While their parents are on vacation, three white sisters go on the road trip of a lifetime.
It isn’t clear at the outset why they’ve made this sudden decision or what they plan to gain. Megan, the middle sister, is clearly against the whole idea, though she goes along with it. Their quest has no apparent goal, and most of their high jinks occur off the page. Gunnery’s focus on the interstitial moments could have been inspired. The quiet hours between adventures would be the ideal time to display introspection and tenderness among the sisters. Instead, the author reveals each girl’s inner turmoil through stilted exposition and dialogue that feels suited for scripted interventions on daytime talk shows. The weak narrative arc muddles the important themes of the book, which barely addresses Megan’s fractured relationships with boys and her sisters. Hanna’s trauma over events at her university and during her time in Italy, alluded to on the very first page, comes out in spurts until the final chapter. The author grants the most time to Claire’s grief over her friend’s suicide, but that too is painted with broad strokes.
Though full of potential, the thin plot is a poor vehicle for the character development and dynamic relationships that are key to road-trip stories. (Fiction. 14-18)