From Bennett (My Father's Geisha, 1990): a slackly plotted chronicle of an endless family car trip—at times enlivened by the appealing voices and quirky viewpoints of the kids. The year is 1969, and 14-year-old Teddy, the narrator, is traveling with his mother Rosemary and his 16-year-old sister, Cora, from Massachusetts to California, where Rosemary plans to ship out with her children for Taiwan. Also along for the cross- country ride is cousin Bobbie, taking a break from a bad marriage. Rosemary intends for the family to be reunited with their husband and father, a career Army officer stationed in Taipei; she fantasizes about a perfect family life and a return to the romance she once had with her husband. Teddy longs to be with his father but fears that, with his epilepsy and his introspective nature, he will always be a disappointing son. Acerbic Cora predicts the blissful reunion is never going to happen: she believes that her father likes the distance from his family so that he can have girlfriends. And Bobbie has her own concerns: early on in the trip she learns she's pregnant, yet she doesn't know whether she'll go back to her loutish husband. The miles unwind with predictable discomforts: frayed tempers, carsickness, lost luggage—and some unpredictable ones: a robbery, and a few epileptic seizures. In Pennsylvania, Cora beguiles an Amish boy into secretly following her in his silver T-bird all the way to Texas. There, fed up with her mother, she goes off with him. Meanwhile, Bobbie finds romance with an Elvis impersonator...Rosemary is coming unhappily closer to the truth about her marriage...and Teddy is distracting himself from the tedium and anxiety by reading a book about Matt Henson, the black manservant of South Pole explorer Admiral Peary, who, though shabbily treated by Peary, still felt for him the same groundless devotion that, the reader gathers, Teddy feels for his father.... Are we there yet?
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