There’s still a couple of weeks before the start of school and this is the perfect time to see this great nation of ours. Whether by plane or by car, visiting one of the United States can be entertaining and educational; however, sometimes a two day trip or a quick stop at a historical landmark leaves you wanting more culture. Reading books set in the states is a great way to fill your cultural needs. Authors often set their books in the states where they were raised or currently live and as the reader, we get to see the character’s city/state through their eyes. We experience the people and their traditions, religion, and family life.
Many Americans may never visit West Virginia yet we have our own prejudices but in Free Verse, Sarah Dooley illustrates the daily life of coal miners and why they continue to work in dangerous conditions. Most of us may not be a member of a Pentecostal snake handling church and we may not understand it but Jeff Zentner introduces us to a boy who is a member of this church and although he is embarrassed by the crimes of his father he is not embarrassed by his faith.
So grab your devices and your trail mix and go on a reading tour of the USA. Perhaps you will discover something exciting and new.
- NEW JERSEY- Whisper to Me by Nick Lake
Cassie has had a tough summer mentally and romantically. To explain her behavior to the boy’s heart she broke, Cassie writes him a personal letter of loss and loneliness.
- PENNSYLVANIA- Great American Whatever by Tim Federle
Quinn hasn’t left his room in six months since the death of his sister and filmmaking partner. After reluctantly going out with his best friend Geoff, Quinn falls in love, uncovers secrets, and come to terms with his sister’s death.
- WEST VIRGINIA- Free Verse by Sarah Dooley
After her older brother dies, Sasha has no one and is sent to live in a foster home. Living on a street named Caboose West Virginia, Sasha dreams of leaving this coal mining town everyday but the discovery of an uncle and a cousin causes her to see her small town through new eyes.
- LOUISIANA- Down with the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn
Lennie Cash’s name is legendary and not just for her criminal father but for her family’s legacy as moonshiners and wish granters. Reeling from her friend’s brutal murder and wanting to fit in, Lennie unwittingly brings the magic moonshine to the party of the year where everyone makes outrageous wishes. Lennie is then tasked with taking back those wishes and cleaning up her mess.
- TENNESSEE- The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
Dill’s father is the minister of a snake handling church, in prison, and Dill must live with his father’s name. Living in a small town with no dreams of leaving and secretly being in love with his best friend who has big dreams of leaving, Dill struggles to figure out his life.
- KENTUCKY-Love That Split the World by Emily Henry
Natalie is ready to have the best summer in her small Kentucky town before she begins seeing visions of a different life. After a visit from a stranger who called herself grandmother and beautiful boy named Beau, Natalie tries to solve the mystery of her visions.
- HAWAII-The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Nix is a member of a four man crew aboard The Temptation-captained by her father. Captain Slate is fiercely searching for a map from 1868 to go back into time to save his one true love. Will Nix help him or sabotage his search?
- TEXAS-Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Willowdean “Dumplin” Dickson is a Texan, daughter of the Miss Teen Beauty Pageant’s coordinator, and overweight. She has best friend issues, boy issues, mommy issues but she decides to honor her aunt by entering the pageant.
Minnow’s compound has burned down and her cult’s leader was murdered. Minnow is in juvenile detention accused of the crime and while she tries to survive life outside the cult, Minnow must decide if she can trade her secrets for freedom.
- WASHINGTON- Essential Maps for the Lost by Deb Caletti
While taking a swim, Madison finds a dead woman floating in the water. Upon learning it was a suicide, Madison who has also contemplated suicide becomes obsessed with the woman’s life which includes her son. Madison inadvertently develops a relationship with the woman’s son and Madison fears that if he finds out about her obsession, he’ll end it.
- KANSAS- Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett
When Ash’s mother returns to the commune she left years ago, Ash follows her only to find a city surrounded by corn stalks. Soon after her arrival, Ash begins to have visions of her ancestor that are initially lovely messages of love and immortality that soon give way to gruesome murders. Ash must save her mother before all the visions become reality.
- CALIFORNIA- American Girls by Alison Umminger
Fed up with life, Anna steals her mother’s credit card and heads to LA to spend the summer with her glamorous sister. While working on a movie set, Anna is tasked with researching the Manson murders and soon begins to see herself and her sister in the Manson girls.
- ARIZONA-If I Fix You by Abigail Johnson (Coming in October)
When Miss-fix-it-Jill’s mother walks out on her and her father, Jill begins to feel helpless until a new boy with scars moves in next door. While trying to “fix” the new boy, Jill discovers she can’t fix other people’s problems until she can fix her own.
Make America Read Again Printable PDF
Dawn Abron, currently reading Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson