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Stuff for the Teen Age, The Ticketless Traveler

Teen Road Trip Novels: Romance, Reunions and Roadside Attractions


… for the first time in his life Peter understood what the opposite of lost was: that it had nothing to do with maps or directions or stayin on course; that it was, in fact, nothing more than being found.

You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith

The road trip is an American rite of passage. Nothing is more American than getting in a car, turning it onto a highway and just driving off, destination unknown (or not required).  Windows down, music up and nothing but the open road ahead of you: full of new places, new people and new experiences. A good road trip novel will include all of these elements but in the end, the trip isn't about the destination or the roadside attractions, it's about the characters' inner journeys - making these particular novels rich and satisfying. Of course, the best thing about a road trip novel? You can travel the entire American landscape without ever leaving home. Happy travels!

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

After a family tragedy, Amy and her mother move from California to Connecticut. With the help of Roger, a family friend, Amy drives the family car cross country but Roger has his own problems and musical tastes. What was supposed to be a simple trip becomes an epic detour of roadside attractions, fast food, playlists, flirting and healing. Notable for its illustrations, copies of restaurant menus and iPod playlists. On NYPL's 2013 High School Summer Reading List.

You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith

Emma has always felt like a part of her was missing and she has just discovered why: she once had a twin brother who died at two days old. This discovery sends family misfit Emma off on a clandestine road trip in a (technically) stolen car with friend and fellow misfit, Peter. This trip will be about being lost, finding answers and discovering what's in their hearts. Beautifully written (make sure you have a box of tissues nearby), Jennifer E. Smith has quickly become a favorite author.

In Honor by Jessi Kirby

Three days after learning of her brother Finn's death in Iraq, Honor gets a letter from him that includes two tickets to the farewell concert of her favorite country artist, Kyra Kelly. He tells her to go and tell Kyra about him. Honor sees this as a last request and without hesitation decides to go to the concert in California even though she lives in Texas, even if it means taking his former best friend (who is passed out drunk in her car), the cocky and obnoxious Rusty, with her. A short but touching novel with some great road trip pit stops. I kept imagining actor Taylor Kitsch from Friday Night Lights as Rusty. You're welcome.

How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

Jersey girl Rosie didn't mean to set her ex-boyfriend's car on fire and she didn't think her attempts to call him could be considered stalking so when she's served with a temporary restraining order she's heartbroken and furious. To get her out of town she's sent on a road trip to Arizona with her reliable neighbor and two of his friends. Problem is, Rosie doesn't want to be on the road and she's determined to get back home and get back with her ex. Rosie is a great character: flawed but authentic. Readers may not always sympathize with her but they will understand her. This road trip is notable for its stop at the Dolly Parton amusement park, Dollywood, which is at the top of my road trip bucket list.

Right of Way by Lauren Barnholdt

When Peyton meets Jace over Christmas vacation in Florida it is instant chemistry but within a few months of Peyton returning to Connecticut, Jace abruptly ends their long distance relationship. Peyton has no clue what went wrong she just knows that Jace broke her heart. But to hear Jace tell it, Peyton broke his heart. Now 4 months later, they've been thrown together on an impromptu road trip and a neither one is prepared for all the secrets and lies that are about to come out. A companion to another road trip romance, Two Way Street, Right of Way has two authentic voices. Jace may be too good to be true but he could drive me anywhere. Sigh.

Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham

Back in middle school Alice, Summer and Tiernan were inseparable and the self-proclaimed biggest fans of the rock band Level3. But when they started high school the band broke up and so did they. Now they are high school graduates and Level3 has just announced a one-time only reunion concert in Texas, 2,000 miles away. When Alice impulsively buys 3 tickets she convinces the other two girls to go with her on the cross country trip. The band might be getting back together but can they? This classic story is sweet, funny, moving, inspiring (my friends and I might take our own concert driven road trip next summer) and it has a great ending!

The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti

Quinn, her sisters and new friend Jake embark on a karmic road trip, to return the items or "souvenirs" that their womanizing father stole from his ex-wives and ex-girlfriends. Quinn first meets Jake at her half-sister's house. It is the middle of the night and Quinn has gotten up to use the bathroom and so has Jake, only he is naked and peeing. Now wide awake, Quinn notices everything about him including his amazing tattoos. Not just a romance, Secret Life... is about the nature of love, family and sisterhood and it delivers plenty of good advice about boys,"If a guy seems to need saving, walk away and call the Coast Guard."

Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole

It's the summer after high school and Anna is still reeling from her mother's tragic death a year ago. What she needs is a road trip with her free-spirited, best friend Kat, destination unknown. Armed with a clipboard, she makes a list. Tent? Check. Maps? Check. Worn-out copy of Jack Kerouac's The Dharma Bums? Check. Tips for avoiding bears? Check. Pent up emotions about her mother's death and her complicated feelings towards Kat? Check and double check. Anna is ready for adventure but this trip may be more than she bargained for. Well written and filled with fun, off beat characters it is moving and inspiring as well. If you aren't familiar with Jack Kerouac yet, you will be after this. Try his ultimate road trip novel, On the Road.

Wanderlove By Kirsten Hubbard

Getting dumped by her controlling boyfriend was the best thing that could have happened to Bria but it doesn't feel like it. She just feels numb and trapped by who she was with him. On a quest to get herself back, Bria impulsively signs up for a guided tour of the Mayan ruins of Guatemala and Belize. When she meets veteran backpacker and reformed bad boy Rowan and his sister Starling she takes up their invitation to take the road less travelled and travel off the grid. She learns that they have something in common: the need to leave behind the older versions of themselves and to just keep moving forward. This may not be a road trip novel per se but it is the ultimate backpacker novel. Against a stunning backdrop of real places, Bria finds her way back to herself through an effortless mix of text and art. It was so beautifully done that I didn't want it to end! I never wanted to backpack through Central America before but I do now!

Here's some music either for your next road trip or for reading your next road trip novel:

You can make this mix the old-fashioned way or if you have Spotify here's a link to my Road Trip playlist.



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Another road trip book Road Dogs by Julia Lupine, available for Kindle.

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