SERIES REVIEW: WINGER AND STAND-OFF BY ANDREW SMITH

 

I have read Winger twice. And it is the only book that has made me uncontrollably sob. Twice.

Winger is about Ryan Dean West, a 14 year old junior at a northwestern boarding school for rich kids. Somehow, he got put in the “bad kids” dorm, rooming with the bully of his rugby team and across the hall from burly football players. And he’s in love with Annie, his best friend. Life gets pretty complicated at Pine Mountain Academy, but he manages to make it all work out between his friends and rugby and comics. But nothing could prepare him for what the end of the year brought, and his world comes tumbling down.

Stand-Off continues into Ryan Dean’s senior year, which should mean that he’s on top of the world but instead he is still haunted by last year’s tragedy. He fills in for stand-off after his best friend Joey passed away, and suddenly his entire team is counting on him. To make matters worse, he doesn’t even get to enjoy senior dorm privileges because administration decided to pair him with 12-year-old freshmen Sam Abernathy so he could “show him the ropes.” Ryan Dean is convinced the “Next Accidental Terrible Experience” is around the corner, and his paranoia is leaking into all aspects of his life, including his relationship with Annie.

Alrighty. Here we go. It’s almost difficult for me to review these books, Winger especially, because it’s just so good.

So instead, I think I’ll review Stand-Off and mention Winger thoughts and feelings along the way.

I despise contemporary series, so I had some hesitation about the book, but it’s by Andrew Smith so that hesitation was all of 0.2 seconds. Then I read the book. And I did have some legitimacy to my concern. I think Stand-Off is the worst book I’ve read by Smith– that being said, I still loved it. But I loved it less than Winger and 100 Sideways Miles and Grasshopper Jungle and The Alex Crow.

First of all, I had the initial distaste for contemporary sequels. Then I thought Ryan Dean was a bit of a jerk all the time. I’m all for well rounded and diverse characters, and I don’t think everyone should be likeable because a) that’s no fun and b) it’s not believable. But I think he went a little overboard with is meanness toward Sam Abernathy.

Also, I didn’t think the plot moved fast enough. Not saying that there’s supposed to be a lot of action or anything, but there were definitely parts that dragged. Like every rugby scene. In Winger, the rugby field was a backdrop for other things, a means for a team and games and excitement in Ryan Dean’s life. I felt like Stand-Off emphasized rugby too much. I didn’t want game coverage; I wanted Ryan Dean coverage! I think one of the reasons Stand-Off went slower is because I already know Ryan Dean from Winger, so there was less to learn.

Winger, on the other hand, turned the 400+ page book into a one-sitting read with its character development of Ryan Dean, trials of high school, and hilarious random events. Screaming Ned? I literally laughed out loud, which was embarrassing as I sat in the break room at work, but still. Funny stuff. I loved Ryan Dean’s humor and his cute comics. His narrative first-person voice made everything that much more entertaining.

Both books definitely have intense boy humor, so if you don’t like that kind of stuff… these aren’t the books for you. Apparently, I am a teenage boy, so I cracked up every time. Whoops?

But there’s this one thing in Stand-Off that I absolutely adored. It made me smile, or actually laugh, every single time it cropped up in the book, and Andrew Smith is all about repetition so it came up a lot. Whenever Sam Abernathy talked, or the Abernathy as Ryan Dean called him, Andrew Smith used very descriptive “said” verbs and vivid imagery. The Abernathy didn’t say it– or demand, or shout, or hiss or anything like that. The Abernathy gurgled.

Smith used descriptions for babies or toddlers whenever the Abernathy spoke, and it cracked me up. Or he would be described as a juice box or other childish and squeezable things to make him seem so cute and innocent that I just had to laugh.

Guys, there’s really no way to critique Andrew Smith’s writing. It’s beautiful. It’s descriptive. It’s funny. Even if I didn’t wholeheartedly like Stand-Off, I couldn’t deny the literary merit.

