For the next few On a Theme posts, I’m going to focus on some YA books that take readers away on a trip. Whether it is to a different country or a different time or a different world or on the road, I’ll be making a reading list to take you there.
This On a Theme post, specifically, will focus on travelling outside of North America. There is a mix of contemporary stories here, some fun and adventurous, some emotional and painful, and some that journey to the past for a time.
I hope we can enjoy the journey together!
Title: Again, but Better
Written by: Christine Riccio
What It’s About: Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents.sounds ideal — but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance.what’s that?
Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change — there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!
Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.
Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic – the possibilities are endless.
Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Written by: Jennifer E. Smith
What It’s About: Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having just missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother, Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.
A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?
Title: Meant to Be
Written by: Lauren Morrill
What It’s About: This spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love. Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.
Title: A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow
Written by: Laura Taylor Namey
What It’s About: For Lila Reyes, a summer in England was never part of the plan. The plan was 1) take over her abuela’s role as head baker at their panadería, 2) move in with her best friend after graduation, and 3) live happily ever after with her boyfriend. But then the Trifecta happened, and everything—including Lila herself—fell apart.
Worried about Lila’s mental health, her parents make a new plan for her: Spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila…until she meets Orion Maxwell.
A teashop clerk with troubles of his own, Orion is determined to help Lila out of her funk, and appoints himself as her personal tour guide. From Winchester’s drama-filled music scene to the sweeping English countryside, it isn’t long before Lila is not only charmed by Orion, but England itself. Soon a new future is beginning to form in Lila’s mind—one that would mean leaving everything she ever planned behind.
Sidenote: This novel is scheduled to be released on October 6, 2020.
Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Written by: Stephanie Perkins
What It’s About: Anna can’t wait for her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a good job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she’s not too thrilled when her father unexpectedly ships her off to boarding school in Paris – until she meets Etienne St. Clair, the perfect boy. The only problem? He’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her crush back home. Will a year of romantic near-misses end in the French kiss Anna awaits?
Title: Vidalia in Paris
Written by: Sasha Watson
What It’s About: When Vidalia wins a scholarship to study art abroad for the summer, she can’t believe her good fortune. Paris is filled with surprises, including Julien, the nice bookstore clerk Vidalia should like as more than a friend, and Marco, the mysterious art dealer she can’t stay away from. By the time she finds out the truth about the paintings Marco sells, she’s fallen for him too hard to really care. But when his crimes threaten to involve her directly, Vidalia has to separate reason from passion.
Title: Romancing the Dark in the City of Light
Written by: Ann Jacobus
What It’s About: Summer Barnes just moved to Paris to repeat her senior year of high school. After being kicked out of four boarding schools, she has to get on the right track or she risks losing her hefty inheritance. Summer is convinced that meeting the right guy will solve everything. She meets two. Moony, a classmate, is recovering against all odds from a serious car accident, and he encourages Summer to embrace life despite how hard it can be to make it through even one day. But when Summer meets Kurt, a hot, mysterious older man who she just can’t shake, he leads her through the creepy underbelly of the city-and way out of her depth.
When Summer’s behavior manage to alienate everyone, even Moony, she’s forced to decide if a life so difficult is worth living.
Written by: Jennifer Donnelly
What It’s About: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And her father has determined that accompanying him to Paris for winter break is the solution for everything.
But Paris is a city of ghosts for Andi. And when she finds a centuries-old diary, the ghosts begin to walk off the page. Alexandrine, the owner of the journal, lived during the French Revolution. She’s angry too. It’s the same fire that consumes Andi, and Andi finds comfort in it—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs, words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes terrifyingly present.
Title: Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know
Written by: Samira Ahmed
What It’s About: It’s August in Paris and 17-year-old Khayyam Maquet—American, French, Indian, Muslim—is at a crossroads. This holiday with her parents should be a dream trip for the budding art historian. But her maybe-ex-boyfriend is probably ghosting her, she might have just blown her chance at getting into her dream college, and now all she really wants is to be back home in Chicago figuring out her messy life instead of brooding in the City of Light.
Two hundred years before Khayyam’s summer of discontent, Leila is struggling to survive and keep her true love hidden from the Pasha who has “gifted” her with favored status in his harem. In the present day—and with the company of a descendant of Alexandre Dumas—Khayyam begins to connect allusions to an enigmatic 19th-century Muslim woman whose path may have intersected with Alexandre Dumas, Eugène Delacroix, and Lord Byron.
Echoing across centuries, Leila and Khayyam’s lives intertwine, and as one woman’s long-forgotten life is uncovered, another’s is transformed.
