With friendship drama, summer flings, exotic locales, and even suspense, these novels offer teen readers of all tastes compelling summertime diversions.
Kekla Magoon’s 37 Things I Love (in no particular order) takes place during the last few days of sophomore year before summer vacation begins for Ellis. Along with typical high school issues—friends, dating, etc.—Ellis faces a more serious challenge: her father has been in a coma for years, and Mom wants to end life-support. What elevates this book above Afterschool Special is Ellis’s way with words as she describes juggling familiar teen concerns with life-and-death decisions. (14 years and up)
In Deb Caletti’s The Story of Us, Cricket’s future with longtime boyfriend Janssen is uncertain. Meanwhile, her mom is getting married, and college looms. Interspersed with a memorable week at a beach house are Cricket’s letters to Janssen in which she recalls the trajectory of their relationship. Authentically imperfect characters, clever dialogue, and observations that ring true will draw readers in. (14 years and up)
Angel, the star of Beth Ann Bauman’s Jersey Angel, is a confident, sexually experienced teen. She knows that her secret summer fling with her best friend’s boyfriend could inflict damage, but she rationalizes that she’s a good person and good people should be allowed to “fall” sometimes. This steamy beach book goes a level deeper as the characters find themselves faced with difficult choices. Angel isn’t sure whether she says or does the right thing—but she admirably tries her best. (14 years and up)
Michael Cadnum’s Seize the Storm chronicles seventeen-year-old Susannah and her family’s yacht voyage to Hawaii during which they sail into a deadly confrontation with professional criminals. Cadnum meticulously describes each character’s personality and motives, embedding them in an expertly constructed web of intrigue. Straightforward, elegant prose helps place the dramatic events into a grander scheme in which fortune, greed, fate, and death thrillingly play out. (14 years and up)