‘Amy Curry’s year sucks. And it’s not getting any better. Her mother has decided to move, so somehow Amy has to get their car from California to the East Coast. There’s just one problem: since her father’s death Amy hasn’t been able to get behind the wheel of a car. Enter Roger, the son of a family friend, who turns out to be funny, nice… and unexpectedly cute.
But Roger’s plans involve a more ‘scenic’ route than just driving from A to B, so suddenly Amy finds herself on the road trip of a lifetime. And, as she grows closer to Roger, Amy starts to realize that sometimes you have to get lost to find your way home…’
I LOVED Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour (and no, not just cause the main character had the same name as me!)
Everyone seemed to be excited about this book – and for good reason – as its one of the best books I’ve read this year, certainly one of the best contemporary YA I’ve ever read.
Why did I love this so much? Well, firstly, its about a road trip!! How cool is that (I’ve always wanted to go on one – preferably, of course, with a cute guy somewhere along the way! And there’s no mistaking that Roger is very, very cute). You can’t get more perfect summer reading then that. But mainly it’s because I loved both Amy and Roger and felt like I was right there with them, traveling across America and having the road trip of a lifetime.
Matson is a very talented writer and the story unfolds at just the right pace. We get a few flashbacks as the story progresses, giving us insight into the past three months of Amy’s life and the main writing is peppered throughout with Amy’s random notes about places they’ve passed through, scribbles to one another, song playlists, receipts, the odd email, photos of how much Roger has eaten for breakfast… all of which provides a fun, quirky feel to the story and just adds something special. It’s clear Matson herself spent a lot of time traveling across America researching and drawing inspiration for the places Amy and Roger visit.
Amy is grieving the recent death of her father and working through the guilt she feels over his death – her pain and grief was extremely well handled and, like everything else about this book, felt very real, there are several touching moments where I teared up alongside her. But Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour isn’t overly dramatic or depressing, it’s about overcoming what life throws at us and learning to carry on. I felt very close to Amy as Roger, his friends and the people they meet, teach her to laugh and live again. Though mostly in the background, there’s also the complex relationships between Amy and her twin brother and with her mother, that are explored, though not fully resolved, by the end of the novel.
Though this is primarily Amy’s story, Roger also has some problems of his own he needs to work through. It was refreshing to read about a normal, caring, sweet guy and a relationship that grows from a strengthening friendship. It was lovely to watch them learn to trust one another and grow closer throughout the trip, being there for one another when they needed it. I loved it when they started calling one another Hillary and Edmund after a little lying to bag the last available room at a motel along the way – the little private jokes that develop between them were great, they reflected their personalities and made their relationship seem all the more real.
The secondary characters feel just as well-developed, with histories and stories of their own; Matson has given us a mere moment of these people’s lives. I especially loved the ending. It was poignant, made me smile and totally captured the whole tone of book. Matson doesn’t wrap everything up neatly and there are a lot of open ends, but there is a strong sense that a new chapter of Amy’s life is beginning and rather than give us details, she chooses instead to just give us a hint about whether Amy and Roger will continue to be a part of one another’s lives in a perfect, understated way.
Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour manages to be heartwarming, fun, light, poignant, heartbreaking and hopeful all at the same time. A wonderful book that has earned a special place on my bookshelf – I don’t doubt I’ll be picking it up again and again. The only issue I had, which is no reflection on the book whatsoever, is that I hate the name Roger! More than ever do I want to go on a road trip through America, and you can be sure I’ll be playing Amy and Roger’s Epic Playlist as loud as possible when I do!
Recommended Reading Age: 16+