Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

The Roadtrip of your life

Have you ever written a Haiku in Yosemite Park with a complete stranger? Have you ever heard about highway 50 in Nevada, also known as the loneliest road in America? Have you ever had frozen mustard on the golf course of a country club in Kansas late at night? Have you ever visited Elvis Presley’s estate Graceland in Tennessee even though you couldn’t stand listening to his songs for months? Have you ever been on a road trip? Not just any road trip, no. I am talking about the road trip of your life that changes absolutely everything you ever knew. If not, it is time.

“Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour” is Morgan Matson’s debut novel. The Young Adult romance novel was first published in 2010 by Simon & Schuster Books. Morgan tells the story of Amy and Roger who make a little detour on their road trip, and end up finding more than they even looked for.

First of All, you can’t go on a road trip without two essential things: good music, and junk food. Of course, you need the right companion for a trip across the US as well, but what if your mom decides who should drive with you?

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (Simon & Schuster Books, 2010)

Amy is 17 years old, her playlists contain musical songs mostly, she loves to play theatre. Three months ago, her dad died, and Amy’s world was never the same. Her old carefree and happy self is gone, all she ever had and was is lost. Her brother Charlie is in a detoxification clinic, fighting against his own demons, her mom is setting up a new life for the family in Connecticut, expecting her daughter to come after she finished the school year. After her dad’s death, Amy refuses to drive in a car, which is why her mom has to come up with a way to get her daughter all the way from California to the East Coast. Luckily, her best friends’ son Roger, who is supposed to visit his dad in Philadelphia is a good driver, and willing to drive Amy. However, Amy is not keen on spending the next 5 days in a car with a total stranger, especially after she avoided people for month.

Ad astra per aspera, to the stars through adversity

Kansas State Motto

How do you even act around boys? And what if they turn out be a good-looking college student with a great taste in music? Roger on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be too excited about the road trip that Amy’s mom picked out for them as well. The destinations and hotels she chose, are not particularly intriguing…the two strangers soon decided to adjust the route, and make it their own trip. Not only does that change their itinerary, but the way they see each other. The further they drive, the more they learn about each other, and themselves. Amy soon has to learn that Roger has his own problems he is struggling with, and that the hardest part of changing is letting go, and accepting your past. Maybe making a detour is necessary to reach your destination in the end. Maybe you have to turn to the next page after reading the same page for weeks.

We can’t know what’s going to happen. We can just try to figure it out as we go along.

Roger Sullivan

I read this novel in less than three days, at one point I read for 4 hours without stopping while listening to Taylor Swift. I’m not sure if this is normal. Reading “Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour” was like watching your favourite Romcom. Even better than that, because it is your own Romcom, you create your own settings and decided on the cast. The story of Amy and Roger not only makes you wish to go on a road trip across the US, it makes you want to create playlists, and eat pancakes in a diner at the interstate before continuing your way on the endless highways. It makes you want to be brave, and do things you have never done before. It makes you want to meet new people, visit places you have never seen before. It makes you think about yourself, and the people around you. It is the journey we always wanted to go on. When I read this book, I felt like I was part of Amy and Roger’s world for a moment, and that’s exactly what I liked most about Matson’s way of telling the story and writing. Even when I wasn’t reading, I was daydreaming about road trips with cute boys. Look what she made me do.

Moreover, this is not just a chill summer read. In the course of the story, little throwbacks reveal what happened to Amy and her dad three months ago. Once the reader learns more about her and Roger’s past, it is made clear that the novel is not just about young adults joking around. There is a reason why Roger and Amy are in a car together. Maybe this trip is exactly what they need in order to move on. Maybe Amy needs exactly someone like Roger, and Roger someone like Amy.

In addition to that, I really enjoyed the playlists, pictures, and little snippets of their road trip that can be found in the book. Sales receipts from gas stations in Kansas, postcards, pictures of the hotels and diners, little sketches that make you forget that you are reading a work of fiction. You feel like you’re sitting next to Amy and Roger in the trunk, sharing a burger at NuWay Burgers in Wichita with them. 

Nevertheless, there were passages in the book that I wished would be longer, and others I would have wanted to be shorter. The book is 384 pages long, but in my opinion, it would have been beneficial for the depth of characters like Roger, Charlie or Amy’s mom, to focus more on their story from time to time. There were moments in the book, where I got the impression that Matson was a bit hurried, and wanted to go on with the story. I would have liked for her to elaborate on her side characters more, and give Roger and Amy even more time in the ending. If you reach the end of the book, you will find out why I want this. But no spoilers from me.

You + Me…saw this…America

To sum it up, Morgan Matson’s debut novel is a lovely YA romance novel, which made me want to go on a road trip right away. It doesn’t matter where you go, as long as you got good music, snacks, and the right companion. This is one of the books I will be happy to come back to and reread, because road trips like this, will never get boring. I’m looking forward to reading more books of her, too. Who knows on which journeys her other books will take me?

If you are interested in similar books, stay tuned! I am working on more reviews of my favourite YA books, and the next one is going to be Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald, my favourite Young Adult Book of all time.

Paperback, 352 pages

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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