(The alternate covers of Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson)
Amy Curry had a special relationship with her father. They would go on road trips together, belting out lyrics to all of Elvis' greatest hits, while eating Life Savers on casual drives would be their special hobby. After her father passed away due to a tragic accident, her mother decides to move from California to Connecticut. Traumatized by the tragedy and vowed to never drive again, Amy's mom sends her childhood friend, Roger, to accompany her on the trip. Roger and Amy haven't seen each other since they were little, and awkward conversations ensue on the first part of the trip. As they spend more time with each other, these awkward conversations turn into meaningful understandings that eventually blossom into love. Through the journey, Amy gets back up after her father's death, finds herself, and falls in love in this light-hearted narrative.
This book was recommended to me by one of my best friends, and I've been hooked on this book ever since. She gave it to me before I left for the United States last summer, and I read bits and pieces of it throughout the whole trip. This novel was truly relatable, as I had been going on a road trip through California at the same time! Amy & Roger includes scraps and bits from each location they've been to. Facts about the state, specialty food, receipts, pictures, and little notes exchanged by the two main characters make the novel quirky and entertaining.
What I love about this book is the way the characters express themselves and how they evolve throughout the journey. Amy is a shy, reserved girl, who doesn't want to express herself after her father's death. She's cautious about everything, and is on the pursuit of happiness. Roger, on the other hand, is a guy who wants to understand. He's sensitive, and his wit and humor eventually brings Amy out of her shell. The two clashing personalities collide, meshing together into a wonderful story of self-discovery.
One thing unique about this book, aside from the scrap book infused between the pages, are the playlists! Amy and Roger take turns making their own mixtapes for the trip, and the creative titles are based on the states they are currently in, or inside jokes that only they can understand. It's a cute indirect way of describing how they relate to one another, as well as a useful way to have a feel of the story. The songs are amazing, and they make for great road trip playlists.
Roger Playlist #1: "'Leaving California'" aka 'Hitting the Road' aka 'Snacks are Important, But Not Quite as Important as Tunes'"
- "Going to California" - Led Zeppelin
- "Drive Away My Heart" - Ida Maria
- "California in Popular Song" - The Lucksmiths
- "I See You" - Mika
- "Travel Song" - Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin
- "Miss California" - Jack's Mannequin
- "The General Specific" - Band of Horses
- "I'm Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" - Billy Joel
- "Life in the Fast Lane" - Eagles
- "Birds of a Feather" - The Rosenbergs
- "Limelight" - Rush
- "All My Stars Aligned" - St. Vincent
- "Unhurried Heart" - Harlem Shakes
- "The Wild" - Princeton
- "I Stand Corrected" - Vampire Weekend
- "In California (Live)" - Neko Case
- "Nobody Lost, Nobody Found" - Cut Copy
- "Vanilla Twilight" - Owl City
- "Adrift" - Jack Johnson
Roger Playlist #5: "'No Place Like Home' or 'Why Won't Amy Buy Sunglasses?' or "The Sunflower State'"
- "Where Is Home?" - Bloc Party
- "Jolene" - The Weepies
- "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (cover) - Call Me Kevin
- "Brand New Day" - Joshua Radin
- "Starlight" - Muse
- "Even Fairy Tale Characters Would be Jealous" - PlayRadioPlay!
- "Daylight" - Matt and Kim
- "The Dark in You" - Plushgun
- "100,000 Fireflies" - The Magnetic Fields
- "Wake Up" - The Secret Handshake
- "Dust in the Wind" - Kansas
- "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" - Elton John
- "I'll Do the Driving" - Fountains of Wayne
- "Time After Time" (cover) - Quietdrive
- "Faith in Fast Cars" - The Format
- "Wonderful You" - The Dandy Warhols
- "Take a Chance on Me" - Erasure
Roger Playlist #7: "'Missouri-Illinois-Indiana-Kentucky' aka 'When will Amy be the DJ? WHEN?' aka '1500 miles on 400 dollars...'" (p. 207)
- "Come On! Feel the Illinoise!" - Sufjan Stevens
- "Going Back to Indiana" - Jackson 5
- "The Trick to Life" - The Hoosiers
- "No More Runnin" - Animal Collective
- "Globes & Maps" - Something Corporate
- "All Hail the Heartbreaker" - The Spill Canvas
- "Old Flames" - Harlem Shakes
- "Don't Wake Me Up" - The Hush Sound
- "My Beautiful Rescue" - This Providence
- "Beating Heart Baby" - Head Automatica
- "Song in My Head" - Sherwood
- "Nightswimming" - R.E.M.
- "Ulysses" - Franz Ferdinand
- "Good Arms vs. Bad Arms" - Frightened Rabbit
- "Late in the Evening" - Paul Simon
- "After Hours" - Caribou
- "The Good Ones" - The Kills
- "Sunlight in a Jar" - The Lucksmiths
- "Where the Story Ends" - The Fray
You can never leave a good book without remembering all the note-worthy quotes. Morgan Matson has a way of transforming words into intellectual ideas reflecting on life's greatest mysteries, as well as discovering your self-identity. Hope you get inspired by these wonderful quotes:
"The best discoveries always happened to the people who weren't looking for it."
"You've got to have pride in your home. You are where you're from. Otherwise, you're always going to be lost."
"Ad Astra Per Aspera, to the stars through adversity."
"We can't know what's going to happen. We can just try to figure it out as we go along."
The reason why I am so attached to this book is because it's so relatable to me, especially since I read this while I was in the US last summer 2012. My family and I went on a road trip across California, all the way to Arizona and back. There were times when I would just sit in the car for 8 hours, staring at the scenery and admiring the history. It was an amazing time, being in a country unfamiliar to you, yet appreciating and understanding the sights around you. It reminded me of the book, since I took home many souvenirs, as well as photographs that I will treasure my whole life. Let me share with you some of the pictures I took of the places I visited!
(Credits to Jess Marquez for the photographs above)
Such an amazing experience, and reading the book made me value the trip even more :) Get out, explore the world, be enriched by the culture, and strengthen relationships! It's all about the journey, not the destination.