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Summer is here, and it’s high time for some good Young Adult escapism. When preparing for this, I thought of all the YA books I’ve read and heard of that take place in the summer. Should be easy, right?

Wrong.
 
I quickly realized that all the ones I knew were stereotypically beachy and “girly.” What about the literary YA? What about adventures and fantasy? Where are the male protagonists in the summer? YA male readership is rather low, for a number of reasons: girls in glamorous dresses plastered across the front of nearly every book facing out in the bookstores, girl protagonists in general, immense amount of paranormal romance, and because most boys gravitate toward nonfiction or immediately jump into adult fiction and fantasy. How could I find some books that are perfect reads for the summer and fit every reader?
 
It was a struggle, so I called upon some amazing people for help in narrowing down some of their favorite summer reads that could be read by anyone, any age. Summer is about escaping the hassle of work and school. Whether these YA reads are set in the summer, the sweltering South, in a far-off land, or packed with adventure, take a break in the sun with a nice cool glass of lemonade and crack open any of these books!
 

 
IF RE-READING HARRY POTTER BREAKS YOUR HEART, AND YOU CAN’T COME TO TERMS WITH THE FACT YOU DON’T OWN A WARDROBE THAT CAN TRANSPORT YOU TO NARNIA, YOU MAY LIKE…
 
 
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. Sometimes the Middle Grade / Young Adult crossover fantasy is just the ticket.
 
Riordan’s Percy Jackson has a rough time in school, and strange, mythological things keep happening all around him. He is sent to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods. Percy is the son of Poseidon, and it is his job to find out who stole Zeus’s lightning bolt before war breaks out on Mount Olympus. Love mythology? Read this series.
 
Cooper’s Jane, Simon, and Barney find a text that tells of a grail lost centuries ago. They soon discover that this powerful grail is sought after by evil beings, and it’s up to these three to find the grail and prevent anyone from accessing it. Its secret must be kept. This is an exciting adventure for any Arthurian fan!
 
IF YOU ARE A SHAMELESS FAN OF BEACHY, SUMMER ROMANCE, YOUR TICKET TO PARADISE IS…
 
 
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen (or any of her books), The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares, The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, and The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks. Maybe these are new to you, and maybe they’re not, but they each have something in common: summer romances.
 
Dessen’s books always take place across the summer. It’s a time for change, and for Macy she’s learning to lose control and enjoy spontaneity of life. The chaotic times at Wish Catering, not to mention the artistic Wes’s hopeful, sobering presence, show there is more to life than putting on the perfect face.
 
I wish I knew of a pair of pants that fit four differently sized girls, because then maybe I could have the awesome adventures and stories Brashares explores with Carmen, Tibby, Lena, and Bridget. The four girls split for vacations over the summer, and promise to keep in touch by mailing the pants back and forth and writing about the adventures they had while wearing them.
 
The Summer I Turned Pretty has mixed reviews: people love it or hate it. And the people who love it love stories that personify summer. Summer is a character. Its role is key in everything. Do not be dismayed by the cliché summary -- a girl visits a beach, has a crush on one guy, but two guys she considered friends are now really into her -- because this book will create all sorts of warm fuzzies and have you packing your beach bag and driving off to the shore.
 
Sparks is, admittedly, shelved in the adult section, but The Last Song is inarguably YA as it is the story of young adults coming of age across the summer. It’s touching and heartbreaking. And it’s much more than a summer romance: Ronnie and her father, who left Ronnie and her mother a few years prior, grow closer and form a bond once lost.
 
IF YOU LACK THE MONEY FOR SPONTANEOUS ADVENTURES ACROSS COUNTRIES AND CONTINENTS, YOU MAY ENJOY…
 
 
Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, Paper Towns by John Green, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen, and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.
 
Matson’s title alone is perfection. “Epic Detour”? You know you’re bound to have fun on this road trip adventure. Amy’s mother relocates from California to Connecticut, and instructs Amy to bring the rest of the stuff in the car and drive across the country. Amy isn’t alone -- her mother’s friend’s son Roger accompanies her. The story is not a simple one though, as Amy wants to hide something in her past from Roger and her mother. Hop in the car and discover that secret.
 
Any John Green fan would love Paper Towns. Quentin admires Margo, but after a night of wild adventures, Quentin realizes there is something quite mysterious about her. Fun fact: John Green came up with Paper Towns by looking at maps and little towns at crossroads. In reality, some of those towns do not exist, hence the title. Neat, eh?
 
Are you a John Green fan but want to read in a girl’s perspective? Maureen Johnson, at your service. Prepare yourself for thirteen envelopes with instructions. First, spend the $1000 provided for a plane ticket. Second, go to the flat indicated in London. Third, find the starving artist. Fourth, travel to Scotland…and follow the rest of the adventure. If I were offered $1000 to buy a ticket for an adventure like that, I’d hop on a plane in five minutes!
 
Interested in something a little more deep in your adventure? Jerk, California is just the ticket. Follow Sam’s cross-country quest to discover his family history and inherited Tourette’s Syndrome. Live in the shoes of someone whose life is vastly different from your own, and yet so entirely relatable with its heartbreaking humanity.
 
