Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kady Takes Us on an American Road Trip

I went on my first real road trip when I was 17, a couple friends and I convinced our parents to let us take a long weekend and drive up to Asheville, NC.  We had absolutely no plan, no place to stay once we got there and no idea how much fun we would have.  I think the road trip is one of the great American rites of passages and a perfect companion to wrap up Nico's book journey through Europe.  

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Amy doesn't drive.  Nope, sorry, not gonna happen.  But she and her mother are moving across the country and it's up to her to get the car from California to Connecticut.  Enter Roger.  He's a family friend on break from college and he's agreed to spend part of his summer helping Amy (and the car) move.  Amy's mother has given them a very specific itinerary, a credit card for gas and emergencies and she excepts them in Connecticut in 5 days.  Both Amy and Roger are working through very personal issues on this trip; Amy is still reeling from the death of her father and from her twin brother being sent to rehab, while Roger is nursing his very first broken heart.  As they make their way across the country, completely ignoring the set plan, Amy and Roger try to find the answers that they need to heal and grow closer to forgiveness and each other in the process.  Amy and Roger's Epic Detour has the markings of a great road trip story.  The main characters travel along some iconic roads and eat junk food at all the best fast food places.  They find the awesome and unique in each state that they visit and they often find the stuff that sucks too.  And the music!  Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is filled with playlists, from Amy's musical theater loving heart and Roger's indie rock filled iPod there's music in here for everyone.  This is a book that you want next to you as you plan your road trip, just to steal the songs and hand pick the best sights along the way.

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

Travels with Charley is an oft-overlooked gem from a classic American writer.  Late in his career Steinbeck decided to take a road trip across America in a camper truck with his French poodle named Charley.  He wanted to reconnect with the people and the land that he had spent so much of his life writing about, and the  subtitle "In Search of America" really says it all.  It was very Simon and Garfunkel before Simon and Garfunkel thought of it.  What follows is a romanticized and beautiful view of America as Steinbeck travels from New York to Seattle and back again through different routes.  He falls in love with Montana and comes to fear Texas where he figures that people either passionately love the state or passionately hate it.  Steinbeck is filled with wanderlust and a self-proclaimed bum, and reading Travels with Charley will make you want to follow in his footsteps.  As a bonus, Travels with Charley won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962, so you'll look extra smart while reading it.

There you have it, two awesome road trip books from two very different perspectives that will make you want to discover America too. For more road trip books, check out our list here.

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