But I did wholeheartedly love Winger. I loved the ending. The commentary on the ridiculousness of social stereotypes and the realness of it all. Seriously, though. What I said before about crying? Weeping, really. That’s all true. It made me laugh and cry and everything in between. It goes on my list of all-time favorite books. It opened my door to Andrew Smith. It’s just beautiful. I emailed Andrew Smith I loved it so much. Whenever I think about this book

Anyway, I better wrap this up before I go on forever.

Winger by far surpasses Stand-Off, but I’m glad I got to catch up with Ryan Dean and make sure he was okay. It was good closure.

Read these books.

BOOK REVIEW: THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD BY ZORA NEALE HURSTON

As a teenager, Janie’s grandmother married her off as quickly as possible to an old man with his prospects in his sixty acres. When she’s tired of being stifled by him, she runs away with a man she found on the horizon, Jody. When Jody claims Eatonville and becomes the mayor, he takes her voice and covers her hair. Finally, she meets Tea Cake after Jody’s death, and she realizes what it means to be in love.

Alright, I’ll admit it. I was completely bored in the beginning of this book. And I hated the dialect. And I didn’t really have any feelings toward Janie because to me, she seemed very papery.

I can’t tell you exactly where the transition happened or why, but somewhere toward the middle I realized that I actually really enjoyed reading this book.

First of all, after Janie’s initial marriage and into her second one with Jody, I understood the weight of her voice and the toll it took on her to muffle it. And I started to appreciate how Hurston set up the novel and characterized Janie. It was subtle. She wasn’t papery. She was smart.

One of the major topics Hurston explores is the power of language, and she shows this through Janie’s marriages and attitudes. She hardly talks at all while married to Jody, showing her position as less than him, while with Tea Cake, they have real conversations and her dialogue is scattered throughout the end of the novel. She uses the form of the novel, not giving Janie much dialogue to greatly increasing it, to show her transition from less than her husband to equal with him. By doing this, I mistook her silence for two dimensional, but really it means so much more because language and the lack thereof shows the inequality between genders and Janie’s strategies in her marriage.

It is written pretty much completely in dialect, but I quickly got used to it. I also think the dialect definitely adds to the story, making it more real and emphasizing her themes on the importance of language.

Otherwise, I felt like there was probably a lot of stuff in the book that I missed. Plot wise, it picked up when Jody got sick. There is a bit of a twist with Tea Cake that I wasn’t expecting, but I also neglected to read the back and am a cynic, so it probably wouldn’t be surprising to anyone else.

I really did enjoy the book, and I liked how it didn’t seem like a race novel. Sure, there was a subtheme concerning racism and how it can affect anyone, black or white, but it didn’t overtake the novel. The novel is a classic because of its themes on language and equality, not because it’s only directed toward one audience.

I definitely recommend it as an important classic that isn’t that difficult to read.

“She had waited all her life for something, and it had killed her when it found her.”

TOP TEN BOOKS IF YOU LIKE JOHN GREEN

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic focuses on less-known books that would be good recommendations for readers who like certain popular books or authors. I chose John Green because I felt like this would give me a wide variety of contemporary young adult novels to chose from.

  1. Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts: This book is about a guy and a girl, who fall in love… and one of them has cancer.
  2. Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout: This one is about a girl who goes to Korea for boarding school and falls in love with an aloof KPOP star.
  3. 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith: Smith’s male protagonists have similar voices to Green’s main characters.
  4. Mosquitoland by David Arnold: It’s a classic road trip, Abundance of Katherines/ Paper Towns,anyone?
  5. Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli: Her male protagonist is also similar to Green’s, and the entire book is a contemporary love story with a focus on teen angst.
  6. Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: This book is about a relationship between Naomi and Ely, young adults and best friends, and it has themes of teen role confusion and a contemporary mood.
  7. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: Lockhart’s writing style reminds me of Green’s because there are a lot of beautiful quotes and abstract concepts to think about.
  8. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini: Again, the male protagonist reminds me of any Green book, and it focuses on internal conflict, just like Green.
  9. Six Months Later by Natalie Richards: I don’treally have a good explanation for this one, other than its contemporary feel.
  10. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga: The conflicts in this book, and the inevitable star-crossed teen lovers, is perfect for Green aficionados.

