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Act by Kayla Miller
Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko
Big Hero 6, Volume 2 by Haruki Ueno
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Class Action by Steven B. Frank
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Descender, Volume 5: Rise of the Robots by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen
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Lair of the Bat Monster by Ursula Vernon
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
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Now That I've Found You by Kristina Forest
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Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
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Blacktop Wasteland: 11/21/20

Blacktop Wasteland

In Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby, Beauregard Bug Montage is lured back into committing two heists when he can't get out from under business and personal debt. Beauregard, though, is married, has two young sons, an auto repair shop, and a mother in a nursing home. He doesn't want to be a getaway driver any longer and his wife certainly doesn't want him to.

Every decision Beauregard makes, including taking the first job, is judged against memories of his father both as a getaway driver and as a parent. For most of the novel the conflict is the compartmentalizing of criminal life as Bug and respectable life as Beauregard. But his crimes find their way home. His children either become criminals or are hurt by them.

While Beauregard is a driver and knows cars and trucks as well as he knows his own body, the novel doesn't find its placement in the road narrative spectrum until the climax. How it fits has nothing to do with the Blue Highways and other backroads he knows. Nor does it have anything to do with the cities and towns he travels between for his jobs. Instead, the road narrative spectrum placement defines the decisions he makes to end his involvement in crime to keep his family safe.

Beauregard is a marginalized traveler (66) for a number of reasons. He's Black. He's in debt. He's the son of a criminal. He's now wanted by the law. He's also in the middle of a war between two much larger syndicates than his usual small time stuff.

Beauregard's destination is home (66). Home as in safety, security, and his family. He doesn't want to leave like his father felt forced to do. Home is his happily ever after, and something he's not sure he'll achieve until the very last chapter.

His route is through the cornfield (FF). Now in the road narrative spectrum, the cornfield is often a metaphoric one. Not here. Beauregard literally takes out one of the men who led to his family being threatened by running him over in a cornfield.

To summarize then, Blacktop Wasteland is about a marginalized traveler going home via the cornfield (6666FF).

Five stars

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