In a few weeks the solstice will be upon us and this means two things. One, you should really beef up on the sunscreen. Those UV rays are killer (I refer back to my post about YA apocalyptic fiction). Secondly, you should acquire a number of books meant to be read with your feet buried in the sand, your ears tuned only to surf, and a florescent drink with an umbrella as your companion.
To this latter end, I give you here my top ten young adult fiction beach reads, in no particular order. Because that is what summer means: freedom (except from the SPF 45. Seriously. I mean it. Do you know how many people die from cancer in YA Fiction?) Also necessary to note: many of these books have little to do with summer and none of these books contain vampires, as real vampires can’t go out in the sun. Real vampires don’t sparkle.
10. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen tells the tale of a girl, a bike, and a boardwalk. While nearly anything written by Sarah Dessen automatically qualifies as a good book to read in a deck chair, this is particularly appropriate. I would tell you if there is a troubled heroine and brooding attractive boy involved, but I wouldn’t want to spoil almost every plot Dessen’s written.
9. It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han starts with a girl falling for a boy, a boy being a complete jerk, and a new boy coming along. But! It’s set in summer! At a beach house! Read with a pint of ice cream nearby, as you will need to pause and indulge your empathy for protagonist Belly. It’s at least a fitting match.
8. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (series) by Anne Brashares is to reading what cotton candy is to the tongue. Light, airy, nostalgic, and sweet. I love every one of these books. The last book in the series, set in the summer the girls are nearing thirty, gives something that few of these series do—closure.
7. Dairy Queen (series) by Catherine Gilbert Murdock has little to do with summer. Actually, its action centers on the school year specifically. However, its heroine D.J. Schwenk is a jock, a farmer, and a deeply interesting character. Gilbert Murdock is the sister of Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat, Pray, Love fame. Read this instead of that.
6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene is the book I pretend I wrote. It is as heart-breaking as it is funny. It’s good to read at the beach because you will likely be wearing sunglasses; no one will see you weep for the beauty of humanity contained in this book. Note: wear waterproof sunscreen while reading this. (Available at Wheelock – J G817f)
5. Summer Sisters by Judy Bloom isn’t exactly YA, but it’s by Judy Freaking Bloom. It should be sewn into the lining of beach bags, to be discovered whilst one is digging through them to find lip balm. It tells the story of two girls whose friendships weathers high and low tides. There are men there to foil the girls, but ultimately this is about women, and what it is to grow up together.
4. Blackwood by Gwenda Bond tells the story of the lost colony of Roanoke and the way in which two teenagers may hold the key to bringing back the colonists. This is for summer enthusiasts who are disenfranchised by the proliferation of Sophia Kinsella books at the beach. Not that there is anything wrong with Shopaholic mind you, just that maybe Becky Bloomwood would be improved if some supernatural, existential crisis befell her.
3. I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak: oh hey, speaking of existential crises! If you are like
me this friend of mine, perhaps you have one or two of these. A week. Or you are seeking a warm weather read to help you cope with the possibilities abounding in verdant nature around you. This book is laugh out loud funny, and will make you feel better about life for a number of reasons.
2. Nation by Terry Pratchett is unique in that it is a stand-alone book, not associated with his Discworld or other universes. It involves a girl, a boy, a shipwreck, and a plot questioning the nature of belief and the status of humanity that is as bright and wondrous as the Milky Way in the sky.
1. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson is a book that part adventure, part love story, all summer. I also recommend Vacations from Hell, a book in which Johnson has a short story, and her Devilish because the devil works at a high school. If you think it’s hot as hell, why read for the occasion? If you want something more refreshing, read 13 Little Blue Envelopes. It’ll be like a cool glass of water for your soul.