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After Robin's boyfriend leaves Iowa for the summer, she's persuaded to accompany her mourning aunt and two out-of-control cousins on a meandering car trip to Los Angeles.


"Believably needy and immature at the novel's outset, Robin serves as an equally convincing pillar of mental stability in contrast to her damaged relatives. Wittlinger shifts readers' level of empathy for each character throughout this highly readable first-person narrative. At first, the cramped minivan feels like a torture chamber, with the vitriolic thirteen-year-old Iris and fearful, explosive ten-year-old Marshall constantly thwarting their forcedly cheerful mother's desire to, as she says, 'prove we can function without your father.' But as Robin gets to know her cousins better, she can't help acknowledging--and wanting to help ease--the terrible pain behind their abysmal behavior. The different, sometimes subtle degrees of healing and growing up that occur as the cross-country journey progresses feel natural to the situation, and Robin's glibly dubbed 'trip from hell' turns into something more complicated. As with many long road trips, it is a crucible--excruciating one moment, exhilarating the next, and hard to walk away from unchanged." --The Horn Book

"In this realistic novel, resolution comes neither easily nor neatly, although Wittlinger leaves room to imagine what Robin calls 'all the possibilities.'" --VOYA


Junior Library Guild selection, 2003
Bank St. College Best Books of 2003
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2004
New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age list, 2004
Shortlisted: Sheffield (U.K.) Children's Book Award, 2004
Nominated: Michigan "Thumbs Up" Award, 2004
Montana Library Association Radical Reads list, 2004
Nominated: Keystone State (Pennsylvania) Book Award, 2004-05
Nominated: Missouri Gateway Readers Award, 2005-06
Tayshas (Texas) High School Reading List, 2005-06
Nominated: South Carolina Book Award, 2005-06
ALA  Popular Paperbacks list, 2008

Publishing Information

Simon and Schuster, 2003

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