A screwball comedy sends Leo, his older cousin, Abbey, his grandmother, and a golden retriever across the country in a 1973 Buick Electra.
Some of the chapter headings are funny enough to convince people to read the book all by themselves—who could pass up “We All Look Like Chickens to God”? The writing in the book doesn’t always live up to the headings, but every few pages, there’s a sentence that’s so on-the-nose it’s both beautiful and revelatory, as in, “ ‘I haven’t figured it out yet’ is not a bad life philosophy.” Leo’s widowed grandmother has run off to Utah to see allosaurs. Initially, Leo, Abbey, and the dog are with her, but she ditches them in Nebraska, leaving them to chase after her. Leo and his family are white, but they befriend a Filipina-American museum worker named Honey, possibly the book’s best character. She’s posted a sign that reads, in part: “Hi! The tattoos, which cover my entire back, shoulders, and upper arms, are traditional Filipino tribal designs. It did hurt. My parents don’t mind.” Her joining the quest just makes the book better. Some of the dialogue is too sitcom-y to be believable, but it’s largely balanced out.
Late in the book, a character sums up the plot by saying, “That’s the key to happiness….Join the right circus.” Despite some flaws, this book is the right circus. (Fiction. 8-12)