In honor of JASP's 2023 season on Austen's juvenilia, I thought I'll highlight some my favorite young adult Austenian adaptations. My recommendations include the works of Sayantani DasGupta, a recent speaker in Jane Austen & Co.'s The Many Flavors of Austen series and JASP 2023 adaptation panelist, as well as Ibi Zoboi, whose insightful lecture on "remixing" Austen's fiction dazzled Jane Austen & Co. in 2021. Also among my favorites are the novels of Sarah Dass—another former JASP speaker—Amanda Quain, Jillian Cantor, and many more, each of them certain to delight and inspire readers of all ages.
Accomplished: A Georgie Darcy Novel
If you’ve ever wondered what happened to Georgiana Darcy following her disastrous affair with Austen’s most famous scoundrel, you won’t want to miss Accomplished. Amanda Quain’s spunky retelling of Pride and Prejudice reimagines Pemberley as a posh boarding school where Georgie Darcy struggles to find her place in the aftermath of her ex-boyfriend Wickham Foster’s drug-dealing scandal—operating out of her campus dorm room. To make matters worse, her older brother Fitz won’t stop hovering, determined to protect the Darcy name from further embarrassment. As Georgie schemes to restore her reputation, she decides to distract Fitz by setting him up with his irksome college classmate Lizzie Bennet, and obviously, shenanigans ensue.
Ghosted: A Northanger Abbey Novel
In terms of Austenian literature, Northanger Abbey adaptations are few and far between. But Ghosted, Amanda Quain’s gender-bent retelling of Catherine Morland’s romantic romp through gothic-land, is one you won’t want to miss! Hattie Tilney, a dedicated senior at the elite Northanger Abbey preparatory school, doesn’t believe in ghosts—at least, not after her paranormal-loving father passed away. But when she is partnered with transfer student Kit Norland, who arrives at Northanger on a ghost-hunting scholarship, for a school project, she begins to wonder if there might be some truth to the Abbey legends after all…
Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things
If Northanger Abbey adaptations are hard to come by, retellings of Mansfield Park might as well be non-existent. But Jacquelin Ferkins’s Gossip Girl-esque Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things is one notable exception, taking place in Mansfield, Massachusetts, where seventeen-year-old Edie Price is living with her wealthy aunt and uncle as she grieves her late mother and prepares for college. Despite her intentions to focus on school, Edie finds herself caught between the affections of Sebastian, her longtime crush (…who is inconveniently dating her best friend), and Henry, a local bad boy who is definitely off-limits (…right?)
Being Mary Bennet
Elizabeth Bennet’s least appreciated sister is finally getting the recognition she deserves! As the middle child in a family of five sisters, Marnie Barnes is sick of feeling invisible. To prove her worth to her family—and her roommate, who accuses her of being like the bookish, annoying Mary Bennet in Pride and Prejudice—Marnie designs a program to partner her local library and animal shelter, angling to win her school’s prestigious Hunt Prize. This heartwarming comedy of errors reminds us always to be the heroines of our own stories, proving that the Mary Bennets of the world are every bit as awesome as the Lizzies.
The Code for Love and Heartbreak
The Code for Love and Heartbreak is the perfect cozy rom-com for lovers of Jane Austen’s Emma, set in the STEM-heavy world of Highbury High School’s coding club. Emma Woodhouse is “a genius at math, but clueless about people,” which readers see first-hand as she develops a matchmaking app alongside coding club co-president George Knightley. Her code is flawless, but as the resulting “happy” couples suffer increasingly messy breakups, she begins to wonder if there is more to love—and life—than data and statistics. If you’re a firm believer in romance that defies the algorithm, you’ll adore The Code for Love and Heartbreak.
This sizzling adaptation of Pride and Prejudice will delight fans of When Dimple Met Rishi and Netflix’s Never Have I Ever with its unforgettable characters and lively academic backdrop. Meet Leela Bose, life-long debate enthusiast, as she butts heads with Firoze Darcy, a snobbish prep-school competitor whose life mission seems to be making her miserable. But tensions soar when she realizes his mother is the president of Pemberley, her dream college, and when a scandal jeopardizes one of her teammates, she must re-evaluate everything she thinks she knows about life—and love—to protect the people she cares about.
Rosewood: A Midsummer Meet Cute
One of our favorite adaptations on this list is Rosewood: A Midsummer Meet Cute, which combines Austen and Shakespeare for a laugh-out-loud romp through Regency boot camp. In this fresh, diverse take on Sense and Sensibility, sisters Eila and Mallika Das participate in a scouting program for the hit television show Rosewood, described as “Bridgerton meets Murder, She Wrote.” The serious, anti-romance Eila is determined to use this opportunity to shake her “impractical” love of theatre once and for all, but when she meets dashing fellow camper Rahul Lee, who literally sweeps her off her feet, she realizes that following your heart isn’t always such a bad thing…
Ibi Zoboi follows Zuri Benitez and Damien Darcy across the streets of Brooklyn in this updated take on Pride and Prejudice, where Zuri fights to keep her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood recognizable. When the wealthy Darcy family moves across the street from Zuri’s boisterous Afro-Latina family, Zuri’s older sister Janae falls for Damien’s older brother Ainsley, forcing the feuding teens to find common ground, which quickly evolves into something more. This culturally rich coming-of-age story is a love letter to Brooklyn, inspiring readers to embrace their heritage, their home, and most of all, themselves.
Where the Rhythm Takes You
Reyna and Aiden were once childhood best friends and each other’s first love, but all that changed when Reyna’s mother passed away two years ago. Now, at the age of seventeen, Reyna is stuck working at her family’s Caribbean resort, and Aiden has since left the island to pursue his musical dreams as a member of DJ Bacchanal, the newest international pop sensation. When Aiden returns to the island as a VIP guest at the resort, Reyna must reckon with her lingering feelings for him, as well as the artistic aspirations she swept under the rug to support her family. This heartwarming tale of first love and second chances, adapted from Jane Austen’s Persuasion, is sure to leave readers of all ages swooning.
The Stars We Steal
Austen meets The Bachelor—in outer space—in Alexa Donne's clever sci-fi adaptation of Persuasion. As the heir to a European spaceship on the verge of financial ruin, Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg needs to find a fiancé, and fast. Sparks fly when Elliot, the boy her family once deemed unsuitable for marriage, waltzes back into her life, now as the eligible captain of a successful whiskey ship, but will they be able to put aside their rocky past for a chance at happily ever after? And, in honor of our upcoming Austen-Brontë season, if you enjoyed The Stars We Steal, you’ll also love Donne’s Brightly Burning, a sci-fi take on Jane Eyre!
These are only a few of my favorite YA takes on Jane Austen's work—stay tuned for part 2! In the meantime, if I missed any of your favorites, be sure to let me know in the comments below. Until then, happy reading!