Cooney's (Code Orange) latest novel accelerates from 0-60 in its first three pages, when Brittany is put in the driver's seat (literally) of a wild scheme masterminded by her normally placid grandmother. Nannie is determined to attend her 65th college reunion in Maine but unable to drive the minivan she has rented. After picking up Nannie's former college roommate Flo, the three then "kidnap" another college roommate, Aurelia, from the nursing home to which her "dreadful wicked son," Aston, has committed her. A novice driver who has had her license for less than two weeks, Brit soon finds herself chauffeuring her 86-year-old passengers along highways from Connecticut to Long Island and on to Massachusetts, along the way accomplishing such feats as backing up, parallel parking, and even driving onto and off of a ferry. Moral support comes from an unexpected source: Brit's long-time crush, Cooper, who has spent the past six months acting distant, but whose frequent cell phone calls to her indicate a different set of feelings. The novel's pacing is well above the speed limit, and Aston turns out to be a formidable villain whose presence lends some urgency to the thoroughly enjoyable novice-driver slapstick. Skillfully woven through the adventure are some thoughtful and touching observations about what it means to be merging onto the highway of adulthood while a loved one's exit ramp is soon approaching. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Rebecca C. Moore
Brittany Bowman has had her driver's license exactly eleven days when she is shanghaied into chauffeuring her grandmother and friends to their sixty-fifth college reunion. It is not exactly a Sunday drive, and she soon finds herself illegally piloting a rental van, kidnapping one of the "girls" from her nursing home, and then evading police and the kidnappee's son-as well as getting an eye-opening view of old age and fielding sudden attention from a formerly unfriendly crush. As the escapade spins out of control, Brittany must decide whom to believe-a possible Alzheimer's patient or a son who claims to want the best for his mother. Before Brittany decides, however, everyone shows their true colors, and Brittany and "the girls" must act fast to save their futures. Although the would-be heart of this book is friendship, the more compelling themes are loss of power and choice in old age and the dilemma of the young about how best to serve the elderly. Unfortunately Brittany's revelations come across as a message to be delivered, and eliminating her need to choose between mother and son leaves the reader feeling somewhat cheated. In addition, the frenetic endgame strains credulity, turning realistic adventure into melodrama-complete with sneering villain and last-minute rescue by charming young heroes. Still thoughtful readers may come away with more sympathy for grandparental foibles, and others will just enjoy Brittany's hapless adventure and romantic quandary. For another look at kidnapping/rescuing an elderly woman for a road trip, see Deb Caletti's Honey, Baby, Sweetheart (Simon & Schuster, 2004/VOYA August 2004).
AGERANGE: Ages 12 to 18.
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2006: Brittany Anne Bowman is standing at her grandmother’s house as her parents take off for a trip to Alaska. Dumped on the doorstep, or so she thinks. As it turns out, this is not going to be a dull stay--her Nannie Scott has other plans, plans that include illegal driving and kidnapping. Nannie and Nannie’s dearest friends, Flo, Aurelia and Daisy, are planning on attending their college reunion in Massachusetts, even though they no longer have driver’s licenses and Aurelia has been sent to live in an assisted living facility against her will. What’s a granddaughter to do? Join them, of course. This is a delightful romp through the generations, from white gloves and tea parties through cell phones and the Internet. But what emerges is a sense of family values, of listening to each other and of respect for both teens and the aged. Nannie and her friends are determined not to miss their 60th college reunion and though Brittany isn’t sure why, she comes to understand that the women see it as their last one together. That realization propels Brittany into the adventure as driver and kidnapper, wanting the four friends to have this opportunity. Along the way, Brittany keeps in touch with girlfriends and the crush of her life, Coop, through her cell phone and text messaging. Cooney delivers with humor the poignant interaction between young and old. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)
School Library Journal
Gr 8-10-Sixteen-year-old Brit is illegally driving her Nannie and two other elderly women over three states, trying to get them to their 65th college reunion. The women have shared their lives together and, now frail yet determined, they need Brit's help. Brit, meanwhile, is running on adrenaline. Driving atrociously at first, she is also falsifying where she and Nannie are to her parents, who are on a trip to Alaska. Her cell phone proves to be essential as she talks to Coop, the boy she has loved for ages but who has blatantly snubbed her, and who suddenly takes an interest in her cross-country caper involving a kidnapping of one of "the girls." The kidnap victim, Aurelia, has an evil son, Aston III, who is out to steal his mother's fortune, using any method to do so. The tension peaks when Brit meets Aston face to face. Starting out slowly, the book is both a last-hurrah adventure for the women and a beginning one for Brit, yet it is somewhat trite as all the pieces fit together and everything ends "happily ever after-."-Tracy Karbel, Glenside Public Library District, Glendale Heights, IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Cooney begins this latest outing as a rather sweet comedy that evolves into her patented suspense caper. Brit, 16, has just received her driver's license when she's thrust into a criminal enterprise concocted by her 86-year-old grandmother. Sent to stay with grandma while her parents take a trip to Alaska, Brit no sooner arrives than she learns that grandma intends to kidnap an elderly friend to help her escape the woman's apparently unloving son. Grandma has rented an SUV and talks Brit into driving on terrifying highways from Long Island to Massachusetts. Soon Brit learns that the son indeed is dangerous, and that Brit is far too involved in an enterprise that might ruin her whole life. Along the way, Brit learns to respect her grandma's fading generation for their courage and love. An unexpected, touching and effective sojourn from the always entertaining Cooney. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
“Cooney masterfully combines nonstop, cleverly plotted action with heartfelt emotion.”–Booklist, Starred
“An unexpected, touching and effective sojourn from the always entertaining Cooney.”–Kirkus Reviews