Kerry Winfrey
June 01, 2013 11:00 am

It’s summer, guys! Well, it’s not officially summer… not for a few weeks, anyway. But it is warm, and I’m out of school (and have been for the past 5 years), so it feels like summer to me. And what’s the best thing about summer, besides non-stop ice cream? Reading! Reading is also one of the best things about every season, but whatever. We’re here to talk about the best YA beach books! Not necessarily the best books to read on the beach, but the best books that feature the beach. Even if you don’t get to spend time with your toes in the sand this summer, it’s always nice to do a little bit of vicarious living through your favorite YA characters.

There’s just something special about beach books. My love for them probably stems from a bit of wishful thinking. I definitely never had a crazy beach summer growing up, mostly because I lived smack-dab in the middle of Ohio. Even when I did take a trip to the beach, it was with my family. Don’t get me wrong, those family trips were fun, but they were more “building sandcastles” kinda trips and not “dealing with a hot beach love triangle” kinda trips. That’s why I love beach books that feature romance, drama, friendship, heartbreak and occasionally (usually) some beach make-outs.

Here are my favorite YA beach books, in no particular order…because I couldn’t possibly rank these gems. If you don’t agree with me, think I left something off of my list or have a beach book suggestions, you’re welcome (and encouraged!) to share your favorites in the comments!

Alice in Rapture, Sort Of by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I can’t even count the number of times I read this book growing up. Alice’s dad takes her and her two best friends to stay in a beach house for a week, and all kinds of exciting, dramatic, romantic things happen. Alice gets her first bikini! Her boyfriend, Patrick, shows up! Pamela’s swimsuit top comes off in the ocean and she’s embarrassed! I’m pretty sure this is the most perfect book ever written. I wish there were college courses devoted to Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. The Summer I Turned Pretty is all about our girl Belly Conklin. She spends her summers at Cousins Beach, where her family shares a beach house with another family. This other family includes brothers Jeremiah and Conrad, both of whom are dreamy in their own ways (although only one is a stone cold fox, in my opinion).TSITP is actually the first in a trilogy, so you can read all three this summer and get your fill of beaches, love triangles and heartbreak.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. The beach isn’t featured as much in My Life Next Door as it is in some of the other books on this list, but there is a beach, so I’m totally counting it. Also this is my list and I can basically do what I want. Samantha’s always lived a quiet life with her perfectionist politician mom, but things start to get a little crazy when she falls for her next door neighbor, Jase. Their romance makes Samantha question a lot of things in her life, and it puts her family relationships to the test. But most importantly, Jase is a dreamboat.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen. Sarah Dessen is pretty much the queen of the YA beach book. There are definitely other books of hers that could make this list, but Along for the Ride is one of my favorites. There’s a main character named after a poet (Auden), some intense family drama, bikes and insomnia. Also, Eli is such a babe. He’s a guy with a tortured soul and he knows where to find the best pie…what more could you want? He’s not my favorite Sarah Dessen dude (Wes is, obviously), but he’s right up there.

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland. Nantucket Blue just came out recently, but it’s already one of my favorite YA beach books. When Cricket goes to Nantucket for the summer, she ends up dealing with friendship drama, a crazy summer job and a totally secret, totally hot romance. Just be warned that NB will give you an intense desire to visit Nantucket. Cricket’s descriptions make it sound magical, and my Google image searches only confirm this. Now I want to have a perfect, preppy summer amongst the boats and beaches!

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. Okay, so this might not technically be YA, but raise your hand if you read it when you were a young adult and were shocked and delighted by the steamy sex scenes and drama (I assume all of your hands are raised right now). Summer Sisters is all about intense friendship and dramatic love affairs…it’s the quintessential beach book.

Now it’s your turn! What are your favorites? Let me know which awesome YA beach books I left off my list! And, as always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave a comment, email me at youngadulteducation@gmail.com or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.

Image via Shutterstock

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