Dylan is about to carry out the “biggest running-away-from-home plan ever”: he’s going to hike the Appalachian Trail.
The white teen will be 18 in six months, and by the time he completes the hike from Georgia to Maine, he’ll be an adult who can live on his own terms and avoid being sent to a special school. The trail—all 2,190 miles of it—will be a safe place to hide until then. Along the way Dylan crosses paths with a widower and Appalachian Trail veteran called Rain Man and a lone young woman called Ghost. Both are enigmas to Dylan: why is the white older man giving away all of his wife’s hiking gear, and why does white girl Ghost bury notes off-trail along the way? Dylan feels responsible for his accountant father’s fatal heart attack, and he sees his chance to atone if he can save Rain Man and Ghost from their respective griefs. Dylan, who experiences sensory dysfunction and has trouble paying attention and behaving appropriately in school and difficulty understanding facial expressions and emotions, recalls his supportive father in flashbacks throughout his hike as he learns to face the fact that he may have to go home, whether he’s ready or not.
A sensitive, funny, and sometimes awkwardly romantic story of survival and self-awareness. (Fiction. 14-18)