Two teens find romance on the road.
White teen Homer spends his days working in his adoptive fathers’ Florida tourist-trap gift shop and pining for the older, pregnant, mysteriously accented, and racially ambiguous Mia. When Mia decides to skip town and join her long-lost sister up north, Homer and his younger brother, Einstein, offer to drive her in a beat-up car purchased by their empathetic fathers. The resulting road trip ambles here and there as the trio encounters increasingly absurd characters, even taking along a teenage Indian-American historical re-enactment worker along the way. All this goofy nonsense is infused with several dashes of magical realism that allow the residents of each stop to happily provide a veiled piece of advice at the perfect moment. It all feels just a bit too twee, and the emotional story (Homer needs to admit his feelings to Mia and allow himself to let her go) has a too-familiar vibe. Readers will get déjà vu as Homer and Mia circle each other flirtatiously over and over again, from the book itself and the better works that have come before. The quirkiness that surrounds the couple just overwhelms them. For this enterprise to work, the emotional truth needs to balance out the zany world they live in, and that balance simply isn’t here.
An agreeable but unbalanced work that aims high but ends up a bit too short. (Fiction. 14-16)