Review: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour
Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew–just in time for Amy’s senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she’s always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy’s mother’s old friend. Amy hasn’t seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she’s surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she’s coming to terms with her father’s death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road–diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards–this is the story of one girl’s journey to find herself.–From Amazon
I kept hearing one good thing after another about Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour until I finally had to pick it up and see for myself why it was so beloved. It didn’t take long. Another blogger described this book as the best road trip they had never taken, and I concur 100%. Morgan Matson’s debut novel is gorgeous in every way, from the cover to the writing to the built-in scrapbook of playlists, doodles, and receipts. (By the way, you can listen to the playlists here, which I did not know about until after I finished the book, but it would be fun to listen while reading.)
Amy Curry’s family is shattered after her father dies in a car accident. Not only does she feel a tremendous sense of guilt, but her stoner brother has been sent to rehab in NC, and her mother has decided to relocate the family to CT for a fresh start. Amy and a family friend, Roger, are asked to get the car from CA to CT because Amy’s mother lacks the funds to have the car shipped. While Amy and Roger began their trip with a carefully planned itinerary passed down by Amy’s mother, it does not take long before they go rogue. I don’t mean like Jack Bauer or Sarah Palin rogue, just like two teenagers disobeying their parents rogue. (Okay, I admit that I just can’t pass up a perfectly good Sarah Palin joke.) Amy and Roger decide to get the car to CT by following a different route and going to the places they want to visit, and the consequences are indeed quite epic.
This book is a fun vicarious road trip experience filled with car snacks and endless games of 20 Questions, but it is also a lovely exploration of grief, guilt, and moving on after the death of a loved one. The character development extends beyond the road trip through well-paced flashbacks to the months surrounding the death of Amy’s father. The “artifacts” spread throughout the book add a tremendous amount to its authenticity, but the writing alone would make this a fantastic read. I love a good road trip book (much more than I love actual road trips, to be honest), and this is one of the best I have ever read.
Quotable Quotes from Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour
- “Saying good-bye is basically an invitation not to see a person again. It’s making it okay for that to be the last conversation you have. So if you don’t say it–if you leave the conversation open–it means you’ll have to see them again.”
- “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.”
- “The best discoveries always happened to the people who weren’t looking for it. Columbus and America. Pinzon, who stumbled on Brazil while looking for the West Indies. Stanley happening on Victoria Falls. And you. Amy Curry, when I was least expecting her.”
- “And as we slowed for just a breathe, to a kiss that was sweeter and more lingering, I understood in a flash why, on the Greyhound sign, Arrivals and Departures were right next to each other. Because sometimes, like in that moment, they can mean exactly the same thing.”