Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Two for the girls! The Complete History of Why I Hate Her and Amy & Roger's Epic Detour

I've been reading and have four to blog, but I'm cutting it up into two parts. Here's part one, which features some great reads for girls - one a romance, the other about friendships....

The Complete History of Why I Hate her by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Nola just wants a summer to be herself.  She loves her little sister, Song, but has always wanted the  feeling of being a normal teenger, not a sister of a sibling who has cancer.  So this summer, she’s off to Rocky Cove Inn to work at the resort as a waitress, surrounded by other teens from all over the place. 

On her bus ride there, she meets the quirky, funny, and always lively Carly, who’s on her way to Boston to be with her family.  All it takes is one bus trip to seal the deal of a friendship.  Even though they've never met, when Nola gets off the bus at Rocky Cove, she already misses her new bubbly friend….

It isn’t long until Nola is immersed in life at Rocky Cove, including meeting the guy counselors from across the way, going to parties in a cabin by the lake, and spending the afternoons she has off swimming, running, and writing haikus to Song and sending them home.  And the best thing that could ever happen – Carly shows up to work too! 

But is it the best thing in the world?  At first Nola thinks so, but slowly she’s seeing a side of Carly that she isn’t sure is real or imagined.  Is Carly in competition with her, or is she just being a friend?  Why doesn’t Carly cheer Nola on when good things happen to her?  At first dubbed the Cannoli’s, Nola isn’t sure she wants a friend that she feels strangles her more than allows her freedom to be herself.  Or is Nola just presuming that Carly is being this way?  Isn't imitation the best form of flattery?

Jacobson has written a quick and dramatic unfolding of events between two girls and a friendship that quickly becomes toxic.  She recognizes the invisible signs that people wear but don’t always show others they have.  Both Nola and Carly are realistic in two very separate ways, and the reader at first is excited for the friendship, but is also omnisciently aware of what really is happening before Nola does.  This is not a happy romance book, but one with a darker side.  Jacobson’s use of haikus within the book, as well as a budding romance for Nola, rounds out this novel into one that readers will start and finish quickly.  Recommended. 

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amy Curry killed her father.  Now, she won’t even think about driving a car.  Home isn’t home anymore since the accident either.  Her brother is in North Carolina, and her mother found another job in faraway Connecticut – as far as possible from California as she could get, and now Amy has to leave too.  But this time, it’s a cross-country trip, which Amy’s mother has meticulously mapped out.  The conundrum?  How is Amy to get to the East Coast in a car?  She can’t do it after what happened….

Enter Roger, an old childhood friend Amy vaguely remembers.  He has the summer off and is going to Philly to stay with his dad and volunteers to take Amy to Connecticut as well as drop of the car Amy’s mother needs.  Great….just what Amy DOESN”T want – a long car trip with a college who happens to be HOT….

For about a year, Amy has had to deal with the pain and suffering of losing a parent.  She doesn’t want to talk about it, feel anything, and becomes a recluse, only allowing herself out when starring in musicals, which is her passion.  She doesn’t want to be stuck in a car answering questions, but when the road trip starts, she realizes Roger doesn’t know what happened, and a small weight is lifted. 

And so the long cross-country trip begins, but Roger and Amy decide to take this time to come to terms with some of the people and incidents in their lives.  Instead of taking the “safe route” Amy’s mom has emailed, Amy and Roger decide to start out at Yosemite,  and from there they run into an endless highway with a shoe tree, a fabulous party in Colorado, and some amazing topiaries in Kentucky. 

But more than that, Amy’s layers begin to peel off as she slowly realizes that life can go on.  Roger also learns that sometimes the people you meet in life are there for now, but there are so many more interesting people to bump into.

What a wonderful read for girls!  Not only does the novel contain romance and road trips, twinkies and tents, but so much added stuff, such as Roger’s playlists of music for the trip, and scraps of a travel log that Amy shares with the reader, including receipts, pictures, menus, notes, and doodles among other things.  The readers feels like the back seat passenger in this novel, and gets to know Roger and Amy on so many different levels the closer they get to their destination, not only physically, but emotionally as well.
This is exactly what you get when you read the title – an epic adventure!   Recommended. 

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