Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster 2010
Genre: Contemporary YA

Amy’s life bears no resemblance to the normal life she once had after the sudden death of her father. Her mother decides to move across the country and her brother ends up in rehab and Amy is left alone in California to finish out her school year in a house and town haunted by memories of the life she once had. After the school year ends, Amy heads across country to join up with her mother and is accompanied by the son of a family friend whom she hasn’t seen in years. Amy and Roger embark on a road trip of truly epic proportions as the open road inevitably brings adventures, heartfelt conversations, stark realizations and sometimes a little romance–and for Amy– confronting her father’s death and the start of re-assembling those pieces of her life.

I feared reading this book for two reasons. The first reason is because I was afraid the eternal travel bug in me would take over my body and I’d find myself in my car for an impromptu road trip only to realize I left home without any money and clean underrooos. The second reason I feared reading this book was because it seemed to be everyone’s favorite and I was afraid I’d be one of those oddballs that didn’t enjoy it.

The good news is that neither of these things happened to me. I was rather fond of this book and the furthest I ventured out was to get some Chick-fil-a after reading this book. Don’t get me wrong though. The whole time I kept bugging the boyfriend about how I wanted to go on a road trip across country and “Oh, look how cool this place is” and “oh my gosh I am so jealous because I always wanted to see this.” HINT HINT HINT.

I’m a big fan of travelogues and novels that involve traveling or road trips so this instantly held my attention. The kicker with this book is that the narrative journey was enhanced by the mementos, doodling, pictures and playlists from their trip. (Sidenote, Roger and I are so music soulmates. I realized, by the end of the book, that 99% of the songs on his playlists were on my IPod.) I truly felt like I was sitting down with a good friend who was sharing a scrapbook with me of her cross country shenanigans and giving me the dirty deets about her adventure with Mr. Perfection (Roger) himself.

As much as I was interested in the road trip aspect of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, I was truly interested in the grief part. I’ve shared a lot on this blog about losing my mother so I’m always drawn to these books where children lose parents. I guess sometimes it’s cathartic, that even though it’s fiction, to know I’m not alone. Perhaps I’m trying to validate my own grief and see how it compares. It sounds weird, I know, but for some reason I just can’t help myself to examine how grief is portrayed in fiction. I thought Matson did an excellent job in handling the grief aspect of this book. It felt raw and authentic like grief is. It’s confusing and you find yourself wondering how you should be feeling and it just builds up until that intended moment when it becomes released from the depths of your soul. That moment, for Amy, just happened to be on the road with a fantastic guy like Roger to let it all out to. šŸ˜›

Amy and Roger felt so real to me. I could connect easily with both of them and I really loved how their relationship developed–realistically. I don’t want to give too much up about how their relationship progresses but most people are aware, from the summary on the book, that there is a romantical element to this book and I loved every part of it. I really enjoyed the ending and found it to be fitting. These characters would so have been my best friends when I was this age. A road trip book is always a good start but you need interesting characters and thankfully we got this. I mean, you wouldn’t want to go on a real road trip with two duds who sat in silence and never veered off the beaten path. Well, I wouldn’t. I like spontaneity.

Final thought: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour was the nicotine patch to my travel addiction. Wanderlust at its finest. I truly felt the thrill of sitting wide-eyed, with my hair blowing and the music blaring, and staring out the open window trying to take in all the sights before me only to realize that I couldn’t possibly take it all in. I loved being able to be on the road, albeit vicariously, but it pacified my annoying little travel bug. Read this book if you tried to read On the Road (one of my favorite books), for the promise of a good road trip, but couldn’t quite take the stream of consciousness writing or the meandering plot and wanted some sweet romance and a bit more action.Ā  4.5 stars.

I wanted to share a playlist I made for my last road trip I went on. I threw it together right before jumping in the car and it was basically a mesh between 3 playlists– one with songs ABOUT travel, songs that names of places I wanted to visit/about places I wanted to visit and a playlist of songs I was diggin’ that month. It’s realllyy random.

