When I picked this book up I had high expectations as it came highly recommended and while I largely enjoyed it (I love road-trip stories), I did have a few problems with it.
Our protagonist, Amy Curry, is moving with her mother and brother to Connecticut. She’s been given the responsibility to get their car from their current home in California to their new home. It sounds simple enough, but given that Amy’s father recently died in a car accident (which the reader doesn’t find out the details of until the end of the book) she’s reluctant to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger, the good looking guy from across the street who offers to drive her to Connecticut at the request of her mother. Amy knows Roger a little, but this trip will be the first time they’ve gotten properly acquainted with each other. Straight away it seemed odd that Amy’s mother had organised for her to go on a trip with a virtual stranger. All the more inappropriate that someone she barely knew would be driving when she was so vulnerable.
Amy’s mother has mapped out the route that her and Roger will take to Connecticut, booking the hotels they’ll stay in and the towns they’ll visit, but they both want a bit of spontaneity, so abandon this plan and decide to make their own decision about which route they’ll take.
The narrative was interspersed with notes and photos Amy had taken on the trip and recorded in a travel diary her mother had given her. I loved this unique edition to the narrative.
Although this was essentially a road-trip story that utilised music and travel, it was underscored by more serious themes, such as death and the somewhat illusive search for acceptance. Amy was understandably traumatised by the death of her father and much of the story was centred on her trying to come to terms with it. By subsequence of her grief Amy was quite reserved and while I understood this, it made it hard for me to connect with her. Her actions gave more of an insight into her than her words, which meant that I felt my understanding of her was quite limited. She was either generally passive or rendered passive by her grief because her reactions didn’t always make sense to me, like when a girl she’d only met ditched all her clothes and gave her new ones. This incident didn’t bother Amy at all and she didn’t find it an infringement of her boundaries.
Roger was a nice enough character, although he did spend the majority of the book obsessing over his ex. This got a bit boring, but is what you come to expect when reading YA.
Apparently there was an attraction between Amy and Roger, but there didn’t appear to be any chemistry between them. The attraction was mostly told rather than shown which made it hard for me to invest in the will-they-won’t-they theme. The characters themselves weren’t very diverse in general and were one of the weaker points for me.
What saved the book was the road trip and of course the music in the form of mixes that accompanied every leg of their trip. I loved being on the open road with Amy and Roger and considered these moments the best of the book.