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.
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. 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
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.