Saturday, 24 December 2011

Book Review: Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

First published in the UK: 7th July 2011
By: Simon & Schuster UK

Amy Curry is having a terrible year. Her mother has decided to move all the way across the country and needs Amy to drive their car from California to the East Coast. There's just one problem: since the death of her father, Amy hasn't been able to get behind the wheel of a car. Enter Roger, the son of an old family friend, who turns out to be unexpectedly cute… and dealing with some baggage of his own.

Meeting new people and coming to terms with her father's death were not part of Amy's plans for the road trip. But then neither was driving on the Loneliest Road in America, seeing the Colorado Mountains, visiting diners, dingy motels and Graceland. But as they drive, and she grows closer to Roger, Amy finds that the people you least expected are the ones you need the most ­ - and that sometimes you have to get lost in order to find your way home.

My review:

This book wasn't quite what I was expecting. I did what you're supposed to never do and judged the book by its cover, and the design of the UK cover seemed to promise something light, with wacky hijinks and lots of humour. However, from the first couple of pages it's shown that Amy is depressed and withdrawn following her father's sudden death and this is really quite a sombre tale, about a broken girl trying to heal herself and her family. It's not heavy-handed, but there's an undercurrent of sadness for most of the narrative. I'd say the tone is similar to 13 Little Blue Envelopes.

I did like the book, though and I like it more the more I think back on it. Amy and Roger are likeable characters but quite muted - they're both quiet types and don't really jump off the page. The big personality characters, like Amy's brother and Roger's ex-girlfriend, are off-screen for most of the journey and the roadtrip is a reaction to big events, rather than the big event itself. It's easy to read the book and keep turning the pages but its enjoyment factor is the kind that grows on you over time, rather than immediately knocking you off your feet.

What is unreservedly the best thing about the novel is all the little touches the author includes to make it seem real. We're given photographs of the places the characters visit and the food they eat, copies of their bills and receipts, and playlists of the music they listen to. The author did a blog tour this summer where she talked about how she crafted these things; I found it interesting and I recommend looking at her posts if you haven't already. These details in the book are so fun to see and really bring the story to life. I discovered quite a few new songs and all the mouth-watering descriptions and pictures of food made me, a life-long vegetarian, crave those meat dishes something bad. Those crumbly burgers sound yummy.

The storyline the book follows is predictable and you know from the start where the characters will end up: that Amy will come to terms with her father's death, that Roger will get over his ex, that new love will blossom. But, as they say, it's all about the journey and this book takes you on a nice, very readable journey.

Rating: 3.5 stars


  1. I love books with slow build up and a journey. I'll have to check out that blog tour... Thanks for the great review!

  2. I really loved this book, and I'm a bit sad that you didn't like it quite as much as I did. My favorite part was definitely the little extras with the receipts, postcards, etc. I love the UK cover of it! Fantastic review. :)

  3. This one is one I've had on my TBR for the longest time. I would have thought it was a light read too but from your review I think I might have to really work myself up to read it.


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