Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
May 4, 2010; Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing


Summary

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. (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is, on the surface, a tale of two teens driving across the country. But really it's about two teens' journeys to discover themselves and ultimately, each other. I've had incredible luck with contemporary fiction lately, and  Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is one of the best. Part armchair travel, part snarky, witty dialogue, part romance, part self-discovery, and part scrapbook. A unique and fun novel.

Amy's voice makes the book. Mourning the recent death of her father, for which she blames herself, Amy is subdued and depressed. This doesn't sound like the formula for a great narrator, but Amy's dour attitude is expressed in black humor and snarky criticisms. I had loads of fun seeing the world through her dark eyes. My favorite quote in the book came in the first few pages [warning, bad language]:
"I could practically hear Mr. Collins, who had taught my fifth grade English class and was still the most intimidating teacher I'd ever had, yelling at me. 'Amy Curry,' I could still hear him intoning, 'never end a sentence with a preposition!' Irked that after six years he was still mentally correcting me, I told the Mr. Collins in my head to off f*ck."
Enter Roger, the childhood friend she doesn't really remember who has been assigned to drive cross-country with her to Amy's new home in Connecticut. Starting in California, the duo slowly meander their way across the country. I loved how the story featured two characters who didn't know each other. It made it so much more interesting than a tale of old friends. Ironically, when talking to a new friend it can some times be easier to let your guard down than with a person who's known you forever and can put every statement you make into context. Not that Amy and Roger immediately start bearing their souls. No - it's a slow get-to-know-you process mostly played through Twenty Questions. But there's a different feeling than with old friends.

I love Roger. I would totally date him. He's different than a lot of YA heroes who have strong personalities. He's a nice guy, but not bend-over-backwards nice. A funny guy, but not unrealistically witty. A strong guy, but one who lets his ex-girlfriend string him along. He's romantic in a laid-back way. He feels like a real person. Best of all, for this story, he's the perfect counterpoint to Amy's dourness. He is mostly upbeat and is great at prodding Amy to reveal more of herself without becoming annoying. I loved seeing how their friendship slowly developed. Their relationship never feels like insta-love, even though the book only takes place over the course of a week. You can get to know each other really well when stuck together for 24 hours a day.

A highlight of this book is the scrapbook format. Interspersed with the writing are pages of scrapbook material: journal entries with witty and factual comments about each state, receipts, playlists, and more. I've never read another book that incorporated non text material so well (with the exception of the poetry in The Sky is Everywhere).

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is a fabulous book. There's only a few things that keep me from giving it a perfect rating. I thought certain issues at the end where resolved far too quickly to be real. Plus, it's hard for me to imagine a good mother leaving her teenage daughter alone in California for a few months and then expecting her to drive cross country to their new home with a teenage boy she barely knows - especially only a few months after the girl's beloved father has died. And one pet peeve...Amy and Roger are such anachronistic names. The characters were probably born around 1992 and 1994. Amy is predominantly a name from the 1970s and 1980s, although I'm sure there are still a few little Amy's running around. But who names their kid Roger anymore? That's a throwback to the 1950s.

You must read  Amy and Roger's Epic Detour . You will laugh, you will smile, you will cringe, you will squeal. Not 100% perfect, but one of the best contemporary fiction novels I've read in quite awhile.

Rating: 4 / 5

25 comments:

  1. I loved this book as well, but my opinion of Roger is just a little different than yours, lol. I believe my review vehemently states, "I hate Roger." But in spite of that, I agree that it's a fantastic book that everyone should read.

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  2. HAHA I loved Roger as well!! I totally loved them together! Great review! Im glad you liked this book!!

    Farah @MajiBookshelf

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  3. Sounds good! Hope you'll take part in my blog event!

    Tamzin @ http://booksanddoodles.blogspot.co.uk/

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  4. Glad you liked it! I have to agree; this was such a fun summer book! I enjoyed it as well.

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  5. Ohh, my co-blogger didn't really like this so I never gave it a second thought, but I do love a hero that feels real and is flawed, but not annoyingly so.

