When 16-year-old Ry discovers that his archeological summer camp has been canceled, he steps off the train to call his grandfather only to see the train pull away. So begins Ry's implausible and existential journey at the center of Newbery Award–winner Perkins's (Criss Cross) contemplative and energetic novel. To compound the situation, Ry's grandfather has suffered a concussion and is missing, and his parents' Caribbean sailing trip has been fraught with problems. Ry stumbles into Del, a handy, sympathetic man who decides to drive Ry home to Wisconsin, becoming a quirky mentor. Del remains unflappable as he extends their road trip to find Ry's parents, setting off a series of riotous misadventures. A humorous additional narrative, "Dogs," told in comic strip format, mimics Del's and Ry's story, and continues Perkins's experimentation with form. Her observations and turns of phrase ("The shoes were a metaphor for the decline of western civilization: crappy and glitzy and barely useful, but pretty comfortable.... Ry didn't think that thought specifically, but he felt as dispirited as if he had") are as unexpected and delightful as the travels she weaves together. Ages 12–up. (May)
New York Times Book Review
“A rich, eventful, and extremely entertaining summer road trip.”
Horn Book (starred review)
“Wherever Perkins’s warm, funny, wise narrative goes is where a reader wants to be.”
Booklist (starred review)
ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice “Relentlessly entertaining…an absolute delight.”
ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice "Relentlessly entertaining…an absolute delight."
"Wherever Perkins’s warm, funny, wise narrative goes is where a reader wants to be."
VOYA - Ed Goldberg
Ry, failing to read the letter canceling his hiking camp until he is on his way, gets off his train when it stops in the middle of nowhere, to make a telephone call. He has no cell reception, so he wanders away. Ry watches, stunned, as the train pulls out, leaving him stranded. At home, Ry's grandfather, Lloyd, trips and hits his head while walking Ry's dogs, rendering him unconscious. He awakens with amnesia. Ry's parents, meanwhile, are cruising the Caribbean. They lose their cell phone, are incommunicado and know nothing of these situations. The main story concerns Ry, who wanders into a nearby town and meets the town's do-gooder, Del. Del decides to drive Ry home to Wisconsin (from Montana). When they arrive, Lloyd is still among the missing. They then travel to the Caribbean to find Ry's parents. Along the way, Del rekindles old friendships and Ry learns to be independent. Ry and Del's road trip could have been an entertaining story. The addition of Lloyd's and Ry's parents' trials and tribulations just muddies the works. Ry and Del are interesting characters, worthy of readers' attention. Ancillary characters are also interesting, especially Carl, who has Alzheimer's disease and cataracts and can barely see the road, and who picks the duo up when they are hitchhiking. Perkins writes well. Her use of language is excellent. Readers will visualize every location and event. However, many of the events seem contrived. The book will appeal more to guys than girls. Reviewer: Ed Goldberg
It's easy to fall off the face of the Earth, as the affable 15-year-old Ry discovers when he misses his camp-bound train somewhere in Montana. It wouldn't be so traumatic if his parents weren't adrift in the Caribbean, his grandpa in Wisconsin hadn't plunged into a sinkhole and all potentially helpful cell phones weren't either dead, out of range or stolen by a green-hued jungle monkey. Ry's efforts to get somewhere from the middle of nowhere form the core of this poetic, ebullient odyssey, Perkins's first novel since her Newbery-winning Criss Cross (2005). Three tales in three-plus locales (and the occasional dog-centric comic strip) weave a playfully inventive, even suspenseful narrative peppered with colorful characters and close calls. Details of, say, a cactus lamp or a fly's flight are vividly and often humorously described in a fresh, intimate, mostly third-person voice, frequently interrupted with almost conversational attempts to clarify and refine observations. A long, immensely enjoyable, curiously comforting ramble through an absurd-but-benign world, tellingly filed by the Library of Congress under "Adventure and adventurers-Fiction," "Accidents-Fiction" and "Luck-Fiction." (Fiction. 12 & up)