Title: Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 352 pages, 5/4/10
Summary: Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn’t seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she’s coming to terms with her father’s death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road--diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards--this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.
First Impressions: Wow, this was a debut novel?! I definitely enjoyed this road trip saga, and am highly impressed by the deft way Matson builds the relationship between Amy and Roger over the course of the book. The use of playlists, postcards, and travel detritus such as reciepts and napkins gives the tale depth and realism.
Plot: It seems like in contemporary, realistic fiction the plot summaries of my favorites are always so simple. In this, a girl whose family has been shattered by the death of her father must drive across the country to meet up with her mother in Connecticut for her senior year of HS. Of course, it only gets more complicated when you factor in her inability to drive due to panic attacks. Enter Roger, a family friend that Amy hasn’t seen in years. He goes to college nearby, and is heading across the country to spend the summer with his dad in Pennsylvania. Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour is the story of what happens when they abandon the carefully laid plans made by Amy’s mother in order to confront their demons.
Style: I really enjoyed Morgan Matson’s writing style. She does a wonderful job helping you see each stop on the detour right along with Amy and Roger, and as I mentioned before the unconventional additions only help immerse you in the road trip experience. As a 9-month pregnant lady I know in my mind that any road trip I might take would not go well, but this book made me yearn for one nonetheless. As a bonus, one of the stops along the way was Louisville, KY - where I attended college and met my husband! Super secret nostalgia bonus!
Characters: Oh, how I love Amy and Roger. While Amy’s grief and her journey to come to terms with it were central to the book, Roger’s own journey to accept and understand what happened in his previous relationship is just as important. I loved the slow build of Amy and Roger’s friendship through the book - there are no easy, off-screen conversations that we’re only told about briefly. Matson shows their growing closeness and changing dynamic through their actions, and the relationship is so much more believable because of it.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10