Ticket to Ride: A Book List

Do you dream of travel? Do you just want to go on a crazy trip now and then? These books will take you around town, cross country, and maybe even around the world without ever leaving your chair.

  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: Clay Jensen always pined for Hannah Baker, but it’s only after it’s too late that he really understands her as he listens to thirteen tapes she left him mapping out their town as she experienced it and all of the events that led to her suicide.
  • What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell: The year is 1947 and everyone is eager to put the hardships of the War to End All Wars behind them. When Evie takes a trip with her mother and stepfather to Florida, she finds first love, secrets, and lies in this noirish read.
  • Heist Society by Ally Carter: Katarina Bishop knows all the angles and more than her fair share of cons. She even knows how to steal a legitimate education. But when her father is blamed for high profile theft, Kat will have to travel across Europe and put together her own heist society to clear his name and right some wrongs.
  • Bloomability by Sharon Creech: In her first life Dinnie lived with her family first in Kentucky, then Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana,Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, California and New Mexico. In her second life, Dinnie is whisked away to an eccentric international boarding school in Switzerland by her Aunt and Uncle.
  • A Room With a View by E. M. Forster: Lucy Honeychurch comes to Italy to see the art, broaden her cultural background, and admire the views. Instead what starts as a fight for a room with a view leads Lucy to witness a murder in the street and find an unexpected, and completely improper, romance.
  • An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (see also: Paper Towns): Colin Singleton is a former childhood prodigy and the former boyfriend of 18 girls. All named Katherine. Colin and his best friend Hassan set off on a road trip to help Colin forget his problems. Along the way he might even forget he only dates girls named Katherine.
  • North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley: From behind, Terra looks perfect. But looks can be deceiving. A chance encounter takes Terra and her mother out of their restrictive lives and on a once-in-a-lifetime journey through China where Terra might find real love and, even more importantly, herself.
  • Kitty Kitty by Michele Jaffe (see also: Bad Kitty): Jasmine is in Venice, the most romantic city in the world, and in a beautiful hotel to be home-schooled (not from her actual home) while she takes intensive Italian lessons and her father writes his definitive book on the history of . . . soap. Oh and there’s also the matter of a murder that needs to be solved.
  • 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (see also: Girl at Sea): Ginny is good at following rules–even really weird ones delivered in 13 little blue envelopes by her infinitely more interesting Aunt Peg directing her to travel to London and across Europe.
  • Stealing Henry by Carolyn MacCullough: The night Savannah brains her stepfather Jack with the frying pan is the night she decides to leave home for good. She takes her little brother and they begin a road trip that will change their lives almost as much as when their mother, Alice, made the same trip in reverse eighteen years ago. (
  • Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: Taylor Markham is prepared for war with the Townies and the Cadets. What she isn’t prepared for is finding out her greatest enemies could be her greatest friends and that her past isn’t the closed book she expected.
  • The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson: Thanks to the sudden appearance of a car, Destiny and three of her classmates start a road trip searching for one fair day–a day where the good guy wins and everything adds up to something just right.
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan: As if finding out he was the son of a god wasn’t weird enough, Percy also has to travel across the country to complete a quest and prevent the next world war.
  • A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell: Cora’s life fell apart abruptly. Now all she can think about are the maps she draws constantly and escaping her suffocating life. But the freedom Cora yearns for is closer than she thinks.
  • Jungle Crossing by Sydney Salter: Kat has dozens of reasons to skip her family’s vacation to Mexico from dangerous bandits to heatstroke. Could it be that, instead of being the worst vacation ever, going to Mexico will turn into one of Kat’s greatest adventures?
  • Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer: The year is 1817. Kate is in London enjoying a proper Season while Cecelia, much to her consternation, is left to languish in the country with her brother Oliver for company (at least until he’s turned into a tree). Will the girls be able to unravel a mystery (and fix Oliver) while they’re miles apart?
  • Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee: Maybelline Mary Katherine Mary Ann Chestnut (“Maybe” for short) is sick of living above her mother’s charm school. And of her mother. So Maybe recruits her best friends Ted and Hollywood to go with her to Los Angeles to find Maybe’s father.

