One of my most memorable summer vacations was the first time I went to Washington, D.C. I was going into middle school, and I had just read Mary Higgins Clark's Stillwatch, so I was obsessed with political journalism and Washington, D.C. Not only was that trip the first time I would visit my future home, it was also on that trip that my mother read us The Chronicles of Narnia. Yes, all seven books in one road trip.
For me, that road trip was a bit of a rite of passage, a journey of self-discovery on four wheels. Stillwatch played no small part in my decision to study journalism and later become a PR professional in D.C. And the Narnia books continue to shape my view of of children's literature and even my personal faith.
As this summer draws to a close, I'm dedicating this new reading list to that great summer tradition: The Road Trip.
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech: All journeys begin with a single step. For one girl, learning to deal with her mother's abandonment means retracing the steps of her spiritual quest.
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex: Some road trips are out of this world. Well, maybe it stays on this world, but an 11-year-old girl from Pennsylvania managers to bring an extraterrestrial along for the ride.
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson: A trip around the world may be the only way to go. Thirteen messages from her deceased aunt will lead one teenager back to where it all began.
Paper Towns by John Green: Discovering yourself means looking beyond what's right in front of you. One boy and his loyal friends soon discover that you can't save someone unwilling to save herself.
Going Bovine by Libba Bray: "Our greatest foes, and whom we must chiefly combat, are within" (Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra). A sudden illness takes a boy and his hospital companion on a wild ride to find a cure.
Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler: Putting your mistakes behind you takes more than distance. On a road trip to visit her absentee mother, the queen of meaningless hookups tries to avoid the future by outrunning her past.
I've logged many thousands of miles in road trips since that one 17 years ago, and each one still holds a certain magic. Even if you're studying a map or following that electronic voice on the GPS, you never really know where the road is going to take you. For me, it always seems to take me home.