Book List: Road Trips in Young Adult Fiction

Road Trips in Young Adult Fiction

I do love a good road trip. Wind in your hair, volume turned up loud and either a journey in mind or mindless wandering. From the sunshine-filled and delightful to the soul-searching (or maybe even one long crime spree, as in Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry), this little list of YA road trip novels will have something for all readers.

Hello Girls – Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 6 August 2019

Hello Girls is an epic road trip novel slash crime novel slash ode to friendship slash feminist piece de resistance. With razor-sharp wit and punchy action, this book swings from hilarious to what the hell to hell yeah and back again.  Read full review.


 The Geography of Lost Things – Jessica Brody – Simon Pulse – Published 2 October 2018

The Geography of Lost Things is a fun road trip novel about learning to forgive and starting over. Jessica Brody weaves together a compelling story of second-chance romance and father-daughter relationships, family financial difficulties and learning to see again the value in little things.  Read full review.


A Heart in a Body in the World – Deb Caletti – Simon Pulse – Published 18 September 2018

Achingly poignant and beautifully written, A Heart in a Body in the World is a book that everyone, man, woman and teen, must read. It’s a road trip – but one where the character runs the entire journey. Read full review.


 Autonomous – Andy Marino – Disney-Hyperion – Published 3 April 2018

Autonomous is an examination of the true nature of humanity, where buried secrets are laid bare and the harsh truths of reality are posed against the speculation of how technology might evolve and how it might reflect those truths. When William wins a state-of-the-art car in a competition, he plans to take his three best friends on an epic road trip. Read full review.


Good and Gone – Megan Frazer Blakemore – HarperTeen – Published 14 November 2017

When Lexi’s brother Charlie suggests a road trip to locate missing pop star, Adrian Wildes, Lexi is shocked. Charlie hasn’t moved from the couch since he broke up with his girlfriend and dropped out of college. So despite Lexi’s scepticism, despite the hurt she has been feeling, she agrees. Along for the ride (and actually providing the means of transport for this road trip) is their neighbour, Zack. As Lexi, Charlie, and Zack hunt for the elusive pop star, they begin to work through the emotions, hurt, and actions of the past year.  Read full review.

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Book Review: Hungry Hearts

Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food and Love – Elsie Chapman (ed.) – Simon Pulse – Published 18 June 2019

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Synopsis

A shy teenager attempts to express how she really feels through the confections she makes at her family’s pasteleria. A tourist from Montenegro desperately seeks a magic soup dumpling that could cure his fear of death. An aspiring chef realizes that butter and soul are the key ingredients to win a cooking competition that could win him the money to save his mother’s life.

Welcome to Hungry Hearts Row, where the answers to most of life’s hard questions are kneaded, rolled, baked. Where a typical greeting is, “Have you had anything to eat?” Where magic and food and love are sometimes one and the same.

Told in interconnected short stories, Hungry Hearts explores the many meanings food can take on beyond mere nourishment. It can symbolize love and despair, family and culture, belonging and home.

My thoughts

Hungry Heart is a collection of short stories that celebrate food, culture, diversity and family. From romance to horror stories, ghosts to superheroes, Hungry Hearts will have something for everyone.

Rain by Sandy Mandanna
Anna and her father are visiting Hungry Hearts Row after the death of their mother and wife. Not sure how to talk about their grief they find an opening when they attempt to make Anna’s mother’s Coorg pandhi curry.

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Book Review: Everything I’ve Never Said

Everything I’ve Never Said – Samantha Wheeler – University of Queensland Press – Published 1 October 2018

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Synopsis

Ava would like nothing more than to tell her family she loves them, particularly her big sister, Nic. But Ava has Rett syndrome – she can’t talk, can’t nod her head, can’t even point at a communication card. She understands everything, but no one understands her.

When tragedy strikes her family, Ava becomes even more determined to talk. But it’s not until she meets occupational therapist Kieran and new friend Aimee that she is hopeful for change – and to find her voice at last.

My thoughts

Everything I’ve Never Said is beautifully written and so very easily captured my heart. I loved the idea – giving voice to the voiceless, and the honest, heartfelt truth and reality behind the words is undeniable.

Ava would love to talk to her family. She’d love to tell them she likes pink not purple. She’d love to say that she would rather watch teen movies than kid shows. And she’d really love to tell them that she loves them. But Ava has Rett syndrome and so Ava can’t move her body the way she would like to, can’t nod, blink, wave and certainly can’t talk. When tragedy strikes her family and throws life into chaos, Ava knows she must talk, must help save her family. With the help of new friends, Kieran and Aimee, Ava just might have the chance to find her voice and tell the world, tell her family, everything she’s always wanted to say.