Absolutely Maybe: A Chick Lit Wednesday review

Absolutely Maybe coverLast Wednesday my CLW book was Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan (2008). I procured that book on the same day I requested a copy of Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee (2009). While reading this book I was struck by the similarities between the two characters (apathetic/angry, fixated on eyeliner) and even the books themselves (the covers just seemed very close to me for some reason perhaps because I really liked them both). I don’t know if it’s relevant to the review, but I just wanted to get that out of the way.

Onward to the review:

Meet Maybelline Mary Katherine Mary Ann Chestnut (“Maybe” for short). Maybe was named for her mother Chessy’s favorite brand of mascara and two of Chessy’s favorite Miss Americas. Living above her mother’s charm school, perhaps it’s not surprise that a lot of what Maybe does is part of a backlash against her mother.

Chessamay Chestnut Abajian Wing Marshall Wing Sinclair Alvarez (and soon to be Himmler) is a serial marryer. Somehow she winds up married to every man she dates–everyone except Maybe’s father who remains a mystery.

Most of the time, Maybe can deal with all of that. Sure, her mother’s charm school students taunt her and constantly make fun of her baggy clothes and funky hair colors, but they don’t matter. Neither do Chessy’s not-always-so-gentle criticisms. Maybe is above all of that. At least until Chessy chooses her sketchy fiance over Maybe, which is the last straw and convinces Maybe that she has to leave her hometown. And her mother. For good.

So Maybe recruits her best friends Ted and Hollywood to go with her to Los Angeles to find Maybe’s father. Once the trio gets to LA they soon realize that the search will not be easy. Finding money and a place to live is hard enough, but finding a man you know nothing about on top of that is even harder. While Ted is building his career and Hollywood is making a film, Maybe finds herself adrift in her search.

Along the way they encounter a lot of things: a screen idol, a Rolls-Royce, a taco truck. Eventually, Maybe finds the father she’s been searching for albeit not where she had expected. Yee’s writing brings Los Angeles to life in living color hitting all the high points and tourist traps that readers will recognize from their own memories and travel research.

More important than that, Maybe finds herself. Not the beauty queen daughter her mother wanted, or the angry Goth teen she became in response to Chessy’s hopes, just herself: Absolutely Maybe.

Although this book is bizarrely similar to Vibes I’d say that Absolutely Maybe is for older teens. This novel is gritty. Nothing about Maybe’s life is easy at the beginning of the novel. Even when she gets to LA, Maybe and Ted find themselves homeless and scrounging for meals. Yee handles all of this with enough gravitas to make it realistic and enough humor to make it bearable.

Maybe is a really fun character with lots of snark and heart, the only problem (and maybe this is me) was that I kept misreading her name as the word “maybe” which required some necessary re-reading. This story is also populated with some of the best side characters ever. To say Ted and Hollywood are awesome is to belittle the greatness of both characters. Ted’s exhuberance and enthusiasm are infectious, coming straight from the page to the reader. And Hollywood is Hollywood. He was so well-realized as I read this story that when Maybe referred to his as “cowboy” it was enough to picture his entire personality.

I’m a bit torn about the ending of the novel because it is not the ending I wanted per se. In a way this further illustrates the “gritty” realism of the novel. I wanted the Hollywood/fairy tale ending whereas the book gave me a more realistic, still satisfying, ending. I am not, however, holding that against Lisa Yee or Absolutely Maybe. It just means this book requires more imagination about what happens outside of the pages.

An excellent coming-of-age novel, Absolutely Maybe is like nothing else, which is appropriate since Maybe is an unforgettable, unique heroine (and her friends are pretty memorable too).

Possible Pairings: The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander, The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti, The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, Miss Smithers by Susan Juby, The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart, Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson, Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan, The Book of Love by Lynn Weingarten, Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altedbrando, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin