It's mid-August already, and the teens in our town have begun the work of getting ready to go back to school: shopping for supplies, starting sports and marching band practices, doing the reading assignments they've put off all summer. . . Hopefully, though, some of them will have time for a few last summer memories. One of my favorite summer activities is taking a road trip, whether planned or impromptu. I actually get to leave town for a few days tomorrow! With that on my mind, I'm noticing lots of "road-trip" novels on our Teen Room shelves. Even if you can't get out of town for an end-of-summer trip, you can always escape through a good story.
Here are a few new (and old) YA novels to try. (You can always find more detailed descriptions on the Campbell County Public Library website, www.ccpls.org.):
The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (Farrar, Strous & Giroux, 2011) While Nick Gardner's family is falling apart, his best friend, Scooter, is dying from a freak disease. The Scoot's final wish is that Nick and their quirky classmate, Jaycee Amato, deliver a prized first-edition copy of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men to the Scoot's father. There's just one problem: the Scoot's father walked out years ago and hasn't been heard from since. So, guided by Steinbeck's life lessons, and with only the vaguest of plans, Nick and Jaycee hop on a bus, and set off to find him.
Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd (David Fickling Books, 2009) Memories of mum are the only thing that make Holly Hogan happy. She hates her foster family with their too-nice ways and their false sympathy. And she hates her life, her stupid school, and the way everyone is always at her. Then she finds the wig, and everything changes. Wearing the long, flowing blond locks she feels transformed. She’s not Holly anymore, she’s Solace: the girl with the slinkster walk and the supersharp talk. She’s older, more confident-the kind of girl who can walk right out of her humdrum life, hitchhike to Ireland, and find her mum. (Some mature content)
The Heart Is Not a Size by Beth Kephart (Harper Teen, 2010) Seventeen-year-old best friends Georgia and Riley plan to make a difference in the world their junior year by joining the GoodWorks team, a group of teenagers heading to Mexico to do community service. In Anapra, a small village outside Juarez, the girls find the heat nearly unbearable and the work -- building a public bathroom for villagers -- grueling. Observant, reliable Georgia is able to find beauty in the landscape and in the people she meets; however, she worries that Riley, who refuses to eat and is already "thin as a sunbeam," suffers from anorexia, which drives a wedge between the girls.
Going Bovine by LIbba Bray (Delacorte Press, 2009) Can Cameron find what he's looking for? All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school-and life in general-with a minimum of effort. It's not a lot to ask. But that's before he's given some bad news: he's sick and he's going to die. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure-if he's willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother-of-all-road-trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most. (Some mature language and content)
Riding Invisible by Sandra Alonzo, illustrated by Nathan Huang (Hyperion, 2010) "Everyone has to know the truth in case I get killed on the trail. It’ll be My Escape all written and drawn WHILE IT HAPPENS. Could be a little raw. I’m a little raw. I’m going to lay low, still and quiet, blend in, harmonize with the world out there. It’s not an easy thing to be, a boy on a horse...riding invisible." So begins 15-year-old Yancy Aparicio's adventure journal. Tormented and abused by his older brother Will, Yancy runs away from home on the night that his brother viciously attacks his horse, Shy. With just a backpack, a flashlight, his horse, and a journal, Yancy takes to the California desert. Combining text and cartooning in the style of Sherman Alexie's Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Alonzo and Huang team up to present a teenaged boy's attempt to understand his life, and himself. (Some mature content)
Rules of the Road by Joan Bauer (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1998) Meet Jenna Boller, star employee at Gladstone's Shoe Store in Chicago. Standing a gawky 5'11'' at 16 years old, Jenna is the kind of girl most likely to stand out in the crowd for all the wrong reasons. But that doesn't stop Madeline Gladstone, the president of Gladstone's Shoes' 176 outlets in 37 states, from hiring Jenna to drive her cross country in a last ditch effort to stop Elden Gladstone from taking over his mother's company and turning a quality business into a shop-and-schlock empire. Now Jenna Boller, shoe salesperson, is about to become a shoe-store spy as she joins her crusty old employer for an eye-opening adventure that will teach them both the rules of the road and the rules of life.
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (Simon & Schuster, 2010) Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn't seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she's coming to terms with her father's death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. (Some mature content)