Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it's Amy's responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn't ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip - and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar - especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory - but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.
Oh, how I didn't want this journey to end!
The best part about "Amy and Roger's Epic Detour" is that it takes you on a journey. No, really. While the book has been heavily advertised as a quintessential road-trip book, and promised a story about an epic journey, what hasn't been promised is to be taken on said journey along with the characters. As Amy and Roger embark on a road trip across America, the reader might as well be in the back seat of the car. The addition of maps, receipts, coupons and postcards into the book made for a truly interactive experience. It was a journey that I never wanted to end. And as far as escapism in literature goes, this road trip really was almost as good as the real thing.
No spoilers ahead.
The story follows Amy Curry who, following the tragically premature loss of her father, sees the rest of her family scatter across the country until eventually her mother decides to uproot the family and move them from California to Connecticut. At the last minute, Amy's mother comes to a decision that the family car should be driven across the country. With Amy being the only member of the family left in California, it's up to her to make the long drive across the United States. There's only one minor glitch: since the accident that cost her father his life, Amy no longer drives. In comes Roger, a friend of the family who Amy hasn't seen in well over a decade. With his own cross-country move to make, it only makes sense that they should pair up and travel together. Only their idea of a road-trip doesn't exactly coincide with what Amy's mother had planned for them... so they take a detour. An epic detour. (At one point, Amy refers to it as taking the scenic route, which makes for an understatement of the decade.)
Which brings me to my next point: Morgan Matson writes humor ridiculously well. (Pun intended.) It's seamlessly woven into the story in such a way that you find yourself laughing consistently throughout the whole of the book without ever even being aware of it. No, really. I was repeatedly asked what I was chuckling about all day as I made my way through the book. While both Amy and Roger find themselves battling their own demons and helping each other face up to their respective issues and insecurities, their banter is endlessly humorous and lighthearted enough not to weigh down the mood of the story as a whole. Roger's alternate playlist titles had me howling with laughter in all sorts of inappropriate places.
And boy, does Roger (or should we say Morgan Matson, the author) have a good taste in music! Normally when people say that they listen to "a little bit of everything", nine times out of ten it really is a cop-out answer. Roger's case is one of those rare instances where this answer would be completely truthful. While Amy's tastes are confined to Elvis and various musical soundtracks, Roger's covers just about everything. Some of the songs included had me gasping. I had pretty much convinced myself that I was the only living fan of that particular band/song/genre, and here was this book and this character, proving me wrong. Roger is the good kind of hipster (in my biased opinion). And an addition of playlists to a road-trip story can only enhance the overall experience.
What enhanced it even further is the relatability of both Amy and Roger as characters. Each is flawed just enough to make them human, but not so much as to cause them to become fatalists. Each with just enough awkwardness and hesitance to enable the reader to step right into their skin. Each with an amazing sense of humor. Each with hopes and dreams of endlessly relatable things. Acceptance. Love. Forgiveness. Unity.
In two very distinct ways, this is a book about a journey. It's a book about a journey across the United States. It's also a book about a psychological journey of two young adults, trying to find their place in the world (which they're discovering to be a far larger place than either of them could ever have imagined). And the further they progress along their scenic route, the more they open up to one another and the greater their discoveries about themselves and their own potential.
I do wish the ending would have been more drawn-out. No, not because it was rushed. It's merely because I really, really didn't want this journey to end. There's no doubt I'll be revisiting it many times in the future.
Yes, I did put together a virtual collage as I was reading. No, I'm not obsessive. I like to think of it as inspired.
GOOGLE MAPS: AMY AND ROGER'S TRIP
GOODREADS: AMY & ROGER'S EPIC DETOUR
BOOK REVIEW: AMY AND ROGER'S EPIC DETOUR BY MORGAN MATSON
4/ 5Oleh The Honest Bookclub