TOP TEN BOOKS ON MY FALL TBR LIST

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is all the books on our to-read lists. I actually don’t have a lot of timely books this season.

  1. Winger by Andrew Smith (I want to reread this for the sequel)
  2. Stand-Off by Andrew Smith
  3. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  4. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston
  5. More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera
  6. The Diviners by Libba Bray
  7. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  8. Hello, I Love You by Katie Stout
  9. Falling into Place by Amy Zhang
  10. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

CRABBY CONVERSATIONS: MAKE TIME

I’ve come to the realization that I have a lot of pet peeves. And I rant quite often about these pet peeves.

I thought of another one the other day that goes along with my whole, you know, book blog. I kind of feel like I’ve already talked about this before, but I couldn’t find anything like it in my posts, so maybe I’ve just complained about it to my friends. So now I can complain about it to you guys!

I think an example best explains it:

Person: Wow, you read? That’s so cool! I love reading. I read all the time.

Me: Really? What’s your favorite book?

Person: Oh, you know, [insert middle-grade staple book here].

Me: Yeah I liked that a lot in elementary school too….

Person: I haven’t read a book in so long…. I can’t actually remember the last time I read a book not for school. I just don’t have time to read anymore.

Me: …but… you said you liked reading…

Please refrain from having any conversations similar to this with me. I will pull my hair out.

If you loved reading or wanted to read or even liked reading, you would make time for it. Do not tell me you don’t have time! I take 4 AP classes and journalism and creative writing and write a column for a magazine and have a part-time job and go out with friends and run a blog… But I still make time to read. Because I love reading.  So if you “love” reading, you can make time.

But I get it if reading is not a priority. That’s fine. That’s your prerogative. But please do not tell me that you love reading when you don’t read. The fact that you enjoyed reading when you were a child and teachers forced you to is completely different from enjoying reading now. If you’re busy doing other things and would rather do something else like play sports or watch TV, then go ahead. But that means reading is not on your radar, so you must not love it as much as you supposedly do. You do not read all the time if you can’t remember the last book you read for leisure. And your favorite book still has pictures in it.

If you liked reading so much, you would make it a priority. I understand that not everyone wants to do this, but do not tell me you love something that you never do.

Alright, my rant is over. I feel like this post has a lot of anger in it. Whoops?

Is this a pet peeve for any of you guys? Or is it just me being unnecessarily hostile?

MONTHLY WRAP UPS: SUMMER

Alright, so I slacked on my wrap-ups. Conveniently, it was all the summer months that I missed, so here goes an all-in-one finishing post to summarize my summer. I definitely didn’t read as many books as I should have, and I’m way behind on my books to review and Goodreads challenge, but oh well.

Read: 14 novels

  1. Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
  2. Mosquitoland by David Arnold
  3. The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
  4. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  5. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Johnathan Safran Foer
  6. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
  7. The Future of Us by Jay Asher
  8. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
  9. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation by M. T. Anderson
  10. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
  11. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  12. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  13. The Puppet Turners of Narrow Interior by Stephanie Barbe Hammer
  14. Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Reviewed: 5 novels

  1. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
  2. Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
  3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Johnathan Safran Foer
  4. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
  5. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Mini Reviews: 3 novels

  1. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  2. Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  3. Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Discussed:

  • Crabby Conversations: Spontaneous Road Trip
  • Confessions of a Teenage Reader: The Inevitable Hiatus
  • Confessions of a Teenage Reader: Beautiful Little Birdy
  • Crabby Conversations: The Bookish Patriarchy

Book Haul: 17 novels

  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • The Stranger by Albert Camus
  • Even the Stars Look Lonesome by Maya Angelou
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck
  • The Plague by Albert Camus
  • The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  • The Underdogs by Markus Zusak
  • 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
  • Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Liars, Inc by Paula Stokes
  • The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  • Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  • Summer of the Oak Moon by Laura Templeton

Bookish Excitement: 

  • YALL Festival and Decatur Book Festival released their author line-ups.
  • Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer held a signing sponsored by The Little Shop of Stories for their new book Off the Page.
  • 995 Bookmarks
  • Little Shop is hosting a good many author events coming in October and I’m super pumped!