Anyone who knows me in person knows that I could go on and on and on (and on…and on…) about “The Stat Prob of <3 @ First Sight” -- my somewhat shortened version of the original mouthful of a fantastic title. Seriously, this book is my dream life. Who doesn’t want to meet a cute British boy at an airport -- and then continuously run into him in London across 24 hours? Sigh. Read it. The pacing and characterization and growth and all forms of love in this piece is absolutely outstanding.
 
IF FANTASY ADVENTURES IN SWELTERING CITIES OR HAZY SOUTHERN TOWNS IS YOUR GLASS OF ICED TEA, TRY…
 
 
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Beastly by Alex Flinn, and the Guardians of Time trilogy by Marianne Curley.
 
If you haven’t seen or heard the hype around the first Mortal Instruments movie, you’re living under a rock. And it’s time to get out. Because Cassandra Clare shaped YA fantasy, she proved you can have series after series of works that’s modern and edgy and contemporary and perfect. She deserves run-on sentences of praise! Meet Clary and Jace, Simon and Izzy, and Alec and Magnus as they search for the Mortal Cup in an attempt to bring the end to a Nazi-like destruction of the
Shadowhunter and human world.
 
Head south to Gatlin, South Carolina, for a magical experience. Lena is a Caster, a witch, and she has the ability to change the weather -- though she’s not quite sure how to control it, exactly. The fun part is that the story is told through a boy’s perspective. Ethan observes Lena, and they both want what the other has: Lena craves normality, Ethan wants individuality. But they both know that one thing stands in the way of Lena’s future: whether she will be claimed as a Light Caster and stay with her family, or a Dark Caster, wherein she’ll leave her home and her personality will completely change. A true Southern Gothic fantasy, and the first of a great series.
 
What if Beauty and the Beast is more your type? Beastly is a modern retelling of the fairy tale, only not through the girl’s eyes. Kyle, the Beast, will tell you every little bit of his misfortune, and how he goes about finding a way to break the curse.
 
Curley’s intense, time-traveling novel is the perfect fantasy adventure for any history buff. Ethan and Isabel travel through time to prevent the Order of Chaos from altering history and gaining power in the present. A plot twist around every corner, this is guaranteed to be an enjoyable read.
 
FORGET FANTASY, YOU JUST WANT ACTION AND ADVENTURE. YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT…
 
 
Variant by Robison Wells, I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, and Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley.
 
Some teens may think of school as a kind of prison. In Variant, it is. The students are constantly watched, Big Brother style with cameras everywhere and wire fences surrounding the property. Breaking the rules means death, but Benson quickly learns that following the rules is just as dangerous. He has to fight and escape to survive.
 
Nine seemingly-human people are hiding themselves amongst humans across the globe in I Am Number Four . If found, they will be killed. Numbers One, Two, and Three were found and killed. Four is next, and he tries to blend in without revealing any of his super-hero powers. Will he get to return to his home, Loric? Or will he be captured?
 
Where Things Come Back is a parallel story about one boy’s summer before his senior year and a missionary in Africa. Cullen’s normally boring town is put on the map when a neighbor rediscovers a species of woodpecker thought to be extinct. The town is flooded with media, but no one notices when Cullen’s brother goes missing. Meanwhile, the missionary in Africa has doubts in his faith, and attempts to find faith and miracles in everything to restore it. These seem like two unrelated stories, but just you wait -- they merge in unexpected ways!
 
YOU FINALLY HAVE TIME TO READ BOOKS WITH MEANING. THE CHARACTERS IN THESE BOOKS WILL TOUCH YOUR HEART…
 
 
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman and The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay.
 
Every time I think of CeeCee, I think of lazy Savannah afternoons, white fences, iced sweet tea, and slow, humid days. I think of the times CeeCee would visit her great-aunt’s friends and help out in their efforts to restore the historical homes in Georgia. Funny, heartbreaking, touching, and every bit Female Power, I treasure this book with my whole being. Read it.
 
Millay’s book has a similar effect. An emotionally fragile former piano prodigy meets a lonely , quiet boy who has lost everything. Two teenagers with dark pasts form strong relationship brighter than anything you could imagine, reaching into your heart and gripping it tight. So well written it puts you into a trance, this book is a must read for anyone who claims YA cannot be literary.
 
A big thank you and shout out to Abby Berger, Christie Crockett, Sam Dittmer, Melody Ekstrom, Amanda Foster, Cassie Justice, Hayleigh Kanzler, Amber Midgett, Martha Nobles, Cara Ringle, David Rodgers, Jaime Schwender, Josh Scott, Liz Sidley, and Hannah Walcher for their help! What are YOU looking forward to reading this summer?
 

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Laura Crockett is a graduate student, bookseller, Anglophile, tea devotee, musician, and book hoarder. Everything good in her boils down to her Midwestern upbringing. Follow her Downton Abbey obsessions on Twitter (@LECrockett) and book interests on her blog http://scribblesandwanderlust.wordpress.com

 

 


Laura Crockett's picture

Laura Crockett

Laura received her MA in Publishing at Rosemont College and now works as a bookseller and literary agent. She's an avid Anglophile, tea devotee, musician, and book hoarder. Follow her various obsessions on Twitter (@LECrockett) and book interests on her blog Scribbles & Wanderlust.