Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Amy Curry is having a terrible year. Her mother has decided to move across country and needs Amy to get their car from California to Connecticut. There’s just one small problem: Amy hasn’t been able to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger, the nineteen-year old son of a 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 what Amy had planned on this trip. And traveling the Loneliest Road in America, seeing the Colorado mountains, crossing the Kansas plains, and visiting diners, dingy motels, and Graceland were definitely not on the itinerary. But as they drive, Amy finds that the people you least expected are the ones you may need the most—and that sometimes you have to get lost in order to find your way home.
Here’s the scoop:
Three months ago, the rug was pulled out from under sixteen-year old Amy when her father died suddenly. Since then, Amy has barely squeaked by, quietly altered by this loss. She’s spent the last month alone in her childhood home as her mom has moved onto to their new house in Connecticut and her twin brother has been sent to rehab. Amy’s job now, other than being “the responsible one” is to get the family car from California to her new home. She hasn’t driven in the three months since her father’s death, so the son of a family friend—a complete stranger who needs to get across country too—will be driving her.
Roger has an ulterior motive in this whole journey. Neither he nor Amy are happy with her mom’s boring, perfectly mapped out trip and so they make a decision to alter it slightly to hit a few major hot spots—like Yosemite and a few famous diners. Nothing scandalous, of course, but they both want something. Amy, isn’t really sure what that is. Sometimes it’s escape. Sometimes it’s freedom. Sometimes it’s the ability to feel like her old self again—the one from before everything changed. And Roger is on a mission to reach his ex-girlfriend to find out what went wrong. Along the way they build a friendship; the kind where every secret can be shared, but isn’t and where there is a genuine does he or doesn’t he sort of quiet, underlying attraction that brims with moments of awkward sweetness.
The physical layout is one of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour’s best attributes. Apart from being a good, sweet story about family and friendship and moving on, it’s laced with actual details of the road trip(including photos, faux receipts, and journal entries) so that it takes on a scrapbookish feel. Matson also included music playlists, arranged to accompany Amy and Roger on each specific portion of the journey. She clearly drove across country, either for research for this novel or for the pure fun of it, because she knows the areas of which she speaks, describing the scenery, the locale, the type of people and landmarks like a true tourist would (I mean that in a good way. She notices things that the locals probably glaze over now— like how I, as a native Californian, forget how amazing the beach is or how incredible it is to walk onto Main Street in Disneyland, simply because I’ve done those things so many times.). And the food, oh my lordy, the food. Amy and Roger hit lots of famous diners and drive-thrus along the way (In-n-Out or Tastee Burgers anyone?) and had me drooling the whole time. It felt like a real road trip, minus the bottom that gets numb from sitting too long.
All in all, I thought it was a good story. It isn’t full of heavy, ultra-romantic swoon, but the friendship and love story unfold slowly, as they would in real life. I appreciated that it wasn’t an ohmygoshwemetandfellinloveinfourdays kind of a situation, but I would have loved just a teesny bit more development (translation: more smokin hot kissing. I’m not going to lie. I need that). The story isn’t really meant to be about romantic love though. It’s a story of healing and breaking free; finding life and partnership where you least expect it. The problems each of the main characters experience are different, but they find a common solace while on their trek and they seek to help one another find fulfillment. Honestly, I liked them both so much that I practically wanted to hop in the car with them.
Crush Intensity: 4/5 Should I say it? It was kind of epic.
The Way I See It:
Bonnie Wright as Amy. Amy is a lovely ginger. I imagined her as a delicate kind of pretty like Miss Wright.
Jonathan Bennett as Roger. I think this guy could carry off the balance of cute and nerdy that Roger seems to have.
Soundtrack: Man, oh man. This is so overwhelming because Matson included not one, not two, but like, a billion playlists (ok, not quite that many) in this book. And they are filled with super-cool bands that I’d mostly never heard of. And when, on each playlist I recognized more than three bands, I’d give myself an imaginary high-five and feel my coolness level rise a bit (minus the imaginary high-five, obvs.). Here is a tiny taste:
Muse (my favorite Muse song evah)
“He died. My father died.” The words hung in the night air between us. This wasn’t ever how I imagined I’d say it for the first time. But there it was, like Walcott had said. A truth, told to a stranger in the darkness.
“Oh, man,” Walcott said. “Amy, I’m so sorry.” I heard that there was real feeling in this, and I didn’t brush it away, like I had everyone else’s condolences. I tried to smile, but it turned trembly halfway through, and I just nodded. He took a step closer to me, and I felt myself freeze, not wanting him to hug me, or feel like he had to. But he took his headphones off his neck and placed them over my ears.