Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it’s Amy’s responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn’t ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip – and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar – especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory – but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.
Confession: I’m not a huge reader of cutesy contemporary romances, and that’s why I was always reluctant to pick up this one. It was never because I thought it would be a bad book, it was just because I was always worried that I wouldn’t appreciate it as much as I should. But when I recently picked it up as a fun summer-y beach-read, I started cursing myself for never trying it before.
In short, this book was perfect. Absolutely, undeniably perfect.
Basically, this book is a road trip book. Amy Curry has to leave her home in California and travel across America to meet her mom at their new home in Connecticut, but ever since a life-shattering accident three months before, she can’t bring herself to drive, and so childhood friend Roger is drafted in to join Amy on this journey. Shortly after beginning their drive, however, Amy and Roger decide that they don’t want to stick to the route that Amy’s mother has planned and they decide to take, get this, an epic detour.
Honestly, there are so many parts of this book that all connect together to give it an absolutely incredible feel. The plot itself is simple in theory, but when reading it, it doesn’t feel like I’m just watching a plot unfold. I felt like I was in the car listening to Roger’s playlists, being transported from California to Connecticut. I loved the way that it was structured; we find out a little bit more about Amy’s past every so often leading up to the horrific car accident which has scared her from driving for the foreseeable future, and it’s the way that the flashbacks are incorporated which gives them a natural feel. They don’t seem like they’ve been thrown in at random points, every flashback fits in with the story, being slotted into places where they make sense. At the beginning of the novel, it’s clear that Amy has experienced a traumatic incident which has left her mentally and emotionally scarred. Though we’re not given all of the details, we know enough that we feel sorry for her. She’s seen her father die in an accident, and things don’t seem to go her way. She’s become extremely introverted and can’t seem to cope with the world. But as we go on the physical road trip with Amy and Roger, we also go through such a genuine emotional journey with Amy. She sees things in the world which help her, not necessarily get over, but help her come to terms with her father’s loss and the life she’s moving towards. At the beginning, she sees the move across the country as her being ripped away from her old life, but in such a beautiful way, she learns that it’s not her leaving her old life, it’s a new start for a new life.
Spread throughout the journey are the scrapbook entries where we leave the narrative for a few pages at a time to see pictures that Amy and Roger have been taking, seeing receipts from the various stores and hotels that they visit, a note of the playlists that they’re listening to, and my personal favourite part; Amy’s “Where I’ve Been” pages where she leaves fascinating (and hilarious) facts about every state they go through. Every state they go through brings in new characters, and new lessons for Amy to learn. And some states even bring some frighteningly long and never-ending roads!
Before departing on the trip, I’m almost certain that Amy would never have accepted someone stealing all of her clothes and exchanging them for new ones. She wouldn’t have willingly stayed in the guesthouse after being offered the chance by someone she’d only known for a few hours. The point is that Amy changes so much over the course of the novel, and it’s really beautiful to read it happening. I read this book because I thought it’d be a fun, quick read. It was extremely fun, and I flew through it because I couldn’t bring myself to put it down, and I never expected to be taken on such a hugely engaging emotional journey which left me extremely satisfied with in the end.
Morgan Matson doesn’t sit down and say specifically to the reader: “Look at how much Amy has changed. Isn’t it great?” She writes it in a way that you don’t even have to realise it to notice that you’ve realised it. In the end, I was proud of Amy. Reading that last paragraph really pulled at my heartstrings, because I couldn’t believe how happy I was to have seen Amy grow so much that she got to that point. As I said at the beginning, to me, this book was perfect. It’s definitely going to be my answer to “What Is Your Favourite Contemporary?”, and may well by my favourite book of the year so far. I loved it. I really did. I’m sure you will too.
P.S. This book was full of incredible quotes and insanely wonderful passages, so extra-bonus part of my review below: three of my favourite quotes from the book. Enjoy!
- “If you don’t feel great on the inside, just look great on the outside, and after a while you won’t be able to tell the difference.”
- “You can do something extraordinary, and something that a lot of people can’t do. And if you have the opportunity to work on your gifts, it seems like a crime not to. I mean, it’s just weakness to quit because something becomes too hard…”
- “I’d found out that when you’re never going to see someone again, it’s not the good-bye that matters. What matters is that you’re never going to be able to say anything else to them, and you’re left with an eternal unfinished conversation.”