barry Manilow, which is a quality I really appreciate in a guy. I’ve said it before and, here I go, I’m saying it again: you need to read these books. You’ll fall in love with Marcus Flutie.

That’s my list…what about yours? Who do you agree with? Who do you think I left out? Are you Team Gale (no you aren’t, don’t lie to me)? Let me know in the comments! As always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave a comment, email me at or follow me on Twitter @KerryAnn.

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  • Leila Howland

    Great list! Also, what about Conrad from Jenny Han’s summer series?

  • Laura Tschaplinski

    So happy to see both of Stephanie Perkins’ beautiful-boy-wonders on this list! I’ve never read of more crush-worthy characters. That Stephanie knows how to write ‘em.

  • Romi Viola

    Oliver, the perfect British companion in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. He’s definitely on my list.

  • Kirstin Crowe

    Jim (James Dean) of Rebel Without a Cause? Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You! Mmmm

  • Lindsay Ann

    Michael Moscovitz ftw! Even the movie version of him was pretty hot.

  • Alysea Brown

    Will Herondale, Infernal Devices Series!!!

  • Julia Piper

    Michael Moscovitz all the time always forever and ever, amen.
    And Casey from the Sammy Keyes books always made my middle school heart flutter. All that talk about his chocolate eyes…

  • Annie Hatmaker

    #6 and #5….SA-WOON. Love these boy-men. And also Augustus Walters from TFiOS. Not many guys I know can measure up to these characters. And I can fall in love with these guys over and over and over, any time I want. Admirable article!

  • Emily Wagman

    Dexter from This Lullaby for sure. Really any Sarah Dessen guy, with the exception of Rogerson. Because he’s abusive and sucks a lot.
    My number one has to be Jonah Griggs from Jellicoe Road. If you haven’t read it, you must. MUST MUST MUST. He’s the world’s most crush worthy fictional character in the history of fictional characters.

  • Angel Fernandez

    Hands down, Michael Moscowitz! :D

  • Alise Versella

    Marcus Flutie!!!!!!omg I love you right now those books were amazeballs and hello “crocodile lies” (i think that was the name of the poem?) was sooo adorable and hell yea peeta all the way :) thank you for this list!

  • Lauren Heath

    Dexter from This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

  • Marsha Ames

    Sarah Dessen has the most crush worthy guys, I wish i could stay up all night doing errands with Eli and eat pie in the laundry mat and say things like “call it chicken salad”. Or play the truth game with Wes. Sawoon.

  • Sheila Irene

    HOW did Ron Weasley not make this list?! Goofy, loyal friend, charming British accent, MAGIC! He is the best!

  • Mali McElfresh

    Team Gale! And definitely Four from the Divergent Trilogy. How about Day from Legend?

  • Morgan Francis

    I’m a big fan of Sarah Dessen’s guys- especially Owen from Just Listen and Eli from Along for the Ride.

  • Rebecca Binns

    Actually, Peeta was a d@#che…at least in the movie…

    • Brittany Bengtson

      Never judge a book by its movie :)

  • Sierra Austin

    I love this list! Especially Wes! Like, if I have to live in Nowhere North Carolina, can’t I at least have a Wes? Unfortunately, you completely neglected to mention Cassandra Clare’s boys. Her books provide a stunning range of crushable boys. Standouts from The Mortal Instruments Series include Simon Lewis, the worlds most adorkable Jewish Brooklynite, and Jace Wayland, a gorgeous, fiercely loyal, extremely sarcastic pianist/Bad A. In The Infernal Devices series, we meet the Victorian bad boy, the beautifully broken poet Will Herondale and his lovable, sage-like best friend Jem Carstairs. If you haven’t read these books, I suggest you pick up the first of each series (City of Bones and Clockwork Angel) and clear your schedule.

    • Kerry Winfrey

      Thanks for the suggestions, Sierra! I’ll definitely check them out!

  • Dominique E. Dizon


  • Júlia Rocha

    Michael Moscovitz and Peeta Mellark ftw!

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