October 17, 2006

Road Trip

"There are some kinds of trouble you never see coming," begins Elise Broach's YA novel, Desert Crossing, and boy, is that an understatement. On what is supposed to be a routine, though hot and painfully boring Spring Break drive from New Mexico to Phoenix to see their dad - who doesn't really even have time for them - Lucy her brother Jaime, and his best friend, Kit, find that some journeys take you where you never expected to go.

14-year-old Lucy is relegated to sitting in the backseat, ignored and reviled, as the boys, both high school Seniors, discuss girls, girls, girls, girls, girls - their bodies, their parts, their disconnected bits in objectifying ways that make Lucy's skin crawl as they drive through the endless miles of desert. After the first several hours, Lucy hates both her brother and Kit for their mindless flirting with waitresses and basically anything upright and female. Her brother Jaime's easy morphing into whatever a woman needs to see or hear to be interested and Kit's sarcastic shallowness leaves Lucy feeling abandoned and resentful and strange. Is this how all guys act, all the time? It only gets worse when the boys finagle a trucker into getting them a six pack of beer. Lucy knows she sounds like a downer, warning her brother not to drink while driving, but she's worrying that they'll all be sorry... While driving too fast in a sudden desert downpour, the car hits something -- something that makes a bone-jarring thump. Heartsick, Lucy insists, and Jaime turn back, muttering that it was only a dog or a coyote. What they find is infinitely worse.

And it changes everything.

Like leading readers down a suspensful, hold-your-breath scary rabbit hole, this sparsely worded, sometimes painful, fast-paced novel uncovers mysteries, secrets and self-discovery. This is definitely a growing-up road trip, in more ways than one, and the end of innocent assumptions.

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