Young Adult Education

Top Ten Most Crushable Dudes in YA

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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  • Nicole Connolly

    Augustus Waters from The Fault in our Stars by John Green is #1!

    • Kerry Winfrey

      Good pick! I should’ve included him on the list…maybe if there’s a part 2!

  • Marinah Boyles

    Michael was TOTALLY my 12-year-old crush!!! So glad I wasn’t alone!

  • M.C. Silver

    #5- Wes from The Truth About Forever is my #1…I was going to add him if he wasn’t mentioned! Dexter from This Lullaby would be my #2 :-) but this list is extremely spot-on!

  • Patti Wachtman

    He’s not a player, he just crushes a lot

    And yeah, Michael Moscovitz… the definite winner in my book

  • Sandra Henningsson

    TeamGale all the way, woman!!

    • Kerry Winfrey

      Noooooooo! I refuse to believe this!

  • Des Jensen

    I haven’t read Nick and Norah the book but I loved Nick in the movie. My book crush isn’t from a YA novel. It’s Thomas Raith from the Dresden Files.

  • Alison L. Mains

    Four from Divergent trilogy, for sure!

    • Laura Tschaplinski

      YES! Four majorly deserves a place on this list!

  • Molly Ann Magestro

    I’m a big fan of the male leads in Kristin Cashore’s Graceling universe.

  • Ju Li

    Totally agree with you, not only about Brian, but also about the last volume of the series. I’m still recovering from the initial shock!
    Though I think Eric deserves similar praise, Bee also has loads of issues, takes them out on him and in spite of her behaviour (esp. in the last book) he always understands.

  • Gabrielle Alexandra Lim

    You put Michael Moscovitz on your list! Thank you! I haven’t read the PD series in quite a while but Michael is definitely in my top three favorite/crushable YA guys. I’m so glad someone else saw how amazing he is! Also, never thought of Tibby and Brian’s relationship like that; he totally deserves to be on the list too! I’m still healing from the last book as well. And I definitely need to check out the other guys mentioned here on your list :)

  • Jessica Hetterich

    Thank you so much for the MARCUS FLUTIE reminder. He is amazing. I miss those books!

  • Júlia Rocha

    Michael Moscovitz and Peeta Mellark ftw!

  • Dominique E. Dizon


  • 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!

  • Rebecca Binns

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

    • Brittany Bengtson

      Never judge a book by its movie :)

  • Morgan Francis

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

  • Mali McElfresh

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

  • Sheila Irene

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

  • 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.

  • Lauren Heath

    Dexter from This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

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