A high school valedictorian takes a madcap left turn in life.
Confident, white, 18-year-old Lance Hendricks’ life seems set for him. The all-around good guy’s got a gorgeous girlfriend of two years, early admission into Oregon State University on a scholarship, a 4.0 GPA, and he’s first chair trumpet player in the high school band. On his way home to Bend, Oregon, after a trip to Seattle, his 1993 Buick breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Washington, and the next five days change his life forever. Train-hopping, improbable brawls, whiskey shots, late-night parties at dive bars, and a mysteriously beautiful and unforgettable young white woman named Dakota are all part of the mix. Geiger’s first novel for teens is based in reality, but well-drawn elements of magical realism haunt its boundaries. There are genuine hairpin twists that will have readers wondering where the plot is headed and if it’s real. The ethereal Dakota is reminiscent of John Green’s Alaska, while the rest of the cast is crass, uncouth, dangerous at times, and winningly human. All of this is amplified by Geiger’s ability to spin laugh-out-loud, insight-filled one-liners to keep the pace up while the quieter moments balance the narrative with genuine beauty.
A thought-provoking, hilarious, eloquent story of a young man realizing that the world is much larger than the one set up for him. (Fiction. 14-adult)