Another Travelin’ Song — Bright Eyes
West Coast — Coconut Records
Location — Freelance Whales
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea — Neutral Milk Hotel
Ramblin’ Man — The Allman Brothers (Props to my mom for introducing this to me while I was in the womb)
The World At Large — Modest Mouse
Lisztomania — Phoenix
Wanderlust — Bjork
Ghost Town — First Aid Kit
Airplanes — Local Natives
Little Lovin’ — Lissie
Woke Up in A Car — Something Corporate
Life in the Fast Lane — The Eagles
Santeria– Sublime
Loud Pipes — Ratatat
M79 — Vampire Weekend
All My Loving — The Beatles
Penny on the Train Track — Ben Kweller
Gold in the Air of Summer — Kings of Convenience
Kids — MGMT
I Sing, I Swim — Seabear
Barcelona — Plasticines
California — Phantom Planet
You Remind Me of Home — Benjamin Gibbard
Snails — The Format
Hello Seattle — Owl City
The Funeral — Band of Horses
Hey Ya — Obadiah Parker
Skinny Love — Bon Iver
Daylight — Matt & Kim
Amsterdam — Guster
Like a Rolling Stone — Bob Dylan
Dog Days Are Over & You’ve Got the Love in You — Florence + the Machine

Let’s discuss — tell me about any fun road trips you’ve been on or tell me some songs that are essential for a good road trip. I have about a zillion different playlists for road trips but I’d love to know some of your favorites so I can make some road trip worthy playlists for 2011.

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. literarywife says:

    Um, Neutral Milk Hotel? Band of Horses? Bon Iver? I just told my husband that you couldn't get any cooler. Great review and great playlist.

  2. I've never been on a road trip before. I really just like to board a plane and be to my destination in no time. However… maybe if I read this book, it would change my mind. Especially with your kick ass playlist. Thanks for all the music rec.s.

  3. I have been on far too many road trips to and from college–fourteen hour drive between school and home. Not fun! In my family pre-made sandwhiches and a cooler full of coca-cola is essential.

    This is a fantastic review, and I'm glad to hear you liked the book, because its in my owned TBR pile. I will have to check out the songs on your playlist when I read it!

  4. JessiKay89 says:

    This is such a great review, Jamie! And I have to say–I'm LOVING the playlist! When I get around to reading this book, I'll be sure to reference this post and these songs.

  5. I loved this book. It was the perfect summer read for me in 2010! Awesome review.

  6. I believe I did a playlist for my review of this book too! I have about 1/4 of your songs already (and LOVE them) so I will have to check out the rest šŸ™‚

  7. I steal people's playlists. Definitely putting this on my iPod one day. Thanks! šŸ˜€

  8. This was one of my favorite reads for 2010. Like you I thought it was a fantastic road trip book. So much better than others I've read. I'm a horrible playlist maker I have to admit. I generally listen to entire CD's and let the iPod do the work with shuffle.

  9. christina says:

    How have I not heard about this book yet? And of course I'm on a book buying ban until April (TBR Dare). This will surely be the first on my purchase, find to swap, check out of the library….

  10. I can't wait to read this book – just haven't got there yet. Our road trips these days involve pulling a camper behind our truck and we are having so much fun! I can't wait to retire (unfortunately that's a long way off) and do this more. I shouldn't complain, since I'm in education at least I have my summers off and hubby works from home (or camper, if necessary). Enjoy your future road trips – I highly recommend them.

  11. thereadingdate says:

    I'm glad you liked this book! It's one of my favorites and I loved the travel souvenirs and playlists as well. Roger created awesome playlists, and yours is great too! Very eclectic, and I see some of my favorite bands on there.

    Lately, my husband and I will pick a band and play all their catalog on a road trip, such as The Smiths or Depeche Mode (80s love.) Or choose another theme.

    Hope you go on some awesome road trips this year!

  12. Michelle (my books. my life.) says:

    Oh how we need to be friends. Great playlist. Although I actually listen to a lot of musicals on road trips.

  13. Rebecca-Books says:

    I've wanted to read this book for ages because well, yeah, everyone loves it and raves about how great it is.
    I, however, am not a big person in the music side of life. The only 'kind of' road trip I've been on was a coach journey to Italy to go ski-ing which was great and really fun. šŸ™‚
    Great review šŸ™‚

  14. Jessica M says:

    I love the playlist!

