Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it’s Amy’s responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn’t ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip – and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar – especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory – but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.
I had a certain image of Amy And Roger before starting it. I expected fluffy, cute, tons of witty banter between our leading characters, and an overall lighthearted vibe. Boy, was I wrong. To put it bluntly: Amy And Roger could be considered an exact opposite of everything I’ve listed above. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad, it could actually be a good thing because I love deeper contemporaries too. But, among the occasional well-written and emotional moments, Amy And Roger’s Epic Detour was executed in a way that isn’t my cup of tea.
That writing + plot: The writing is on the wordy side. It often read very formally, specifically toward the beginning, but managed to capture me well enough. It wasn’t too much, not too little. There were many moments in which the emotion was strongly enhanced by the prose, specifically when it came to Amy and how she deals with her grief. Unfortunately, this wasn’t kept up throughout the novel and I found myself skipping paragraphs every now and then. The “not too much not too little” can have a downside to it and it shows in this book, because the writing was only mildly engaging. Not without personality, but not too memorable either. But I suppose the characters play a part in that debacle too.
Despite a surplus of events and characters, the book did have a direction in all of its detours. What was even more surprising, was the amount of depth that the story possessed. Here I was, ready to go into a happy-go-lucky adventure and a totally adorable romance when all of a sudden Matson starts hitting me with all this grief discussion and death and guilt and deep shit in general. I don’t mind deep shit at all, in fact I like emotional contemporaries more than fluffy romances. Unfortunately, I have some issues with the execution of this concept and it mostly has to do with the fact that Amy and Roger’s EPIC detour, was not actually that epic. While the documentation of their trip is certainly present, there aren’t any groundbreaking events that truly challenge Amy and Roger’s relationship or cause any sort of realistic unsettlement. They never seem to struggle with money or gas or food and most of their feelings are kept to themselves, which creates a huge lack of excitement. I commend the story for trying to explore deeper themes, but the events taking place and the people Amy and Roger met tended to be forgettable. There wasn’t much propelling the emotional elements of the book besides the parts where the prose kicked in, and those actually turned out to be great scenes.
The characters: Amy and Roger are both likable and relatable characters, but aren’t really that memorable. Amy is clearly struggling, she’s dealing with the sadness and guilt caused by her father’s death. She isn’t the most lively person, and her quiet and unintentionally awkward nature is out in the open. But, she wasn’t very interesting to me. I just couldn’t connect that deeply with her grief, her character, her personality and this happens from time to time, it just doesn’t work out. I couldn’t connect with the ‘old her’ itself because it was barely shown, which leads me to say that Amy doesn’t entirely stick out from all the other heroines in YA contemporaries. I expected Roger to be the traditional funny guy that brings Amy out from her sadness, and while it didn’t really work out that way at first, I liked it anyway. Roger’s ‘baggage’ isn’t as deep, but I liked how Matson managed to create a fleshed-out conflict for him too.
The romance: Amy and Roger seemed to evade the rules of typical contemporary pairings, as they weren’t constantly talking about shared interests, engaging in witty banter, or being adorable while doing childish things together. Hell, they hardly spoke to each other in the beginning because Amy hardly says anything out loud. They were simply a boy and girl forced to go on a road trip together, without much complications at all. It wasn’t the most entertaining, but it was certainly realistic and not as predictable as it could have been. They did start bonding progressively though, and while it was slow journey, they ended up being a pretty likable and realistic couple. Realistic, however, is a tad disappointing in a book such as this because I didn’t want them to be as individualistic. The title has the word ‘epic’ in it and the cover shows a couple holding hands, I expected Amy and Roger to be cute and funny in a non-cheesy way, much like a fluffy contemporary. But, this book was not a fluffy contemporary and I shouldn’t judge it as one (you would’ve thought I’d get it by now).
Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, is unfortunately, another book I’ve ruined for myself due to expectations. Not necessarily high expectations, but … different expectations. There are better stories out there that mix lightheartedness with emotional themes, and hopefully Matson’s other book (which I will hopefully obtain soon) achieve that better than this one did.