If you’ve noticed an abundance of “For Sale” signs and moving trucks in your neighborhood lately, you’re not alone. May is National Moving Month! As college lets out and spring home sales are finalized, thousands of families move. In honor of National Moving Month, I wanted to take a look at YA novels that feature stories about moving. Luckily moving — across the country, across town, or even just to a new schools — is a common theme in YA novels. Big changes make a great starting point for all kinds of stories.
In some cases, moving gives protagonists an opportunity to re-invent themselves. Ava, the heroine of Lili Wilkerson’s Pink (a 2012 Stonewall Honor book), leaves her girlfriend and her goth image behind when she transfers to the Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence. At Billy Hughes, Ava can wear pink, date boys, and be part of the Pastels (the school’s in-crowd). The new environment lets her try on a new personality with surprising consequences.
Mclean, the main character in What Happened to Goodbye (a 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults title) by Sarah Dessen, is no stranger to re-inventing herself. Like Ava, she sees a new school as a chance to start fresh, but unlike Ava, she’s already done it — four times. In another new town and another new school, Mclean decides to try something new: instead of inventing a whole new person, she’s going to just be herself.
In other cases, moving is less about a new place and more about the people you meet there, or the people you leave behind. When Vinnie moves from Queens to Long Island in Not Exactly A Love Story by Audrey Couloumbis, he falls for Patsy, the beautiful girl next door. When Vinnie calls to ask her out, his nerves get the best of him, and Patsy mistakes his silence for an obscene phone call. He calls back the next night to apologize, and they strike up a friendship over the phone, but Vinnie is hesitant to reveal his true identity.
Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park opens with Eleanor’s first day at a new school, riding a new bus. Neither she nor Park are too happy when she takes the only open seat on the bus — the one that happens to be next to him — but their silent bus rides slowly turn into something entirely different as they bond over comics, music, and being two kids who don’t quite fit in.
June, the protagonist of The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman, moves around as much as Mclean in What Happened to Goodbye. At her sixth school in four years, June meets Wes. It’s not even close to love at first sight, but eventually they become friends — and then more. When her dad’s job causes June’s family to move yet again, she and Wes struggle to keep their relationship alive despite the distance between them.
Finally, sometimes moving stories are less about the people and more about the place. In Locke & Key, a creepy graphic novel written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, that place is Keyhouse, a Victorian mansion that’s been in the Locke family for centuries. After their father is killed, Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode, along with their mother Nina, return to Keyhouse. The old house and grounds hold horrible secrets — and the truth about their father’s murder.
In The Blind Faith Hotel by Pamela Todd, Zoe’s parents’ divorce takes her away from her seaside home and her dad to the Midwest. She can’t adjust, but when she gets caught shoplifting and is assigned community service at a local nature preserve, she finds something she loves about her new hometown.
— Emily Calkins, currently reading A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend