A road trip from Chicago to Portland, Ore., in a Chevy Eurosport with Dad’s credit card for expenses makes for a mildly enjoyable summer read.
The trip’s not really about Lillian’s stated need to find Penny, who might have faked her own kidnapping. No, it’s more about spending time with best friend Josh, who has never shown any romantic interest in Lillian, and enjoying a little freedom after graduation from high school and before the reality of college. Both Josh and Lillian enjoy the peculiar, and they aren’t afraid to indulge their whims. As they proceed from the House on the Rock to various museums and roadside highlights such as Wall Drug, the two find themselves struggling with Lillian sexual attraction for the uninterested Josh. Through it all, Josh and Lillian manage to let their quest for Penny, who is less a friend than an obligation, keep them on the road and moving forward. The dialogue sounds true without being crude and repetitive, and readers will enjoy narrator Lillian's sharp wit. Credibility issues—the lack of financial limitations, miraculously blasé parents and the relative lack of interest from the authorities regarding Penny’s whereabouts—keep this closer to fantasy than anything deeper.
There is enough weirdness in this lighthearted road trip to keep it entertaining, although there is not quite enough depth or suspense to make it rise above the average. (Fiction. 14 & up)