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Book Review: This Time Will Be Different

This Time Will Be Different – Misa Sugiura – Harper Teen – Published 4 June 2019

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Synopsis

Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.

She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.

Then her mom decides to sell the shop — to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.

My thoughts

This Time Will Be Different is an endearing novel about family and family history, flowers and the magic of the language of flowers, and friendship, crushes and romance. It’s about growing up, discovering more about the world and yourself and your place in it. It’s about standing up for what’s right and learning to move on. It’s fun, cute and romantic and sure to please YA contemporary fiction readers.

CJ Katusyma likes working in her family’s florist. It’s perhaps the one thing she hasn’t yet messed up and while it doesn’t exactly make her mother proud of her at least she’s not a disappointment in her Aunt Hannah’s eyes. But when CJ’s mother threatens to sell the shop to none other than the man who stole it from CJ’s ancestors, CJ, Hannah and their new assistant, Oliver (dorky history geek and, ok, yes, slightly cute), plan to turn things around and prevent the sale. But life gets even more complicated with her best friend starts crushing on the sworn enemy, CJ is torn between geeky-cute Oliver and her long-term crush who is finally showing her some interest, and her relationship with her mother deteriorates.

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Book Review: Sorry For Your Loss

Sorry For Your Loss – Jessie Ann Foley – HarperTeen – Published 4 June 2019

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Synopsis

As the youngest of eight, painfully average Pup Flanagan is used to flying under the radar. He’s barely passing his classes. He lets his longtime crush walk all over him. And he’s in no hurry to decide on a college path. The only person who ever made him think he could be more was his older brother Patrick, the family’s golden child. But that was before Patrick died suddenly, leaving Pup with a family who won’t talk about it and acquaintances who just keep saying, “sorry for your loss.”

But when Pup excels at a photography assignment he thought he’d bomb, things start to come into focus. His dream girl shows her true colors. An unexpected friend exposes Pup to a whole new world, right under his nose. And the photograph that was supposed to show Pup a way out of his grief ultimately reveals someone else who is still stuck in their own. Someone with a secret regret Pup never could have imagined.

My thoughts

Gritty and deeply emotional, Sorry For Your Loss is, unsurprisingly, about grief. But it’s also about love, brothers, big drive-you-crazy families, finding your voice and learning to remember while also letting go. With an honest and realistic teen male protagonist, Sorry For Your Loss will appeal to older teen readers who enjoy moving books.

Pup is the youngest of eight. His family has been floundering, silently, since the death of one of his older brothers. Parents and siblings who won’t speak about Patrick, a brother who is losing himself to alcohol and Pup himself who is sinking – in his classes, his relationships and in the deafening silence at home. When his art teacher hands him a camera in the desperate hopes he can redeem his failing art grade, Pup is presented with a whole new lens with which to view the world, and maybe even the chance to bring his family together again.

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Book Review: Field Notes on Love

Field Notes on Love – Jennifer E. Smith – Delacorte Press – Published March 5 2019

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Synopsis

Having just been dumped by his girlfriend, British-born Hugo is still determined to take his last-hurrah-before-college train trip across the United States. One snag: the companion ticket is already booked under the name of his ex, Margaret Campbell. Nontransferable, no exceptions.

Enter the new Margaret C. (Mae for short), an aspiring filmmaker with big dreams. After finding Hugo’s spare ticket offer online, she’s convinced it’s the perfect opportunity to expand her horizons.

When the two meet, the attraction is undeniable, and both find more than they bargained for. As Mae pushes Hugo to explore his dreams for his future, he’ll encourage her to channel a new, vulnerable side of her art. But when life off the train threatens the bubble they’ve created for themselves, will they manage to keep their love on track?

My thoughts

Okay, I loved every bit of this cheery, fun, train-riding, sweet-kisses story. Field Notes on Love is about growing up and deciding who you want to be, about finding where and with whom you belong, and it’s about falling in love and enjoying the ride. It’s sweet, romance and utterly delectable.

