18 August 2012

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

It wouldn't be a road trip without some detours...

Amy Curry is not looking forward to the 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.
Here is yet another example of when picking up a book on a whim is a good thing.  I'd read one review of this book several years before finally picking it up at B&N, and it was only because I felt I couldn't walk out of the store without buying at least one fiction novel.  Amy and Roger's Epic Detour may not be chockfull of surprises -- the fact both of their names are in the title kind of blows that plot twist -- but its story was sweet and engaging with touches of light, subtle humor that created a relatable and cheerworthy protagonist on an emotional journey.

Amy is trying to get over the death of her father, and one of the first things I noticed was that it wasn't said first thing.  While it was obvious to me, I liked how Amy couldn't admit this fact out loud until much later on.  This reluctance gave her a vulnerability that made her easier to relate to.  She was subtly endearing, not desperate for approval or "in your face" about anything.  A lot of her emotions were recognizable and so it allowed me, as a reader, to sit back and relax and enjoy the story.  Amy did have her dull moments where she was a little slow on the uptake and she came off as incredibly naive, and she could've been a bit chiller about somethings, but overall, I liked her character.

While the arcs of the plot and characters were fairly predictable, Amy and Roger's story was amazingly unique and memorable.  Complemented by the pictures strewn throughout the pages, the things that Amy and Roger experienced while on the road was fresh and exciting.  (I may be a bit biased, however, since Amy and Roger stopped in Kentucky -- my home state -- and North Carolina, my current residence.  Props to Ms. Matson for including Kentucky in all its glory, including the exciting fact that she corrected the pronunciation of "Louisville" -- Kentucky natives really do pronounce it "Loo-ville".)  If you haven't picked up a copy of Amy and Roger and skimmed through the pages, you may not know that there are pictures of receipts, postcards, and actual pictures scattered throughout the book.  These were an incredible addition, and fascinated me as a reader.

Yes, we Kentuckians do in fact excel at food.
I imagine that some readers might find it a bit slow, though.  There isn't action every single page, but that's not to say there isn't conflict.  A lot of the story is dominated by Amy's emotional journey, allowing their physical adventure across the US to be more of a complementary aspect.

Even while their names are in the title together, Amy and Roger's romance didn't take center stage.  It was a sweet, but not saccharine romance that developed naturally and realistically.  I thought Roger was an excellent character and overall great guy.  He never tried BS-ing Amy with the "you don't know you're beautiful" speech that seems commonplace in romances nowadays.  I cheered as much for Roger as I did for Amy.

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour was a great summer read that was light, but not superficial; heart-wrenching, but not depressing.  I'm intrigued by Morgan Matson's talent -- so much so, I'm looking forward to picking up her newest book, Second Chance Summer.  I have a feeling that she's in the running to be the next Sarah Dessen or Deb Caletti.

Quotes
The bear locker was at the bottom of the steps.  Roger and I went through our things and locked anything that bears might think was food -- that is, everything -- inside the metal box, making sure that it was latched closed.  I looked at it a little dubiously.  The cabins we used to stay in hadn't had these, and I wasn't confident that this little metal box could withstand hungry bears, especially when station wagons were no match for them.  I also didn't like the fact that it was so close to the cabin.  Wasn't that kind of like setting the appetizer right next to the main course? (p. 47-8)
Book Info
  • pages - paperback, 368
  • published - May 2010
  • publisher - Simon & Schuster
  • genre - contemporary fiction
  • received via - Barnes & Noble
  • rating - 5/5