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I’m not a huge fan of books that are paced as slowly as this. There was nothing wrong with its pace, so the fact that I wished it would hurry along a little has virtually nothing to do with the book’s quality. I also kept thinking, I bet Morgan Matson is a fan of Sarah Dessen. Try as I may, I can’t fall in love with Dessen’s work. I’ve tried three times. Again, it has little to with quality and a lot to do with tastes. Why do I keep thinking I will love these soft romance tear-jerking books? Because I keep thinking I’m missing out on some universal emotional experience. That I SHOULD love them, since so many people do. I probably won’t stop either. I’ll probably write another review like this next month.

I told myself I wasn’t going to read any more young adult books that dealt with death for a little while. Ha! It’s hard not to. It is a perfect metaphor for coming of age. When does a teen stop “needing” parents and go off into the world alone? In this book Amy is struggling to live without her father, who died in a car accident three months prior to the book’s beginning. A road trip across America offers her all kinds of new perspectives on living. It was a well-constructed setting. One thing I loved about the main character, was her perspective on death. She didn’t give us an “everything happens for a reason” kind of point of view, and it was incredibly refreshing to follow a character who was willing to suffer the sourness of lemons, rather than insisting on making lemonade (sometimes things just suck). Amy still found hope and determination to overcome her guilt and suffering. That alone, made the book worth the read.

I took issue with the book, stylistically. Have you ever read Lynn Rae Perkins Criss Cross? Or Johnathan Saeran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close? Those books take on visual elements as if the character’s doodling, or typing, or conducting research in a way that doesn’t quite make the book a graphic novel. Maybe I’m unforgiving, but I haven’t yet read a book where this feels seamless and necessary to the book. I felt the same way with this book, which included song lists and photos of receipts and the like, in an effort to show Amy’s travel scrapbook as she journied along. To me, it came off a bit gimmicky. I wonder if the author had this scrapbooky feel in mind when she wrote it.

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