review: amy & roger's epic detour by morgan matson


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.

(product description courtesy of Amazon)

My Opinion:

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour is a quietly beautiful book. Set during a five-day road trip across America, the trees of Yosemite, the deserts of Nevada, and the derbys of Kentucky all manage to make an appearance in the space of 300 well-written pages. So does a whole lot of great dialogue and character development. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour contains a road trip that takes you on a ride--both emotionally and literally--as first love blooms and gas bills pile up.

The star of school musicals, Amy Curry is devastated on a fateful spring afternoon when her father dies. This novel begins with summer vacation three months later, but there's still a whole lot of grief and guilt stemming from his passing away. What's more, Amy's literary-inclined mother and stoner twin brother have left her alone in L.A. for a month. When it comes to driving cross-country to get to her new home in Connecticut, Amy is somewhat reluctant to embark on a trip. Especially since it means spending hours in car, when her father died in a car crash. Add in Roger, a childhood friend who she barely remembers to the mix, and a simple road trip turns into a complicated mess of suppressed feelings and a whole lot of remembering.

In the first few chapters, I wasn't that big of a fan of Amy. She seemed a bit withdrawn, but as the story progresses more facets of her personality are revealed. Roger's a great complement to her, and the relationship that develops between the two is very sweet. At first, the novel follows a seemingly set routine: Roger comes up with playlists and drives, Amy purchases the snacks and navigates, and the traveling duo depart from their fixed (but oh-so-boring) route determined by Amy's mother. Instead of bee-lining straight to Connecticut, they make stops at Yosemite, where memories of Amy's father threaten to throw her once more into grief, drive across the loneliest road in America, mountains spanning ahead, and traverse across Kansas (proud home to crumbly burgers). Some states are given much more of a spotlight, but I'm amazed how much I actually learned from this novel: State mottos. Highways to avoid. Good places to eat. Bands to listen to. Also, the fact that the greasy perfection of In-N-Out* made an appearance within the first few chapters garners my unquestioning approval. As do the receipts, emails, playlists**, and pictures of destinations integrated seamlessly into the narrative.

After reading Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, I was reminded of why I love road trip novels so much. It's the juxtaposition of an actual journey and the journey that the characters make as they grow and change that I find particularly worthy of praise. Amy's transformation from a reserved girl drowning in guilt and grief to one who comes out of her shell and finds happiness in life is quite touching. Roger is also getting over something--a broken heart, courtesy of a flaky girlfriend--and the symmetry of the two characters' development and thus their relationship was the easily the best part of the book.

A tale of burgers, Elvis, traveling, and heartbreak, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is a summer read you don't want to miss. It just gets better and better as you read on, and by the end, I was quite in love with it. At first glance, this book doesn't seem explosively brilliant and it doesn't punch you in the gut or anything. But it does hold a quiet sort of beauty within it's pages--a certain magic in between the words as the characters grow. That's what truly sets this novel apart and why I had such a great time reading it.

My Rating: I give it an 8.5/10. Lovely, feel-good book. I get a rush of happy feelings even thinking about it :)

*Oh, you poor people who have never heard of In-N-Out. You're living an unfulfilled life. I'd ship you a burger but it'd prolly get gross on the way there. Le sigh.

**Some of my fave bands were on there. And I found some lovely bands as well from it :)

FTC: I received this book for review from a publicist. Thank you :)

OH AND BONUS: I'll be posting about a giveaway for this book soon so look out for that!