Book Lists

Americans Abroad

Summer is over for now, but it’s never too early to start dreaming and planning for next year’s trip.

In honor of the August release of Stephanie Perkins’s Isla and the Happily Ever After (the third book in the wonderful Anna and the French Kiss series), we’ve pulled together 60 YA books about Americans traveling, studying, and living abroad—from memoirs to contemporary romances, historical fiction, and fantasy. So grab your passport and expand your horizons as you see the world through the pages of these books.

Check out the interactive version of the map, where you can click on each of the covers to learn more about the books.

Americans Abroad- Great YA Reads

















North and Central America


uninvitedThe Uninvited by Tim Wynne-Jones

After a disturbing freshman year at New York University, Mimi is happy to get away to her father’s remote Canadian cottage. But she discovers a stranger living there who has never heard of her or her father and who is convinced that Mimi is responsible for leaving sinister tokens around the property.



the heart is not a sizeThe Heart Is Not a Size by Beth Kephart

Fifteen-year-old Georgia learns a great deal about herself and her troubled best friend Riley when they become part of a group of suburban Pennsylvania teenagers who go to Anapra, a squatters’ village in the border town of Juarez, Mexico, to undertake a community construction project.


featheredFeathered by Laura Kasischke

While on Spring Break in Cancun, Mexico, high-school seniors and best friends Anne and Michelle accept the wrong ride and Michelle is lost—seemingly forever.



vivian divineVivian Divine Is Dead by Lauren Sabel

Teen celebrity Vivian Divine’s movie-star mom has been murdered, her famous-director dad tried to kill himself, and her boyfriend is cheating on her. When a death threat arrives with her fan mail, Vivian has no choice but to go on the run to Mexico. She soon discovers, through, that her Oscar-nominated performance killing villains on-screen did nothing to prepare her for escaping a madman in real life. Beat up, hungry, and more confused than ever about who she’s running from, Vivian realizes this isn’t the stuff bad TV movies are made of; this is material for a full-on blockbuster horror flick.

sofi mendozaSofi Mendoza’s Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico by Malín Alegría

When Southern California high school senior Sofi Mendoza lies to her parents and crosses the border for a weekend party, she has no idea that she will get stuck in a Mexican village with relatives she has never met before, unable to return to the United States and the easy life she knew.


red glassRed Glass by Laura Resau

Sixteen-year-old Sophie has been frail and delicate since her premature birth, but she discovers her true strength during a journey through Mexico, where the six-year-old orphan her family hopes to adopt was born, and to Guatemala, where her would-be boyfriend hopes to find his mother and plans to remain.



South America


indigo notebookThe Indigo Notebook by Laura Resau

Fifteen-year-old Zeeta comes to terms with her flighty mother and their itinerant life when, soon after moving to Ecuador, she helps an American teenager find his birth father in a nearby village.


michael veyMichael Vey: Rise of the Elgen by Richard Paul Evans

In this sequel to Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25, fifteen-year-old Michael Vey, born with Tourette’s syndrome and special electromagnetic powers, joins his techno-genius best friend and an alliance of other “electric” teenagers to battle powerful foes in the jungles of Peru, where Michael learns the Order of Elgen’s plan to “restructure” the world.


city of beastsCity of the Beasts by Isabel Allende

When fifteen-year-old Alexander Cold accompanies his individualistic grandmother on an expedition to find a humanoid Beast in the Amazon, he experiences ancient wonders and a supernatural world as he tries to avert disaster for the Indians.





United Kingdom

statistical probability

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Hadley and Oliver fall in love on the flight from New York to London, but after a cinematic kiss they lose track of each other at the airport until fate brings them back together on a very momentous day.



Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

After a family tragedy, Jacob feels compelled to explore an abandoned orphanage on an island off the coast of Wales, discovering disturbing facts about the children who were kept there.



