Nothing has been the same since Robin learned that her boy friend Chris is not only going away to college, but also going to Europe during what should have been their last summer together. With her life and emotions in turmoil, she decides to accept an offer to travel across the country with her aunt and two cousins. At least when they get to Arizona, she thinks she will be able to see her dad, step-mother and her new half-baby brother. Or will she? The trip and a near fatal accident provide opportunities for Robin to actually get to know her cousins and change her mind about what she had once thought about them. This engrossing book gives young readers a look into how inner strength surfaces at the time it is needed. Robin learns that it is she who must learn to cope with change and that the outcome is often better than what used to be. This is a must-read for young adults. 2003, Simon and Schuster, Ages 14 up.
The cover art catches the eye: a young woman's face caught in the rear-view mirror of a car, with a desert backdrop. Wittlinger (author of Hard Love and Razzle, to name two other YA novels) tells of a so-called ordinary girl from small-town America who zigzags across the country on a road trip and finds out a lot more about herself and her world. The story starts with our hero Robin devastated to learn that the love of her life is going to Italy the last summer before he leaves for college. He is so handsome, so wealthy, and she feels she is nothing without his love, which defines her. Oh-oh. Suddenly, there comes an offer from her aunt, now a widow with two angry young teenagers, to accompany them on a trip across America. These kids are grieving for their dead father, it's true, but they are also unbelievably bratty. And their poor mother, also grief stricken, has to somehow endure their behavior. That's why Robin has been invited, to help her aunt and keep the peace. What Robin finds out about herself is that she is interested in new people and places, that she has a certain compassion even for the most difficult children, that she is strong in a crisis, and that she might even be interested in other guys besides her high school lover (yes, they make love). The road trip itself is interesting to read about; the brats are challenging, and the reader grows to admire Robin as the journey progresses, just as she realizes her strengths. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Simon & Schuster, 270p.,
The beginning of the summer before Robin's senior year is, in her words, "no occasion for rejoicing." Robin's boyfriend, Chris, has plans to attend distant Georgetown University in the fall, leaving precious few weeks for the couple to enjoy each other until they are separated. When Chris reveals that he has accepted an opportunity to study abroad for much of what Robin hoped would be a magical last summer in their small Iowa town, Robin is crushed. An invitation to join her recently widowed aunt and two cousins on a loosely planned road trip through the Southwest does little to brighten Robin's despondency; however, as the landscape widens, Robin's sense of self and possibility expands. Wittlinger delivers another stellar performance with this story. Through Robin's first-person perspective, readers witness her transformation from a somewhat codependent teen to a resourceful and independent young woman. Initially almost intolerably downcast after the departure of her boyfriend, Robin emerges as a heroine stronger than she-or the reader-might have imagined. Although the travelogue narrative is often sadly formulized in young adult fiction, Wittlinger avoids the trappings of obvious metaphor. The real unfamiliar terrain Robin must negotiate appears in the form of an oft-exploding pair of younger cousins, whose intermittent icy silences and volatile temperaments are described in contrast to the natural beauty of the Western landscape. In this realistic novel, resolution comes neither easily nor neatly although Wittlinger leaves room to imagine what Robin calls "all the possibilities." VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High,defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Simon & Schuster, 272p,
Gr 6-10-Robin feels totally unworthy of her rich, smart boyfriend, Chris. So, when her divorced mother starts dating and Chris goes off to Rome for summer school, the 17-year-old accepts an invitation to drive from Iowa to California with her newly widowed Aunt Dory and her cousins, 13-year-old Iris and 10-year-old Marshall, taking a circuitous route to see the country. Cramped in a car with a family still grieving, Robin finds herself in the middle of every conceivable sibling and parental dispute. Marshall and Iris are realistically nasty and unkind to one another as well as to their suffering mother and Robin. As every dysfunctional episode ensues, the teen finds that she has the ability to help them all, and with that discovery she finds the way to help herself. There is nothing new about a novel that uses the plot device of a journey as a right of passage. Zigzag has that commonplace plot filled with plain, everyday people experiencing plain and ordinary problems. Yet all four of the extended family members on the trip move from self-doubt to self-knowledge, from chaos to order. With gentle wisdom and remarkably true characters, Wittlinger's writing conveys a fundamental truth: life is a nonlinear journey that everyone takes and it is the simple choices that define a person.-Jane Halsall, McHenry Public Library District, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A rural teen finds inner strength in this satisfying journey through America. Robin's boyfriend is spending his summer before college in Rome. Crushed, Robin opts out of her summer job at the Tastee-Freez, instead joining her aunt and bratty cousins on a road trip around the American West. The cousins, extremely troubled since the recent death of their father-Marshall has been expelled from school for his violent drawings, and Iris is bulimic-may be more than Robin can handle. Yet during the journey, seeing sites both kitschy and glorious, the travelers grow into a closure that is almost too harmonious. Disappointingly conventional fare from the author of Hard Love; still, touched with Wittlinger's trademark class-consciousness, well-written, and emotionally powerful. (Fiction. 14-17)
"This book is proof a road trip can change your life."
"17 Things We're Loving Right Now"
"A moving, realistic exploration of first love, class issues, girls' self-confidence, and the process of healing."