As far as the US is concerned, I live about as far from California as you can get. But I’ve been there several times, and I crave everything California on a frequent basis. Especially in the winter, like now, when I hear icicles dripping outside of my window. It is a rare February day when there is sunshine and blue sky instead of the gray, milky, upside-down cereal bowl appearance of the world in general, but even still, I would rather be in CA. So on days with the milky sky, I look at my sunset pictures like the one of the Golden Gate above, or ones I have in Joshua Tree, Coronado, Santa Monica, Big Sur. Looking at them reminds me that the snow will recede, and summer will be here soon.
Now there are A LOT of books and A LOT of movies set in the Golden State, and I will list a few of my YA faves (and one may be fave that’s on the TBR nightstand). I know it will be just as difficult for me to limit the list when it comes to NY (that’s for another week), or London, or Paris… ooooh Paris (I love Paris!). Sorry, continuing on.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
You’ve probably heard a lot about this book by now, and if you haven’t… where have you been? Kidding. Sorta. Everything, Everything is a beautiful story of a girl named Maddy who is allergic to the world. Her only real relationships are with her mother and nurse. So for her to meet anyone and have a romance, is a miracle in itself, and when it does it presents a lot of challenges. This book is a really fast read, and if you are in it for the romance, you are in the right spot. (If you’re in it for the medicine, back away slowly…)
BONUS: If you love the book, you may be happy to know that it is being released as a film. Check out the first trailer here.
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Lola is the second book in the Anna and the French Kiss series by Stephanie Perkins. This book takes us to San Francisco, which is one of my most favorite places in the world. SFO has everything you could ever want. Hiking, forests, culture, parks, the best restaurants, historic buildings and monuments, a Yoda statue, and arguably the most famous bridge in the world. Let’s get back to the book though.
Lola (real name Delores) spends much of her time designing costumes and clothes and already has a boyfriend when one day she spots a moving truck next door. Enter Cricket – a young man who is the literal boy next door. This is a classic fluffy contemporary romance. If you’ve read Anna, you owe it to yourself to try Lola… and also Isla (book 3).
Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
Everything Leads to You is set in the Los Angeles area, the first part of the state that comes to mind when most people think of California. And the star of the show, Emi, is a young girl who recently graduated high school and has an incredible passion for production design in the movies. Emi inherits her brothers apartment with very distinct directions–to do something amazing with with the place. Emi is a little lost at first until she and her best friend, Charlotte, stumble upon a letter in an old house. The letter spurs Emi on a journey to find out everything about the star’s life. This contemporary YA is perfect for Sarah Dessen fans, and anyone reader with a love for movies.
A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world. Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.
Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee
I’m going to end this book journey back in San Francisco, with a book I haven’t read quite yet. It came out in May 2016 (so less than a year ago, not so bad in terms of my TBR… ha!) and also won some accolades in the Epic Reads Shimmy Awards in December. This is YA historical fiction set in 1906 San Francisco. From everything I’ve heard, it is a must read for historical fiction lovers.
I’ve seen a lot of pictures of early 1900’s SFO in the museums around the city, so I can only imagine how much of that detail must have seeped its way into this gorgeous book. The Cal Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park had an exhibit called “Quake” which simulated the 1906 Earthquake that devastated the city. (Basically they put you in a room decorated in the style of the times, plus shifted the images in the windows to show the fires and disaster outside. But no worries, they also gave you safety handles to cling on as the quake lifted the room side to side, vertically, angularly… nothing like the small ‘boom’ earthquakes we have here in the north-east. Completely different fault line structures.)
San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.
On April 18, a historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Though fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the army to bring help—she still has the “bossy” cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenage girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?
So that brings an end to our YA literary tour of California (for now!).
If you are looking for some YA movies, I admit I’m now stuck on SFO after writing this… so I’m going to say The Princess Diaries because even though she keeps calling her car “baby” and that makes my skin crawl, the views of the city are well worth it, and I do genuinely enjoy Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews in this adaptation. Need a TV show to binge on? Again, many many choices. Let’s head back down to Southern California and hit up our friends in Orange County in… The OC. I love this show and all it’s melodrama.
Enjoy the sun and the fun! I hope this has inspired you to take some time for our friends on the west coast this weekend.
Where should we go next weekend? Hmmm… England? Italy? Somewhere with islands?! So many choices…