Title: The Paper Girl of Paris
Written by: Jordyn Taylor
What It’s About:
NOW: Sixteen-year-old Alice is spending the summer in Paris, but she isn’t there for pastries and walks along the Seine. When her grandmother passed away two months ago, she left Alice an apartment in France that no one knew existed. An apartment that has been locked for more than seventy years.
Alice is determined to find out why the apartment was abandoned and why her grandmother never once mentioned the family she left behind when she moved to America after World War II. With the help of Paul, a charming Parisian student, she sets out to uncover the truth. However, the more time she spends digging through the mysteries of the past, the more she realizes there are secrets in the present that her family is still refusing to talk about.
THEN: Sixteen-year-old Adalyn doesn’t recognize Paris anymore. Everywhere she looks, there are Nazis, and every day brings a new horror of life under the Occupation. When she meets Luc, the dashing and enigmatic leader of a resistance group, Adalyn feels she finally has a chance to fight back.
But keeping up the appearance of being a much-admired socialite while working to undermine the Nazis is more complicated than she could have imagined. As the war goes on, Adalyn finds herself having to make more and more compromises—to her safety, to her reputation, and to her relationships with the people she loves the most.
Title: Love & Luck (Love & Gelato #2)
Written by: Jenna Evans Welch
What It’s About: Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding and hoping she can stop thinking about the one thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken—and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother—and her problems—behind.
So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.
And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother.
That is if they don’t get completely lost along the way.
Written by: Rachel Hawkins
What It’s About: Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part-time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her to join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond.
While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady . . . but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.
Title: Love & Gelato (Love & Gelato #1)
Written by: Jenna Evans Welch
What It’s About: A summer in Italy turns into a road trip across Tuscany in this sweeping debut novel filled with romance, mystery, and adventure.
Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.
But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything Lina knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.
People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.
Title: Flirting in Italian (Flirting in Italian #1)
Written by: Lauren Henderson
What It’s About: Four girls. One magical, and possibly dangerous Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!
Title: Love, Lucy
Written by: April Lindner
What It’s About: While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food…and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her “vacation flirtation.” But just because summer is over doesn’t mean Lucy and Jesse have to be, does it?
Title: Instructions for a Broken Heart
Written by: Kim Culbertson
What It’s About: Top 20 Reasons He’s a Slimy Jerk Bastard Jessa: To help you get over your train wreck EX, I’ve enclosed 20 envelopes. Each one has a reason why Sean is a jerk and not worth the dirt on your shoes. And each one has an instruction for you to do one un-Jessa-like thing a day. NO CHEATING! Ciao! -C When Jessa catches her boyfriend, Sean, making out with Natalie the Boob Job” Stone three days before their drama club’s departure to Italy, she completely freaks. Stuck with a front-row view of Sean and Natalie making out against the backdrop of a country that oozes romance, Jessa promises to follow all of the outrageous instructions in her best friend’s care package and open her heart to new experiences. Enter cute Italian boy stage left. Jessa had prepared to play the role of humiliated ex-girlfriend, but with Carissa directing her life from afar, it’s finally time to take a shot at being a star.
Title: The Juliet Club
Written by: Suzanne Harper
What It’s About: Kate Sanderson has been burned by love. From now on, she thinks, I will control my own destiny, and I will be reasoned and rational. But life has other things in store for Kate. Namely, a summer abroad studying Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the very town where the star-crossed lovers met, Verona, Italy. Kate is thrown together with two other American teens and three Italians for a special seminar—and for volunteer duty at the Juliet Club, where they answer letters from the lovelorn around the world. Can Kate’s cool logic withstand the most romantic summer ever? Especially when faced with the ever-so-charming Giacomo and his entrancing eyes . . . ?
Title: One Italian Summer
Written by: Keris Stainton
What It’s About: Milly loves her sisters more than anything—they are her best friends. But this holiday is different. The loss of their dad has left a gaping hole in their lives that none of them know how to fill. Heartbreak is a hard thing to fix. Still, there is plenty to keep the girls busy in Rome. A family wedding. Food, wine, parties and sun. And of course Luke. Luke is hot, there is no way around that. And Milly will always have a crush on him. But this summer is about family, being together, and learning to live without Dad. It isn’t about Luke at all—is it?