Non-Bookish Excitement: 

I, surprisingly, had a very eventful summer without doing much…

  • Tybee Island and Orange Beach trip
  • Nashville trip to visit Vanderbilt (the campus and the school are both perfect, by the way)
  • It’s been the summer of concerts: Dave Matthews Band, Train, Fall Out Boy
  • Zoo Atlanta… twice

Guys, the summer has been beautiful and full of everything and I’m ready for it to be over but I’m also not ready to go back to school. Just think about it. I’m a senior now. This is it. You spend three years getting comfortable, one year to enjoy the glory, and the process begins again. Scary, right? I guess that’s just how it will always be. Cyclical to a fault. Anyway. Let’s see if I can even begin to pick the best parts out of the summer…

Summer Favorites:

  • Read: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson– How can I not pick this one? It’s a summer anthem book.
  • Reviewed: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Johnathan Safran Foer
  • Mini Review: Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
  • Discussed: The Bookish Patriarchy
  • Haul: 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
  • Bookish: Guys. I’m five bookmarks away from reaching 1,000. Five.
  • Non-Bookish: The concert string– specifically Dave Matthews and Train.

CRABBY CONVERSATIONS: THE BOOKISH PATRIARCHY

I think I have a niche, which is something that I would never want to admit. All my favorite books seem to have the same basic elements.

  • Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
  • I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
  • Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • The Stranger by Albert Camus
  • Winger by Andrew Smith

And if you haven’t noticed the trends yet, I’ll point them out to you.

  1. Written by guys
  2. Written about guys
  3. First person
  4. Contemporary
  5. Mundane settings but original perspectives
  6. Focus on thoughts rather than events

The thing that kills me about these trends are the first two. It’s agonizing. I’m feeding into the patriarchy! Where’s my feminist punch? I can’t help which books I like…. But I did come up with a theory of why this happens.

Alright, here comes a nice little rant.

So books had a long period of segregation that still has remnants in today’s society. Girl vs. guy books. Mostly, though, it was a one way street. Girls can read guy books, but guys could not read girl books. If the protagonist was female, they were not having any of that. Yet could you blame them? Female protagonists implied domestic family problems and romance while guy books could range from self realization to destroying alien planets. Nobody saw any girls developing themselves individually or saving worlds.

And thus the dystopian fad was born.

Female authors put on their big girl pants and decided their female protagonists were going to fight evil in fiction world and bring down the patriarchy in reality with girls who can pack a punch. She can do anything guys can do… but better. Now girls have overrun the action world in young adult literature and have successfully beaten out male dominance in this genre. Except for one crutch that remains. The boyfriend.

The boyfriend is the dreaded subplot that threatens to overthrow the actual issues in these books every single time. Sometimes it succeeds (ehm, Hunger Games), but sometimes it remains to be just a beautiful little subplot to keep readers blushing and hearts fluttering.

But here’s the thing. When a male author is writing for a male audience with a male protagonist in an action book, he doesn’t need a romance. When a female author is writing for a female audience with a female protagonist in an action book, she doesn’t need a romance. But there is the inevitable placement of a romance for the appeasement of the teen girls reading the book and the stereotype that goes along with what they like and don’t like. It’s the shreds of bookish segregation that persists into present day. Female protagonists have yet to shake the shackles of their ancestors in that respect. Because now teenage girls can appreciate a powerful heroine, but of course they still want the beautiful romance as well.

