As the younger, more laidback portion of the United States, the West Coast is home to California, Oregon, and Washington—states united by their miles of pacific coastline, proclivity for farming and fishing, and IH-5. As latecomers to the U.S. game, they’ve earned a reputation for a chill sort of vibe. Known for drop-dead gorgeous scenery and moderate temperatures, the West Coast is a semi-magical place that somehow manages to include not just Hollywood and Mount St. Helens, but the birthplace of grunge, whale tours, and all the coffee you could ever want. If you’re not living among its magic—or you want to see your home on the page—check out these 6 West Coast–set YAs.
Washington: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
This book, you guys. It’s based on the author’s own experiences, and so much hot truth and humor get dropped I recommend it for literally everyone. Junior is a hardworking, funny kid who lives on a Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington with his impoverished family. When he transfers out of the reservation’s school to a nearby all-white farm town high school, he has to combat racism, deal with a troubled home life, and find himself amid the culture clash. Complete with funny cartoons and fantastic characters, this book offers fantastic insight on Native American culture and the meaning of identity.
Washington: Ten, by Gretchen McNeil
This horror story set on Henry Island in Washington State is inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. When two best friends get invited to join eight other teens at a boozy, exclusive house party, set on remote Henry Island, they know it’ll be a party no one ever forgets. Things take a turn for the horrifying after a storm knocks out the power, removing the teens’ connection to the outside world. They’re then picked off one by one, as McNeil brings all the thrills and excitement you could ask for in a good horror story. And yes, Henry Island is a real island you can visit—but perhaps you won’t want to after reading this book?
Oregon: Winger, by Andrew Smith
Ryan Dean is just your totally average, run-of-the-mill 14-year-old high-school junior at a fancy Oregon boarding school. But his age proves problematic, since his crush/best friend sees him as nothing more than a little kid, and he’s stuck in Opportunity Hall with all the troublemakers and bullies. And, oh yeah, his roommate is the biggest and baddest bully on the rugby team. Somehow this book manages to be both heartbreaking and hilarious, as we watch Ryan navigate the awkward that is growing up, making plenty of mistakes along the way. He’ll win you over with his insightful voice and the plentiful cartoons tucked into his story.
Oregon: The Cure for Dreaming, by Cat Winters
Set in 1900s Portland, this mini feminist manifesto has a gothic vibe and a slow-burn romance that will haunt your dreams. Olivia is a teenage suffragist with just the right amount of free spirit and passion in an age where none of those things are desired. Her father wants her docile, and he enlists the help of a hypnotist named Henri to accomplish the task. But Henri tricks the father and gives Olivia the power to see the world as it really is. Suddenly, the misogynistic people in her life appear as supernatural creatures, and the women appear to be trapped in cages. But thanks to Henri, Olivia is unable to speak her thoughts out loud. Filled with quotes and images from the early suffragist movement, this book is a powerful look at what it means to live under the constraints of society.
California: The A-List, by Zoey Dean
With all the designer clothes and fancy cars you could ever want, The A-List parties its way right into your heart. It’s basically what happens when all the glitz and glamour of Gossip Girl get transplanted to Beverly Hills. Almost as soon as blueblooded New Yorker Anna gets on a plane for her big move to California, she falls into the whirlwind that is the lifestyle of the rich and famous, West Coast style. Characters who seem to have everything fall apart and get in deliciously messed up situations, in a fun series starter that will leave you invested in Anna’s fate.
California: Mexican WhiteBoy, by Matt de la Peña
Danny feels caught between the white world of his mother in San Francisco and the Mexican American world of his father in San Diego. His prep school classmates don’t accept him because he’s too brown, but when he visits his father’s family in National City, he immediately feels too pale. Danny struggles as he tries to find some place he belongs and disengages from the world in a way that leaves him numb. It’s a harsh world he moves through, and it’s easy for anyone to relate to this story of an outsider who just wants to find his place.