5 out of 5 stars
I've been meaning to review this book for a while now, I read it back in August! But I wanted to make the playlists on 8Tracks for people to listen to and they just take a really long time to do. I've managed to do the first three, which I'll post in here and I want to continue doing them, so I'll update my review as I do. :) And if you haven't read this book, you'll have no idea what I'm talking about so carry on lol. I read so many great summer romance/contemporary books this summer and this was probably the best.
Warning: minor spoilers in first paragraph, but nothing that isn't on the back of the book or in the Goodreads summary. Just letting you know in case you like to be totally surprised by things. :)
Amy is reaching the end of her junior year in California and has been having a really tough time. Her dad died a few months ago, in some sort of accident that she was part of, her twin brother Charlie is in rehab, and her mom is in Connecticut teaching. Amy has been alone for the last month and now her mom needs her to transfer their car to their new home and join her. Only one problem: Amy doesn't drive. That's where Roger comes in. The son of her mom's old friend that Amy used to play with as a kid but has no recollection of (don't you hate when your parents spring some person on you that you're supposed to remember and be BFF's with?) has agreed to drive Amy cross-country. Amy's mom arranges all the details, without discussing it with her daughter first, and suddenly Amy finds herself riding in a car for four days with a complete stranger. A cute one at that.
As Amy & Roger set out on their trip, things are obviously awkward between them: they don't know anything about each other except some distant childhood memories, they are both going thru heavy things in their lives that they don't want to discuss, and they are stuck with Amy's mom's tyrannical trip schedule thru the most boring parts of America. Or are they? Amy has the first of many epiphanies when she realizes that she doesn't have to do what her mom says all the time. As long as they make it to Connecticut in the right amount of time, who cares which route they take? And thus begins Amy & Roger's Epic Detour.
Like Roger, I agree that music is the most important part of a road trip. The playlists that Matson adds throughout the book set the mood for the story. The pictures and receipts from their various stops add layers so that by the end, you feel like you went on the trip with Amy & Roger. I want to go on a road trip like this. I've driven to San Antonio and Galveston tons of times, but that was to a destination and only a few hours. I want at least a week and no specific stops or itinerary. I want to see the world's largest ball of yarn (not actually in this book, I just want to see it lol) and go to Graceland and find strange new places to eat. (I feel sorry for people who don't have Sonic or Dairy Queen in their lives. I couldn't survive without Sonic.) And the people that they meet along the way! Some are friends of Roger's and some are strangers, but they're all interesting and probably the best secondary characters in a YA book I've seen in a long time. I can definitely see Matson writing a companion novel about Bronwyn with her clothing philosophy or Lucien and his shrub animals. :) Or maybe Amy's twin brother can take a trip back to California to get closure with their dad's death too. Or Wolcott and his band and his strong/strange sense of state pride.
You've got to have pride in your home.
You are where you're from.
Otherwise, you're always going to be lost.
This book is obviously about the physical journal Amy & Roger take, but it's also about their personal journeys. Amy has a lot (a LOT) of guilt and grief about her father's death and thru flashbacks, we start to see why and how that came about. As they cross the states, Roger helps her come to terms with all her feelings and in turn, she helps him get over a rough breakup. The book is really sad in parts, so be prepared to cry. But it's broken up enough with scenery changes and new playlists that you don't feel overwhelmed with the sadness. Ad astra per aspera, to the stars through adversity.
So you know Amy & Roger are going to get together in the end (sorry if I spoiled that for ya!) but I never felt like I was reading a formulaic summer romance. (Darn, that means my theory needs to be tested more!) They take things very slowly and for a long time you even wonder if they're actually getting together (despite the title). But it's okay, because their friendship grows into something great and you almost wouldn't care if they don't get together. Almost.
"Tomorrow will be better."
"But what if it's not?" I asked.
Then you say it again tomorrow. Because it might be. You never know, right? At some point, tomorrow will be better."