Then there’s me who resents this trend. Don’t get me wrong, I love romance as much as anybody and I am all for girl power, but these just aren’t my favorite things to read. I appreciate a good world and valiant fight scenes, but my favorite books are ones that I can quote. Books that have more than excitement and romance. All my top choices may not be the most action packed or creative, but they’re original. They have meaning and characters with realistic dimension.

But I hate it. I hate the fact that none of these characters are females! Or written by women! It kills me every time and I sit here and try to shove a book with a female protagonist into nabbing a spot on my list, but it never happens. And there’s my theory on why. Male authors have nothing to prove with their male characters, while female authors have to break stereotypes and make sure their girls are independent and self sufficient. Guys just seem to have more openings available and have no needs for the boy/girlfriend crutch.

Rant over. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for books in my niche written by and about females, and hopefully one that interests me pops up soon. And hopefully the boyfriend subplot is nonexistent or subtle at most.

CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE READER: BEAUTIFUL LITTLE BIRDY

I like to pretend I fear very little. I’m not scared of heights or small spaces. I can handle flying and water and darkness. I can pretend that snakes and horror films don’t bother me. But I do have a rather public list of irrational fears. Some of the fears are ordinary, some are impossible, and some are just plain embarrassing. So here they are, in no particular order.

  1. Ceiling fans
  2. Birds
  3. Tape measures
  4. Cockroaches
  5. Someone closing a car door for me and getting one of my limbs caught and having it fall off
  6. A baby kicking out of a mother’s stomach

Yep. Those are my fears. In black and white. I know some of them are really dumb, but… whoops?

But anyway, I did bring this up for a reason. I’ve been doing some soul searching as of recently, specifically during my hiatus. Bloggers are supposed to be super into Twitter, right? I’m supposed to be scrolling through my feed constantly, reading author tweets and responding to fellow book bloggers and being cyberly social. I should be tweeting about how obsessed I am with Twitter.

The thing is, I’m not. I hate Twitter. I hate it with a burning passion. I see that little icon, their cute little Twitter logo, and I cringe. I “read” my feed by seeing how far and fast I can scroll on one swipe. I have a widget on my phone’s home screen that’s *supposed* to help me care about Twitter, but I have yet to set it up. It’s bordering on pathetic, my inability to care about it.

Then I connected something. This may be far-fetched. This may be a laughable excuse. This may be downright wrong. But here goes…

Refer back to my second fear. Birds.

Click the next tab over, where I know you have Twitter opened. What’s that little blue icon? Oh? A bird.

Bam! Mystery solved.

Oh but Erin, why do you hate birds so much? Good question. I have no idea. I had not traumatizing situation relating to birds, I’ve never seen any movies to harbor my hatred of them. I just came to the realization that their are two things that make my skin crawl: fluttering and scuttling. Birds flutter. Cockroaches scuttle. End of discussion, they’re going on my list.

So in some weird connect-the-dots shape, I’ve come to the conclusion that I physically cannot like Twitter because of my pathological fear of birds.  I apologize to the blogesphere in general, and I will work to curb my fear of both the app and the creature. But I make no promises.

CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE READER: THE INEVITABLE HIATUS

It finally hit me. The disease that threatened the greats and plagued the minds of students everywhere. The disease that seeps its way into library walls and wraps its cloudy hands among computer screens and lined paper and destroys the works of many.

Writer’s block.

I struggled with it for a while. The better part of last semester I trudged through posts and reviews and just felt drained every time I opened my laptop. The disease worked its way into my mind and destroyed all of my discipline. And not only that, it found its way into other parts of my life. If I had no will to write, I read less, I slacked on my quotes, I let my room be taken over by books and clothes and trash.

Then I decided the only way to curb said disease would be to withdrawal myself from blogging. I still wrote for myself and I read (though not as much as I would like to say), but I figured that taking a blogging hiatus would be good for me. I didn’t have a plan for how long, and I felt guilty for the amount of books I have stacked in my “to review” pile.

