May 16, 2012

Review: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour

By: Morgan Matson
Published: May 2010 by Simon & Schuster
Format: Hardcover, 344 pages
First Reviewed: April 2011
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
Add it on Goodreads

When you're on a road trip, life is all about the detours.

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.

Rating: 5/5

This was one of those books I wanted to love before I even cracked it open. For one, if there's anything I want to do in life, it's take a road trip. And for two, they mentioned going through the Kansas plains in the description (the book version; which is better than the above version, in my opinion), and hello...Kansas is my home state. Anyway, I was expecting for it to be one full of romance and what have you, but I was so pleasantly surprised that it was much more of a journey that just so happens to lead the characters together in deeper ways than romance.

First, let me quickly cover the setting. I've never read a novel where the entire plot takes place during a road trip, but I've read ones where characters have gone on trips somewhere and none of them compare. Matson did a fantastic job creating the atmospheres of every single inch of ground Amy & Roger covered, without any of it being overwhelming or unrealistic. Absolutely felt as if I were on that trip with them, and I loved every single bit of it.

Never have I related to a character as much as Amy. Maybe she's tied with a few others, but that list of characters that are so relatable that I feel as if I'm almost completely in their shoes before the first chapter's over with...yeah, it's a very short list. And Amy's at the top of that list for sure. There are relatable traits about her for everyone, I think, but for me personally, I felt so connected to her in regards to many, many things, emotional-wise. She was developed from the very first page, her narrative voice was fantastic and strong, and her emotions were raw and real and done right.

Roger was a great male lead. So many male leads now-a-days are the stereotypical type that's just perfect all-around, but Roger's not. He's down-to-earth and likable from the get go. He's broken yet strong, like Amy, but in a different way, which only makes the contrast and similarities more interesting.

Each and every character from the majors to the minors were developed and had a purpose. They moved the story along and they felt real, none overdone or boring. Great characterization, but that's not even the best part.

The writing was beautiful. To me, Matson's real skill lies within creating intrigue and demanding attention where normally a scene would be "boring." Nothing about this book was boring, but when you think about a road trip, seventy percent of the story (maybe a little less) is spent on the road, and for an author to make you read about two characters in a car, that's some serious skill. I had only one nitpick and that was that she used a lot of "smiles" and "looks." Two words that, once you start noticing them, you'll pick them out of every book. So that was really it, though. Her writing is simple, yet so effective with beautiful prose. I think with some cut down on the smiling and looking, and if she tries to vary her word choice a bit, she's just going to skyrocket.

Where do I start with the plot? I...don't even know. It was an emotional, yet fun adventure. Or I should say "journey." It wasn't only a journey literally (with the trip), but it was a emotional journey for both Amy and Roger. As Amy dealt with tragedy and overcame obstacles, Roger was dealing with his own personal demons. It was just such a ride that I really have no words. From the moment I read the first page, I was in love with the book. Never was I bored or annoyed or anything. Sure, there were scenes I didn't care for as much; particularly (*semi-spoiler*) the two sex scenes, though they're not graphic, I just felt they weren't really needed. But it didn't stray from what I got out of this book. I was on this road trip as Amy. It really felt authentic. Matson had me feeling every single emotion from start to finish, and I fell in love so much with this book that I actually had a tug at my heart when I finished. I didn't want it to end, and I haven't gotten that from books lately. Quite simply, it was amazing.

Random thoughts: I wish Amy would have emailed a certain person back. :'( And said "I just..." just (ha!) a little bit less. Also, I love the cover, but I love the inside design even more. We get to see receipts, pictures, playlists, and more while we read. It's totally awesome!

This book is now on my favorite reads self. It was stunning. Morgan Matson, if you keep writing stories like this, I'll be a very happy camper. Even now, I'm thinking about it. Wondering where life will take Amy and Roger, wondering about the people the met, wondering about her family. If you're looking to feel something in a read, this is one you must pick up. You'll for sure go on a incredible, incredible journey and learn that "sometimes you have to get lost to find your way home."

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