Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Simon and Schuster, 2011. ISBN 9780857072689.
(Age 15+) Recommended as a light read. Amy Curry's life is a mess. Her father has been killed in an accident and her brother is in rehab. Her mother has decided to move from California to Connecticut to make a fresh start and has left her behind in their old home. When Amy's mother decides that she has to have her car, she organises that Roger, the son of a friend, will join Amy on a road trip to bring the car to her. Amy is not too happy about this but as their epic journey progresses and she gets to know Roger, she begins to feel alive again.
Told in the first person narrative by Amy, the reader is taken on a fascinating tour of the US. I held my breath as she and Roger journeyed along Highway 50, the loneliest highway in the US and wondered if they would meet a twister in Colorado. I am now determined to visit Yosemite National Park and eat a Hot Brown and Derby pie at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. The narrative is interspersed with scrapbook pages of maps, drawings, postcards, playlists and receipts showing what they ate and spent on hotels as well as snippets of information about each state, its motto and size. It's sure to inspire girls to try a road trip for themselves.
The journey that Amy takes to regain her life is just as engrossing to read as the road trip. She starts off completely wrecked, uninterested in anything, fearful and afraid to look anyone in the eye. She hasn't grieved properly for her father, and she feels that her mother and brother blame her for his death. As she and Roger get to know each other and she meets others on her trip she gradually begins to come to terms with everything. Roger, too, has his problems and uses the road trip to work out his feelings about the way that his girlfriend Hadley had dumped him. The people they meet on the way are awesome: Bronwyn gives Amy a new set of clothes so she can't camouflage herself anymore, Leonard makes her Princess Amy in his video game, Walcott gets her to open up and Lucien makes her a topiary owl.
I laughed and cried as I read this book. It's sad, uplifting but ultimately lots of fun to travel across the US with Amy and Roger on their epic detour.