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Monday 16 February 2015

Review: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour

Amy Curry is about to start her final year of high school and is grieving for her father who recently died in a car accident. Amy refuses to drive a car again. Her brother has been shipped off to drug rehab and her mother has moved state to accept a job at a university in Connecticut, enlisting a friend’s 19 year-old son, Roger, to drive Amy and the family car from California to Connecticut, which should take four days with stopovers.

Amy is not happy with this arrangement, especially spending twenty-four hours a day in a car with someone she barely remembers from childhood. Her mother has also left Amy a gift – a traveller’s scrapbook, which Amy initially baulks at.

Amy has always followed the rules, hasn’t rebelled and does what her mother says. But things have a way of working out differently. Amy and Roger, who are initially cordial and polite, decide to take a few detours and visit places they’ve always wanted to see including Yosemite National Park, Graceland and the Grand Canyon as well as some unexpected stops along the way.

In an unplanned show of independence and self-preservation, Amy defies her mother’s orders to stick to the original route and a four-day trip turns into one week. In response, her mother cancels her credit card. With dwindling cash and increasing solidarity and camaraderie, Amy and Roger slowly form a bond, while trying to figure out what else is going on between them. Along the way, they meet people who are instrumental in helping them deal with their own issues.

The author cleverly uses various narrative techniques to move the story along in a fun and interesting way. The use of the scrapbook, emails, photos, lists, maps, sketches, postcards, music playlists, receipts, menus, and quirky facts about each state they visit keeps the reader’s interest and provides a lovely visual. The reader feels like they’re on the trip as well. Flashbacks are also interspersed within the narrative, so there’s no boring bits.

Matson writes with clarity and brings her characters to life. Her research for this novel was precise as the book was inspired by road trips she has taken. Matson has written two other YA novels, Since You've Been Gone and Second Chance Summer.

Be prepared to laugh and be entertained and flirt with the idea of going on an epic road trip!

While the publisher has listed this book as suitable for ages 12+, parents should note that it does contain subtle sexual references and a well-written (not too graphic) sex scene.

Title: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon and Schuster, $16.99 RRP
Publication Date: 2010
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781471124709
For ages: 12+
Type: Young Adult Fiction