The summer is winding down and it’s almost time for high schoolers to go back to school and the newest college freshman to start their post high school adventure. For a lot of teens this means squeezing in one last adventure with their friends and families. That could mean a road trip across the U.S. It could mean a vacation somewhere hot and sandy. Or it could mean a senior summer trip to a different country. Here’s a list of excellent YA books to get you in the mood for traveling.
As Far As You’ll Take Me by Phil Stamper
Marty is headed to London, leaving his small-town Kentucky behind, with only his oboe and savings from his summer job. He’s excited to start a new life where he isn’t the quiet shy kid whose parent’s don’t approve of his sexuality. At first things seem like they’re going great. Marty has a boyfriend, new friends and he’s spending his days traveling around Europe. But time is starting the show the cracks in this new dream life. Marty’s anxiety and homesickness increase every day, he’s burning through his savings and he still hasn’t landed the job of his dreams.
Stamper’s writing style in this book is similar to his other novel, The Gravity of Us. It’s a gripping read that is fast, fun and easy to lose yourself in. Including classical / orchestral music adds depth to Marty’s character. The book does an excellent job of exploring the body image issues that can come with young adulthood as well as the complications that come with exploring your sexuality for the first time.
Though this is a short fast read, it is not the lighthearted book the cover makes you think it is. This book is loaded with heavy topics and sprinkled with sweet moments.
One True Loves by Elise Bryant
Lenore Bennet is the queen of not giving a care in the world about what anyone thinks. She’s an artist headed to her first year of college at NYU. To her parents chagrin, Lenore doesn’t actually know what she wants to major in. Her family decides to go on a post-graduation cruise before Lenore starts at NYU. Along the way she meets Alex who’s a hopeless romantic with a 10-year plan, which drives Lenore crazy. But Alex might just introduce Lenore to the answers she needs.
This book is a great mixture of summer romance with witty enjoyable characters and some important issues. The character’s struggles with anxiety and racism give this fluffy story some weight. One True Loves is funny too. It’s a great feel good book to finish off the summer.
Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
Izumi is a Japanese American in a small, mostly white Californian town where she’s never really felt like she fit in. Izzy, as she prefers to be called, lives with her single mom. One day Izzy discovers a clue that unlocks her father’s identity and, holy moly, he’s a Crown Prince of Japan. Before she knows it, Izzy’s on her way to meet her father and her heritage in Japan. She had no idea how much more complicated being a royal actually is.
This fun read has been described as the Princess Diaries with a Japanese twist. There’s a smidge of romance sprinkled in and the conflict is very minimal. The main characters are very lovable. It’s the perfect light-hearted summer read.