Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Younger Readers on May 4 2010
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Road Trip
Rating: 4/5 stars
Amy Curry is not looking forward to her 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.
I’m rather embarrassed that I waited four years (FOUR YEARS) to read this book. It isn’t that I didn’t think I’d like it – I know better. It’s a book about a road trip written by Morgan Matson. How could it possibly go wrong? Not to mention that it’s pretty much universally liked (not one of my Goodreads friends has rated it less than three stars, so there). It’s certainly not the best book I’ve ever read, but it was exactly what it claimed to be, what I expected it to be: a sweet, quick summer read.
Though the characterization wasn’t exceptional, it also wasn’t threadbare. I knew the characters motivations and I thought that I got a good glimpse into Amy’s head (and to a certain degree, Roger’s). I still don’t quite get what Roger’s deal was with his ex-girlfriend. He seemed like the kind of guy who wouldn’t get drawn in by her manic pixie dream girl charms. That said, I liked that he had his own reasons for wanting to go on this cross country road trip and that it wasn’t entirely a charitable act. Amy’s grief was also handled well, in my opinion. It was something that was constantly present in her life, but it wasn’t a total angst-fest. I didn’t really understand why she was so adamant that it was her fault, but I can see how grief twists logic into unrecognisable shapes. Reason can’t always overcome guilt.
I also enjoyed the minor characters we meet during the journey from California to Connecticut. (Sidebar: I did not know until this very moment that there were three c’s in Connecticut. I always thought it was Conneticut. What the fuck. I’ve read this word hundreds of times. How did I never notice this. My whole life has been a lie.) The side characters aren’t particularly fleshed out, and the mostly act as props for Amy and Roger, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. I was particularly enthralled by Roger’s college friend Bronwyn, and his ex’s brother. Like I said, these weren’t the most developed characters, but they were sweet. I liked them.
One of my favourite special features of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is Roger’s playlists. They’re pretty fantastic. I mean, he has Ida Maria on the first one. I wish everyone had Roger’s (well, Morgan Matson’s…) taste in music. Because A+.
While there were some things that I didn’t quite love about this book, it left me with an overall favourable impression. I would have liked it to have a more solid ending (possibly a conversation between Amy and her mother, as that was a relationship that I really would have liked to have seen resolved to some extent), but on the whole it was a lovely book. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a light but not vapid summer read. It also inspired me to start saving money (in the fall) to do my own cross-Canada road trip next summer. Buuuut I suppose I have to get my driver’s license first! I’ll get right on that!
P.S. The Amelia Earhart part was my favourite part of the entire book. I know, I'm a weirdo.