Whoop, whoop — here comes summer! The freedom of no school, no college, no responsibilities on the horizon. The promise of long, sunny days extending into long, light evenings and breezy nights that might just be ripe for holiday romance. The hope of finding your soulmate at camp or a festival. There’s a reason tonnes of top YA authors write summer-themed fiction, with some of the finest examples presented below.  

We’ll kick off with Summer Days, Summer Nights — an anthology that’s perfect for dipping into between dips in the pool, or when someone else is doing the driving on a road trip. Edited by Stephanie Perkins, it features twelve scorching short stories by top YA authors.   

Road-trips loom large in many of our favourites, among them Emery Lord’s Open Road Summer in which chalk-and-cheese best friends Reagan and Dee go on a rollercoaster ride of a road trip when Dee, a 17-year-old country music superstar, is offered her first major headline tour.   

We also adored Jeff Zentner’s Rayne and Delilah’s Midnite Matinee — a  contemporary coming-of-age classic, replete with a heartrending road trip, romance and lashings of LOLs. It sees best friends Josie and Delia, a pair of horror movie fans who are about to graduate from high school, embark on a road-trip to Florida to attend the Shivercon film festival, and (hopefully) find Delia’s dad.

More road-trip revelations feature in Robin Talley’s Our Own Private Universe when a bisexual teenager has her first experience of love in all its dizzying complexity during a summer trip to Mexico with her dad’s church mission.

Shifting to a European setting, The Wonder of Us brims with romance, coming-of-age dilemmas and explosive on-the-road experiences, not least when the fabulously authentic characters reach Iceland…

Showcasing a summer of romance, revelations, friendship and feuds during a glamping trip that takes a turn for the wild (there are bears!), Jenn Bennett’s Starry Eyes is thought- provoking, and funny with it.  

Staying in America (and with Jenn Bennett), we raced through Alex, Approximately — a fabulous YA riff on You’ve Got Mail. There’s movie magic, Californian sun, cool vintage- clad characters, and wow — what an ending! This is pretty much the perfect summer read.

Talking of which, Meg Rosoff’s The Great Godden comes close to being both the perfect coming-of-age novel and the perfect summer sizzler. Sophisticated, seductive and easy to read, its loss-of-innocence excellence put me in mind of classics like I Capture the Castle, Bonjour Tristesse and The Lost Estate (Le Grand Meaulnes). 

On the subject of summer novels with classic appeal, set in the 1920s, Laura Woods’ A Sky Painted Gold unveils a glorious Gatsby-esque summer of champagne and Cinderella style change for 17-year-old Lou.   

Set in the 1930s and inspired by Much Ado About Nothing, the author’s Under a Dancing Star is also pretty darn special as it presents a young woman’s life-changing summer in her uncle’s villa in Italy, this time set around Bohemian circles.  

Looking for something with soul and depth? Try Harriet Reuter Hapgood’s The Square Root of Summer. A year after losing her grandfather and being rejected by her first love, 17-year-old physics prodigy Gottie slips back in time, to when these traumatic experiences happened. With themes of loss, grief, friendship (and physics), this is also packed with wit and warmth.

Meanwhile, golden in name, and gloriously radiant in nature, Phil Stamper’s Golden Boys delivers rays of hope and fresh possibilities as four gay friends from small-town Ohio embark on the potential summer-of-a-lifetime before starting their senior high school year.  

Want something that’ll make your spine tingle? Try summer-themed thriller What She Found in the Woods. Or how about You're Not Supposed to Die Tonight? Set in a summer camp, this creepy contemporary YA horror novel remixes eighties slasher movies in terrifying style.  

Lastly, before we leave you to dive into this whole collection of YA summer sizzlers, mention must be made of Renée Watson's Love is a Revolution. With an inspiring Black American teenager at its heart, and centred around a close Harlem community, this empowering story of summer love in all its forms is 100% authentic and uplifting.