Monday, January 30, 2012

Book Review - Amy and Roger's Epic Detour

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour 
by Morgan Matson
Hardcover344 pages
Published May 4th 2010 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing 
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. (Goodreads summary)

This book is so...normal. And I mean that in the best possible way.

Often times a book will try to encompass a normal life but the acts and characters won't reflect the story and situation. However, this book is perfect. Both Amy and Roger act their age and behave appropriately given their situation and stories.

What I love about this book is the flow and pacing. Matson doesn't rush us through the journey, but she takes snapshots of moments that ultimately tie into the big picture. She hones in on some and zooms out on others. As a result, we are just an additional passenger along for the ride.

In the wake of a tragedy, Amy's family has fallen apart. They don't know how to cope with the loss of her father and as a result, they have started to lose sight of each other. Amy starts the journey as a shell of a human being. She often references to an alter ego, Amy!, a girl who would know exactly what to do in any situation. But regular Amy is at a loss. And that makes her raw, real and relatable. Matson does a great job of painting Amy. We want to help her, but as she does with others, she holds us at arm's length. She keeps half of the story from us and only reveals it as she herself begins to come to terms with the details. Ultimately, as her shell begins to crack and she begins to transform, Amy starts to reveal more of herself. And we get to know her on this journey.

Roger. Oh so adorable Roger. Or Magellan as he is commonly known at school. Here is reason number one why I like Roger: he is so nice. He is patient, kind, and low key. Even with his own backstory playing out, he never gets too rattled. He is a stable driving companion, and he eases some of the stress on the page. Here is reason number two why I like Roger: his playlists. Dude has stellar taste in music. I would love to ride in his car.

I love this book because of all of the stops, restaurants, and people they encounter along their detour. The title says it is an Epic Detour. I expected mishaps, shenanigans and flat tires. That doesn't happen. The detour is epic because it is life changing. The people that Amy and Roger meet along the way impact each of them, leaving lasting impressions. What is epic about this detour are the small moments of trying a new restaurant like Chik-Fil-A, listening and liking someone else's music, and meeting random people who wind up providing transformation.

At the end, what is found in Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is a beautiful story that teaches us that in the aftermath of a life changing tragedy, someone can never really move on, but they can move forward. We've all had those moments where we felt like our entire world was turned upside down and then felt alone. This story starts us at that place and then sends us on an Epic Detour to find out what would happen if we stopped hiding and allowed ourselves to explore the world.

Rating 4.2/5

1 comment:

  1. I loved this book too, and for all the same reasons you've mentioned. I wish there were more books like this one :-)


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