Title: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
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 wanted to read Morgan Matson’s second book, Second Chance Summer, first, but this book was at the library first. And I’m kind of glad it was.
This book certainly has its sad and emotionally heavy scenes, especially when you flash back to the scenes where Amy’s dad is still alive, but it was the kind of emotionally devastating book that Second Chance Summer was (sorry, I may do a lot of comparing of the two since I just read the second book and already have the review written, even though this one goes up first). This book seemed to have a lot more lighter moments throughout the whole book.
I wasn’t always sure what I thought of Amy. She was often the stereotypical YA protagonist – shy and unsure of herself, a tad insecure and unable to go for what she wants, especially when it opposes what her slightly-controlling-but-certainly-not-the-worst-YA-has-to-offer mother. This was a bit odd, though, because she had all these personality traits that seemed like it contradicted the stereotype – she was an actress, and seemed quite secure in her acting ability, and she had had romantic relationships in the past, even if they weren’t always serious (but, how many serious relationships is a seventeen-ish year old really going to have going into her senior year? For most, that is not many at all, if any at all). She seemed like the perfect type of character to be different, so I don’t know if her depression over her dad was turning her into a stereotype or if she was just always like this. I think it’s the former, but it’s just hard to tell, even when she talks about “Old Amy.”
The romance between Amy and Roger was often quite cute. Sure, there seemed to be more romantic drama than necessary, especially involving Roger’s ex, but I didn’t mind it too much because I got through the book in just a few days, so the drama didn’t seem to drag on too much. There were also some interesting secondary characters that we met along the way that I wish we had had the opportunity to get to know better.
I loved the little touches throughout the book – the receipts, the state fact sheets, the pictures and postcards and other assortments that people would logically accumulate during a multiple day road trip across the US. It was a nice touch and it was fun to read them.
This isn’t really a pet peeve or anything, just something I noticed – Amy, or perhaps author Matson, seemed equally delighted, confused, and obsessed with some things from the most eastern states of the Midwest. Things I’ve grown up always knowing, like Chick-fil-A, were apparently unknown to them. There was also the whole Louisville pronunciation thing. I’m not from Louisville, but my mother is and I still have family living there, so I know the correct way to say it, and that way, which I’ve been taught since birth basically, was always “Loo-a-vulle.” This definitely more of a pet peeve for me, but people kept correcting Amy’s irritating habit of being like most people and calling it “Lou-ee-ville” and saying that it was “Loo-vulle.” I don’t know if I just don’t know how pronunciation works or if there’s some weird way of saying Louisville, but that bugs me because it looked like they were leaving out the “a” sound. And, for my final nitpick that really had no bearing on the book or rating but that I just have to get out: seriously? There are multiple (and by multiple, I mean at least three or four people) who have either never left their home states or have only been to one or two other states? I know the characters are fairly young relatively speaking and that California is big, but at my point in life, only about a year or two older than some of these characters (possibly even the same age or younger, who knows – the ages were a bit confusing as well), I’ve been to about twenty states besides my own, and the number might be even higher because I wasn’t quite sure how many states I’ve passed through just getting to other states. Sure, I live in a part of the US where the states are smaller, but they aren’t that small, I don’t live on the east coast in Rhode Island or anything. And, I think this might be referring to Second Chance Summer, but it’s the same author, so I’m going to bring it up anyway – how have you gone so long in life without driving anywhere for more than a few hours? I’m pretty sure the protagonist was shocked when it took them about four hours to get somewhere because of the slow driver, because that was the longest she’s been in a car. My family spent the summer basically doing a road trip up the east coast for college searching for my sister – we would have loved to only spend four hours or so a day in the car, but it was normally about twice that.
Wow, OK, that got long, and, like I said, didn’t have a huge impact on my review of the book, but I do know that it took me out of the book a bit and confused me because I just wasn’t able to relate with the protagonist on these things at all. So, it probably did affect my reading without my even realizing it.
So, there you go, a much longer review than I was planning. If you didn’t want to read the whole thing, here’s all you need to know – this book had its sad moments, but mostly it was a rambling and entertaining trip of a book, and yes, I say that to be punny. Even though Second Chance Summer has the pun connection. Maybe I shouldn’t have read these two books so close together, they might blend together in my mind now.
Yet, I regret nothing. Not even this really long review.