Let's all acknowledge that road trips are synonymous with summer. The idea of hopping in the car and seeing where the road takes you, discovering the sights and sound of towns you've never been to along the way, is paired in our collective consciousness with bright blue skies and summer heat. And when it comes to road trips in books, they have been used to start the characters off on a journey that calls for even more than jus fun in the sun; dealing with loss, friendship repair, burgeoning love, or even just the end of high school... all of these have been dealt with through the prism of a cross-country drive.
If you're lucky, you might just be taking an epic road trip yourself this season. And if you are, you're definitely going to need to add a nice stack of books to your other car essentials...so why not make them road trip books, too? All of the 11 YA books below center on a road trip, but all explore other themes, too. From Amy and Roger's trip tinged with loss and regret (and a whole lot of fun, too, don't worry) to Vivian Apple's post-apocalyptic ride, there's a road trip book for every kind of reader. After all, there's no better time for feeling all the road trip feels than when you're actually on one.
1'Mosquitoland' by David Arnold
After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the "wastelands" of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland. So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.
2'Amy And Roger's Epic Detour' by Morgan Matson
Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it's Amy's responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn't ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip... and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar, especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory, but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.
3'Let's Get Lost' by Adi Alsaid
Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named Leila. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most. Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth — sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.
4'Vivian Apple At The End Of The World' by Katie Coyle
Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed "Rapture," all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn't know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country road trip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivan Apple isn't looking for a savior. She's looking for the truth.
5'Just Visiting' by Dahlia Adler
One thing the polar-opposite best friends Reagan Forrester and Victoria Reyes agree on is that wherever they go, they’re staying together. But when they set off on a series of college visits, they quickly see that the future doesn’t look quite like they expected. After two years of near-solitude after her ex-boyfriend broke her heart, Reagan falls hard and fast for a Battlestar Galactica-loving, pre-med prospective… only to learn she’s set herself up for heartbreak all over again. Meanwhile, Victoria runs full-speed toward all the things she thinks she wants… only to realize everything she’s looking for might be in the very place they’ve sworn to leave.
6'Someone Else's Summer' by Rachel Bateman
Anna's always idolized her older sister, Storm. So when Storm dies in a tragic car accident on the night of her high school graduation, Anna is completely lost and her family is torn apart. That is, until she finds Storm's summer bucket list and decides to honor her sister by having the best summer ever — which includes taking an epic road trip to the coast from her sleepy Iowa town. Setting out to do everything on Storm's list along with her sister's best friend Cameron — the boy next door — Storm's dream summer may eventually lead to Anna's own self-discovery.
7'You Are Here' by Jennifer E. Smith
Emma Healy has grown used to being the only ordinary one in her rather extraordinary family. 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 realizes why she never felt quite whole. She sets off on a trip to visit her brother's grave. Peter Finnegan, her neighbor, comes along for the ride. Emma thinks they can't possibly have anything in common, but with each passing mile, they find themselves learning more and more about themselves and each other.
8'Other Breakable Things' by Kelley York and Rowan Altwood
Luc Argent has always been intimately acquainted with death. After a car crash got him a second chance at life — via someone else’s transplanted heart — he tried to embrace it. He truly did. But he always knew death could be right around the corner again. And now it is. Sick of hospitals and tired of transplants, Luc is ready to let his failing heart give out, ready to give up. A road trip to Oregon—where death with dignity is legal — is his answer. But along for the ride is his best friend, Evelyn. And she’s not giving up so easily.
9'Open Road Summer' by Emery Lord
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind... and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence.
10'Reunited' by Hilary Weisman Graham
Alice, Summer, and Tiernan used to be best friends...and the self-proclaimed biggest fans of the band Level3. But when the band broke up, so did their friendship. Now, four years later, they’ve just graduated from high school. When Level3 announces a one-time reunion show in Texas, Alice impulsively buys tickets and invites her two former friends along for the trip. Reluctant at first, both girls agree to go, each with her own ulterior motive. But old resentments and other roadblocks — from unintended detours to lost concert tickets — keep getting in the girls’ way.
11'The Disenchantments' by Nina LaCour
Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev's band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she's abandoning their plans, and Colby, to start college in the fall. But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie Colby struggles to deal with Bev's already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what's next?