13 envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

When seventeen-year-old Ginny receives a packet of mysterious envelopes from her favorite aunt, she leaves New Jersey to criss-cross Europe, starting in England, on a sort of scavenger hunt that transforms her life.




carrier of the markCarrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

Instantly drawn to a mysterious, alluring boy in her class, teenaged Megan, an American living in Ireland, discovers that they are linked by a supernatural destiny that gives them powers Megan never knew she possessed.



there youll findThere You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

Eighteen-year-old Finley, seeking God, quiet time to prepare for an audition at a prestigious music conservatory, and knowledge of the land her deceased brother loved, spends her senior year in Ireland, where teen movie idol Beckett Rush, equally troubled, desires her company.




The Netherlands

fault in our starsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.


annaAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

When Anna’s romance-novelist father sends her to an elite American boarding school in Paris for her senior year of high school, she reluctantly goes. There she meets an amazing boy who becomes her best friend, in spite of the fact that they both want something more.



islaIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla has had a crush on her classmate Josh since their freshman year at the School of America in Paris, but after a chance encounter over the summer in Manhattan, they return to France for their senior year, where they are forced to confront challenges every young couple in love must face.



beautiful americansBeautiful Americans by Lucy Silag

Four high school students on a study abroad program in Paris hide secrets, party, and revel in the glamor of the city, until one of them disappears.




justone dayJust One Day by Gayle Forman

Sparks fly when American good girl Allyson encounters laid-back Dutch actor Willem, so she follows him on a whirlwind trip to Paris, upending her life in just one day and prompting a year of self-discovery and the search for true love.





sing me to sleepSing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison

An unattractive seventeen-year-old who has a beautiful singing voice undergoes a physical transformation before performing in a singing competition with her choir in Switzerland, where she meets a boy with troubling secrets, and they fall in love.



bloomabilityBloomability by Sharon Creech

When her aunt and uncle take her from New Mexico to Lugano, Switzerland, to attend an international school, thirteen-year-old Dinnie discovers an expanding world and her place within it.






eleanorEleanor’s Story: An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany by Eleanor Ramrath Garner

Eleanor’s Story is the dramatic autobiography of Eleanor Ramrath Garner’s youth, growing up as an American caught in World War II Berlin. It’s a story of trying to maintain stability, hope, and identity in a world of terror and contrasts. During the Great Depression, when she is nine, Eleanor’s family moves from her beloved America to Germany, where her father has been offered a good job. But war breaks out as her family is crossing the Atlantic, and they cannot return to the United States. Eleanor tries to maintain her American identity as she feels herself pulled into the turbulent life roiling around her. She fervently hopes for an Allied victory, yet for years she must try to survive the Allied bombs shattering her neighborhood.

rose under fireRose under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

When young American pilot Rose Justice is captured by Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp, she finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery, and friendship of her fellow prisoners.





aliciaAlicia: A Cliques Novel by Lisi Harrison

In Spain for summer vacation, middle-schooler Alicia competes with her cousins to land a spot in a teen heartthrob’s new music video.






girl at seaGirl at Sea by Maureen Johnson

High-school junior Clio Ford reluctantly gives up her dream job and a potential first kiss to take a working vacation with her estranged father on a yacht in Italy.




blonde opsBlonde Ops by Charlotte Bennardo

In Rome sixteen-year-old fashion magazine intern Rebecca “Bec” Jackson must catch the person who’s after the First Lady, solve the mystery of her editor-in-chief’s accident, and juggle two cute boys at the same time.



pretty facePretty Face by Mary Hogan

When an overweight high school student from Santa Monica spends the summer in Italy, she learns to relish life and understand the true meaning of beauty.




juliet clubThe Juliet Club by Suzanne Harper

When high school junior Kate wins an essay contest that sends her to Verona, Italy, to study Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet over the summer, she meets both American and Italian students and learns not just about Shakespeare, but also about star-crossed lovers–and herself.



