Thursday, January 10, 2019

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

Gemeinhart, Dan. The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
January 8th 2019 by Henry Holt
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Coyote and her father, Rodeo, travel around the US in a converted school bus they call Yager. Their life seems pretty comfortable, and they go wherever they want (especially if it involves some really good destination food), but they are on the road because of a sad reason. Coyote's mother and two sisters were killed in a car accident, and their father coped so poorly that he had to sell their house, leave their town, and doesn't even want to call Coyote by her real name or be referred to as her father, because it makes him remember too much. After Coyote talks to her grandmother, who tells her the park near their old home is going to be torn down, Coyote wants to get back in time to retrieve a time capsule that her mother and sisters left there just five days before their death. Since she can't tell her father, she makes an excuse to travel somewhat nearby to get a special sandwich. Her father can't drive enough to get from Florida to the Pacific Northwest, so when Coyote finds a young musician who wants to travel there to see his girlfriend, she invites him along. Rodeo has done this and the past, and has series of questions for people to answer. The answers are correct, and they are on their way. They also pick up Salvador and his mother, who are fleeing his father, after Coyote is accidentally left at a gas station. They also pick up an 18-year-old runaway, Valerie, who has been kicked out of her home because she is gay. Any cross country trip will have incidents, and there are incorrect connections, break downs, and general mayhem. Will Coyote be able to make it back, and will her father eventually realize that she needs to talk about her past in order to go on with her future?
Strengths: A good road trip story is always good, from Cooney's On the Road to Pla's The Someday Birds. The bus is a fun vehicle, the aimlessness appeals to the middle grade soul, and there is a lot of good relationships and adventure. While this is a little different from Gemeinhart's previous books, it shows me that he has studied up on the current climate in middle grade literature. Several topics that are currently in favor are in play here-- a dead parent, LGBTQ+ character, and domestic problems. The cover is good as well.
Weaknesses: I would think that people who had lost a loved one would be really insulted by all of the literary characters who become completely dysfunctional when they are grieving. I liked that the funding for the constant traveling was explained (insurance settlement), but the father's aimlessness, combined with his unwillingness to parent Coyote in an effective way, is inexcusable. While not talking about the departed is an excellent way to deal with grief, the needs of a child come first, and Coyote should have been near her grandmother and in a whole lot of grief counseling.
What I really think: While I very much personally disliked the portrayal of a grieving parent, this is a good story, and I will be purchasing it for my library.

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