Wow. Morgan Matson seems to have a special talent for making me sob while reading her books. This wasn’t even one of her sadder books (Second Chance Summer anyone?) but left me crying all the same. This was a reread, but honestly was just as good as I remembered it being.
Amy Curry has had a sucky last couple of months. Her dad died, her brother went to rehab, and her mother is selling their house and has already moved to Connecticut, leaving her alone in California for a month. Her mom arranges for her to drive across the country with a family friend (Roger) and meet her in Connecticut. Of course, the itinerary planned stops in the most boring places possible. The highlight of the planned trip was Tulsa. Amy and Roger decide to take a little detour and hit some more exciting places. This road trip story is a story of adventure, discovery, coming together, love and healing.
Who doesn’t love a good road trip story? I feel like in road trips, you feel so removed from the real world that things happen that wouldn’t normally occur. Plus, being with someone 24/7 is such a great way to get to know them and who they really are. Amy and Roger really adventure outside of their comfort zones, and I think the best part is how throughout their road trip you can see the tension between them slowly melting and see them become comfortable with each other.
Amy honestly broke my heart. She’s just so sweet for such a tragic thing to happen to. Even her name is sweet sounding. As always, Morgan Matson does an amazing job of developing her characters, so we learn that Amy loves musicals and Elvis and diners and loves strongly. To watch her struggle with her grief, and ultimately become happy and heal had me bawling my eyes out.
Roger is no less amazing. He’s a slightly nerdy college guy, loves explorers, making playlists, is still hung up on a college ex, and passionately hates saying goodbye. He is just a really understanding character, seeming to sense when to push Amy and when to let it go. He has a goofy, positive attitude that makes road trips so much more fun.
Together, they just mesh. Roger’s the explorer, and Amy’s the navigator, and both of them would be lost without the other. Their falling in love was totally unexpected and unplanned, just chance that they happened to take a detour and learn a lot more about each other.
“The best discoveries always happened to the people who weren’t looking for them. Columbus and America. Pinzón, who stumbled on Brazil while looking for the West Indies. Stanley happening on Victoria Falls. And you. Amy Curry, when I was least expecting her.” (Roger)
Another great aspect of the book is the family. Matson always features broken families who learn to mend. Amy’s mom seriously annoyed me in the beginning, but during the novel we get to see a different side of her as Amy starts to realize that she isn’t the only one suffering. Her mom lost her husband, and her son has an addiction problem. And even though she is really strict with Amy, you can tell it’s out of love. I also love Charlie, Amy’s brother. Through flashbacks, we can see him go from the intellectual, athletic, party loving little boy to a boy who was lost without his father. It was clear that Amy cared about him, and you knew that deep down he cared about her too, but was just too lost to recognize it. One of the sweetest parts of the book is when Amy and Charlie finally talk in person about what happened.
One of my favorite parts of the book is how Matson includes their playlists (which features cheesy and goofy titles), and how she includes snapshots of Amy’s travel diary, so as readers we can actually imagine what it looks like, and see the random things about a person, like their handwriting.
From Yosemite, for Amy to relive some of her families old trips, to Colorado, to visit Roger’s college, to Graceland, where it finally hits Amy, this trip is just as much about moving on as it about falling in love. For Roger to move on from Hadley, and for Amy to let go of her guilt and move on from her father. And it’s great to see both of their little steps to heal, and how they open up to each other.
The only slight negative about this book is the ending. There was still so much left I wanted to know. I wanted to know what happens between Amy and Julia, and Amy and her mom, and Amy and Roger. But I also respect the ending, because in a way the non-concrete ending reflects the whole “no saying goodbye” theme that has floated around the novel.
What did you think about this novel? Any other good road trip story recommendations? Let me know in the comments below!
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