A teen takes a road trip with her longtime crush, her grandmother, their dog and their one-legged rooster in a stolen RV to retrieve her mother, whom she hasn’t seen in 11 years.
It’s 1972, and 15-year-old Winston (she’s named after the cigarette) is a mean swimmer—she hopes to make it into the Olympics and has a Mark Spitz poster in her bedroom that she regularly drools over. She’s lived with her Nanny since she was 4, ever since her mother, Skye Harper, packed up and went to Vegas. Winston has gotten postcards from her, fewer as the years rolled by, and one day, she receives one asking if she and Nanny can come get Skye. They don’t have a chance of making it in their intermittently reliable jalopy, so Nanny “borrows” a luxury motor home from their neighbor. What makes her theft particularly interesting is that the neighbor’s son is none other than Steve, the boy of Winston’s dreams. Hours into the trip, Winston draws back a curtain in the cabin only to discover a stowaway—Steve himself. Williams creates beautifully distinctive characters and gives them a terrifically original plot with moments of humor and quiet poignancy. The conclusion is as lovely as it is true to life, with an adroit balance between the happily-ever-after of fairy tales and the numbing pain of futile hope.
A fine story of a mother-and-child reunion, packed with quirky characters and lessons about love. (Historical fiction. 12-16)