TIoU header.jpg

Swoon Author Katy Upperman: 11 of My YA Summertime Favorites

My favorite sorts of stories are those that lend the lazy-hazy sense of summertime—books set near the ocean or at the lake, stories that read as warm, or carefree, or sweet as melting ice cream. I’ve amassed quite a collection of these kinds of books, and can be found enjoying them May through September, often at the pool or on the beach.

(I’ve also been known to write my own summery beach-set stories—*ahem* The Impossibility of Us!)

Today, I’m excited to share some of my favorites. Hopefully you’ll be able to read a few before this summer fades into fall…

The Summer I Turned Pretty cover

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

A whole trilogy surrounding main character Belly and the love triangle she finds herself a part of—along with a pair of brothers. Set at Cousin's Beach, with all sorts of complex family dynamics and a strong coming-of-age theme, this one’s a summertime must-read.

Alex, Approximately cover

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

I dare you not to fall for the California surf town (Santa Cruz, basically) main character Bailey moves to at this novel’s opening, and I double-dare you not to fall for cute surfer boy Porter. I adore this novel about love, friendship, family, and opening up to possibility.

Moonglass cover

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

I want to visit Crystal Cove, the California beach where Jessi Kirby’s debut takes place; through her gorgeous descriptions, the setting truly comes to life. I’m a longtime fan of this lovely character-driven novel about Anna, a girl who’s dealing with some big changes while uncovering difficult family secrets.

Gray Wolf Island cover

Gray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercott

A darker, swoonier version of The Goonies, Gray Wolf Island is a beautifully written debut about a treasure hunt that takes place on a mysterious and super atmospheric island. Guys, its final chapters literally gave me chills. Perhaps not a traditional “beach” book, but a definite favorite.

What I Thought Was True cover

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Any book set in a place called Seashell Island belongs on this list! I love this novel for its complex cast of characters and its thoughtful take on adolescent relationships and sexuality. I want to be an island girl, and I want to be main character Gwen’s friend.

Twenty Boy Summer cover

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Anna gets to vacation in Zanzibar Bay with her best friend, Frankie, which is the perfect opportunity for a summer fling. But Anna’s not over the death of her first (secret) love: Frankie’s brother. This one’s been around for a while, but it reads as timeless, and is incredibly affecting.

Be True to Me cover

Be True to Me by Adele Griffin

Such a unique book—it takes place on Fire Island in 1976 and centers around two girls, Jean and Fitz, and their fierce competition for the affections of a boy. Complex and flawed characters meet a distinct and whimsical setting—yes, please!

The Last Thing You Said cover

The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren

Sara Biren writes so poignantly about grief. I adore this lake-set story about unthinkable loss and intense first love. I rooted so hard for Lucy and Ben, and I almost cried. This is a summer story that carries a lot of weight.

Love Songs & Other Lies cover

Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington

All the angsty chemistry between Vee and Cam in this debut about heartbreak and second chances. This one’s part road trip and part reality TV, but it’s got some of the sweetest and steamiest lakeside snuggling I’ve read. Also, Vee is impossible not to like.

Wild Swans cover

Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood

Set on the Chesapeake Bay, Wild Swans is about Ivy who, thanks to her talented (and troubled) lineage, strives to meet her granddad's sky-high expectations and struggles with the return of her long-estranged mother. A+ friendships and romance, as well as some truly beautiful prose.

Second Chance Summer cover

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson can always be counted on to pen a bittersweet summer story. This Pocono-Mountain-set novel is all about coming to terms with the inevitable loss of a parent, the meaning of family, rekindled friendships, and falling in love. Have tissues on stand-by.

I’d love to hear your summertime book recommendations! Leave your favorites in the comments!

Author spotlight

Katy Upperman

I'm a wife, mama, avid reader, and country music fanatic. I like baking, sunshine, social media, Jelly Bellies, and yoga. ...

See More