Favorite Road Trip Books for Summertime Adventure
With Paper Towns in theaters and as the end of summer approaches, I’m feeling restless. Paper Towns – which is the second of John Green’s novels to be made into a movie – is about a girl who goes missing and the boy who’s determined to find her. The clues he starts to gather about where this girl might be lead him and his friends on an epic road trip, and something about the open road seems to go hand in hand with summer.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent more of your summer reading about trips than taking them. And even if your summer has been filled with adventures that took you out of town or across country, I have a few road-trippy reads that will take you on exciting journeys without leaving your bedroom.
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Oh Emery Lord, you just do it for me.
Open Road Summer follows Reagan and her best friend Dee (also known as Lilah Montgomery) who is a Taylor Swift-like rising star going on her first cross-country tour. Even though Dee is a good-girl pop star with a squeaky clean image, a compromising photo of her appears online just as her tour is kicking off. To squelch the rumor mill, her agent invites Matt Finch, another young pop star with a sweet boy-next-door reputation to join the tour as Dee’s opener (and to hopefully make people think the two pop stars are dating).
Reagan, who’s in a cast thanks to her most recent (awful) boyfriend, has a hard candy shell that Matt is pretty much immediately determined to crack, and even though he’s supposed to be her best friend’s fake boyfriend, he becomes her real one. All the characters are broken in one way or another (Dee because of her recent breakup, Matt because of his mother’s recent death, and Reagan because of a whole rolodex of issues), but as the bus travels from city to city, they all start to heal. I loved Dee and Reagan’s friendship and the care the author took in making it realistic. They fought and laughed and were there for each other in all the ways that mattered most. The song lyrics from Matt and Dee are pitch perfect, and so is the budding romance between Reagan and Matt. It’s one of those books that just bleeds summer.
An Abundace of Katherines by John Green
John Green loves his road trips, doesn’t he? I don’t think this list would be complete without An Abundance of Katherines, Green’s second, and perhaps most overlooked novel. It tells the story of Colin, a child prodigy who is obsessed with dating girls named Katherine, and who’s been dumped nearly 20 times by those same girls. He has a pretty bleak theorem on Katherines that rings pretty true for all relationships – that they can only end one of two ways: breaking up or death.
So it’s the summer before college, and Colin is depressed about his latest breakup and Hassan, Colin’s awesome best friend, suggest they go on a road trip. Along the way, Colin meets a new girl (who, thank goodness, isn’t named Katherine).
The book is filled with math and snark, anagrams and footnotes. I think the best thing about this book is that all the characters change, but they kind of stay the same, too.
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Mim, the lovable main character of this novel, has probably the most unique voice I’ve ever read… like ever. She’s sarcastic and smart and philosophical; hard-edged and softhearted, all at the same time.
When Mim’s parents get divorced and her father remarries a month later, she’s forced to moved from Ohio to Mississippi. Predictably, she doesn’t adjust to her “new life” very well, and after finding out that her mother, who she was forced to leave behind in Ohio, is sick, Mim hops on a Greyhound to find her.
What’s great about this book is not just the incredible cast of characters (all the crazy intense people Mim meets on the bus – everyone from an older college kid she immediately develops a crush on to an old lady who compliments her shoes). It’s also not just the random, sometimes completely terrifying, sometimes completely hilarious things that happen to her. What’s most amazing, to me anyway, is how Mim looks at the world, sees its pain, and uses what’s going on around her to sort through everything that’s going on inside her. It’s an external and an internal journey, and one that’s definitely worth taking.
The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder
Not exactly a road trip novel in the traditional sense (the main character is traveling with her mom and little sister), but I love this novel too much to not include it.
Campbell is sarcastic and pretty unflinching about everything in her life… including her dad’s death and her cancer diagnosis. She and her small family take a road trip to Promise, Maine after her doctors tell her nothing short of a miracle will save her, because Promise is a town known for its miracles. I won’t ruin the ending for you, but Cam has a flamingo list (pretty much a bucket list) that she wants to spend the summer finishing, she meets a boy named Asher that both she and I instantly fell in love with, and this book is guaranteed to make you laugh and cry. It’s a cancer book without being a book about cancer. I highly recommend it.