Author: Morgan Matson
Publication Date: 4 May 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Summary (courtesy of goodreads.com):
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.
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour was about 97% enjoyable for me. The other 3% well, we'll get to that.
The premise behind the book is simple: boy. girl. road trip. But Morgan Matson took the story so far beyond where I thought it would go, in a great, great, great, GREAT way. Amy is a fantastic character, and her growth throughout the novel is evident and expertly developed. She truly goes on a "journey" from point A to point B, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. I find that many young adult books tend to gloss over a character's development. Authors tell us that yes, in fact, Cynic A is now compassionate and open to anything, but there's not always a lot in the middle that truly expresses the depth of change. Amy experienced plenty of these moments, and I often found myself crying along with her as she tried to deal with her feelings and resentments.
The road trip was also a fun element to the book as well. The "journal" that Amy & Roger kept added another dimension to the novel, and it was fun to get to know the places on the route that they took. If I had to say one thing about it, though, it would be that there seems to be this idea that we don't have Sonic Drive-In's and Chick-fil-A's in California? I mean, I've never been to a Chick-fil-A, but I know they exist and wouldn't be completely flabbergasted by one's appearance on the horizon. I could relate to the moment at Sonic, though, when Amy asks Roger, "How do you do this?" I said the same thing the first time I went to one. But that one was, in fact, in California.
If I have one real complaint about this book (the bulk of that 3%), it is Roger himself. I know you can't have Amy & Roger's Epic Detour without Roger, but he grated on my nerves. He's lovesick and it's annoying. He's kind of a stalker, and it's annoying. He's a huge whiner, and it. is. a. nnoy. ing. I know his ex-girlfriend was supposed to be the villain here, but I honestly started to feel sorry for her. I've had an ex who called and texted and e-mailed incessantly after we broke up, and it is just not cool or attractive or flattering in any way. It's actually kind of awkward and scary and it makes you not want to leave the house because, who knows, crazy-person-who-can't-take-a-hint might be sitting out there waiting for you. I understand that he had unfinished business with his (ex)girlfriend, but, and this is only my opinion, he was not written in a way that made me want to feel sympathetic. The notes on Roger that I took as I read go from bad to worse:
- Roger seems like kind of a whiner. (pg. 98)
- Roger is getting really annoying. (pg. 146)
- I hate Roger. (pg. 215)
Luckily for Roger, the rest of the book was so great that his presence really doesn't affect by opinion of it that much. And maybe I'm being too hard on him, but it is really hard to sympathize with a character who reminds me so much of someone that I don't like.