So then yesterday I cleaned my room. Mostly. And I updated Goodreads. And I reshelved all my miscellaneous books and tallied my bookmark collection. And today felt like the day to start blogging again because despite my loss of will, I missed it. I feel so detached now because not only did I stop blogging, I stopped tweeting and reading blogs and withdrew from the general bookish fanbase.

Today rolled around. And I knew it was time. The sky was overcast, everyone was out of the house, and my laptop called to me. My writer’s block may take a little work to shake off, and I’ll have to be on overdrive to catch up with everything, but I can handle it. I think.

So here it is. My obligatory sorry-I-left-but-I’m-back-now post. I’m not going to give myself any real goals, yet, and I think I’ll just let myself drift back into things. I figure it’s not a big deal if I’m not completely involved all the time. It’ll be okay.

But I think I am going to give myself a little bit of an out.

As I previously noted, I have a stack of books to review. A literal stack. It makes me cringe just thinking about it, and I always want to curl up and put a book over my head and pretend they aren’t there. But they are. And I want to review them, I just don’t want to write the reviews. Which is not possible.

So here’s my out.

I think for the summer I’ll do a series of  mini reviews. I’ll have my book review on Monday, Top Ten Tuesday on Tuesday, (maybe) a discussion post on Friday, and a mini review that’s plopped into any day I have time to do it. It’ll probably just be a paragraph or two about the things that really stuck out at me about the book (considering I haven’t read them in a while), which will allow me to review them without going through the lengthy review process.

It’s a win win. Right?

Well, hopefully. So that’s my plan of action. After posting this, I’m going to update my quote jar and plan a couple weeks of posts. And write some of them. And maybe get on Twitter if I have enough energy after that. We’ll see. But I’m definitely ready to start blogging again. I’ve missed it!

CRABBY CONVERSATIONS: SPONTANEOUS ROAD TRIP!

I have a grand idea. Let’s jump into a snazzy little clunker and rev the engine into the distance. Let’s follow the sunset with a can of money and a drawstring bag of clothes. Pack light because things will work out on the way. Let’s not plan anything and focus on the objective. Let’s see the Northern Lights, let’s visit our long-lost lover, let’s just seek adventure and because we’re on a road trip we’ll find it. See a hitchhiker? Pick him up. See a road sign for the biggest block of cheese in the Western Hemisphere? Pull off. This is a road trip and we have all summer and our phones are nowhere to be found because those sedentary people are just holding us back.

Sounds implausible, reckless, and a generally awful idea, right? Wrong. Because this is fiction and we can do whatever the heck we want and nothing too terrible will happen unless we want it to.

Road trip books absolutely baffle me because they’re considered contemporary fiction. Realistic. I think I would categorize them as fantasy, because how does everything work out perfectly? How does adventure just kick you in the face? How is the road trip not just sleepy hours in a car with disgruntled occupants?

And I have one question, just one– where are your parents? If they know about your trip, how are they okay with it? If they don’t, how did you possibly deceive them of something this big? (alright that was more than one question)

But, seriously. I wish my parents caved to my reckless whims and allowed for my craving for adventure be satisfied by a road trip.

The thing is, despite the absolute absurdity of these trips and the complete unrealisticness of this niche, I love this books. I love them so much.

I think it’s my wistfulness. I would adore going on a road trip. The more spontaneous, the more fun. I’ve always wanted to have interesting things and interesting people fall into my life, and I’ve dreamed of breaking out of suburbia and into something real. Yet this books aren’t real… But they are what I wish was real. If that makes any sense.

So, yes. Road trip books are unrealistic. Completely fantasy. But somehow the valiant road-trippers find love and fulfillment and excitement and sorrow and everything in between. It’s the classic Hero’s Journey, but in contemporary terms.

But here’s the thing.

I hate the classic Hero’s Journey of trumping through woods and fighting evil with swords and magical powers and gaining alliances.

Yet I love the contemporary Hero’s Journey of driving down the highway of escaping sticky situations with wit and luck and meeting people from the forgotten folds of the world.