Title: Love & Olives (Love & Gelato #3)
Written by: Jenna Evans Welch
What It’s About: Liv Varanakis doesn’t have a lot of fond memories of her father, which makes sense—he fled to Greece when she was only eight. What Liv does remember, though, is their shared love for Greek myths and the lost city of Atlantis. So when Liv suddenly receives a postcard from her father explaining that National Geographic is funding a documentary about his theories on Atlantis—and will she fly out to Greece and help?—Liv jumps at the opportunity.
But when she arrives to gorgeous Santorini, things are a little…awkward. There are so many questions, so many emotions that flood to the surface after seeing her father for the first time in years. And yet Liv doesn’t want their past to get in the way of a possible reconciliation. She also definitely doesn’t want Theo—her father’s charismatic so-called “protégé”—to witness her struggle.
And that means diving into all that Santorini has to offer—the beautiful sunsets, the turquoise water, the hidden caves, and the delicious cuisine. But not everything on the Greek island is as perfect as it seems. Because as Liv slowly begins to discover, her father may not have invited her to Greece for Atlantis, but for something much more important.
Sidenote: This novel is scheduled to be released on November 10, 2020.
Title: Sophmore Year is Greek to Me
Written by: Meredith Zeitlin
What It’s About: High school sophomore Zona Lowell has lived in New York City her whole life, and plans to follow in the footsteps of her renowned-journalist father. But when he announces they’re moving to Athens for six months so he can work on an important new story, she’s devastated— he must have an ulterior motive. See, when Zona’s mother married an American, her huge Greek family cut off contact. But Zona never knew her mom, and now she’s supposed to uproot her entire life and meet possibly hostile relatives on their turf? Thanks . . . but no thanks.
In the vein of Anna and the French Kiss, Zona navigates a series of hilarious escapades, eye-opening revelations, and unexpected reunions in a foreign country—all while documenting the trip through one-of-a-kind commentary.
Title: Cruel Summer
Written by: Alyson Noel
What It’s About: Having recently discarded her dorky image–and the best friend that went with it–Colby Cavendish is looking forward to a long hot season of parties, beach BBQ’s, and hopefully, more hook-ups with Levi Bonham, the hottest guy in school. But her world comes crashing down when her parents send her away to spend the summer in Greece with her crazy aunt Tally.
Stranded on a boring island with no malls, no cell phone reception, and an aunt who talks to her plants, Colby worries that her new friends have forgotten all about her. But when she meets Yannis, a cute Greek local, everything changes. She experiences something deeper and more intense than a summer fling, and it forces her to see herself, and the life she left behind, in a whole new way, in Alyson Noël ‘s Cruel Summer.
Title: I See London, I See France
Written by: Sarah Mlynowski
What It’s About: Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and a half weeks travelling through Europe with her childhood best friend Leela. Their plans include Eiffel Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers.
Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug of war.
In this hilarious and unforgettable adventure, New York Times bestselling author Sarah Mlynowski tells the story of a girl learning to navigate secret romances, thorny relationships, and the London Tube. As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera…wearing only her polka dot underpants.
Title: 9 Days and 9 Nights
Written by: Katie Cotugno
What It’s About: Molly Barlow isn’t that girl anymore. A business major at her college in Boston, she’s reinvented herself after everything that went down a year ago… After all the people she hurt and the family, she tore apart.
Slowly, life is getting back to normal. Molly has just said I love you to her new boyfriend, Ian, and they are off on a romantic European vacation together, starting with scenic London. But there on a tube platform, the past catches up to her in the form of Gabe, her ex, traveling on his own parallel vacation with new girlfriend Sadie.
After comparing itineraries, Ian ends up extending an invite for Gabe and Sadie to join them on the next leg of their trip, to Ireland. And Molly and Gabe can’t bring themselves to tell the truth about who they once were to each other to their new significant others.
Now Molly has to spend 9 days and 9 nights with the boy she once loved, the boy whose heart she shredded, without Ian knowing. Will she make it through as new and improved Molly, or will everything that happened between her and Gabe come rushing back?
Title: 13 Little Blue Envelopes
Written by: Maureen Johnson
What It’s About: Ginny Blackstone never thought she’d spend her summer vacation backpacking across Europe. But that was before she received the first little blue envelope from Aunt Peg.
This letter was different from Peg’s usual letters for two reasons:
1. Peg had been dead for three months.
2. The letter included $1000 cash for a passport and a plane ticket.
Armed with instructions for how to retrieve twelve other letters Peg wrote—twelve letters that tell Ginny where she needs to go and what she needs to do when she gets there—Ginny quickly finds herself swept away in her first real adventure. Traveling from London to Edinburgh to Amsterdam and beyond, Ginny begins to uncover stories from her aunt’s past and discover who Peg really was. But the most surprising thing Ginny learns isn’t about Peg . . . it’s about herself.
Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.
Title: The Last Little Blue Envelope
Written by: Maureen Johnson
What It’s About: Ginny Blackstone spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny’s backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how the adventure was supposed to end.
Now a mysterious boy has contacted Ginny from London, saying he’s found her bag. Finally Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure, and Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time there are no instructions.
Written by: Jen Malone
What It’s About: Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.
Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.
But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.
Title: The Land of 10,000 Madonnas
Written by: Kate Hattemer
What It’s About: Which would you choose: a long, quiet life, or a short, heroic one?
Jesse Serrano has always been drawn to this question, but he’s never really had a choice. He’s known since birth that a hole in his heart would render his life a short one, whether he likes it or not.
As his dying wish, Jesse sends his cousins, best friend, and girlfriend on a trip across Europe—a mysterious mission that seems more harebrained with every leg of the journey. Following Jesse’s vague instructions, they trek across the continent, unsure if they should be basking in a backpacking trip before heading off to college or searching for something deeper. Through the museums, ancient ruins, landmarks, and more religious iconography than could fill a Holy Ark, they begin to wonder if they’ll ever be able to complete the passage that Jesse laid out for them—and if they even want to without him along for the ride.
In turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Kate Hattemer chronicles an unforgettable journey of lost and found, laughter and tears, and a myriad of Madonnas.
Title: Royally Lost
Written by: Angie Stanton
What It’s About: What would it be like to fall in love with a prince?
Dragged on a family trip to Europe, Becca wants nothing more than to go home. Trapped with her emotionally distant father, overeager stepmother, and a brother who only wants to hook up with European hotties, Becca is miserable. Until she meets Nikolai.
Nikolai has everything—he’s a crown prince, heir to the throne, and girls adore him. But the one thing he doesn’t have is freedom . . . so he flees his kingdom and goes on his own European trip.
And when Nikolai and Becca meet, sparks fly. But Becca’s family vacation ends in a matter of days. Will Nikolai and Becca be forced to say good-bye, or will they change history forever?
Title: The Wonder of Us
Written by: Kim Culbertson
What It’s About: Riya and Abby are: Best friends. Complete opposites. Living on different continents. Currently mad at each other. About to travel around Europe. Riya moved to Berlin, Germany, with her family for junior year, while Abby stayed behind in their small California town. They thought it would be easy to keep up their friendship-it’s only a year and they’ve been best friends since preschool. But instead, they ended up fighting and not being there for the other. So Riya proposes an epic adventure to fix their friendship. Two weeks, six countries, unimaginable fun. But two small catches: They haven’t talked in weeks. They’ve both been keeping secrets. Can Riya and Abby find their way back to each other among lush countrysides and dazzling cities, or does growing up mean growing apart?
Title: The Summer of Us
Written by: Cecilia Vinesse
What It’s About: American ex-pat Aubrey has only two weeks left in Europe before she leaves for college, and she’s nowhere near ready. Good thing she and her best friend, Rae, have planned one last group trip across the continent. From Paris to Prague, they’re going to explore famous museums, sip champagne in fancy restaurants, and eat as many croissants as possible with their friends Clara, Jonah, and Gabe.
But when old secrets come to light, Aubrey and Rae’s trip goes from a carefree adventure to a complete disaster. For starters, there’s Aubrey and Gabe’s unresolved history, complicated by the fact that Aubrey is dating Jonah, Gabe’s best friend. And then there’s Rae’s hopeless crush on the effortlessly cool Clara. How is Rae supposed to admit her feelings to someone so perfect when they’re moving to different sides of the world in just a few weeks?
Title: No Holding Back
Written by: Kate Evangelista
What It’s About: Everyone knows that Nathan is in love with his best friend, Preston. Everyone except Preston. Nathan has always accepted that Preston was too focused on his swimming to worry about love. But Preston is heading off to train for the Olympics soon, so if Nathan wants his chance at love, he has to speak up now. But saying “I love you” is surprisingly difficult, even for someone as confident as Nathan. Could a whirlwind vacation in Europe bring them together? Or if it doesn’t work out, will Nathan lose the best friend he’s ever had?
Title: I Love You So Mochi
Written by: Sarah Kuhn
What It’s About: Kimi Nakamura loves a good fashion statement. She’s obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother disapproves, and when they get into an explosive fight, Kimi’s entire future seems on the verge of falling apart. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi’s estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life.