    Have you seen the movie Elizabethtown? It's one of the few chick flicks I absolutely love (I'm not a big chick flick girl, I'm particular about the ones I like), but the soundtrack is perfect for a road trip — it's actually built around a road trip in the movie to some extent. Kirsten Dunst's character makes this amazing map for Orlando Bloom's character to take a road trip after his dad dies, with pictures of odd and necessary places to stop, all kinds of info and notes, and a perfectly-timed (down to the minute) soundtrack for him to play as he drives. My boyfriend and I have talked about making our own map like that and going on a road trip someday. Maybe we'll do it before I start law school next fall. šŸ™‚

    I won a copy of this book in a giveaway, so now I can't wait for it to arrive so I can read it!

  15. This one is definitely going on my list of 2010 bools I still want to read! And thanks for sharing the playlist. I already see some songs here I'll be adding to mine. šŸ™‚

  16. Favorite book of the year!

    Sooo…when's our road trip? šŸ˜‰

  17. Here from the Comment Exchange Program and a new follower šŸ™‚
    I loved this book! Glad to see you enjoyed it too. šŸ™‚ Also, your playlist? Made of awesome. (I had "I Woke up in a Car" stuck in my head all day yesterday… funny that it turns up like this now, haha.)

  18. I LOVE the playlist you made!

    I quickly went through my iTunes and here are more songs with places in the titles / travel related titles:

    LAX to O'Hare – The Academy Is
    Bulls In Brooklyn – The Academy Is
    The Adventure – Angles and Airwaves
    Hotel Roosevelt – Augustana
    Boston – Augustana
    California's Burning – Augustana
    Vegas Skies – The Cab
    This City Is Contagious – The Cab
    Georgia – Cartel
    On An Evening In Roma – Dean Martin
    Draw Me A Map – Dierks Bently
    A Mountain Range In My Living Room – The Early November
    Chicago Is So Two Years Ago – Fall Out Boy
    Central Standard Time – The Get Up Kids
    Anne Arbor – The Get Up Kids
    Topography – Holy Roman Empire
    Holiday From Real – Jack's Mannequinn
    Hollywood and Vine – Matchbook Romance
    2000 Miles – Mest
    Manhatten – Midtown
    Drive Drive Drive – Name Taken
    The Vast Spoils of America – Saves The Day
    Living In America – The Sounds
    Left Coast Envy – The Starting Line
    Island – The Starting Line
    Hello Houston – The Starting Line
    Of Montreal – The Stills
    Miami – Taking Back Sunday
    Ocean Avenue – Yellowcard
    Thomas O'Malley – from the Aristocats soundtrack – I first learned the word 'wanderlust' from this song…and its a pretty good travel-ish song!
    Party In The U.S.A. – Miley Cyrus (hahah I'm kidding!!!)

  19. Thanks for the playlist!:) I have never been on a road trip but I want to! I have this book on my TBR for a long time . Have to read it this year!

  20. Mare/TommyGirl says:

    I've heard great things about this book and it's definitely on my to-read list. And I definitely relate to what you're saying about kids who lose a parent – I lost my dad when I was little and my mom two years ago, and sometimes it's just nice to not feel so alone.

  21. thebookfairyhaven says:

    Oh boy, I'm going to have to read this after reading your review, aren't I? I've got a serious case of wanderlust and if this book has all that and then some more, well, consider me sold then! And I love, love going on roadtrips, so I just know that I'm going to love this.

  22. I have seen so many reviews for this book and honestly I've skipped a lot of them over. I used to love books like this, but I have been avoiding them lately. But after reading this review, I really want to read this one. It sounds really good – and definitely like something I would enjoy. I love the idea of a book that blends together so much: romance, grief, travel, and music. Maybe it might even inspire me to plan a roadtrip on my own in the near future. I know I could certainly use a change of scenery.

  23. I bought this book based on this review and saved it until my “road trip” to FL. (Wish I would have had it in June when The Boyfriend and I went on a road trip from Austin, Tx to CO Springs! Gah) I LURVED it. Now the problem is I want to read something similar, because 2 weeks later I am still thinking about it despite having read 3.5 books since then…. Do you have any recommendations? ( had ZERO suggestions. lame.)

  24. i might have to check this out. sounds awesome!


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