The last thing Hugo expects just before he and his girlfriend depart on a trip across the US is to be dumped. But that’s exactly what happens. And it turns out her parting gift, the tickets for the trip, are all in her name, non-transferable. So Hugo, with a little help from his five siblings, creates an ad for a Margaret Campbell to join him on his journey. For Mae, the ad looking for someone with her name to share a train trip seems the perfect opportunity to get away from the rejection of not getting into the film program at college. Hugo and Mae aren’t looking for love – they’re not really even looking for friendship. But it’s hard to ignore the deepening connection between them. But if life is pulling them in different directions is it wise to start something?

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Book Review: The Happiness Quest

The Happiness Quest – Richard Yaxley – Omnibus Books – Published 1 August 2018

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Synopsis

Tillie Bassett is sad, and she doesn’t understand why. Her parents and friends suggest very different, allegedly helpful, remedies. But it is the suggestion of her counsellor, Gilbert the Goldfish, that the answer may lie in finding the nature of happiness. 

As Tillie embarks upon her project she discovers that, when it comes to family and friends, nothing is quite as it seems. Secrets are uncovered, old tensions resurface, relationships tangle and untangle, and Tillie realises that everyone struggles balancing sadness and happiness, and living truthfully.

My thoughts

Surprising, unexpected. The Happiness Quest caught my eye with its bright yellow cover. The story inside – unique, slightly disjointed and searching – was not what I expected. Yet, ultimately, it’s hard not to like this quirky story about family, accepting yourself, and, yes, finding happiness.

Tillie’s sad. She’s not sure why, doesn’t really have a reason and anyone’s attempts to help – from yoga, sleeping tablets and mindfulness to ‘its time to move on and shake it off’ – aren’t really helping. Until Tillie and her mum find the Happiness Clinic where Tillie is encouraged to start a quest to find out what happiness is. As she asks her friends and family what happiness means to them, she is surprised by their responses and how, maybe, it’s starting to help her discover what happiness means to her.

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Book Review: There’s Something About Sweetie

There’s Something About Sweetie – Sandhya Menon – Simon Pulse – Published 14 May 2019

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Synopsis

Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so…sucky. After he’s dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up.

The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl—under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work?

Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death.

Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of.

My thoughts

There’s Something About Sweetie is very true to its name – totally and utterly sweet in every way. Seriously. Unicorns and rainbows have nothing on the sweetness that is the story of Sweetie and Ashish. A story about first loves, first serious break-ups, family expectations, body positivity and embracing who you truly are.

Sweetie is an athlete, singer (she just doesn’t sing in front of anyone other than her best friends) and dutiful daughter. She just wishes her mother could support her in accepting and loving her and her body the way that it is. Fat. Ashish knows how to play the dating game. He’s good at it. Or was. Until his girlfriend dumped him for someone else. Now he’s lost all game – on and off the basketball court – and is even seriously considering having his parents set him up with a girl. But when Sweetie’s mother refuses to let Sweetie date Ashish because of the size of her body, Sweetie and Ashish start dating secretly, and they find themselves surprised at the way they connect.

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Book Review: Love From A to Z

Love From A to Z – S.K. Ali – Salaam Reads – Published 30 April 2019

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Synopsis

A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.

An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.

But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.

When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.

Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.

Then her path crosses with Adam’s.

Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.

Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.

Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

My thoughts

Love From A to Z is a fun, romantic love story that encompasses a deeper message about justice, equality, faith, health, family and living the life you were meant to live, fully embracing the person you were meant to be.

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Book Review: Can’t Beat The Chemistry

Can’t Beat The Chemistry – Kat Colmer – Wombat Books – Published 20 April 2019

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Synopsis

Ionic and covalent bonds are a piece of cake for MJ. But human bonds are a little harder …
There are only two things MJ wants in her final year of high school:

1) Glowing grades and …

2) to convince uber-smart, chiselled-jaw Jason they’d be a winning team outside the science lab as well as in.

Tutoring deadbeat drummer, Luke, isn’t part of the plan. After all, he has average intelligence, takes disorganised notes and looks like a partied-out zombie at their study sessions! Not even his taut biceps will win MJ over.

But MJ learns that she could be tutored in a few life lessons too: That sometimes there’s good reason to skip chemistry tutorials. That intelligence is so much more than a grade average.

And that sometimes you can’t beat the chemistry.

My thoughts

If you are looking for a fun and lighthearted YA romance, then you’ll love Can’t Beat The Chemistry by Kat Colmer. Music, chemistry, hate-to-love romance and great character development, Can’t Beat The Chemistry has a winning combination of elements to produce a thoroughly enjoyable novel.

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