Wednesday, July 25, 2012

REVIEW: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour

Matson, M.  (2010).  Amy & Roger's Epic Detour.  New York:  Simon & Schuster.

344 pages.

Appetizer:  It's been three months since the accident that killed her father and Amy Curry still refuses to drive.  And as long as she doesn't have to spend time with anyone for too long, she can fake her way through seeming normal. But after her mom enlists nineteen-year-old Roger, to drive Amy from California to Connecticut to the new home that her mom is establishing for Amy and her twin (who is off at rehab).  Amy's concerned that she won't be able to hide everything she's going through and feeling from her attractive road trip partner.

Then, when Amy and Roger decide to ignore her mother's itinerary and have a real road trip, she knows this trip will not be what she had expected and feared.  It may actually be a way for both Amy and Roger to deal with everything that they have both been dealing with.

Including emails, receipts tickets, playlists, photos, and excerpts from Amy's travelogue, this book does a good job of incorporating many different materials to help expand the story.  I really liked the use of mixed media.  I thought it was effectively done.

I really enjoyed this book.  I thought Amy's grief was thoughtfully characterized and I loved the way pieces of her past were slowly revealed by things that triggered her memory.

I also like that there were a bunch of playlists included throughout the book.  It provided a nice soundtrack.  (But there were so many lists of songs!  It made downloading them way too expensive...but you can find copies of at least the first playlist to listen to online.)

I do have a few tiny complaints about the book though:

  1. Why did the font have to be so small!!!!  I felt like I should have been reading a scholarly article on psychoanalysis or something.
  2. Ohmysweetgoodness, Amy and Roger have the worst eating habits on the road!  I mean, I know they're teenagers and I know it's normal to eat unhealthy when travelling, but I kept waiting for one of them to go into a diabetic coma.
  3. At one point a fashionista provides Amy with a new wardrobe from her own closet.  Speaking as a clothes horse, while I believe this character would totally have been nice and let Amy borrow some outfits, I really doubted she would have actually given a bunch of her clothes away.  I suppose these means I'm a special brand of selfish fashionista.
  4. Roger was a little too obsessed with his ex-girlfriend for a little too long.
  5. At the end of the novel all of the themes and Amy's issues were wrapped up a too perfectly. Like with a bow with sequins and curlicues that is so over the top that you know your loved one must have had a store professional wrap it instead of doing it his or herself.  

Nonetheless, this was a great summer read!

Dinner Conversation:

"An Email from Amy's mom:
I'm sure all will go well on the drive.  I'll expect you and Roger no later than the tenth, according to the itinerary I've mapped out for you (attached).  You have reservations at the hotels listed.  pay for them, meals, and gas with your emergency credit card.
And please be safe!" (p. 3)

"I sat on the front steps of my house and watched the beige Subaru station wagon swing too quickly around the cul-de-sac.  This was a rookie mistake, one made by countless FedEx guys." (p. 8)

"' I can't drive,' I said, when I felt I could speak again.  I hadn't driven since the accident, and had no plans to start again any time soon.  Or ever.
..."Oh, you won't have to drive!" She was speaking too brightly for someone who'd been yawning a moment before.  "Marilyn's son is going to drive.  He needs to come East anyway, to spend the summer with his father in Philadelphia, so it all works out." (p. 13)

"'You want me to spend four days in a care with someone I've never met?'
"I told you, you've met," my mother said, clearly ready to be finished with this conversation.  "And Marilyn says he's a lovely boy.  He's doing us a big favor, so please be appreciative." (p. 14)

"As soon he turned toward me, I blinked in surprise.  The sticking-out ears were gone.  The guy coming toward me was shockingly good-looking.  He had broad shoulders, light brown hair, dark eyes, and he was already smiling at me.
I knew in that instant the trip had suddenly gotten a lot more complicated." (p. 15)

"I tore open the package and shook out a book.  It was heavy and spiral-bound, with a dark blue cover.  AWAY YOU GO! was printed in white fifties-style script.  And underneath that, Traveler's Companion.  Journal/Scrapbook/Helpful Hints.
I picked it up and flipped through it.  It seemed to be mostly blank pages, with a scrapbook section for preserving "Your Lasting Memories" and a journal section for recording "Your Wandering Thoughts."  There also seemed to be quizes, packing lists, and traveling tips.  I shut the book and looked at it incredulously.  This was the "present" my mother sent me for the trip?  Seriously?
I tossed it on the counter.  I wasn't about to be tricked into thinking this was some sort of fun, exciting adventure.  It was a purely functional trip that I was being forced to take." (p. 19)

"For the first time, it struck me that this trip could be something worth recording in the scrapbook, after all.  "Well," I said, not entirely able to believe I was about to suggest this.  "I mean, I guess we could go other places.  As long as we're there in four days, does it really matter which way we go?"
"Really?" Roger asked.  "What about your mother's reservations?"
I shrugged, even though my heart was pounding.  It was a legitimate question.  Knowing my mother, she'd probably be calling every hotel to make sure we'd checked in.  But there was a tiny, reckless piece of me that wanted to be the difficult one for once.  That wanted to mak eher worry about me for a change.  That wanted to show her what it felt like to be left behind." (p. 37)

Tasty Rating:  !!!!

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