Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Rant: Guitar Highway Rose

My name is Rosie Moon. I am nearly sixteen. I'm hungry for a juicy life. I lean out the window at night and I can taste it out there, waiting for me.

Popular and smart, fifteen-year-old Rosie Moon is the quintessential good girl. She also wishes she could be someone else for a while, someone more interesting. Asher Fielding is the mysterious new boy at school who has dreadlocks and a love of Jim Morrison. On the first day of tenth grade, Rosie develops a crush on Asher, and when the two pair up for a poetry assignment they quickly form a bond. When Asher is falsely accused of stealing a wallet at school, he and Rosie decide to escape it all--their families, their school, their ordinary town--and hitchhike up the Australian coast. They know they shouldn't, and that is exactly why they do. Part road story, part love story, Guitar Highway Rose is a thrilling ride for anyone who has ever dreamed about escaping everyday life, even just for a little while.

By now you should know that I'm really into books in alternative story form. This book is written in the form of stream-of-consciousness thoughts, lists, vignettes from A TON of characters, and free-form conversations. In the hands of the wrong person, it could be too gimmicky, but Brigid Lowry is obviously a pro. The novel is quirky and fun instead, escapism at its best. Plus, isn't the title hipster and adorable?  

I think one of the best things about this book is that even though it's YA, you get to see the point of view of the parents and how they feel about their marriage and children. It's pretty cool, because parents are usually antagonists in YA contemporary, but it's important to realize that they aren't dealing with their children in a vaccum -- there's usually other stuff going on too. Also, I am weirdly attracted to stories with hippy parents. It's probably because my parents are definitely not hippies, and these pot-smoking, here-are-some-condoms, I'm-friends-with-my-kids adults are somewhat mythical to me. They're like unicorns. I am just fascinated.

Rosie and Asher are great characters. I mean, I think Rosie gets a lion's share of the time and description, but that makes sense since this book is obviously marketed toward girls.

I like Asher because unlike SO MANY boys in YA books, he has problems other than being in love, is not a stalker (what the fuck is up with this stalker love interest phenomenon anyway, so not sexy from unfortunate personal experience), and is not effortlessly cool or good with the ladies. Dear YA authors, don't know if you are too old to remember or what, but boys at fifteen do not have any game, whatsoever.*

I like Rosie because she is interesting, rebellious without being whiny, and good at heart. And I remember wanting a lot of the same things she did at that age (not a nose-ring though; I did not have a death wish). I also like her because I feel like she is much braver than I was at fifteen. She has enough depth to where I am happy to be along with her for the ride and just see what she does.

In sum -- great summer read, totally satisfying, and a gem of a novel. Love me some road trip fiction.

GUITAR HIGHWAY ROSE is not a new book, PS (made evident by the distracting lack of cell phones). The author is Australian, and therefore, the book is set in Australia. This should be obvious upon beginning to read, but funny story. The first book of Lowry's I read was FOLLOW THE BLUE (this is also excellent; please go read it), and I went through a good portion of the book without realizing it was Australian. Despite the non-American spellings and Australian jargon. Despite references to Perth. I'm dumb, deal with it. But probably because of Lowry's books, I now think Australia is a way cooler place to grow up than the United States.

*I'm not being unfairly mean to guys. At the age of fifteen, I was an awkward and hideous troll. Even if they had game, they would not have wasted it on me. But the facts remain that they did not behave like most YA love interests being churned out today.

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