Sunday, July 21, 2013

Book Review: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Release Date: May 4, 2010
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Library


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.

(Courtesy of Goodreads)

My Review

First off, the summary does not do this book justice. I picked up Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, expecting a light, fluffy, contemporary YA read. What I got from this book was so much more. The story telling in this book was amazing and the characters had so much depth. I especially loved how the back story was presented in little snippets throughout the book rather than all at once in the beginning. While, Overall, this road trip book is more than just two teenagers' ride across the United States, but rather, it is the story about their self-discovery along the way.

Amy and Roger. The title characters. Their relationship is a far cry from the "insta-love" seen in so many YA novels these days. There was the awkwardness of spending so much time, in such a small space with a perfect stranger. There was the vulnerability that Amy feels because of all the events that have occurred in her life in the past three months. They didn't just fall in love; they went through the natural progression of strangers to acquaintances to friends to something more. The book didn't take place over a long period of time but just enough for it their relationship to blossom the way it did.

In a book about a road trip it can sometimes seem that characters we meet along the way become lost in the shuffle, but in this book I could feel that each character had a purpose. There was a reason we were introduced to the cast of secondary characters because they each helped Amy in her own internal journey of coming to terms with her father's death. Whether it was Bron, who brought Amy out from behind the wall she had been hiding behind, or Lucien who helped her finally open up, each character had an important role. They were not just the secondary cast but rather a mix of characters that played a small yet important role. In Amy's theater words, "there are no small parts, just small actors."

I think the most beautiful aspect of the story was how we were presented the events that led Amy to taking this road trip. We are presented through the summary that Amy's dad has died and that is why she is moving across the country. We don't know how and we don't know why Amy feels the way she does, but as readers we have to accept this. In turn, we are given the information slowly throughout the story through flashbacks. Through these flashbacks we learn more about Amy's dad, their relationship, and her family dynamics prior to her father's death. It is so important to the story that we learn about it slowly because we are discovering it as Amy comes to terms with it herself.

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour brings out the best in plot, characters, and story arc. They only thing I wish was that we could learn more about what happens after the book ends, but that's just the wishful reader in me. The story ends when Amy comes to that final realization and acceptance of her father's death and ends just when it should. It's light enough that you won't find your self sobbing at the end, but deep enough that you will come away with a sense of having learned a little bit about yourself along with Amy on her epic detour across America.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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