HarperCollinsSimon PulseG.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Whether you're going to London, Paris, or Tokyo, all study abroad semesters begin the same way — with an excruciatingly long plane ride. Start your travel adventure off right by trading in an uncomfortable nap and a PG movie for one of these YA novels written for those of us suffering from a massive case of wanderlust. From many, many royal romances and coming-of-age novels to surprising treatises on grief and self-discovery set in the beautiful European countryside, these books are guaranteed to get you excited for the most magical time of your life.
If the part of studying abroad you're most excited for is traveling on the weekends, Maureen Johnson's 13 Little Blue Envelopes will give you major wanderlust. The heroine, Virginia, receives the titular letters from her recently deceased Aunt Peg with a mission: complete the task set in each letter in order, without help from anything electronic, extra money, or a foreign language aid. Armed with only a backpack, Virginia follows the letters as they lead her to London, Scotland, Paris, Amsterdam, and Greece as she tries to figure out what exactly Aunt Peg is trying to teach her.
It may seem counterintuitive, but you can study "abroad" without ever leaving the country. Whether your idea of a summer away is studying in Washington D.C. or you happen to hail from a country outside of the United States, Jennifer E. Smith's newest romance takes place from sea to shining sea — literally. When Hugo's girlfriend dumps him right before their romantic trip across America by train, he puts out an ad for a replacement Margaret Campbell since their non-refundable tickets were in her name. When another Margaret Campbell stumbles upon his offer after receiving some bad news, she spontaneously decides to take the trip of a lifetime with a complete stranger.
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Some girls grow up dreaming of becoming a princess. Others girls dream of dating one. And, let's be honest, a lot of girls probably dream of both. Rachel Hawkins has got you covered with Her Royal Highness, the lesbian royal fantasy we all deserve. Protagonist Millie Quint decides the only way to get over her sorta-girlfriend cheating on her is to flee the country, and an acceptance letter to one of the most exclusive boarding schools in the world leads her to the lush greenery of Scotland. At first, Millie hates her prissy princess of a roommate. Literally, her roommate is the Princess of Scotland. But, as we all know, the line between love and hate is very, very thin.
Dutton Children's Books
Stephanie Perkins's debut novel came out nearly a decade ago, and it still slaps. The John Green-approved romance about an American high schooler's year abroad pairs a believably-paced romance with the otherworldly backdrop of Paris, France as our heroine, Anna, adjusts to life at a new boarding school she did *not* want to attend. Meeting the affable and charismatic Etienne St. Clair, a British student, certainly helps things, but growing feelings for her new, taken BFF prove harder to navigate than the winding Parisian streets. Stephanie's anthology sequels prove she knows how to write a teen romance, but her first novel still remains her most starry-eyed.
You didn't seriously think we'd only have one royal romance on here, did you? If dreaming of Prince Charming is more your speed, upgrade your The Lizzie McGuire Movie dreams with Royally Lost by Angie Stanton. Trade in Paolo for Nikolai, the crown prince fleeing his kingdom for a European adventure. Becca meets Nikolai on the tail end of a miserable family vacation, and she's immediately drawn to the undercover prince. If you don't mind insta-love and are looking for a lighthearted romance heavy on the historical facts, this will be a quick and easy plane read.
Wanderlost's title isn't just a punny play on the word "wanderlust" or an excuse to quote J.R.R. Tolkien (although it is, also, both of those things), it's an accurate description of our protagonist, Aubree, and her Big Problem — she is, very literally, lost. Jen Malone's novel begins with Aubree being uprooted from her relaxing Ohio summer to take over as the leader of a senior citizen's European bus tour after the original guide, her older sister, gets into some big trouble. Before they even arrive at the tour's first stop in Amsterdam, Aubree finds herself phoneless and clueless with only the tour agency owner's son for company. She's falling for him while posing as her sister, discovering that it's hard to find yourself when you're posing as somebody else.
A slightly ridiculous premise leads to a Letters To Juliet-esque romance for Ashley Lawson, a love-averse bibliophile who wins a summer working at a Shakespeare symposium in Verona, Italy. Suzanne Harper's The Juliet Club is a vacation read at its finest — there's not much substance, but you'll have a lot of fun. Fans of The Bard will notice a lot of similarities between this novel, The Taming of the Shrew, and Much Ado About Nothing, complete with an unwinnable protagonist named Kate, a dogged love interest, and a friendly plot to make two star-crossed lovers realize that they are, indeed, in love.
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Another romance by Jennifer E. Smith, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight takes the oft-imagined scenario of falling in love with a handsome stranger on a plane and turns it into a cinematic tale of fate, loss, and London sightseeing. Hadley Sullivan misses her flight at JFK, probably because she wanted to miss her father's wedding in London, not that she would ever admit it. When she sits next to a cute British boy, Oliver, during her long, rescheduled night of travel, a romantic connection forms that makes the next 24 hours more complicated and wonderful than our heroes could have ever dreamed.
Some aggressive Googling went into deciding whether Michele Bacon's beautifully written Antipodes was, in fact, a Young Adult novel. The book was criticized by the old and sexist for featuring a heroine that actually enjoyed sex (gasp!), the cover is solemn, and it goes to some dark places, but this coming-of-age story is simply Young Adult fiction at its very best. The seventeen-year-old protagonist, Erin, is studying abroad in New Zealand after the complete and total destruction of her life. Erin is inching closer to where she came from even thousands of miles away as she rebuilds and remembers exactly how she got here.