    And I love that it's done like a scrapbook, I'm a huge fan of The Sky Is Everywhere and find the idea fascinating. Definitely reconsidering this. Thanks, Alison!
    Maja @ The Nocturnal Library

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  6. Great review! I loved this one too and didn't want it to end when it did. I think a re-read is in my future - thank you for sharing! :)

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  7. I've heard a lot of good things about this book. Sounds like a fun read too. Great review!

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  8. This book sounds pretty awesome - although I might also take issue with a mom leaving her teenage daughter and then allowing her to drive cross country. I have a hard time reading about unrealistic parenting decisions like that (call me a smothermother but when my girls are teens they will *not* be doing that!).

    Alison your review is lovely and has gotten me super excited to read this book!! <3

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  9. Okay, you totally sold me on Roger. I'm in love with him already. I like the sound of the subtleties of his character. And the scrapbook format just sounds fun!!! I can't believe I haven't picked up this book before. I've heard nothing but good things about it.

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  10. I've heard nothing but great reviews for this one all last year. I've yet to pick it up. Sounds like a great vacation (I really need one!) read. Thanks for the reminder to pick this one up!

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  11. I absolutely love the sound of Roger, it's always nice when the guy feels real, like he could be someone you run into at the store or at work or something. I've heard nothing but good things about this one, I really need to make time for it!

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  12. I'm loving the sounds of this, especially the characters they seem very well written I'm a big character oriented reader! Lovely review dollface! <3

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  13. This looks like a great book, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. About the name thing, I understand what you're saying but I'm 17 - so around the age of Amy and Roger - and Amy is still a popular name, one that is around a lot.
    Roger on the other hand...well, it's different - a funny name :)
    Great review!

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  14. Hi Allison, this was a fantastic review, I admit I often steer away from contemporary reads, but this one sounds so good. Love the little snippet of snarky commentary, and the way you described Roger, awesome. I would also love to check out the scrapbook format, so clever. I am adding this to my list. Thanks for sharing :)

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  15. I really enjoyed your review, Alison.

    Jess@ Jessy's Bookends

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  16. I LOVE the sound of this one! I have a huge love for roadtrip books, especially ones taken with near-strangers and this sounds perfect. I love how you've described Roger, he seems like a great, totally normal yet fantastic character. Will definitely be checking this one out

    The Cait Files

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  17. This book totally made me want to jump in the car with my dogs, a good friend and a handful of mixed tapes (well, my iPod but, yanno). So cute. Loved the voices and the scrapbook and it all! Hum. I think this'll go on my re-read pile. Summer re-read!

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  18. Another amazing review with yet another book I need to read! Thanks so much for sharing :)

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  19. I loved this book! Roger was awesome and I adored the scrapbook style too. Glad you liked!

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  20. Ahh I really love reading your review because it reminded me how much I enjoyed the book. It was a lot heavier than I expected but I thought it was lovely, especially how Amy and Roger's relationship were done. Ha, I agree with you about the names though! I actually have a cousin named Roger but haven't met anyone else with that name. It wasn't perfect but it was one of the better contemps I read too.

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  21. This book was amazing. Your review made me think of all the things that I loved about this book. The thing that I loved the most about this book was that the places they were visiting were real places. When I read that Amy and Roger camped at Camp Curry in Yosemite I got so excited because I live like an hour away from there and it was just exciting in a weird way...Haha:P

    Anyways... Thanks for the great review!

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  22. Oh, I've been having a hard time with Ya lately but I think I'll give this one a chance. I think I need more YA contemporary, and stay away from the dystopian/paranormal Ya books.

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  23. This book sounds amazing because it seems fun, quirky and unique. I'm adding it to my list.

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  24. I really love this book, although I wish for a different ending. I want to know more!

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  25. I remember reading The Good Earth back in 6th grade. I wound up enjoying it so much that I made my parents go out and buy the sequels so I could continue reading about the characters.



    SDHC memory card

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