are we thereAre We There Yet? by David Levithan

Tricked by their parents into taking a trip to Italy together, two brothers—one in high school and the other recently graduated from college—reflect on the directions of their own lives and on the distance that has grown between them.



kitty kittyKitty Kitty by Michele Jaffe

When seventeen-year-old Jasmine Callihan is whisked off for an extended visit to Venice, Italy, at the start of her senior year, she tries her best to stay out of trouble but gets caught up in trying to solve a murder mystery.



sisterhoodThe Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

Four best girlfriends spend the biggest summer of their lives enchanted by a magical pair of pants.




oh my godsOh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs

When her mother suddenly decides to marry a near-stranger, Phoebe, whose passion is running, soon finds herself living on a remote Greek island, completing her senior year at an ancient high school where the students and teachers are all descended from gods or goddesses.



cruel summerCruel Summer by Alyson Noël

Ditching her best friend to become a member of the popular clique in high school, Colby’s priorities change after spending the summer on a Greek island and sharing an intense relationship with a local boy.



my best friedMy Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter

Colette’s life is near-perfect, if boring, so when her ex-best friend, Sadie, asks her to come on vacation to the Greek Islands for a family wedding, Colette agrees but is surprised to learn Sadie’s true reason for the invitation.





Czech Republic

field guide heartbreakersA Field Guide for Heartbreakers by Kristen Tracy

When seventeen-year-old high school students Veronica and Dessy go to Prague to attend a summer writer’s program for college students, they experience romance, conflicts, and, ultimately, the strengthening of their friendship.





jessica rulesJessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Eighteen-year-old vampire princess Jessica Packwood is in for the fight of her life—and her husband’s—when Lucius is accused of a horrible crime and Jessica, trying to prove herself worthy of the throne, faces betrayal by those closest to her.




Bosnia and Herzegovina

basher five-twoBasher Five-Two: The True Story of F-16 Fighter Pilot Captain Scott O’Grady by Scott O’Grady, with Michael French

U.S. Air Force Captain Scott O’Grady’s shares his adventures after his F-16 fighter plane was shot done over Bosnia in June, 1995.




briar roseBriar Rose by Jane Yolen

Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma’s stories about Briar Rose. But a promise Rebecca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma’s astonishing claim: I am Briar Rose. The journey will lead her to her grandmother’s native Poland and to unspeakable brutality and horror, redemption and hope.



frostFrost by Wendy Delsol

After her boyfriend, Jack, conjures up a record-breaking snow storm, sixteen-year-old Kat Leblanc finds herself facing an unusual rival in the form of an environmental researcher from Greenland who is drawn to their small town of Norse Falls, Minnesota, by the storm.



boy on bridgeThe Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford

It is 1982 and nineteen-year-old Laura Reid is spending a semester in Leningrad studying Russian, but when she meets Alyosha, she discovers the dissident Russia—a world of wild parties, underground books and music, love, and constant danger.






mamba pointMamba Point by Kurtis Scaletta

After moving with his family to Liberia, twelve-year-old American Linus discovers that he has a mystical connection with the black mamba, one of the deadliest snakes in Africa, which he is told will give him some of the snake’s characteristics.


akata witchAkata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Twelve-year-old Sunny Nwazue, an American-born albino child of Nigerian parents, moves with her family back to Nigeria, where she learns that she has latent magical powers that she and three similarly gifted friends use to catch a serial killer.


endangeredEndangered by Eliot Schrefer

Sophie is not happy to be back in the Congo for the summer, but when she rescues an abused baby bonobo, she becomes more involved in her mother’s sanctuary—and when fighting breaks out and the sanctuary is attacked, it is up to Sophie to rescue the apes and somehow survive in the jungle.


laugh with the moonLaugh with the Moon by Shana Burg

Massachusetts thirteen-year-old Clare, grieving after her mother’s recent death, reluctantly travels with her father to spend nine weeks in a remote village in Malawi, where new friends and experiences help open her mind and heart.


