Review – Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Today we are rounding off the Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour blog tour, with a review from Aly and a giveaway…

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour – Morgan Matson

Amy Curry is having a terrible year. Her mother has decided to move all the way across the country and needs Amy to drive their car from California to the East Coast. There’s just one problem: since the death of her father, Amy hasn’t been able to get behind the wheel of a car. Enter Roger, the son of an old 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 part of Amy’s plans for the road trip. But then neither was driving on the Loneliest Road in America, seeing the Colorado Mountains, visiting diners, dingy motels and Graceland. But as they drive, and she grows closer to Roger, Amy finds that the people you least expected are the ones you need the most – – and that sometimes you have to get lost in order to find your way home.

Amy isn’t just dealing with grief, but with actual guilt. We know from our reading and life experiences how much grief can affect you, but when guilt is involved it can be disastrous.

Ever since the accident all she can think about is that day. She has started avoiding her friends including her best friend Julia, and can’t stand the thought of driving anymore, so much so, that she hasn’t driven a car since. Her mother refuses to talk about the day and spends her time doing mindless tasks – her twin brother Charlie is always out late and is continuing his bad habits. Guilt surrounds everyone. Charlie escapes the voices in his head and uses other substances to block them: the mother no longer knows her children and Amy has become a shadow of her former self. Lost is the humorous girl she once was, the girl who liked to have fun, was in a relationship, and had great friends. Now she spends her days trying her best to blend in.

Until her mother announces they are moving that is. Her mother leaves early — her brother is still in rehab which leaves her with the car: the car that she can’t drive. Fortunately her mother has called on a son of a old family friend called Roger. Soon enough they are stuck together in a car for days to come, neither know each other, and both are hiding secrets of their own. What originally was supposed to be a certain route drawn up by her mother that they were to take, on an impulse of rebelliousness it is thrown to the curb and Amy decides that she needs this. She needs a fresh start and maybe this new detour of theirs could lead to the perfect answer.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour is a book that I have been anticipating to read for well over a year now – ever since it came out in the US, which is why I was so thrilled when I received my own copy. At first I expected a very emotional read. Something that would leave me a blubbering mess of some sort — however, I was told not to expect such a thing, that this book did include some romance but largely it’s about the journey that these two individuals take together: they were right. The book alternates between the present and the past. The past leading up to the crash:  the present about how all *particularly Amy* are dealing with life after the crash.

I noticed that the book flowed at a slightly slow pace which didn’t bother me too much because overall the book was worth it.

The romance in the book isn’t really all that important, in my opinion. I mean, sure, it’s nice, but it wasn’t exactly one of the highlights for me. To be a little clearer on this, I don’t think I fell particularly in love with Amy or Roger although I appreciated that they took their time in getting to know each other. That they gelled well and seemed like genuine close friends over time until things progressed towards a different path. I just didn’t really connect with them, and I don’t think I mind too much, surprisingly. The book was a lot more about the journey itself and it was this aspect of the book that I loved. It was so refreshing to read Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour because I have never read a book about a journey of self discovery, much less literally a journey itself, which included: the people they met on the way, through time how Amy and Roger got to know each other, her issues with her mother and brother, her anger and guilt over her father’s death were all portrayed very, very realistically. That is what made the book for me.

I need to add that I genuinely think that Amy’s mother is partly to blame for the changed Amy. I understand that she was grieving too, but she could have at least spent a day and sat down with her children and told them that it wasn’t their fault, that there was nothing Amy could have done, and that she would be there for Charlie and support him. If she had done this they both wouldn’t have had to suffer alone. After his death they expected their mother to hold them and cry with them, tell them that everything would be okay, instead she went upstairs and shortly after sold the house. I’m sorry but that is not what I call a good mother. So, I don’t blame Amy for not finding her mother her most favourite person because I wouldn’t either.

Furthermore, her mother just didn’t seem to understand her children, she didn’t seem to think that like her they too were hurting. And was I the only one who noticed that their father obviously preferred Amy over Charlie, that she was basically his favourite? It’s obvious that this hurts Charlie and I can’t help but think that the route he took might have been a cry for help and attention, and so when his father died he just completely went downhill. Also it aggravated me how Amy covered up for Charlie because not only was it incredibly stupid but it really didn’t do anyone any favours, in fact, it made things worse!  Ultimately what I gathered from all this is that to all they might have seemed like the perfect family, but there were obviously a lot of unsolved issues beneath the surface which over time turned into anger, bitterness, and low self esteem: his death only served as a catalyst in my opinion. That, I suppose, is what happens when you have lack of communication and a dysfunctional family that doesn’t come together and TALK. In their case see that their son had a problem — an addiction and instead of doing something about it chose rather to ignore it and pretend that it wasn’t happening. Sorry, but my anger overrules all sympathy in such cases. Take it as you may, but these were just some observations that I made. I could be wrong.

There were some things that I absolutely loved about the book. The fantastic quotes that I found myself furiously bookmarking with bits of tissue, the quotes in every chapter, the obvious love for Elvis, the lovely illustrations inside. I adored how Amy made notes, wrote down facts, and took pictures at every place they stopped by and mentioned. It made the journey not only for Amy, but also for the reader a little more memorable. The play list was another thing that I enjoyed. It was great to see what the two of them were listening to throughout their journey.

Don’t go into Amy and Rogers Epic Detour expecting a fast, emotional read because that is not what it’s about. It’s about how these two people who are complete strangers to each other start this journey with a certain purpose, with issues of their own, and how towards the end they are completely changed. Not only changed but matured. The transition is remarkable and makes the reader believe that sometimes having that time to yourself, or that one person you can trust, even a stranger with a good heart – might be the key to giving you the happiness and fresh start that you deserve.

Thanks, Aly, and thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending us a copy. We do have a copy of Amy & Roger’s Epic detour up for grabs, so to be entered into the draw to win it, comment on this post, ‘like’ it on Facebook, or retweet it. We’ll be picking a winner on Tuesday evening at 7pm (UK only) – good luck all!