Monday, June 20, 2011
REVIEW: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
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.
I was so, so excited to read this story. I had an inkling that Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson would fit in with the theme, Death and Bereavement in Teen Literature (now postponed/cancelled sadly!), but more than that it sounded like a lot of fun. I love books involving road trips and even though I'm not muscially inclined at all, I do also love books that include music, which this one does. And this one IS a lot of fun.
It's the stories of Amy and Roger as they travel cross country together. Amy's mom has already moved the family far away from their home in California and left Amy behind until things are sorted out. She recruits the son of a family friend, Roger to drive Amy to the new place. Virtual strangers beforehand, Amy and Roger really get to know each other over the course of a week as they swap music playlists, share memories of their childhood and learn what snacks and sodas the other picks up at the convenience stores. And they are both going through a lot. Amy Curry is 17 and is afraid to drive again after her father recently died in a car accident. She's still grieving his loss terribly and at the same time is leaving behind all the people and places she's known forever. It was really sad and beautiful, some of Amy's memories of her father before he died. Their shared love of Elvis and her memories from the day her father died. And Roger has his own issues to deal with as their road trip spans Yosemite National Park to Graceland.
I love the characters that we meet on this road trip, and how it seems that each person comes into Amy's life just as she needs something, whether it be someone to listen, a new wardrobe or to boost her self-confidence in some way. We can see a huge transformation from the beginning to end, starting with Amy being at a very low point, grieving and depressed into someone who is more able to face her demons and her fears and doesn't need to hide so much. The addition of the road-trip mementoes into the text - photos, reciepts, music play-lists really made me smile and feel like there was an extra layer to the story.
And of course, there's Amy and Roger together. They are so SWEET. Immediately attracted to Roger, Amy is very self-conscious at first, unsure of herself in relation to Roger. And they're put into some deliciously awkward moments. Sharing beds, spending long, tense hours in the car together, overhearing personal conversations, the pangs of jealousy as they stop at different places and are hit on by other people. Road trips can be so intimate, and Matson does a great job with throwing these two some interesting situations on their trip together. The highlight for me is meeting the Southern gentleman with a passion for topiary. Fantastic.
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is a really sweet and romantic road trip between two teenagers, but it isn't all sugar and light-heartedness as it touches on some serious topics, from death of a loved one to drug addiction. It does come highly recommended by me! :)