YA Friday: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Friday, August 26, 2011

Title: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour
Author: Morgan Matson
Genre: YA
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, 2010
Source: Library

Amy has gone into a shell since her father's death. She ignores her best friend, her brother is in rehab, and her mom has moved to Connecticut, leaving Amy alone for the rest of the school year. When the time comes for Amy to join her mom, her mother recruits a college freshman named Roger, an old family friend, to drive Amy across the country on his way to visit his stepdad. However, the careful, uneventful itinerary Amy's mom plotted out for maximum safeness goes on an epic detour (ha - get it?) and Amy and Roger begin an exhilarating adventure.

There were so many things that I loved about this novel - and one or two that I could have done without. But let's start with the positives, shall we?

I've always been a sucker for a good road trip - it gave me more time to read without any interruptions - so I was very excited about the premise of this book. There is so much expectation in a road trip - you are going somewhere different from your day to day life, about to pounce into something new. This is true on multiple levels for Amy and Roger. They veer from their expected course to discover new places and subcultures of America (can I just say I loved the journey to all the different burger joints across the US? Sign me up for a crumbly, please!). They each explore the twisted map of grief and letting go in different ways. They also travel through the development of new friendships, not only with each other but other characters met along the way. I loved exploring America with Roger and Amy, and I loved the way they were also given the opportunity to explore themselves.

I also enjoyed their romance - for the most part. Roger is trying to get over the first love of his life, the beautiful, rich, and self-centered Hadley, but early on in the story it is clear that Amy intrigues him. As the plot develops, we can see that Roger is a sweetheart as he reminisces and aches for Hadley - something that can be frustrating when they are aching over the wrong person, but is nevertheless somewhat endearing because it shows the depth of love the person is capable of. Amy has been messing around with a college guy for whom she has little feeling, and it is enjoyable to watch her develop real feelings for someone.

The qualm I had about the relationship involves a SPOILER, so click down to the next paragraph if you don't want to know about what comes next. I was bothered by the fact that they slept together at the end of the book for a few reasons. First of all, he is 19 and she is 17, which is a little sketchy. Secondly, even for those who don't believe in abstinence, I think it is a huge decision - not something that should be jumped into after knowing someone for a few weeks. I know it happens all the time in "the real world," but I wish that books for teens would give more consideration to the fact that sex is a weighty decision with consequences. Also, this was further troublesome to me because of the way they left their relationship hanging at the end of the book - something along the lines of, "I'll call you at some point and we will figure this out." No intention of commitment, although the characters do seem to want things to work out. The whole situation just turned the romance down for me a notch or two.

Okay, the spoilers are over, so feel free to join in again. There were a few little tidbits that were particularly enjoyable to me personally that I just had to share. First of all, the playlists were fantastic. I downloaded several of the songs on Grooveshark and I must agree with Amy - Roger does have great taste in music. I also appreciated that Amy thought Utah was beautiful, and that Matson was able to write about it without inserting the obligatory "And here is an example of why Mormons are weird" story that usually pops up in books mentioning Utah. It isn't my home state, but I've lived here for the last six years and while I'm not planning on staying here forever, it is a beautiful state. Finally, I actually read this on my way to Yosemite, so it was really fun to read about all the sites and then get to see them. I even took this hideous, rain-drenched picture to show you all my picture of the sign with Curry Village (allegedly discovered by Amy's ancestors).

I did really enjoy this book overall, although I don't think I would give it to a teenager. The journey is interesting, the characters are endearing, and the romance is sweet (until the end).

4 stars

Warnings: Non-graphic sex scene, some smatterings of language


  1. Why wouldn't you give this book to a teenager? i just bought it for my high school library and now I'm worried.

    My Head is Full of Books

  2. Anne,

    In the end there is a sexual relationship that progresses pretty quickly. I wouldn't give it to one of my own children because I wouldn't want them to have the idea that it is romantic or good to just throw yourself headlong into a sexual relationship without commitment. I will say that the scene is not graphic or explicit, so that shouldn't be a concern. I just think it is making light of something that should be serious and committed.

  3. Great review! I agree with much of what was said- and that spoiler really got me too. Like, wait- You do realize you've really only known him like a week?! Sigh.

    I also wish the relationship with her brother had been explored a little farther. I felt like that was a relationship and story that wasn't given a fair shot.

  4. Thanks, Ashley! I agree with you about the relationship with her brother. I loved the part in the book where she (LITTLE SPOILER) went and visited him. But a lot of the time he seemed like an afterthought. i would forget that she was even a twin.


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