Monday, November 14, 2011

The Best Young Adult Road Trip Books

Look, I know it's fall, and summer would be a better time to be talking road trips, but a girl can dream, right? Isn't that the point of reading books?

I love love love books about road trips -- shades on, windows down, mix tapes playing, open road ahead. There's something so romantic about it.

I don't mean in a kissing way (though that's good, too!), but rather in a way that makes it seem like such an adventure, makes you forget about the car sickness and the "are we there yet" blues.

My favorite road trip book of all time is Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, by far, but here are a few I've enjoyed and some I'm looking forward to reading as well:

Road Trip Books I Love:

Amy & Road's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew—just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life.

Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn’t seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she’s coming to terms with her father’s death and how to put her own life back together after the accident.

Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road—diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards—this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.

Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.

Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt
This is Jordan and Courtney, totally in love. Sure, they were an unlikely high school couple. But they clicked; it worked. They're even going to the same college, and driving cross-country together for orientation.

Then Jordan dumps Courtney -- for a girl he met on the Internet.

It's too late to change plans, so the road trip is on. Courtney's heartbroken, but figures she can tough it out for a few days. La la la -- this is Courtney pretending not to care.

But in a strange twist, Jordan cares. A lot.

Turns out, he's got a secret or two that he's not telling Courtney. And it has everything to do with why they broke up, why they can't get back together, and how, in spite of it all, this couple is destined for each other.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.

On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl.

Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself by Printz medalist John Green, acclaimed author of Looking for Alaska.

Don't Stop Now by Julie Halpern
On the first day of Lillian’s summer-before-college, she gets a message on her cell from her sort-of friend, Penny. Not only has Penny faked her own kidnapping, but Lil is the only one who figures it out. She knows that Penny’s home life has been rough, and that her boyfriend may be abusive. Soon, Penny’s family, the local police, and even the FBI are grilling Lil, and she decides to head out to Oregon, where Penny has mentioned an acquaintance. And who better to road-trip across the country with than Lil’s BFF, Josh. But here’s the thing: Lil loves Josh. And Josh doesn’t want to “ruin” their amazing friendship.

Josh has a car and his dad’s credit card. Lil has her cellphone and a hunch about where Penny is hiding. There’s something else she needs to find: Are she and Josh meant to be together?

That I Want to Read:

You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith
Emma Healy has never fit in with the rest of her family. She's grown used to being the only ordinary one among her rather extraordinary parents and siblings. But when she finds a birth certificate for a twin brother she never knew she had, along with a death certificate dated just two days later, she feels like a part of her has been justified in never feeling quite whole. Suddenly it seems important to visit his grave, to set off in search of her missing half.

When her next-door neighbor Peter Finnegan -- who has a quiet affinity for maps and a desperate wish to escape their small town -- ends up coming along for the ride, Emma thinks they can't possibly have anything in common. But as they head from upstate New York toward North Carolina, driving a beat-up and technically stolen car and picking up a stray dog along the way, they find themselves learning more and more about each other.

Neither is exactly sure what they're looking for, but with each passing mile, each new day of this journey, they seem to be getting much closer to finding it.

That Are Coming Soon:

Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John (April 2012)
When sixteen-year-old Luke's book, Hallelujah, becomes a national best seller, his publisher sends him on a cross-country tour with his unpredictable older brother, Matt, as chauffeur.

But when Matt offers to drive Luke's ex-crush, Fran, across the country too, things get a little crazy. Luke thinks he's enlightened, but he really needs to loosen up if he's going to discover what it truly means to have faith, and do what it takes to get the girl he loves.

In Honor by Jessi Kirby (May 2012)
Honor receives her brother’s last letter from Iraq three days after learning that he died, and opens it the day his fellow Marines lay the flag over his casket. Its contents are a complete shock: concert tickets to see Kyra Kelly, her favorite pop star and Finn's celebrity crush. In his letter, he jokingly charged Honor with the task of telling Kyra Kelly that he was in love with her.

Grief-stricken and determined to grant Finn's last request, she rushes to leave immediately. But she only gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn's best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn't seen him in ages, thanks to a falling out between the two guys, but Rusty is much the same as Honor remembers him: arrogant, stubborn. . . and ruggedly good looking. Neither one is what the other would ever look for in a road trip partner, but the two of them set off together, on a voyage that makes sense only because it doesn’t. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn—but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?

Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham (June 2012)
Alice, Summer, and Tiernan are ex-best friends.

Back in middle school, the three girls were inseparable. They were also the number one fans of the rock band Level3.

But when the band broke up, so did their friendship. Summer ran with the popular crowd, Tiernan was a rebellious wild-child, and Alice spent high school with her nose buried in books.

Now, just as the girls are about to graduate, Level3 announces a one-time-only reunion show.