Gayle Forman, the bestselling author of If I Stay, has done it again with Just One Day, the story of a spontaneous trip to Paris and the benefits of stepping way, way out of your comfort zone. Instead of going home at the end of her post-grad Euro trip, uptight Allyson makes an impulse decision to run away to Paris with a free-spirited actor, Willem. Over the course of twenty-four hours, Allyson meets a colorful cast of characters while falling in love with Willem and, more importantly, with her liberated and authentic self.
Simon & Schuster
Buy it for the cute, colorful cover, keep it for the cute, colorful story inside. Jenna Evans Welch serves up a story as sweet as ice cream in Love & Gelato, the story of Lina's solemn summer in Tuscany. Even Italy's gorgeous views and delicious cuisine can't distract Lina from the real reason for her visit: her mother's dying wish that she get to know her estranged father. Through her mother's journals and her charming companion, Ren, Lina discovers a magical world of romance, art, and baked goods, but she also gets close to uncovering a secret that could change everything.
Fans of What's Your Number, the greatest romantic comedy of our time, will probably fall for Meant To Be by Lauren Morrill. Julia isn't a fan of class-clown Jason, but after a wild party during a class trip to London kickstarts a chain of mysterious romantic texts, Jason might be the only person who can help Julia track down her secret admirer. A wild goose chase through London finds Julia breaking all of her rules and discovering that love blooms in the strangest of places. Oh, and there's plenty of history thrown in for good measure.
Not all love stories are about romantic love, and the bond you share with your BFF is just as important as finding your one true soulmate. And wasn't it Carrie Bradshaw who said that it's really our girlfriends who are our soulmates, and guys are just people to have fun with? In Kim Culbertson's The Wonder of Us, best friends Abby and Riya are struggling after a year apart has led to fighting, abandonment, and some serious hurt feelings. Riya plans a two-week trip across Europe to repair their unbreakable bond, but mounting secrets and weeks of silence force the girls to ask if growing up can mean growing apart.
Back to our long chain of contemporary romances, The Distance from A to Z is Natalie Blitt's first novel, but her chemistry-filled debut has the pacing and panache of an old pro. Perfect for Francophiles, seventeen-year-old Abby's summer of French immersion studies was supposed to keep her far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family, but her project partner, Zeke, is exactly the type of sports-lover she was trying to avoid. As it turns out, the two have more in common than a functional French fluency, but Zeke's big secret threatens to risk everything these attracted opposites have built.
Balzer + Bray
Yes, Katie Cotungno's book 9 Days and 9 Nights is ~technically~ the sequel to her bestselling 99 Days, but you don't need to read the first to enjoy this story of two exes on the longest, most awkward double date of all time. Molly and Gabe have both moved on since their breakup, and Molly has totally changed. She doesn't hurt people or tear apart families anymore, and she just said, "I love you," to her new BF, Ian. Unfortunately, she runs into Gabe and his girlfriend, Sadie, during the first leg of her European vacation, and poor, clueless Ian invites the couple to come along on their week of fun... while Gabe and Molly can't bring themselves to come clean about how, exactly, they know each other.
This one goes out to all of the students studying in the summertime because nothing says summer like a Sarah Dessen novel. The Rest of the Story doesn't actually involve studying (or, to get technical about it, much travel), but Emma's story of a summer away from home at her late mother's family home encompasses the feeling of starting fresh in a new place and letting a fresh cast of characters help you uncover your truest self. Understanding her parents upstairs-downstairs courtship, getting to know her estranged maternal family, and reconnecting with her childhood best friend starts a magical summer that comes to a very Sarah Dessen-y conclusion.
Beth Kephart's protagonist, Kenzie, isn't going to Spain for a raucous time abroad. Small Damages tells the story of Kenzie's exile as the pregnant teen mourns the loss of her father while being forced into giving up her child to a Spanish couple. Despite being in fairly dire circumstances, her time in southern Spain opens her heart to life's beauty, both in the Spanish landscape and inside of her. The poetic prose is more contemplative than most of our travel-ready reads, but as Kenzie's eyes adjust to the wonders of this world, so do Small Damages's readers'.
Some lucky, lucky students get the chance to study abroad right on the beach. Whether you're in South Africa, the South of France, or surfing in Hawaii, Erin L. Schneider's Summer of Sloane will have you itching to hit the waves. Seattle native Sloane's escape to Honolulu comes on the heels of a devastating betrayal by her boyfriend, Tyler, and her best friend, Mick. A summer ignoring their calls and flirting with the handsome son of a hotel magnate is *almost* all that it's cracked up to be until Sloane needs to decide whether to forgive and forget or to give herself the chance to move on.
Semester at Sea students need to pick up Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche. This memoir by the popular travel blogger follows the real story of a girl who is terrified of water but somehow finds herself agreeing to join her love, the Argentinean Ivan, as he takes a year-long voyage across the Pacific in nothing but a humble sailboat. They visit some of the world's most remote, beautiful locations as Torre recalls her risk worth taking, an inspirational tale for anyone looking to put a little wind in their sails.
Katherine Tegen Books
We had to end this list with another royal romance. This insider's tale of two sisters at a prestigious boarding school who both fall for the same heir to Britain's throne, the inventively-named Edward, throws readers into the scandalous lives of England's elites. Romancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney shows what happens when one sister is jealous of another without getting too deep in the fictional imagining of what would've happened if Pippa Middleton had dated Prince William first. That's obviously what's happening here, right?