"I want to file it in a folder labeled FAITH and close the drawer, no more questions. No more doubt."
Anna hasn't been sure of anything since her mother died in a fire and her preacher father withdrew into grief. So when her best friend, Katy, proposes a Kerouac-inspired post–high-school road trip to find God, she allows herself to go along. On a meandering camping trip that takes them from Minnesota across the West to Vancouver Island, they encounter drunken thugs, semi-fanatic missionaries, jam-band vagabonds, a grizzly bear and a fortune-teller. Anna, ordinarily restrained and now emotionally crippled, does her best to get into the Dharma Bums spirit, smoking weed, getting a tattoo, consulting with a shaman, dropping acid (unintentionally), taking care of her "persistent virginity"—with Katy—and, perhaps, finding God. Anna's journal entries introduce each chapter; the occasional text messages she sends to her father carry as much poetry and poignancy as her image-rich narration. Anna's growth is as haphazard and subject to backtracking as the girls' physical journey. Katy's vigor and ebullience act as both narrative foil to Anna's gloom and doubt and catalyst for her emergence, allowing her finally to become "a girl who both cares and dares."
Not so much a coming out as a coming up, Anna's quiet, rich story will work its way into readers' hearts. (Fiction. 14 & up)