Friday, May 01, 2020

When I Hit the Road

Cavanaugh, Nancy. When I Hit the Road
May 1st 2020 by Sourcebooks Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Samantha's mother is very stressed because her mother has moved to Florida after the death of Samantha's grandfather instead of moving into a condo eight minutes away. The mother is also working very hard at her job for a scrapbook company, and gives Sam a journal to keep when the two go to Florida to keep an eye on the grandmother. Sam isn't thrilled, although she has nothing better to do with her summer, having been unsuccessful at everything she tried during the school year in the way of extracurricular activities. Once the two arrive at Sandy Shores, the condominium complex where Gram lives, the mother's anxiety goes into overdrive. Gram has a new turquoise convertible, got rid of all her furniture (to the mother's dismay), and is on blood pressure and cholesterol medication. She's also playing pickle ball with her new friend Mimi, and planning a road trip to sing in a karaoke competition and deliver Bibles to churches for Mimi. At the last minute, Samantha's mother has to return home for work, and Sam gets left to go on the trip by herself. Mimi's grandchild also goes along, and is a bit of a surprise. The trip is plagued with all manner of humorous difficulties which soon become more serious, and Sam begins to wonder if she is in over her head. She does make a lot of quality memories, and so forgives her mother for forcing her on the trip.
Strengths: I liked the multigenerational aspect of this, even though most of the book centered on Samantha's concerns. The mother and grandmother had their own issues, and they definitely affected Sam! All too often, we don't see adults having lives of their own, unless they are dying or have some horrendous problem. The karaoke dreams are fun, and the idea of making memories is a good one. The problems the group runs into are funny (the kids get splattered with mud, they have to break into a church to sleep, they have a very interesting transaction at a run down gas station), and the novel moves along quickly.
Weaknesses: I wish the adventures hadn't been quite so serious. The grandmother collapses twice, which makes this a bit less lighthearted. Also, Mimi's grandchild was a fairly flat character, and could have been a lot more fun.
What I really think: I will probably purchase because I need more funny, realistic fiction that doesn't cover heavy topics. This is great for fans of other grandparent road trip books like Cooney's Hit the Road (which has circulated well for 14 years!), McVoy's Drive Me Crazy or Acampora's How to Avoid Extinction. I love the cover on this one and read this just before our Boys Read Pink celebration-- it's a perfect read for boys reluctant to pick up a book with a girl as the main character!

Ms. Yingling

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