Sunday, April 3, 2011

Review: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour (Matson)

AUTHOR: Morgan Matson
PAGES: 343 p.
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
GENRE: Realistic Fiction, Romance
RATING: highly recommended
RECOMMENDED FOR: HS girls who love realistic romance
SUMMARY: Three months ago, Amy's family was devastated by her father's sudden, tragic death. Since the accident, Amy's twin brother has descended into serious drug abuse. Amy's mother has moved to a new life in Connecticut, leaving only Amy behind in the family's California home. Now that the school year is over, Amy's mother has arranged for Amy to finally join her on the east coast. For four days, Amy must travel cross-country with Roger, a really cute family friend and total stranger. When the two decide to stray from her mother's carefully planned route, Amy and Roger both begin to cope with their own inner struggles.

WHAT I LIKED: I LOVE the format! The story is interspersed with music play lists, doodles, photos, receipts, menus, flyers, etc. I would love to see more YA authors explore using "stuff" to tell the story. This format has wide appeal for teens; even the most reluctant readers will pick up books like this.

This book was really hard to put down. The story is laugh-out-loud funny in places, heartbreaking in others. Having never traveled to most of the states featured, I relied heavily on Matson's detailed imagery to get a full picture of them. The vivid descriptions make me want to travel to the states in the story and eat at the places featured. I love the descriptions of foods and smells and desolate highways, but are there no terrible restaurants in America? Roger and Amy certainly never eat at one.

Even though they know each other for only a week or so, Roger and Amy's fast friendship is believable and sweet. Neither one is perfect, and they complement each other nicely.

Great cover! This one will be easy to "sell" to my romance-loving library girls. I've already ordered extra copies as Amy & Roger is sure to have a lengthy hold list. All it needs is a good video trailer, which I may make if there is not already a good one out there.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Since I truly enjoyed this book, my criticisms are really very small details. These are just things that crossed my mind as I read.

I would love to know how long Roger had dated Hadley. He drives across several states to track down a girl who left abruptly without explanation and has not returned phone calls. Roger's friends say that Hadley was just not into Roger and that she is not a very nice person. Clearly, Roger does not see this, but driving so far to find her seems a little obsessive for an otherwise level-headed guy.

The friends they meet along the way are a little too golden. One girl, a total stranger to Amy, gives Amy an entire new wardrobe, just because she is so darn nice. Another boy consoles Amy and knows exactly the right thing to say and do after Amy's "confession" about her dad's death, even though the boy is a total stranger to both Amy and Roger. A third teen--again a total stranger--pays for their dinner and gives them lodging for the night. It isn't bad that they are this way; it just does not seem realistic to me that they never encounter anyone of poor character (other than Hadley of course) and that random well-read teenagers would be so wise and altruistic.

  • LANGUAGE: a few Fs and GDs
  • SEXUALITY: Some kissing; two intercourse scenes. No details are given, but readers will understand what happened
  • VIOLENCE: none
  • DRUGS/ ALCOHOL: teens drinking at a party and at a restaurant; one character is a recovering drug addict

STATUS IN THE LIBRARY: We have it. It is popular, especially when I talk about it or show the trailer.

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