Goodreads: On the first day of Lillian’s summer-before-college, she gets a message on her cell from her sort-of friend, Penny. Not only has Penny faked her own kidnapping, but Lil is the only one who figures it out. She knows that Penny’s home life has been rough, and that her boyfriend may be abusive. Soon, Penny’s family, the local police, and even the FBI are grilling Lil, and she decides to head out to Oregon, where Penny has mentioned an acquaintance. And who better to road-trip across the country with than Lil’s BFF, Josh. But here’s the thing: Lil loves Josh. And Josh doesn’t want to “ruin” their amazing friendship.
Josh has a car and his dad’s credit card. Lil has her cell phone and a hunch about where Penny is hiding. There’s something else she needs to find: Are she and Josh meant to be together?
My take: This is just one of those quirky books that you enjoy from the first word to the last and realize that not only was it an enjoyable read, there is a message that corresponds to Lil and Josh's Quirky Adventure. Life is not, after all, like a box of chocolates, "but a big, long journey with a whole bunch of bumps and twists, and freaky roadside attractions, that no matter what, lead us to somewhere." Huh. That would have been a really nice place to end this review. Alas, I have more.
"I hate brushing my teeth in a public sink. Spitting. Blow-drying my face when there are no paper towels." Deep.
""She told me I was a really good friend,' I say, staring ahead at the buffet, the cornucopia of foods blurring into a flavored rainbow.
'Bit**,' Josh chides. 'How dare she?' He talks through the cake bits in his mouth."
"Can you imagine" - Josh saunters up next to me to marvel at the town that once was - "the streets of Deadwood? No law. A six-shooter on your belt and a prostitute on your arm?" Josh looks whimsical, as if he's reliving his past life's glory days.
"So we drive toward the sunset, windows down; Elvis reruns fill the air. We drive as the stars bloom on the vast fabric of navy sky, passing miles of nothing, as bugs can't help but throw themselves at our windshield."
If you want a deep, complicated, and filled with angst protagonist, keep walking. This isn't the book you want to read. If you want to like the protagonist because she is clever, intelligent, witty, and so is her side-kick, highly recommend it.
Language and swearing: Moderate. Usual farm words and a couple of diety.
Further language: Moderate. Josh is a little on the crass side, although not excessively so, he's a boy who talks potty talk.
Sex: If I shared that part, I might ruin the conflict resolution. But if sex does occur, it would only complicate the conflict. If sex does occur, it is not explicitly described.
Content: There is a reason Penny has run away. Slight spoiler *Gavin is physically abusive*
Overall feeling at the end of the book? Satisfied, light in spirit, I want to be Julie Hapern's electronic BFF so we can email clever prose to one another.
And now, for your entertainment, I present highlights from Josh and Lil's Quirky Adventure:
It's a corn palace. Made out of corn.
So there's a whole museum full of these creepy dolls. All sizes. All shapes. All creeps.
This garrish carousel is tiered and protected by angels. When I say "angels," I really mean store mannequins lovingly dressed up as heavenly hosts. Creep Factor somewhere in the Doll Museum and Bride of Chucky.
The Badlands. Haven't you always wondered?
Craters of the Moon. An actual national park made out of lava rock.
I was underwhelmed, too.
I'll take Hawaii, thankyouverymuch.
Kevin Costner's signature, "Deadwood."
It's all Hollywood magic. Nothing of interest is really here.
Portland's secret coffee shop. This one is amusing. This is just the bathroom. Apparently, there are tables that shrink and grow, slide into the wall, etc.