Graduating senior Ali Collins has a full-ride scholarship to UC-Davis waiting for her acceptance letter to be sent, but, stuck at the bottom of her backpack, it is already past due. She can’t make herself mail it. Instead, she spends her time packing up their soon-to-be-foreclosed house in preparation for a move to another town with her divorced mom. While her mom works on a temporary week-long job out of town, Ali unexpectedly is visited by a friend of her recently-deceased dad who delivers his 1968 Firebird convertible as her inheritance gift.
A car is not what she needs. Money is what she needs–$25,000 to be exact, to pay off their back mortgage payments, one of many debts incurred by her dad who chose to follow his dream of freedom on the road with his favorite band, Fear Epidemic, while ignoring responsibilities for his family. Posting an ad on Craigslist, she quickly receives an offer of $32,000 for the car and makes plans to drive it up to Crescent City, CA, get the check, return home and pay off the mortgage before her mother gets back. Unfortunately, Ali can’t drive a stick shift. Enter ex-boyfriend Nico, who agrees to drive her for a thousand bucks. Against her better advice, she accepts, and what initially promises to be a straightforward trip turns out to be on the surface a convoluted exploration of northern California, Oregon and Washington but underneath a moving exploration of Ali’s angry, confused handling of her father’s disappearances and neglect and how that has negatively affected her relationships with everyone else.
Such a well-written, thoughtful book offers lessons on unwisely passing quick judgments on people and situations, forgiving even when it seems impossible to do so, and breaking patterns of thought and action that keep a person from moving forward to a happier life. There is no objectionable content or language other than a “damn” here or there. Two gay relationships are referenced. Alcohol and gambling addictions are presented as matter-of-fact parental problems that must be dealt with by Ali and Nico. The main characters show growing self-awareness and maturity that is heartening and inspirational. And theirs is a sweet romance :-).
Get this book for your library. Buy copies for Christmas presents. Spread it around. It’s terrific.
Categories: Addiction, Books We Recommend, Books with No Objectionable Content, Death and Grieving, Dysfunctional Relationships, LGBTQIA, Navigating through High School, Parent Conflict, Peer Relationships, Rock Musicians, Social Media