Amy Curry is having a terrible year. Her mother has decided to move across the country and needs Amy to get their car from California to Connecticut. There’s just one small problem. Since her dad died this past spring, Amy hasn’t been able to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger, the nineteen-year-old 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 what Amy had planned on this trip. And traveling the Loneliest Road in America, seeing the Colorado mountains, crossing the Kansas plains, and visiting diners, dingy motels, and Graceland were definitely not on the itinerary. But as they drive, Amy finds that the people you least expected are the ones you may need the most – and that sometimes you have to get lost in order to find your way home.
Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour was Morgan Matson’s first novel (the first one that she published as Morgan Matson anyway) and I really, really enjoyed it. It’s my least favourite of her books, but I gave both Second Chance Summer and Since You’ve Been Gone 5 stars and they’re pretty hard to top.
This book follows Amy who lost her father in a car accident. As a result, her family is in a bit of a transition phase as they try to adjust to being a family of 3 rather than a family of 4. Amy’s mother has moved to Connecticut for work and is in desperate need of her car. She assigns Amy the task of driving the car across the country but Amy has sworn off driving since the accident that killed her father. Roger, the son of a family friend, needs to get to Philadelphia and is asked to drive Amy and the car to Connecticut. However, neither of them are very fond of the route and itinerary that Amy’s mother has mapped out for them and they decide to go on an epic detour on their cross-country trip.
And the detour was truly epic. The characters visited so many different and interesting places along the way. What I really loved about their journey was that it was completely impromptu and they went to places that they felt like they needed to go to in order to resolve certain issues that they had in their lives. I really enjoyed every single location that was featured and the descriptions were so vivid that I felt like I was in the car with Amy and Roger the whole way. It was really interesting to see how the states differed from each other and how distinct even neighbouring states could be. The book was not only fun but a really great learning experience for me. I learnt so many little facts about each place and the kinds of foods that each state was famous for. I discovered landmarks that I had never heard of before, such as the Loneliest Road in America, which is so long and lonely that you could easily run out of gas before reaching the next gas station. It was also really interesting to see how the states differed from each other and how distinct even neighbouring states could be.
The format of the book also really helped make the long journey interesting. Amy keeps a travel journal and the book included lots of notes about each state, as well as playlists for their trip. These little notes kept the book interesting, especially in the first half of the book where there was lots of driving and not much else happening. The book also contained receipts and photos of some of the things that were mentioned and I loved being able to see exactly what was being described. The formatting just really allowed us to be immersed in the story, as well as to get a really good sense of who the characters were. It brought the story to life for me.
I absolutely loved both Amy and Roger as our main characters. I thought they were completely relatable and I really connected with all of their struggles. I loved the way that Amy’s grief was explored and how the loss of her father has left her shut off from the rest of the world. I also connected with Roger’s desperation and persistence in understanding what went wrong in his previous relationship and trying to fix things. The development that both of these characters went through was definitely the most noteworthy aspect of the book. They’re both a little bit closed off and enigmatic in the first half of the book, but we slowly see them opening up and breaking free of all the things that held them back. The pace of the development felt very natural and I loved how the little things they encountered on their journey played a part in their development.
What I loved most about Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is that it’s not just a coming of age story for Amy. The road trip and journey of self-development that they take is just as much for Roger as it is for Amy. Roger’s not just the love interest who tags along and serves as eye candy; we get to see his development and explore his story just as much as Amy’s. I loved how the two of them supported each other and encouraged each other to resolve their respective problems. And, of course, I absolutely loved their friendship and their subsequent romance. I thought the romance developed very naturally and realistically. It wasn’t rushed and it just worked. I would’ve liked to have seen just a little bit more of them together at the end, to satisfy the romantic in me, but I’m incredibly happy with how their relationship played out and the decisions they made.
The relatability of the characters and the character development is the main reason why I love Morgan Matson’s books so much. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour certainly didn’t disappoint on this front. It had a wonderful emotional journey of self-discovery as well as a physical journey that will inspire wanderlust in anybody who reads the book.