forest of pygmiesForest of the Pygmies by Isabel Allende

Eighteen-year-old Alexander Cold and his grandmother travel to Africa on an elephant-led safari, but discover a corrupt world of poaching and slavery.


escape under theEscape under the Forever Sky by Eve Yohalem

As a future conservation zoologist whose mother is the U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, thirteen-year-old Lucy uses her knowledge for survival when she is kidnapped and subsequently endeavors to escape and find her way to freedom.


lost in timeLost in Time by Melissa de la Cruz

In this novel from the Blue Bloods series, Schuyler Van Alen and her love, Jack Force, go their separate ways after their trip to Florence, Italy, with Schuyler going to Egypt to fulfill the Van Alen legacy, while Jack returns to Manhattan to face his twin sister, Mimi. But things get even more complicated when Mimi jets off to Egypt while the Coven threatens to fall apart around her.



The Middle East


how to ruinHow to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles

When sixteen-year-old Amy, a spoiled American, goes to Israel for a three-month summer vacation with a father she barely knows, she is not prepared for his Jewish family and the changes they bring about in her life.


habibiHabibi by Naomi Shihab Nye

When fourteen-year-old Liyanne Abboud, her younger brother, and her parents move from St. Louis to a new home between Jerusalem and the Palestinian village where her father was born, they face many changes and must deal with the tensions between Jews and Palestinians.



purple heartPurple Heart by Patricia McCormick

While recuperating in a Baghdad hospital from a traumatic brain injury sustained during the Iraq War, eighteen-year-old soldier Matt Duffy struggles to recall what happened to him and how it relates to his ten-year-old friend, Ali.







come back to afghanistnaCome Back to Afghanistan: A California Teenager’s Story by Said Hyder Akbar and Susan Burton

Hyder Akbar tells how his ordinary suburban California life was turned upside-down after 9/11. His father, a scion of an Afghan political family, sold his business—a hip-hop clothing store in Oakland—and left for Afghanistan, where he became President Hamid Karzai’s chief spokesman and, later, the governor of Kunar, a rural province. Obsessed since youth with a country he had never even visited, seventeen-year-old Hyder convinced his father to let him join him on three successive summers. Working alongside his father at the presidential palace and in Kunar has given Hyder a rare front-row seat at the creation of democratic government in Afghanistan. He interweaves his personal journey—a teenager struggling with his identity in his parents’ homeland—with a dramatic behind-the-scenes account of political and civilian life in post-Taliban Afghanistan.


joe and azat

Joe and Azat by Jesse Lonergan

Joe is an American in the strange land of Turkmenistan who finds a good friend in Azat, a Turkmen dreamer whose optimism knows no bounds. Lonergan not only captures the bizarreness of living in a country where the president for life launches copies of his poetry books into space, outlaws gold teeth, and renames the months and days, but also reveals that there is hope in seemingly hopeless situations.



three cups of teaThree Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, adapted for young readers by Sarah Thomson

This is a middle-grade adapted version of the New York Times bestseller about humanitarianism and providing Muslim children around the world with an education is enhanced with photos, maps, illustrations, and a special afterword by the author’s daughter, who worked with him as an advocate for the Pennies for Peace program.


lucky tLucky T by Kate Brian

Carrie gets upset when her mother gives her lucky T-shirt to Help India. Now she’s only having bad luck, so she decides to travel halfway around the world to get her lucky shirt back.



monsoon summer

Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins

Secretly in love with her best friend and business partner Steve, fifteen-year-old Jazz must spend the summer away from him when her family goes to India during that country’s rainy season to help set up a clinic.




peakPeak by Roland Smith

A fourteen-year-old boy attempts to be the youngest person to reach the top of Mount Everest.



