Tuesday, August 9, 2011

REVIEW: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Rating: 5/5 Stars
Audience: Young Adult/Teen
Genre: Realistic Fiction

Summary: Still reeling from her father's death, 17-year-old Amy Curry and Roger, a 19-year-old college student with troubles of his own, set out on a cross-country road trip from California to Connecticut. Along the way, they veer away from their tightly scheduled travel plan, taking detours that force Amy to face her own grief and fears.

Tracy's Thoughts:
Family dysfunction, drama, romance, adventure, laugh-out-loud humor, and some awesome playlists make Morgan Matson's debut novel an epic read indeed. This is a fast-paced book, but the characters' friendship builds slowly and believably. Being stuck in a car with a virtual stranger for hours on end could easily go very wrong very quickly, but Amy and Roger manage to build a special rapport, developing in-jokes, travel rituals, and shared experiences. Amy is struggling with her guilt over her father's death and feeling isolated from her mother and twin brother; Roger is still hung up on his ex and baffled by the sudden break-up. Tension builds as readers wonder where Amy and Roger will go next, how they will cope with their respective problems, and when/if they will confide in each other. Their conversations are fresh and real, and I quickly became invested in the characters because they felt so genuine and likeable. But that all sounds so serious! The magic of Amy and Roger is that it tackles the characters' true-to-life problems in a way that is fun, uplifting, and often very, very funny.

Also, there are whimsical cartoons, receipts from real hotels and diners (including Louisville's Brown Hotel!), and other items of interest interspersed throughout the book to document their journeyand enhance the story itself. And the playlists Amy and Roger (mostly Roger) create along the way, as I said, are awesome. They perfectly represent the characters and their journey, with selections ranging from Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, and Billy Joel to lesser-known indie acts like Alexi Murdoch, Damien Rice, and Owl City. I've made it a personal mission to track down music from "hip" unfamiliar bands like Jack's Mannequin and the Lucksmiths.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to teens (and the young at heart!), especially those who love a good road trip novel. What begins as a simple road trip from Point A (California) to Point B (Connecticut) becomes an adventure-filled, heartwarming journey as Amy and Roger embark on separate missions that somehow become intertwined. The travel details are authentic and seamlessly integrated into the story, and each of Amy and Roger's detours is important on its own while serving as an integral part of their journey as a whole.

Full disclosure: This book was checked out from the Bullitt County Public Library.

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