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Amy and Roger's Epic Detour: 12/22/13

cover art

In the introduction to Worlds Reborn, William L. Siemens says that the hero with the most influence on the novels of the new world is Odysseus. Any long journey — regardless of purpose — is called an odyssey. I agree with Siemens's thesis and will add, that in the United States, there is a subgenre of odyssey born out of the wide expanses of the American landscape — the road trip.

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson is a YA road trip novel. Roger, a distant friend of the family, has been recruited by Amy's mother to help her drive the family car from California to Connecticut. They are moving there after the unexpected death of Amy's father. How and when he died is slowly revealed as Amy makes her way back East.

As the title includes "epic detour," Amy and Roger don't follow her mother's carefully crafted itinerary. They don't make the first stop even — detouring instead to Yosemite. Although they manage to keep their detour a secret for the first day or so, the truth comes out soon enough. Although there will be consequences when they finally arrive — Amy and Roger know they can't be stopped from taking the trip they need to take on their own terms.

Peppered in with the chapters describing their trip, are playlists, receipts, and touristy ephemera. I loved these added details and listened to a number of the playlists suggested at the start of each chapter. Most of the playlists are Roger's as it's his problems that are dealt with first. As Amy comes out of her shell, her personality begins to affect the trip and the associated ephemera.

While it's not EPIC in terms of adventure or danger, it is a very American novel — and I think relatable to a wide range of readers.

Five stars

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