Who doesn’t love a good road trip? Or train trip? Or plane trip? (Other than the motion-sick, obviously.) Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans, and some of its biggest moments happen in transit. So where better to set contemporary young adult novels on life and love? Here are seven great YA titles that take place on the go!
Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, by Morgan Matson
Amy and Roger aren’t exactly in happy places in life as they drive across the country from California to Connecticut—she’s mourning her recently deceased father, and he’s nursing a breakup—but they still manage to be a blast to backseat drive with. Matson supplements her already lovely writing with perfect pictures and playlists to bring the reader along for the ride, and the result is, well, epic.
The Disenchantments, by Nina LaCour
This story of a band (that makes up in passion what they lack in talent) going on one last tour before The Future steps in and swallows them whole was hands-down one of my favorite YAs of 2012. It’s not a story of perfect relationships or decisions; in fact, I’d say it’s almost a celebration of imperfection, of shaking other people’s expectations in order to forge your own identity and discover your own strengths and desires. And what better way to learn about yourself and those around you than by caging yourselves up in a van together and exploring the Pacific Northwest?
Wanderlove, by Kirsten Hubbard
Stepping out of the U.S.—and out of the comfort of an air-conditioned vehicle and paved highways—this book is a vicarious backpacker’s dream. The sensory descriptions of Central America as experienced by narrator Bria are gorgeous and vivid, and her passion for travel and discovery bleeds into every page. This is definitely my favorite YA way to get out into the jungle without getting any dirt under my fingernails.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, by Jennifer E. Smith
Road trip love stories are great, but there’s just something about connecting with someone at 30,000 feet. With no exits. And terrible food. Though only a portion of this romance takes place on a flight to London, that trip definitely places this book squarely in the pantheon of YA’s Most Adorable.
Nobody But Us, by Kristin Halbrook
This contemporary YA Bonnie & Clyde isn’t exactly your typical teen romance, but I’m a sucker for glorious, evocative train wrecks, and this is one I found impossible to put down. Full of passionate misguidance and misguided passion, this book is one epically bad decision after another, mired in impossible but mutual infatuation and desperation. It goes beyond “in transit” and takes you on the run along with the alternating narrators, and will have your heart pounding along with theirs until the final page.
Reunited, by Hilary Weisman Graham
Is there anything more fun than road trips with your best friends? Well, that probably depends on whether or not you actually talk to those friends anymore. Alice, Tiernan, and Summer aren’t exactly BFFs these days, but once upon a time, they all shared a love of the same band—and that band’s reunion is the impetus for theirs as they embark upon a trip to the band’s last show. The perfect light, fun story to make you examine your own teen friendships…and your taste in music.
Just One Day, by Gayle Forman
One of the best parts of traveling is stepping outside the comfort zone of the home you know, and seeing how that colors not only your experiences but your actions and decisions. Not that running off to a foreign country with a strange boy is a universally wise idea, but for Allyson, spontaneously joining Willem on a train to Paris truly is the beginning of the rest of her life. Forman is a master of beautiful writing on the art of self-discovery, and this stands up there with her best.
What’s your favorite book that takes place in transit?