Even though the concert’s 2000 miles away, Alice buys three tickets on impulse. And as it turns out, Summer and Tiernan have their own reasons for wanting to get out of town. Good thing Alice’s graduation gift (a pea-green 1976 VW camper van know as the Pea Pod) is just the vehicle to get them there.

But on the long drive cross-country, the girls hit more than a few bumps in the road. Will their friendship get an encore or is the show really over?

Okay, so I know this mix is super ADD, but I've been adding to it and taking things out since I was 16, so it is what it is. Mostly they're just songs I like to rock out to in the car, but in the spirit of this post, I thought I'd share my Road Trip Mix from my iPod...

1. Dirt Road Anthem - Jason Aldean
2. Champagne Supernova - Matt Pond PA
3. California - Rogue Wave
4. Little Secrets - Passion Pit
5. Shoulder to the Wheel - Saves the Day
6. I Woke Up in a Car - Something Corporate
7. El Scorcho - Weezer
8. Lazy Eye - Silversun Pickups
9. Keep the Car Running - Arcade Fire
10. Light & Day/Reach for the Sun - The Polyphonic Spree
11. The Bronze Beached Boys - Pas/Cal
12. Way of the Light - Gift of Gab
13. California Girls ft. Snoop Dogg - Katy Perry
14. '03 Bonnie & Clyde - Beyonce & Jay-Z
15. Dog Days Are Over - Florence + the Machine
16. Galang - M.I.A.
17. Party in the USA - Miley Cyrus

Anna Reads young adult book blog


  1. Awesome post! I love road trip books as well. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour was my favorite as well (more books need to have pictures and playlists in them!). I was dreading the end of that road trip/book!

    Thank you for sharing your iPod playlist. I love checking out new music! I usually listen to music while reading, so music and books go hand in hand for me.

  2. I liked Amy & Roger too! There is also a book called Ostrich Boys which is about a road/train and another type of transportation in it.

  3. I love a good road trip book like you love a good zombie-faerie-vampire-apocalypse-flying unicorn book so I loved this post! Thanks for the great suggestions, can't wait for some of these!

  4. DIRT ROAD ANTHEM!!!!!!!!! OMG, I LOVE Jason Aldean. Like, a lot. :) The majority of my road trip play list consists of country music. Then again, country is almost all I listen to. (I love a lot of kinds of music, but none of it comes close to how much I love country.)

    Amy & Roger's is my favorite road trip book by far, but I have a feeling that might change as soon as I read In Honor. This is a fabulous post.

  5. These all sound amazing (I especially can't wait for Reunited) but you HAVE to read The True Meaning of Smek Day by Adam Rex! Granted, the road trip is with an eleven year old girl and an alien named J.Lo but it is the BEST and funniest book ever. I LOVE it! Also, Libba Bray's Going Bovine is wonderful and You Don't Know About Me by Brian Meehl is a hitchhiking road trip and completely different from every other road trip book I've read. Seriously though, that premise seems to produce the most amazing books!

  6. LOVE Amy & Road's Epic Detour! Also I'm really happy to see my Country music boyfriend Jason Aldean on your road trip mix. I loved The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner it's a great YA road trip book.

    Great list!

  7. LOOOOOOOOOOVE this post! If a book mentions a road trip in it, I am completely sold. I agree that there's something romantic about it.. leaving everything behind, heading to the unknown. Loving your mix too, but I would have to skip the Miley Cyrus song, haha.

    So when are WE road trippin'??!!!

  8. This is an awesome post! Definitely starring this item on my Google Reader. ;) I'd share it on Twitter if there were a button (I actually don't know how to add one on my own blog, but it'd be nice to share this post!)

    I've only read SAVING JUNE, which I really enjoyed. Road trip books are awesome though; I can't wait to delve into some more of them.

  9. @Cass (Words on Paper) Thanks, Cass! PS: The button for twitter is right above this comments section. Share away. Pretty please. ;)

  10. This is such a great post! I've been craving a road trip, but my check book simply won't allow it. I'll need to check these books out and live vicariously through the characters to soothe my craving, methinks!

  11. @Anna Haha. I must be blind! Took me a while, but finally saw the tiny buttons above the comments. Re-tweeted. ;)

  12. I love road trip books too! Amy & Roger and Saving June are definitely my two favorites. I'm looking forward to reading all of these that I haven't yet.

    Thanks for compiling the list!

  13. Yeesssss Passion Pit! That song in particular makes me want to dance :D
    Amy & Roger's is absolutely fantastic. I'll be checking out some of these others too :]

  14. Great list of books! I think I might be one of very few people who haven't read An Abundance of Katherines. I should really get on that at some point.

  15. I LOVE!!!!! road trip books. I've read all of the ones you love except You Are Here, and it sounds really good. Thanks for making this list! Some of the upcoming releases sound awesome, like In Honor and Reunion. I've had my eye on those for a while.

  16. Secret Life Of Prince Charming is an amazing book also by Deb Caletti


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