Today for Morgan Matson Week, I’m taking you way, way back to the beginning of my love affair with Morgan Matson’s books to her debut, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. Each part of this post was written at a different time – weeks before re-reading, right before, and after. Writing this post has been a journey into my memories and who I was five years ago – and how much I’ve changed (thank you, Morgan, as usual, for the reflective inspiration!).
And, so you don’t think it’s just me who’s having a nostalgic moment, Ambur at Burning Impossibly Bright is also talking about her first impressions and playlists for Amy & Roger.
If you’re new to Morgan Matson and you haven’t read A&R, though, Meghan at Living a Life in Books has a post just for newbies like you!Amy & Roger's Epic Detour
Author: Morgan Matson
Find the author: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr
Also by this author: The Unexpected Everything, Second Chance Summer
Publication date: July 7th 2011
Amy Curry is having a terrible year. Her mother has decided to move all the way across the country and needs Amy to drive their car from California to the East Coast. There's just one problem: since the death of her father, Amy hasn't been able to get behind the wheel of a car. Enter Roger, the son of an old family friend, who turns out to be unexpectedly cute… and dealing with some baggage of his own.
Meeting new people and coming to terms with her father's death were not part of Amy's plans for the road trip. But then neither was driving on the Loneliest Road in America, seeing the Colorado Mountains, visiting diners, dingy motels and Graceland. But as they drive, and she grows closer to Roger, Amy finds that the people you least expected are the ones you need the most - and that sometimes you have to get lost in order to find your way home.
Gentle spoilers for Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. Read at your own risk.
First Impressions: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour
Picture this: it’s July 2011. I’m in Vancouver, British Columbia for a friend’s wedding. My friends and I are piling into a rented MINI, heading up to Hope, the small, mountainous town where they filmed the Sylvester Stallone movie Cliffhanger. I’m flying solo this week, having left my boyfriend back in Toronto. Consequentially, I’m feeling a little off about going up to this cabin with two couples.
I’ve packed a couple of books for the journey and the destination, just to make sure I have enough to do. One of them is a library book I’d recently picked up because it was about a road trip. It was YA, my preferred genre, although I was a little hesitant to announce that in company.
I started Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour that night, while rain poured down onto the roof of the cabin. It was dark, stormy, and because I was alone, I was sleeping on the sofa. I thought Amy & Roger would be light, fluffy, and just what I needed to take my mind off of the gloomy wetness. Ten pages in, I stopped and realized that this was going to be a lot more than I expected.
Over the next two days, while a torrential flood made going outside near impossible, I went on a journey with Amy Curry and Roger Sullivan. While I was making a pie from scratch, I was on the Loneliest Road in America. While we played cards, I saw the sculptures in Lucien’s garden. And late at night, when everyone was sleeping, I fell for Amy, Roger, and hoped for them to get together SOON DAMMIT. And between it all, I was thinking about the journey that Amy was taking, not just physically, but emotionally. Learning to appreciate what she had, accept what she’d lost. And being able to take joy in music and learning another person.
I read Amy & Roger at a time in my life when I was rediscovering my love of YA and way, WAY before I started blogging. My memories of this book are very much steeped in where I read the book and what I learned from it. I remember the playlists very vividly. I remember the Graceland moments. I remember that Amy and Roger were very dressed up for their date. And I remember how their date ended and how the book ended.
And I remember thinking…this is what I want to do. I want to write a book like this, one that looks at a physical journey as an emotional one, and looks at life in this whimsical, precious way.
I started writing for the first time in years that night in Hope, in my head, trying to uncover characters that I might be able to mine for that same experience that Morgan Matson gave me. And I started writing those thoughts down on paper (or a computer, rather) as soon as I got home from that trip.
Even though I’m nowhere near a finished manuscript, for me, Amy & Roger is the book that made me want to write something that would make someone else feel the way I did when I finished – empty, but in a good way. Ready to take on the world, but having learned something from grief and pain and what you get just by living and putting yourself out there.
I re-read Amy & Roger for the first time just last week, half on audiobook, and it’s a different book than when I first read it. Maybe because I’ve read and written so much more, I’ve gone through some serious adulting (getting married, buying a house, getting a stable job) and so has Morgan. Here are some of the thoughts I had:
- Whoa, 2010 technology! Netmail! Like hotmail? And texting clearly wasn’t happening at this time, since the characters are all leaving each other voicemails.
- I’d forgotten about the travel scrapbook that Amy’s mom sends her in order to help document her trip – it was so fun to delve into the visual parts of this book again.
- I’d definitely forgotten that Amy was a theater geek who only listened to show tunes, while Roger was a history major obsessed with explorers.
- I’d also forgotten the reason that Amy wasn’t driving through most of the book. And the flashbacks. Whoa.
- I didn’t know how to drive when I first read this book! It makes a huge, huge difference to how I see the characters…and how much I understand what they’re both going through as they wend their way through America.
- I never, ever forgot about the Loneliest Road in America. It sounds terrifying. And amazing.
- There are a lot more burger places than I remember. And I really, really want to try that crumbly Kansas burger.
- A lot of the stuff I remember most happens right at the end…which means the ending was good. But also, I think it says something that I prioritized the ending more than the rest of the book in my memories. I also prioritized the romance over everything else.
- This time around, I love, love, LOVED the secondary characters so much more. Bronwyn and Lucien are my favorites, but there are so many more we meet throughout Amy & Roger’s journey, and I think they really signify what’s to come in Morgan’s writing and her interest in all of her characters’ backstories and found families.
- Wow, these playlists are amazing. So amazing that I started putting them together on Spotify as I was writing this, AND I got my Ambur to do a post inspired by Amy & Roger music. You’re welcome.
So…in case you’re new to Morgan Matson, today I’m giving away one finished copy of any of Morgan’s books! This giveaway is international as long as The Book Depository ships to you. No contest accounts, please!
Check out the rest of today’s #MorganMatsonWeek posts!