When she arrives in Japan, she’s met with a culture both familiar and completely foreign to her. She loses herself in the city’s outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival — and meets Akira, a cute aspiring med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. And what begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies. In I Love You So Mochi, author Sarah Kuhn has penned a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel that will make you squee at the cute, cringe at the awkward, and show that sometimes you have to lose yourself in something you love to find your Ultimate self.
Title: Somewhere Only We Know
Written by: Maurene Goo
What It’s About: 10:00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully, a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.
11:00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.
12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.
Sidenote: This novel takes readers to Hong Kong.
Title: Loveboat, Taipei
Written by: Abigail Hing Wen
What It’s About: “Our cousins have done this program,” Sophie whispers. “Best kept secret. Zero supervision.”
And just like that, Ever Wong’s summer takes an unexpected turn. Gone is Chien Tan, the strict educational program in Taiwan that Ever was expecting. In its place, she finds Loveboat: a summer-long free-for-all where hookups abound, adults turn a blind eye, snake-blood sake flows abundantly, and the nightlife runs nonstop.
But not every student is quite what they seem:
Ever is working toward becoming a doctor but nurses a secret passion for dance.
Rick Woo is the Yale-bound child prodigy bane of Ever’s existence whose perfection hides a secret.
Boy-crazy, fashion-obsessed Sophie Ha turns out to have more to her than meets the eye.
And under sexy Xavier Yeh’s shell is buried a shameful truth he’ll never admit.
When these students’ lives collide, it’s guaranteed to be a summer Ever will never forget.
Sidenote: This novel takes readers to Taiwan.
Title: The Astonishing Color of After
Written by: Emily X.R. Pan
What It’s About: Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.
Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.
Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a stunning and heartbreaking novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.
Sidenote: This novel takes readers to Taiwan.
Title: My Summer of Love and Misfortune
Written by: Lindsay Wong
What It’s About: Iris Wang is having a bit of a rough start to her summer: Her boyfriend cheated on her, she didn’t get into any colleges, and she has no idea who she is or what she wants to do with her life. She’s always felt torn about being Chinese-American, feeling neither Chinese nor American enough to claim either identity. She’s just a sad pizza combo from Domino’s, as far as she’s concerned.
In an attempt to snap her out of her funk, Iris’s parents send her away to visit family in Beijing, with the hopes that Iris would “reconnect with her culture” and “find herself.” Iris resents the condescension, but even she admits that this might be a good opportunity to hit the reset button on the apocalyptic disaster that has become her life.
With this trip, Iris expects to eat a few dumplings, meet some family, and visit a tourist hotspot or two. Instead, she gets swept up in the ridiculous, opulent world of Beijing’s wealthy elite, leading her to unexpected and extraordinary discoveries about her family, her future, and herself.
Sidenote: This novel takes readers to Beijing.
Title: Patron Saints of Nothing
Written by: Randy Ribay
What It’s About: Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.
Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth — and the part he played in it.
As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.
Title: The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali
Written by: Sabina Khan
What It’s About: Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali has always been fascinated by the universe around her and the laws of physics that keep everything in order. But her life at home isn’t so absolute.
Unable to come out to her conservative Muslim parents, she keeps that part of her identity hidden. And that means keeping her girlfriend, Ariana, a secret from them too. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life at home and a fresh start at Caltech in the fall. But when Rukhsana’s mom catches her and Ariana together, her future begins to collapse around her.
Devastated and confused, Rukhsana’s parents whisk her off to stay with their extended family in Bangladesh where, along with the loving arms of her grandmother and cousins, she is met with a world of arranged marriages, religious tradition, and intolerance. Fortunately, Rukhsana finds allies along the way and, through reading her grandmother’s old diary, finds the courage to take control of her future and fight for her love.
Title: Love from A to Z
Written by: S.K. Ali
What It’s About: 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.
Title: Darius the Great Is Not Okay
Written by: Adib Khorram
What It’s About: Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian—half, his mom’s side—and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life.
Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush—the original Persian version of his name—and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab.
Title: For Real
Written by: Alison Cherry
What It’s About: When Miranda discovers her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her just after her college graduation, her sister, Claire, comes up with the perfect plan. They’ll outshine Miranda’s ex on Around the World, a reality TV show on which fame-obsessed Samir is already scheduled to compete.
Claire expects the game to be simple: all they need to do is race around the world faster than Samir and they’ll win a million bucks. But the show has a twist, and Claire is stunned to find herself in the middle of a reality-show romance that may be just for the cameras. In a world where drama is currency and manipulation is standard, this summer could end up being the highlight of her life . . . or an epic fail forever captured on film.