Written by: Morgan Matson
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Release date: May 4th 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads
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.
(To start off – I won my copy of this book from Sabrina at iheartYAFiction, from her Armchair BEA Giveaway, so thank you SO MUCH, Sabrina!!)
I adored Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. I’m still sort of new to the contemporary romance genre (I’ve said that a lot lately, haven’t I? I wonder when it will stop being true… I still feel new, lol). Anyway, I’d heard that this book was excellent, and it came out quite a while ago, so I figured I should read it while the genre still feels shiny and new to me. And oh boy, it didn’t disappoint. I honestly think I could have read this after reading TONS of contemporaries, and this book still would’ve felt like a breath of fresh air.
Amy is dealing with a lot lately – the recent death of her father, her brother being sent to rehab – and she’s had to deal with these things alone, in her empty house, because her mother moved to Connecticut ahead of her to get their new house ready. The story begins when Amy is asked to take her mom’s car from their old home in California all the way to their new house in Connecticut. Since her father’s death, Amy doesn’t drive, so her mother has enlisted the help of an old neighbor and childhood friend of Amy’s, Roger, to drive the car – and Amy – to Connecticut. Amy’s mom has the trip all planned out – which highways to take, which hotels to stay at, and exactly how long it should take Amy and Roger to make the trip. What her mom didn’t plan on was that Amy isn’t ready to settle down in Connecticut – and Roger (with baggage of his own) is totally okay with taking a few detours as well.
First off, Amy, who is the main character and narrates the book, is fan-flipping-tastic. She’s real and relatable and sympathetic and flawed and just… awesome. As surprising as this may sound, even with everything she’s gone through recently – losing her dad, her brother going into rehab, living at home by herself with her grief for a month – it’s really easy to be inside her head throughout the book. Even though the “epic detour”/road trip takes place over only a few days, I saw a real progression of character growth for Amy – especially with her acceptance of her grief for her father. More than anything, I felt like this book was about Amy’s emotional journey, and her finally coming to terms with what has happened to her family. And this was extremely well done.
But this is also a romance, right? Well, that’s one thing that took me by surprise… One of my favorite things about Amy & Roger is that Amy doesn’t immediately fall for Roger. (Okay, yes, the book takes place over a matter of a few days, but bear with me.) I was expecting Amy to immediately confide in Roger about everything – for him to be her shoulder to cry on, and that their relationship would build from there. But that definitely isn’t the case. She finds strength in herself first, which is amazing. Heck, the first time she even really talks about her father is with a total stranger, because she was ready to talk about it at that moment. I loved that.
Roger is awesome. To be honest, he was less obviously-swoon-worthy than I was expecting, but I actually thought this made him even more appealing and more realistic. He’s a ridiculously decent guy, but he’s also got a lot of baggage of his own. And it took me a while to fall for him, just like it takes Amy a while before she realizes she really likes him.
Even though the road trip only lasts a few days, and thus, Amy and Roger’s relationship does happen pretty quickly, I felt like the emotional story-arcs were given the perfect amount of time to develop. Amy and Roger were put into a situation where they were often brutally honest and totally themselves around each other (being in a car together 24/7 will do that). And there was never a moment where I went, “Woah, she suddenly likes him, when/why/how did that happen?” The feelings develop so gradually that the relationship doesn’t happen, so much as make sense by the end. And that was a distinction I really appreciated.
I can’t write this review without talking about one of the most unique aspects of this book – the road trip scrapbook. Interspersed throughout the book, there are pages of pictures, notes, and playlists, which Amy and Roger have compiled on their journey cross-country. Also interspersed in these pages are receipts from stores and mini-marts and restaurants. At first, I thought this was a little weird – the pictures are one thing, but why should I pay attention to the receipts? But omg, guys.
If When you read this book, pay attention to the receipts. Seriously, the whole receipt thing is one of the cutest things ever, and you will thank me when you reach the last page.
And speaking of the last page… even though we’re not given a real concrete ending – the book ends immediately after the road trip ends, and we really have no indication of how long Amy and Roger last after the Epic Detour is over – I do think we’re left in the right place. The book definitely does its job of telling Amy’s story, and it leaves things on a very hopeful and totally adorable note between Amy and Roger. As much as I might want more, I appreciated this ending a lot.
Can you tell that I liked this book? Yeah, I thought so. It took me long enough to get into contemporary and then finally pick this one up, but I loved every minute of it. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is just that – epic – and emotional, and moving, and adorable, and real. Contemporary fans, this is one book that you should not pass up.