The Other Way Around

The Other Way Around

5.0 1
by Sashi Kaufman

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Andrew has seen a flash of his future. (Dad: unfinished PhD. Mom: unfulfilling career. Their marriage: unsuccessful.) Based on what he's seen, he's uninspired to put a foot on the well-worn path to the adulthood everyone expects of him. There must be another way around.

After a particularly disastrous Thanksgiving (his cousin wets Andrew's bed;

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Andrew has seen a flash of his future. (Dad: unfinished PhD. Mom: unfulfilling career. Their marriage: unsuccessful.) Based on what he's seen, he's uninspired to put a foot on the well-worn path to the adulthood everyone expects of him. There must be another way around.

After a particularly disastrous Thanksgiving (his cousin wets Andrew's bed; his parents were too chicken to tell him his grandmother died), Andrew accidentally (on purpose) runs away and joins the circus. Kind of.

A guy can meet the most interesting people at the Greyhound station at dinnertime on Thanksgiving day. The Freegans are exactly the kinds of friends (living out of an ancient VW camper van, dumpster diving, dressing like clowns and busking for change) who would have Andrew's mom reaching for a third glass of Chardonnay. To Andrew, five teenagers who seem like they've found another way to grow up are a dream come true. But as the VW winds its way across the USA, the future is anything but certain.

The path of least resistance is a long, strange trip.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Life with an uninvolved father and a perpetually disappointed, workaholic mother makes Andrew West feel like he’s “disappearing little by little,” but it never occurred to him to actually disappear. After a disastrous Thanks-giving, 16-year-old Andrew heads to the bus station with plans to visit his grandmother. While there, Andrew finds out that his mother has kept important news from him, and he falls in with a group of Dumpster-diving “freegans”. Andrew has always kept a low profile, but getting caught up in the freegans’ lives and witnessing their sincerity and sense of themselves starts to change him. Debut author Kaufman does a great job of depicting young people who have opted out of conventional middle-class values. Andrew’s position as outsider and observer, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t yet figured out who he is or what he cares about, means that, at times, he fades into the background, but Kaufman patiently builds the insights and experiences that make him more dimensional, not only to readers, but to himself. Ages 13–up. Agent: Lauren MacLeod, the Strothman Agency. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
Andrew West is just fed up with everything. He is one of a small handful of boys attending a formerly all-girls school, because (a) his mother is the new head master/mistress and (b) the school has decided to go co-ed. He likes girls but they all just ignore him. His mother is always too busy to have time for him, and his dad has long since flown the coop. The only person he really feels connected to is his paternal grandmother, Mima. But instead of spending Thanksgiving with her this year as they usually do, his mother has invited her brother—Andrew's uncle—and his despicable son Barry to come stay with them. When cousin Barry wets Andrew's bed and calls him gay for the hundredth time, Andrew is out of there. At the bus station, he calls his mother to tell her he is OK, but headed to Mima's; she tells him Mima has died. He is so angry that he uncharacteristically accepts the invitation of a group of young street performers to join them on their travels. He cashes in his bus ticket to buy the group gas money and off they go in an aging VW van. This coming-of-age story is compressed into a few weeks' time as Andrew learns a lot about himself and his relationships to others in the hothouse environment of this traveling troupe. He falls in love, makes friends, experiences dumpster diving for food, and learns about human failings even more significant than his parents' neglect. When the group is irretrievably split by a serious accident, he reconciles with his mom, who has had her own time for reflection and realization. Quality character development and the unusual plot device will draw in readers. Recommend this book after consideration, and note there are explicit descriptions of sexual behavior. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Laura Perenic
The Other Way Around is a classic road-trip novel filled with life lessons and learning experiences. Set on escaping his parents’ expectations that seem destined to turn him into a miserable adult, Andrew relinquishes control of everything and runs away from home. He travels with The Freegans, a group of unrelated, truant teens who own an RV. Dumpster diving for food and clothing, the thrifty group also earns a living washing dishes and working on a co-op farm. The story is more a series of vignettes than a cohesive, coherent novel. Chapters alternately focus on different quirky characters, and the bizarre details begin to bog down the reader’s appreciation of everything Andrew is learning. Many aspects of the plot, like the straight-edge lifestyle, may be unfamiliar to teen readers. Most of the more compelling plot twists are revealed on the book’s dust jacket. Combine that with an unsatisfying ending, and it is difficult to recommend this book. Readers will want more of a resolution with Andrew’s parents. Only Andrew’s inner monologue has a unique and compelling perspective; everything else feels overworked. Reviewer: Laura Perenic; Ages 12 to 15.
Kirkus Reviews
Road-trip rebellion with romance. A sophomore at the mostly girls' boarding school where his mother is headmistress, Andrew is not living up to his potential. Not that he's cared about much of anything since his parents split up, but when pushed too far at Thanksgiving, he runs away from home. At the bus station, Andrew hooks up with an unusual group of young folks who are traveling in a van and living effectively hand to mouth with what they can muster from busking, Dumpster diving and handouts. With the Freegans, as they call themselves, he journeys from home in upstate New York to New Mexico. While it's not a particularly new plot, the characters become compelling. There's anarchist Lyle, who is hiding something. Pudgy Asian-American Tim is an odd addition to a troupe of acrobats. G, the lesbian who first approaches Andrew, is ironically the straightest of the bunch, while Jesse, the driver, leader and master of ceremonies, is always positive and inclusive. However, it's Emily, with her blonde dreadlocks and bare stomach, who captures Andrew's attention and lust. The dynamics of the group, combined with quirky characters met along the way, provide a certain fascination for both readers and Andrew. Readers captivated by the characters will have a chance to appreciate Andrew's somewhat slow growth from a wimp with a dick into someone with a spine and a brain. Though it doesn't blaze new trails, it's an enjoyable-enough ride. (Fiction. 12-16)

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Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Fiction - Young Adult
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.20(d)
840L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

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The Other Way Around 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So get this. My teacher actually wrote this book. And may I just add that she's probably as good a writer as a teacher. I havnt read the book yet but I hope its as good as she said.