Amy Curry is having the worst year of her life and it looks like it’s not going to get better any time soon. Her father recently passed away after a tragic car crash and then her mother relocates from California to Connecticut to start anew mere months before her senior year. But that is not the end of Amy’s problems because now Amy has to drive ‘Liberty’ their family car cross country. However, there is one problem because since her father’s death Amy has simply not been able to drive. Thus, that is where Roger Sullivan the son of Amy’s mother’s old friend enters the scene. Although she hasn’t seen Roger in years Amy is now expected to drive cross country with a guy she barely knows. Therefore when Roger takes a detour without driving from point A to B, suddenly Amy finds herself on the road trip of a lifetime. Hence as Amy begins to grow closer to Roger she also begins to come to terms with her father’s unexpected death and she also begins to get her life back on track. Amy, therefore, starts to realize that sometimes in order to find your way home you simply have to get lost. Thus, this is the story of one girl’s journey to finding herself.
I have wanted to write a review of this book for a while because even though it has now been almost a month since I’ve read this book, this story still lingers with me. I think about these characters all the time. Therefore I can safely state that this is one of the best books I’ve read this year. That is because although at first glance it may seem like a typical teen novel one may be surprised to realize that it is much more than that. It was well written; laugh out loud funny, achingly real and believable with awesome characters, interesting settings and witty dialogues.
Amy and Roger are both very likeable and well-rounded characters who are both going through personal problems and it is these problems which help to bring them closer together. The author has written the book in such a way that you can actually feel Amy’s emotions and the pain and the guilt she feels regarding her father’s tragic death. Furthermore, while Roger may appear very light-hearted, he’s not; he’s also dealing with some troubles with his ex-girlfriend. But with each other’s help, they both learn to open up to the other and in that process, they begin to overcome their problems. Thus, when you read this book you will realize that they are not only going through a physical journey, they are also going through an emotional journey which the reader gets to experience with them right up to the end.
I also enjoyed watching both the characters develop throughout the book; while Roger’s change was much more subtle than Amy’s it was still interesting to see. For me both the characters felt very realistic, they are people that you can easily relate to and people that you would like to know in real life. Furthermore, the quirky characters that Amy and Roger met along their journey were well developed with histories and stories of their own. Therefore even the merest moments that we get to glimpse of these people’s lives make us fall in love with them.
For me, one of the favourite things about this book was the little extras that Matson included like Amy’s random notes about places they’ve passed through, scribbles to one another, song playlists, receipts, the odd email and photos of how much Roger has eaten for breakfast. All of which provided a fun, quirky feel to the story and just added something special and make this book stand out from all the other YA novels. Moreover, it also made me feel like I was in the car with Amy and Roger, driving from one place to the next. Furthermore, I also fell in love with their playlists and I can definitely say that most of my new favourite songs are from these lists. However, when you consider the ending of this book one would see that Matson doesn’t wrap everything up neatly and there are lots of loose ends. But I believe that’s what makes this book interesting because although there is no ‘Happily Ever After’ there is a strong sense that a new chapter is beginning in Amy and Roger’s life. Therefore even though many readers would consider the ending to be poignant I can safely say that it also made me smile.
Overall this book is a fantastic debut by Morgan Matson with a strong plot and well-developed characters. It’s an eye-opening, realistic adventure to disappear into Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour because it manages to be heartwarming, fun, light, poignant, heartbreaking and hopeful all at the same time. It is a wonderful book that has earned a special place on my bookshelf and I have no doubt that I’ll be picking it up again and again.