Michelle and her little siblings Cass and Denny are African-American and living on the poverty line in urban Baltimore, struggling to keep it together with their mom in jail and only Michelle’s part-time job at the Taco Bell to sustain them.
Leah and her stepbrother Tim are white and middle class from suburban Maryland, with few worries beyond winning lacrosse games and getting college applications in on time.
Michelle and Leah only have one thing in common: Buck Devereaux, the biological father who abandoned them when they were little.
After news trickles back to them that Buck is dying, they make the uneasy decision to drive across country to his hospice in California. Leah hopes for closure; Michelle just wants to give him a piece of her mind.
Five people in a failing, old station wagon, living off free samples at food courts across America, and the most pressing question on Michelle’s mind is: Who will break down first--herself or the car? All the signs tell her they won’t make it. But Michelle has heard that her whole life, and it’s never stopped her before....
Una LaMarche triumphs once again with this rare and compassionate look at how racial and social privilege affects one family in crisis in both subtle and astonishing ways.
I kind of picked up this book without even knowing what it was about. It ended up being a road trip book, which I actually love! This book, though, is more serious than more road trip books, which makes so much sense considering the subject matter. This book was still very enjoyable and I actually ended up liking this book.
Michelle lives in poverty with her siblings and single mom, who happens to do drugs. When her mom ends up in jail, Michelle struggles to get enough family to bail her out and to sustain her family. Then Leah and her stepbrother Tim come in. Leah is Michelle's half-sister, that she never met, but knew about. Their dad, Buck Devereaux, left both of their mothers and now he's dying in California. Michelle couldn't care less about Buck, but he supposedly has something that he needs to give her. All of them get into a rickety car to travel all the way to California.
Despite the light cover, this book focused on some more touchy subjects. I actually liked this fact, because it made this more incredibly realistic.
A large factor of this book that I liked is how diverse it is! Yes! This book has a POC MC! Michelle is a great MC. She has had to grow up quickly because of her upbringing and has kind of become another mom to her two siblings. I do not like the circumstances that has lead her to get into this position, but she is strong and she deeply cares about her siblings. Of course, like most people, she has flaws, but it only showed how real she was.
As for romance, there is a teeny tiny bit, which makes me happy. See, romance is okay, but I love it when it doesn't takeover the whole story and eaves room for the plot. The real focus of the book would be family, which is also something that is pushed aside in most YA. This book is all about family. There's Michelle's mom in jail, Buck (the dad that left when she was a child), and a road trip with her own siblings and a stepsister she just met. That's a lot, but I really think that the book dealt with it very well!
Overall, this is a great contemporary featuring a different subject matter and an interesting look on family. I really did enjoy it, even though I didn't give it an enormously high rating. I really do recommend this to fans of contemporary reads!
I hereby give this book
Meaning: I liked it, but it wasn't quite amazing.