On the Road Again: Road-tripping With YA

Posted by Riki Cleveland

Summer. It's the time for vacations and of course, hitting the open road. Sadly, summer is wrapping up, and you might have missed your time to hit the road. So whether you’re stuck at home dreaming of a getaway, or are lucky enough to have gone on your own summer adventure, we’ve got the road trip stories to keep you entertained.

These five books have it all, from a young rock band traveling for their first road show, to an epic cross-country quest in search of a missing girl. The one thing they have in common is that they all involve an unforgettable road trip!

So sit down, buckle up, and gas up the car. We’re hitting the road!

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour: The Disenchantments is all about four friends, a disillusioned romance, and one epic road trip from San Francisco to Seattle. When Colby takes off with his friends after graduation in a borrowed VW bus to tour the Pacific Northwest, he knows it’s a last hurrah before he and his best friend Bev leave to spend a year wandering around Europe.

He’s got visions of romantic escapades and quiet times with Bev, so he’s more than a little stunned when they’re just out of town and Bev drops the bomb. She’s not going to Europe after the tour; she’s decided to go to college. Left with the pain of rejection and lingering questions about his future, Colby knows the show must go on. He continues to back up The Disenchantments and goes along on the tour that has them playing in dingy basements and small towns, learning what it means to be out on their own.

You’ll love the backdrop of the music world and the soundtrack of this journey. These character’s lives are shaped by the music they love and it was an excellent setup for the unfolding of the narrative. If you take all of the songs mentioned in the book, you’d have one eclectic and amazing playlist to take on your own road trip. The Disenchantments is classic YA, with characters and relationships you can really relate to, and all of the magic of taking an adventure with your best friends.

Don’t Stop Now by Julie Halpern: Lillian is ready to start her last free summer before going away to college when she gets a strange voice mail message from her sort-of-friend Penny. Penny has faked her own kidnapping, and Lil is the only person in the world who knows the truth.

Lil decides that in order to release herself from all liability, she must go in search of Penny and get her to turn herself in. Lil’s intentions are not altogether altruistic, however, as she sees the road trip as the ultimate chance to be alone with her best friend and love interest, Josh. Equipped with a car and a credit card, and with the police and FBI dogging Lil for information, Lil and Josh make a cross-country trip to retrieve Penny. Along the way they see epic sights and make memories. Somewhere in between the Mars Cheese Castle and the creepily fantastic House on the Rock, Lil tries to convince Josh that there’s more to their relationship than just being friends.

This road trip is just a lot of fun! Lil and Josh do some pretty cool things on the road and see some crazy small town sights. Julie Halpern does a great job of capturing small-town America and the joys of a cross-country road trip, with a wonderful backdrop of romantic tension.

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson: After losing her father in a car accident that she feels responsible for, Amy Curry isn’t ready to get back behind the wheel and drive. This forces her mother to get creative when she decides to move the family from California to Connecticut and needs the family car brought over.

The solution? Roger, an old family friend who also needs to make a cross-country trip of his own. Amy is less than thrilled at the prospect of spending four days driving through a pre-planned itinerary with a virtual stranger, but when good-looking Roger suggests making different travel plans, Amy agrees. Together, they embark on a journey full of fast food drive-ins, roadside diners, and self-discovery. Told in a unique style combining traditional narrative with scrapbook elements, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is a delightful ride across America.

You will love living a cross-country journey vicariously through these characters. From their first awkward moments at Yosemite, to their palpable worry driving along the Loneliest Road in America, and well on to Kentucky where they eat Hot Brown and Derby Pie, you’ll be invested in the outcome for Amy and Roger. Each stop along the way is brilliantly depicted with vivid detail. Combined with the various playlists and other memorabilia spread out throughout the book, it feels like you’re right alongside the characters on a trip of a lifetime.

Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John: Sixteen-year-old Luke has written a runaway bestseller novel titled Hallelujah, that has worked its way into the hearts of the nation. When his publishing house sends him on a cross-country book tour, his publicist has a prior engagement and decides that Luke’s older brother Matt will chauffer.

Irresponsible and reckless Matt has ulterior motives for the trip, and Luke is less than pleased to find out that Matt’s girlfriend and her younger sister will be joining them, since the little sister is none other than Luke’s former best friend and serious crush, Fran. With Matt’s mind on anything but the book tour and Fran changed in ways that Luke cannot fathom, nothing goes right. Despite a myriad of unplanned detours and hilarious mishaps, Luke must try to loosen up and discover the true meaning of faith.

On a road trip that can only be described as a hysterical comedy of errors, Thou Shalt Not Road Trip is well paced, lighthearted, and fun. You’ll root for these characters to find their way both on the road and in life, and might even learn a thing or two about forgiveness.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson: Ginny’s charismatic and artistic Aunt Peg always made Ginny feel like something special, and when Ginny was with her, she no longer faded into the crowd. When Aunt Peg passes away, she leaves behind 13 little blue envelopes with some very intriguing directions for Ginny to follow.

Beginning with $1,000 and directions to purchase a plane ticket to London and followed by a series of directions designed to take Ginny all over Europe, the letters in the envelopes both answer lingering questions about Aunt Peg’s bohemian life as well as create brand new ones. With strict instructions not to have contact with anyone back home, Ginny sets out alone on her European adventure and meets a lively cast of characters along the way.

You can’t talk about road trips without including an epic cross-continental adventure! Ginny goes on the ultimate of road trips, by plane, train, and boat and finds a lot of herself along the way. You’ll love the wonderful description of all of the exotic locales that Ginny visits and will fall in love with the wonderful cast of secondary characters.

Grab one of these YA travel books to keep you company on your own road trip, or to transport you to a dream vacation when you’re stuck at home. There’s a little bit of something for everyone on this list, from in-state romps to international adventures, and everything in between.

Riki Cleveland

Riki Cleveland

Riki has a long-standing love affair with all things books and writing. She indulged her love for all things literary with a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University and is currently studying at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Although she is well past her own teen years, Riki’s reading passion lies with Young Adult literature where she devours books that handle the “firsts” in life. When not reading and writing she can be found yelling at the television while watching sports.