1. Two-Way Street
This is the first Lauren Barnholdt book I read and one of the first "YA road trips" books I've read -- it still stands up as one of the best of both categories. Less focused on wacky roadside attractions and more focused on the relationship between the two people in the car, this is a sweetly sad, emotional read that surprises. And despite me just calling it sad, it's actually really fun. It's the story of Courtney and Jordan (her ex-boyfriend), who got into the same college before Jordan dumped Courtney, and are now stuck driving to their new school together. It's so good. And so not quite what I was expecting.
2. When It Happens
Susane Colasanti's first book -- an opposites-attract love story -- is still her best. It's your typical boy-meets-girl romance, but it's just done so so well.
3. Bass Ackwards and Belly Up
Elizabeth Craft & Sarah Fain
Looking at my shelves right now I realize that this book is missing and whether I got rid of it or something else happened to it, it feels like an error because this is a great book. Three best friends bail on their college plans to do the unconventional thing and "pursue their dreams" -- college not included. I at first thought it was going to be a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants knock-off (and, yes, there are some similarities), but it's a very different story altogether.
4. Jerk California
Tourettes. A road trip. A quest for truth and acceptance. This book is so worth reading.
Cheryl Renee Herbsman
A love story between a girl with athsma and the boy who seems to make it disappear. Full of southern dialect, hot summers, and complicated, confusing feelings, this book is sort of exactly the type of book I like. The "love story" between Savannah and Jackson is never quite as clear-cut as I wanted, which made the book all the more awkward and great.
6. The Key to the Golden Firebird
Maureen Johnson's debut novel has a bit of a Dessen-y feel compared to her other novels, and it's one of my favorites. A little more dramatic than, say, Girl at Sea, but still full of great humor.
7. Scribbler of Dreams
Mary E. Pearson
A modern twist on Romeo & Juliet, this is another love story between teenagers whose families hate each other. And I don't know what to say about it except that I absolutely, positively love it. So, so great.
8. How to Build A House
One of the most sparsely-told, brilliant little books I've come across. It's the story of a girl dealing with her father's divorce by joining a volunteer program that has her building a house for a family whose own home was torn apart by a tornado. It's a love story, a family story, a journey of self. It's really, really good. (If you read and liked The Summer I Learned to Fly, you'd probably love this one.)
9. I Was A Non-Blonde Cheerleader
Oh, it's basically just what you expect from the title (just better), and it's so cute, so good, so awesome.
10. The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading
Charity Tahmaseb & Darcy Vance
Another cheerleading book where the cover says it all. And again -- so cute, so good, so awesome. It's a mix of geeky and traditionally popular that I just love, love, love. (Even years after reading this book I can't help but spazz out about how good it is.)