Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

7664334There’s nothing I love more than a good road trip. The long stretches of desert wasteland, the greasy spoon diners, the crumpled bags of Doritos – everything about it makes me long for the open road. There’s something magical about traveling through uncharted territory and catching a glimpse of what life must be like in a big, bustling city or a small desert town. It’s like pressing the pause button on the mundane rinse-wash-repeat cycle of daily life and watching the world pass by in a series of varied landscapes.

If you know how to do a road trip right (meaning don’t strictly go from point-A to point-B) there’s really no problem a cross-country journey can’t solve. That’s why I got super excited when I came across Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour!

The story revolves around a teenage girl who’s severely traumatized by her father’s untimely death. Sure, she may look like she’s got it all together, but she’s really just going through the motions on autopilot. Unable to drive – or even bring up her dad’s name – she’s living in a state of emotional shellshock. That is until she meets Roger.

Her road to healing all begins when she joins Roger on an epic cross-country adventure from California to her new home in Connecticut. Although she was less than thrilled that her mom forced her to take a road trip with a stranger, she quickly warms up to the soft-spoken college boy. Too bad he’s totally hung up on his ex-girlfriend, who inexplicably stopped taking his calls.

For the first time ever, Amy decides to rebel against her mother and throws her direct route out the window. She’s in no hurry to face the real world and needs to take some time for herself. Plus it helps that she’s sharing a car with a tall, blond and handsome boy!  As  they travel from Yosemite to Colorado Springs to Graceland, they fall deeper and deeper in love and begin to come to terms with their problems.

This book perfectly captures the beauty of the American road trip. Like the journey of life, if you focus on the destination, you’re missing out big time!  It’s about  talking to strangers at a random pit stop. It’s about listening to mixed tapes and playing silly word games. It’s about going outside your comfort zone and trying something you’ve never done before.

For instance, while bunking with Roger’s college friend, Brownyn, at a college dorm, Amy learned an insightful bit of knowledge about confidence. Maybe I’m biased because I’m a Texan, but Brownyn is the coolest secondary character in the book. Although she may look like another fashion-obsessed sorority girl, she’s a super sweet – and very generous – Southern Belle. I sure wish someone would surprise me with a suitcase full of stylish new clothes!

“And sometimes,” she added, in slightly hushed tones, like she was letting me in on a secret, “if you don’t feel great on the inside, just look great on the outside, and after a while you won’t be able to tell the difference.” – Brownyn

What I really love about this book is the chatter between Amy and Roger as they drive along lonely highways and munch on cheeseburgers on the hood of the car. As their relationship develops, they offer each other some insights into their emotional hangups.

 “Tomorrow will be better.” “But what if it’s not?” I asked. “Then you say it again tomorrow. Because it might be. You never know, right? At some point, tomorrow will be better.” – Roger

I also really enjoyed the random musings about road sign oddities and state trivia facts. Yes, this book is mostly about personal tragedy and healing, but it’s also got some funny moments. Anyone who’s done a long haul across multiple state lines would get a kick out of the random roadside observations.

“In addition to the OPEN RANGE CAUTION, there were animal signs I’d never seen before-an antelope, a cow, and cow with horns…But it worried me that, without warning, a cow with horns might be running across the interstate. And that this had happened frequently enough that they’d had to erect a sign to warn people about it.” – Amy

All in all, I have to say Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour is the reason why the YA genre is so much more than bubblegum and fluff. Filled with poignant insights, lyrical narratives and fascinating characters, this book transcends age demographics. If you enjoy a good story about self-discovery, adventure and sweet romance, check this one out!  With photos of receipts, breakfast platters and various roadside sightings, you’ll feel like you’re right there in the car with Amy and Roger. Music lovers will also enjoy the listings of songs on their playlists. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – get it, read it, share it!!!

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