Staying the Course
By Angela Blount
Amazon Digital Services, Inc., $3.99, 376 pages
What a grand adventure! In Once Upon a Road Trip, Angela N. Blount (a.k.a. Angie) tells the partially fictionalized chronicle of the car trip she took after graduating high school. Angie deems her tale, ‘running away from destiny, or headlong into it,’ and takes the reader cross-country and into Canada on a charmingly wacky 6,000 mile jaunt. While the trip doesn’t have the derring-do of Dr. Livingstone’s expeditions in Africa, it is admirably bold. Her parents are kept in the loop as she stays with the families of young men mostly met only online.
Blount has a light touch. Her tale delightfully describe her successive stays with Alex (who passes his driving test), Mark (who takes her to the Detroit zoo), Zak (almost a disappointment, who stores eggnog in the freezer), Scott (who, as the Brits say, blots his copy book in the final pages) and Vince, who seemingly becomes her lasting beau. The book is brimming with lively dialogue and gossipy memories encapsulated in a series of adventures, mostly benign, a few on the scary side. The chapters, written from a third-person perspective, end with a ‘personal’ diary entry. Teenagers will relish the details woven into the pages.
Blount stresses parental support, discouraging rash behavior from other youngsters eager to set off from home. She begins her journey knowing she is infected with mono that she caught from her best friend. This is a brilliant tactic, making her safe from unwanted advances! Angie records the key sights in each city she visits, including her distress at New York’s Ground Zero. Angie is a memorable character, appealingly addressing her friends’ health issues (diabetes and possible Asperger syndrome) in an almost bossy manner. She blesses Vince for introducing colleagues who confront special challenges in their lives.
The unusually lengthy book is well-written, fun and admirably instructive. After the epilogue, there’s a series of questions to prompt book club discussions.
Reviewed by Jane Manaster