Amy has just ended school for the summer and it has been a tough one. After her father passed away in a car accident in March, Amy’s twin brother Charlie was sent to rehab so he could deal with his drug problems while their mother decided that they should leave California and move to Connecticut. Her mother already in place at their new house across the country, Amy is tasked with bringing their car to the east coast but Amy is not alone. Her mother has asked an acquaintance’s son to drive with Amy on a trip that’s supposed to take four days. Amy and Roger, however, have a different idea.
I actually hate road trips myself and I’m not very fond of traveling either but for some reason I kind of like reading about it. The road trip in The One plus One by Jojo Moyes was very nice and so I thought I would enjoy this too. However, due to anxiety when I travel myself, certain parts of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour made me uncomfortable. This is of course because of me and not the book but it was a surprise nonetheless. But it turned out that this was only a tiny problem compared to the actual story.
Amy is seventeen I believe and Roger is nineteen. Amy’s mother thought that they would get across the country following her immaculate itinerary without any problems and seemed to forget that she was talking to two teenagers. The mother in this story is my real problem, a character that isn’t actually featured very much but still has a huge impact on the story. I think she handled so many things wrong that I had a hard time enjoying the book because my energy seemed to go to her and all the weird things and choices she did.
First of all, Amy’s father died in a car accident and Amy believes she is responsible for it. She also believes that her mother blames her for it and that her brother left her when he in reality was sent away to rehab pretty much without a say. The mother doesn’t talk to Amy about what and how she feels after the accident and tells the siblings that they will be moving across country one day only for a FOR SALE sign to appear on their lawn the next, without ever asking or discussing it with either sibling. After Charlie is at rehab the mother then leaves Amy alone at their house, with so many memories, when she starts the move to Connecticut in advance so that she can be there when Amy arrives after school is out. That means that Amy is left alone for a month without anyone to talk to, having to take care of herself three months after the death of her father, that she blames herself for, with only an aunt looking in on her from time to time. The mother then springs the road trip on Amy a week before it’s supposed to happen, even though Amy hasn’t driven since the accident and dislikes even being in a car at all. Roger is practically a complete strange, a guy Amy met and played with when she was little but doesn’t remember. The fact that her mother thinks all of this is a good idea is either not believable at all or just incredibly scary. Leaving your daughter alone two months after her father died and then forcing her on a car ride for four days seems like such a bad idea I can’t believe she actually went through with it.
But the mother isn’t the only problem in this book. Amy, a girl I want to feel sorry for, is so annoying I don’t know where to start. She keeps saying that the accident killing her father was her fault, leaving hints here and there for the reader to ponder over. She isn’t excited about the road trip at all and when she sees Roger she realizes it will be even worse because he’s so good looking. I have no idea why that’s a problem, especially since she later mentions that she thought from the first moment she saw Roger that he had a girlfriend. She wants me to feel sorry for her after she lost her virginity to a guy who she said didn’t care about her even though it was her idea and he clearly wanted to talk to her about it before and after but she stormed out of his room and stopped talking to him.
This all makes me wonder if author Morgan Matson has lost someone close to her or if she just made all of this up because nothing feels believable for me. I know everyone grieves in different ways but I have a hard time believing that a seventeen year old would be allowed to live by herself right after her father passed away, that no one at her school took time to make sure that she was taken care of or had a therapist to talk to. Amy is basically left alone after this horrible accident, she wants to be by herself, alienates all her friends and completely turns inward which is all normal but I can’t believe no grown-up in her surroundings would stand by and watch all of this happen without doing anything. The only real encounter with people Amy has outside of school is the realtor who shoos Amy out of the house many days when she’s trying to make a sale and redecorates the home, not least Amy’s room. I don’t know how things work in America but I don’t believe it’s like this so I can only guess that Matson is trying to make me feel sorry for Amy and feel her pain but all she does is make me annoyed.
When it comes to the other characters, Roger is obviously playing a big role. He’s driving with Amy and they spend all their time together but he has an ulterior motive in the trip, besides making it to Philly where he will spend the summer with his father. Roger and his girlfriend just broke up and now he’s trying to find out what really happened between them, a side-story that wasn’t too interesting. At one point he and Amy sleep over at his college and Amy meets friend of Roger’s named Bron who takes to Amy so fast that it again, does not feel believable. They stay just one night yet Bron takes it in her own hands to not only throw out basically all the clothes in Amy’s suitcase but also gift her with a bunch of Bron’s things. This is something Amy doesn’t find out about until their on the road and despite this being a nice gesture from Bron I only think it’s crazy, weird and actually rude.
Few things felt like they could actually happen in this story, so much was so obviously made-up and fake that the book lost all meaning to me. There was basically no romance at all in the first 200ish pages and Amy, obviously, focused a lot on her father which gave the novel an overall heavy and sad feeling rather than light and sweet, like I’d hoped for (note that I didn’t know about the death of Amy’s father before I started reading this book, I only thought it was about a road trip). It was, overall, not a book I enjoyed and not one I would recommend either. I believe there are way lovelier contemporary and enjoyable road trips out there. Just leave this one and pick something else up instead.
I usually don’t read too many contemporary novels but every now and then I pick one up because they’re light and fun and usually quick reads. When I first heard of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour the road trip part of the book was what got me really interested and it has been on my to-read list for a very long time. I thought it would be a nice summer read about two teenagers crossing America and falling in love but what I got was something slightly different.