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.