Monday, October 14, 2013
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson | Book Review
AUTHOR: Morgan Matson
PUBLISHER/YEAR: Simon & Schuster's Books for Young Readers / 2010
Goodreads / Author's Website
I read Amy & Roger's Epic Detour over the summer and while I wasn't exactly on a road trip it felt like the perfect time to read this particular book. Even though I was in the middle of doing some things that I really loved this book made me want to drop everything and tour Yosemite. It is just such a fantastic story; I was captivated. Matson basically won me over with her debut novel, between the descriptions that made it feel like I was on the road to the relationships that developed, I couldn't put it down.
Amy is left home alone after her father dies and her mother needs to move across the country for a better job. She's still reeling from her father's sudden death, but needs to drive the family car to her mother's new home. This is where Roger comes in. He's Amy's mom's friend's son, although the two haven't seen each other in years and he needs to travel to his dad's house for summer vacation. As they drive across country Amy tries to put her life back together as she develops a crush on this near stranger.
I've never actually taken a road trip; I think it has something to do with me not owning a car, but it's something I've always wanted to do. I want to get in the car, turn up the radio and roll the windows down. Public transit just isn't the same. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour kind of made me feel like I was right along with them and it kind of made me want to go and get a car with my limited funds. Luckily I thought better of that second part.
The road trip aspect of this novel, however, was secondary. The real driving force behind it was the emotional journey that Amy goes through. Her grief is palpable. She blames herself for her father's death, as he died in a car accident as she was present. It's heartbreaking to see her at the beginning. She feels isolated from her friends, her family and his barely getting by. It's painful, but moving to watch her struggle with her grief and come to terms with the accident. That's not to say that this book is all about sadness. There are some light-hearted moments that bring some much needed smiles with them. The loneliest road in the world is one of them, plus some interesting moments checking into hotels are just a couple of examples.
The thing with Amy is she's so likeable despite all of this. She's obviously and understandably depressed, but she's also caring and obviously a good person underneath her current demeanor. Roger is also this really great character. He's been hurt badly by this girl at school (super relateable problem) and he's a little obsessed, but it's almost endearing.
The romance between Amy and Roger is one of the best things about this novel. They've each got their own trauma they're recovering from, but they connect. Like even before they really know each other, there's some sort of understanding that grows as their relationship builds. They clearly care about each other as people and want to help each other through the circumstances that have them travelling across the country together. They're just the kind of fictional couple you can't help but root for.
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour is the perfect read if you're looking for a contemporary that manages to balance heavy moments with lighter interludes. I was totally taken with it and look forward to reading Maton's second novel sometime soon. As a side note, you should really check out the bands that are listed throughout this book; the playlists are fantastic.