Seven-year-old Dolly embarks on an exciting road trip with her father only to realize that they aren’t really heading anywhere—it’s more of an escape.
At first, it’s her best day. Dad picks Dolly up unexpectedly, and they drive through several new states. When they stop to eat, she can choose any junk food she wants, and the hotel has a fantastic soaking bathtub. Dolly and her best friend, toy horse Clemesta, are relieved to be leaving Mom behind, for some mysterious reason that has to do with Los Angeles and YOU KNOW WHO. But as the adventure stretches on, Clemesta’s unease affects Dolly, who begins to miss the routine of home and rules. Clearly, there is a reason for Dad’s increasingly irrational behavior, even as the word abduction starts to echo in Dolly’s head. Everyone recognizes that the fragments of a child’s conversation directly echo the words and thoughts of the adults around them. It’s very possible that, if one were to transcribe a youngster’s internal monologue, there would be a mix of childish enthusiasm and weary adult awareness. However, reading almost 300 pages of this kind of transcription, with words frequently written in ALL CAPS for emphasis, drags on one’s patience and, paradoxically, makes it MORE apparent that this is an adult assuming a child’s voice because it is so stylized. What are the odds that Dolly may be parroting words and ideas that she does not fully understand, and what are the chances that this misunderstanding might be important to the unknowns of the plot? I’d bet on it. It's possible to write well from a child's perspective, as Emma Donoghue did in Room, but Sacks (You Were Made for This, 2018, etc.) doesn't pull it off.
A story that could have been riveting from a different perspective. Instead, an unending loop of childish prattle.