The Ten Best and Worst Summer Vacations in YA Books

August is already coming to an end, but there’s still time to get in one last vacation trip or two. As any seasoned traveler can tell you, not all vacations are created equal. For the characters in the books below, summer vacations cover the entire spectrum from epic adventures with sizzling romances to disastrous trips and even terrifying summers filled with murder and mayhem.

Best Summer Vacations:

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara AltebrandoAll I Need by Susane ColasantiAn Abundance of Katherines cover13 Little Blue Envelopes coverUnbreak My Heart

  1. The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando: After an entire life spent in second place, Mary Gilhooley hopes the Oyster Point High Official Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt will be her chance to finally come out on top. One all-day scavenger hunt, two lawn ornaments, three meltdowns, four relationship fails, and one incredibly daring stunt stand between Mary’s team and victory. Or utter failure.
  2. All I Need by Susane Colasanti: Every summer Skye jokes that this summer will be different; something exciting will finally happen. Usually that isn’t the case. Then Skye sees Seth at a party and she knows, at last, that something big is going to happen. After one magical night Skye and Seth know they’re meant to be. But before they get to a happy future they’ll have to deal with a present filled with missed connections, worried parents, and  troublesome friends.
  3. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green: Colin Singleton excelled in school. He was special. Then he met a girl named Katherine and they started dating. Then she dumped him. Then eighteen more girls named Katherine dumped him. Suddenly, Colin is a teenager with no claim to fame except for his former status as a prodigy. No new ideas. No girl. No plans for the summer except wasting away in his room and moping. At least until his best friend Hassan drags Colin along for a cross-country road trip.
  4. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson: The rules were straightforward, sent to Ginny Blackstone in the first of thirteen letters from her eccentric Aunt Peg. Ginny is used to her aunt’s whims and willing to play along because Aunt Peg is the only person in the world who can make Ginny seem interesting–even if it is just by association. The letters will take Ginny to England and across Europe on an adventure that includes a behind-the-scenes tour of Harrod’s, youth hostels of various ilks and karaoke. At the end of the summer, Ginny might discover she’s more interesting than she thought–all because of those thirteen envelopes.
  5. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker: Clementine made a big mistake her sophomore year when she broke one of the most important rules of friendship. Heartbroken and friendless, Clementine is about to embark on a three-month sailing trip with her parents and her little sister, Olive. Last year the trip sounded like a horrible, faraway idea. Now that it’s here, Clem is surprised to realize it might be exactly what she needs.

Worst Summer Vacations:

A Little Wanting Song coverReunited by Hilary Weisman GrahamClarity by Kim HarringtonWherever Nina Lies coverPaper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

  1. A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley: Charlie Duskin lives and breathes music. At least, she does when she’s alone. Playing guitar or singing in front of anyone is impossible even though she is not entirely without talent. Charlie doesn’t mind so much because music can be enough most of the time–especially during a summer in the country surrounded by old ghosts and locals who want nothing to do with her.
  2. Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham: Alice, Summer and Tiernan were best friends and the self-proclaimed biggest fans of the band Level 3. That was before high school. Before Level 3 broke up. Before the girls’ friendship imploded. Now, one Volkswagen van, two-thousand miles and a whole lot of problems are the only things standing between these three ex-best friends and the reunion concert of a lifetime.
  3. Clarity by Kim Harrington: Clare is expecting a typical summer in the small town of Eastport hanging around the family house to help her mother with psychic readings during the busy tourist season. Things get a bit more complicated when a girl is found murdered at the local motel and her brother becomes the prime suspect.
  4. Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten: When Ellie finds a drawing that can only have been done by her sister, Ellie knows it’s a sign. If she can follow the clues surely she can find Nina wherever she is and bring her home. Ellie sets off on a road trip following Nina’s trail. Along the way Ellie will meet some unlikely misfits, face some harsh realities, and realize that she might be more like her sister than she thought.
  5. Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff: Hanna Wagner wants to keep pretending she is the shiny, happy girl she used to be. But all of that pretending to be normal becomes nearly impossible when a girl is found murdered and her best friend’s ghost insists that Hannah should find out more about the investigation. Drawn into complicated dealings with ghosts, killers, and the enigmatic Finny Boone, Hannah begins to understand that nothing about dying–or living–is as straightforward as she once thought.

How do your own vacations stack up in comparison?