A fresh love story about the will they, won't they—and why can't they—of first love.
While on a school trip to the Poconos Mountains (in the middle of a storm) high school seniors, Zyla Matthews and Kai Johnson, run away together leaving their friends and family confused. As far as everyone knows, Zyla and Kai have been broken up for months. And honestly? Their break up hadn't surprised anyone. Zyla and Kai met while working together at an amusement park the previous summer, and they couldn't have been more different.
Zyla was a cynic about love. She'd witnessed the dissolution of her parents' marriage early in life, and it left an indelible impression. Her only aim was graduating and going to fashion school abroad. Until she met Kai.
Kai was a serial dater and a hopeless romantic. He'd put a temporary pause on his dating life before senior year to focus on school and getting into his dream HBCU. Until he met Zyla.
Alternating between the past and present, we see the love story unfold from Zyla's and Kai's perspectives: how they first became the unlikeliest of friends over the summer, how they fell in love during the school year, and why they ultimately broke up... Or did they?
Romantic, heart-stirring, and a little mysterious, Zyla & Kai will keep readers guessing until the last chapter.
is an author of romance books for young adults. Her novels include I Wanna Be Where You Are
, Now That I've Found You
and Zyla & Kai.
She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at The New School, and she can often be found rearranging her bookshelf.
PRAISE for Zyla & Kai by Kristina Forest:
The Children’s Book Council Children’s and Young Adult Favorites
"A first love story with all the feels." — Kirkus Reviews
“Romantic, heart-stirring and a little mysterious, Zyla & Kai will keep readers guessing until the last chapter.” — BookRiot
★ “A sweet, funny, and heartfelt story about falling in and out of love, and what happens next…" — STARRED REVIEW, School Library Journal
★ "Populated by a compassionate, fully fleshed-out cast, variously queer characters, and depictions of loving blended Black families, this joyous novel excels in its heartfelt portrayals of open communication, mental health prioritization, devastating heartbreak, and tender first love."
— STARRED REVIEW, Publisher's Weekly
★ "...explorations of the side characters and their zoomed-out perspectives, along with chapters focused on Kai’s and Zyla’s experiences, demonstrate the unexpected ways human lives are interconnected and how relationships are a culmination of experiences, perceptions, and assumptions. Reminiscent of Nicola Yoon’s works, it’s a smart, thoughtful take on a romance, ultimately imparting the value of self-reflection, positive communication, healthy coping skills, and forgiveness."— STARRED REVIEW, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Forest delivers an emotionally mature and reflective contemporary romantic novel with her latest. Hopeless romantics who enjoy angst and self-reflection will relish this story of miscommunication. Fans of Elise Bryant won’t want to miss this tale of first love gone awry."— Booklist