“The Way Life Should Be”: YA Books Set in Maine

I haven’t posted all that much lately because I’ve been busy with work, getting ready to go off to college, and prepping for vacation. I will be taking  mini-break from blogging for a week or so while I’m on vacation. I’ll be camping for the whole week, and while there will be wi-fi (I don’t do backwoods camping — at least, I haven’t yet!), I’ll have no need for a laptop where I’m going.

And where will that be, you might ask?



The wonderful, gorgeous, and wild state of Maine! In case you’re wondering, Maine claims that it is “the way life should be” in its state motto (the title of this post). Of course, I can’t deny this. 😉

I grew up in a small, coastal town in Southern Maine — and I couldn’t be more grateful. It was in Maine that I developed a love of nature, fostered by the surroundings of my hometown. The people and way of life in Maine are also what I remember fondly of my years there. From the beach, to the small business (chain stores were banned), to the wild animals (turkeys, porcupines, and THE MOOSE I ONCE SAW IN MY NEIGHBOR’S YARD) and the wonderful people Maine seems to attract, I cherish my childhood memories of Maine.

So, as I am returning once again to vacation in Maine, I thought it would be fitting to make a guide of YA books set in Maine. I know I’ve read a few, but there seem to be even more that I haven’t read. So, here I go!


15790873If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds. 

Then Graham finds out that Ellie’s Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?

Well, if that title don’t say it all! Because a movie is being shot in the MC’s hometown of Henley, Maine, the reader really gets a feel for the town. Casual trips to the beach, summer job scooping ice cream for tourists, low-key atmosphere and boating trips (not that I’ve been ‘boating’ per say, but still)…the author sure does a great job with the book’s setting. It definitely felt familiar to me — and I used to be a Maine local! The setting in This Is What Happy Looks Like really sets the mood as relaxed and, well, happy. So A+,  Jennifer E. Smith. A job well done.

11283552Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe.
I wonder whether the procedure will hurt.
I want to get it over with.
It’s hard to be patient.
It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet.
Still, I worry.
They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness.
The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.

Set in a dystopian Portland, I didn’t at first realize it was in Maine. Sure, I knew of Portland, ME, but I figured Delirium referred to the more well-known Portland in Oregon. But references to the warehouse-like buildings and the coastline, combined with subtle clues as the the location of the neighboring ‘Wilds’ (the untamed land outside of the society in Delirium) that put it near Canada convinced me that it was set in Portland, Maine. This immediately improved my image and feel for the setting, adding a new dimension to it when I knew that I could connect to it. While the book is not focused on location, for me it helped me to better imagine the society in Delirium — an orderly, controlled society that contrasts sharply with the ‘Wilds’ of the Maine woods.

13505655A resonant debut novel about retreating from the world after losing everything—and the connections that force you to rejoin it.

Since the night of the crash, Wren Wells has been running away. Though she lived through the accident that killed her boyfriend Patrick, the girl she used to be didn’t survive. Instead of heading off to college as planned, Wren retreats to her father’s studio in the far-north woods of Maine. Somewhere she can be alone.

Then she meets Cal Owen. Dealing with his own troubles, Cal’s hiding out too. When the chemistry between them threatens to pull Wren from her hard-won isolation, Wren has to choose: risk opening her broken heart to the world again, or join the ghosts who haunt her.

So I’m sure this is the Maine everyone imagines — cold, buried in snow, and as isolated as it gets. While I’ve never been to the “far-north woods of Maine”, I’ve seen my fair share of snowfall (including snow that came up to my chest, but that’s because I was about four years old). The beautiful thing about Lovely, Dark and Deep is how much the setting enhances and adds to the story. Wren suffers a lot a grief throughout the book, and her sadness, confusion, and loneliness only seems to be amplified by the snowy woods that are indifferent to her suffering and very foreboding at times, but other times quiet and inviting. In some ways the setting and story are one and the same, spun together and inseparable. It’s really something special to behold; I highly recommend this lyrical novel.

8573632When sixteen-year-old Kaelyn lets her best friend leave for school without saying goodbye, she never dreams that she might not see him again. But then a strange virus begins to sweep through her small island community, infecting young and old alike. As the dead pile up, the government quarantines the island: no one can leave, and no one can come back.

Those still healthy must fight for the island’s dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.

Okay, so this might be cheating, but just barely. This book takes place on a small island off the coast of Canada — but the setting is quite similar to Maine! I’ve visited a small island off the coast  of ME called Peaks Island, which reminded me SO much of the island setting in The Way We Fall. Both can only be accessed by a ferry (perfect for a quarantine!), and both are so small but still have a grocery/general store, schools, public services… basically, the islands are like long-lost siblings. Or maybe the fictional one is based off the one in Maine. Anyways, Peaks Island, ME, WAS the setting of this book for me. This made the setting so much more believable, and more frightening — because I can clearly imagine a place where an epidemic is breaking out!


(Just click on the book cover to see the Goodreads profile)

129309099774362161010541570058310603241161010726339664991813369704904070493So as far as I can tell, there are several common themes in the setting between the books on this list:

  1. The isolation aids the book in adding a creepy, supernatural, or thriller element.
  2. The wintery weather adds a different sort of mood to the book that might not otherwise be as prevalent.
  3. Or the nature (beach, woods) adds an additional dimension the the setting and therefore the story.

Well, I’m off on vacation then. But I urge you all to explore the books on this list, because the Maine setting really defines some of these books and it is quite spectacular. If there’s this many books written about such a sparsely populated state as Maine, there’s gotta be something to it. (And there is, trust me 😉 ).

Happy reading!

Have you been to Maine (or want to go)? Have you read any books set in Maine? How did you feel that the setting defined the book? Or, how important can setting be in a book? Share your thoughts!


  • Oh wow, hope you’ll have fun in the Maine!! I actually never went camping haha. I know I know. XD And I wish you success with college. I’ve read Hush Hush and Need, they were both very good books so hope you’ll enjoy them! 😀 No, I haven’t been to Maine. 😛
    Lola @ Hit or Miss Books recently posted…Review of The Girl from the Well by Rin ChupecoMy Profile

    • Thanks, I had a great time! And everyone should go camping at least once…you know, make a campfire and roast marshmallows, the whole nine yards! I’m really excited about heading off to college, I’m gonna have a post about it coming up (with a giveaway!). I’ve heard a lot of good things about Hush Hush, so I’ll definitely have to check that one out!

  • I didn’t realize Delirium was set in Maine. (or that so many other books were.) Have fun on your vacation. 🙂 I hope you see lots of (non dangerous) wild life.
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…My wonderful vacation and my horrible week backMy Profile

  • I haven’t been camping for the longest time, but I think your pics have given me the outdoor bug. There’s only a month of summer left so I’d best get on that. Enjoy your vacay!
    Carmel @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Angela Addams’ Kick-Ass Ladies + Giveaway #StompvsRompMy Profile

  • […] Lina lists some YA books set in Maine. […]

  • Andy Bland says:

    Can’t wait to read these books. I love me some YA.
    Andy Bland recently posted…Auto ResponderMy Profile

  • I recently read Fracture by Megan Miranda. It was set in Maine, and the setting did tie into the plot. It all starts when a girl falls through a frozen lake and dies for eleven minutes… so the cold winter setting was kind of important!
    La Coccinelle recently posted…Weekly Recap – September 14-20, 2014My Profile

    • Woah, sounds intense! The setting plays into a book in so many ways, and it sounds crucial in Fracture. I bet it added a certain mood to it as well! I’m so intrigued now…does she live or come back to life as something different? I MUST KNOW!

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