kingdom of golden dragonKingdom of the Golden Dragon by Isabel Allende

Sixteen-year-old Alexander Cold accompanies his grandmother, a writer for a geography magazine, to the remote Forbidden Kingdom in the Himalayas to help locate a sacred statue of a golden dragon before it is stolen by a greedy outsider.



counterfeit family treeThe Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong by L. Tam Holland

Vee’s history assignment is to create a family tree, but he doesn’t know anything about his family beyond his parents’ generation. If only he knew where he came from. So Vee does what anyone in his situation would do: He forges a letter from his grandparents in China, asking his father to bring their grandson to visit. Astonishingly, Vee’s father agrees. But in the land of his ancestors, Vee learns that the answers he seeks are closer to home then he could have ever imagined.


inkInk by Amanda Sun

Ink is in their blood. On the heels of a family tragedy, Katie Greene must move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building. When Katie meets aloof but gorgeous Tomohiro, the star of the school’s kendo team, she is intrigued by him . . . and a little scared. His tough attitude seems meant to keep her at a distance, and when they’re near each other, strange things happen. Pens explode. Ink drips from nowhere. And unless Katie is seeing things, drawings come to life. Somehow Tomo is connected to the kami, powerful ancient beings who once ruled Japan—and as feelings develop between Katie and Tomo, things begin to spiral out of control. The wrong people are starting to ask questions, and if they discover the truth, no one will be safe.

when you were hereWhen You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

When his mother dies three weeks before his high school graduation, Danny goes to Tokyo, where his mother had been going for cancer treatments, to learn about the city his mother loved and, with the help of his friends, come to terms with her death.



tokyo heistTokyo Heist by Diana Renn

After a high-profile art heist of three Van Gogh drawings in her home town of Seattle, sixteen-year-old Violet Rossi finds herself in Japan with her artist father, searching for the related Van Gogh painting.



orchardsOrchards by Holly Thompson

Sent to Japan for the summer after an eighth-grade classmate’s suicide, half-Japanese, half-Jewish American Kana Goldberg tries to fit in with relatives she barely knows and reflects on the guilt she feels over the tragedy back home.


South Korea

somebodys daughterSomebody’s Daughter by Marie Myung-Ok Lee

Adopted and raised by Scandinavian-American parents in Minnesota, a Korean teenager returns to her native country to find her mother.





fallen angelsFallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

Seventeen-year-old Richie Perry, just out of his Harlem high school, enlists in the Army in the summer of 1967 and spends a devastating year on active duty in Vietnam.




nine days

Nine Days by Fred Hiatt

American tenth-graders Ethan and Ti-Anna go to Hong Kong seeking her father, an exiled Chinese democracy activist who has disappeared, and follow his trail to Vietnam and back, uncovering illegal activity along the way.






reef of deathReef of Death by Paul Zindel

While helping a beautiful Aboriginal girl search for her people’s missing treasure near the Great Barrier Reef, seventeen-year-old PC finds himself fighting an evil scientist and a deadly underwater monster.

New Zealand

flight of albatrossFlight of the Albatross by Deborah Savage

Sarah goes to New Zealand to spend the summer with her mother and becomes involved with a Maori boy and his cause.


shipwreck island

Shipwreck Island by S. A. Bodeen

Sarah Robinson still can’t believe her dad has remarried. She now has to deal with a new stepmom and two stepbrothers. They’ve moved from Texas to California to start life as a new, blended family. But none of the kids seem happy about it. Sarah’s dad and stepmom decide to take the whole family on a special vacation so they can get to know each other. They’ll fly to Fiji, charter a boat, and sail for a few days. It’ll be an adventure, right? Wrong. Dead wrong.



What do you think? Did we miss anything? What are your favorites?


For more great YA recommendations set around the world, check out Epic Reads’s Planet YA (Europe, Greenland and Canada, Oceania, and South America) and United States of YA; Stacked’s post “Display This: A Romp through Europe“; and the Hub’s (YALSA) post “American Teens in Europe.”





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