Wrong Way Summer

Abrams/Amulet. Apr. 2020. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781419736933.
Gr 4-7–Claire’s unemployed dad Scottie has always been in search of The Grand Adventure, but even Claire is astounded when he converts a Sprinter van into a camper (without plumbing) and sells their home, telling Claire and her younger brother Patrick that it’s time to hit the road and find their own grand adventure. Along the way, he shares the allegory of their mythical great-grandparent, Edgar “Wrong Way” Jacobus. Angry and resistant at first, Claire eventually opens up to the experience, even while she senses an underlying purpose in her dad’s travels that he’s not sharing. When their trip accidentally reconnects them with their estranged mother, Claire learns that family is as much the people you choose as those related by blood. Reminiscent of Dan Gemeinhart’s The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise, the only thing that doesn’t ring true about this story is Scottie’s reluctance to tell his children the real reason for their current nomadic lifestyle. The family shares a love of snappy repartee, and even Claire’s preteen angst is periodically overcome by the banter. A semi-happy ending leaves Claire with the realization that adventure can bring painful changes in tandem with improved outcomes.
VERDICT Purchase where realistic fiction for tweens is in demand.

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