Through a series of misadventures, 15-year-old Ry ends up having an off the wall summer adventure. Ry embarks on this series of calamities by disembarking from a train bound for his summer camp. The train leaves without him and he is stranded in the middle of nowhere. With no cell reception (and the battery on its last legs) Ry sets off on foot to find civilization. At the first town he arrives at he encounters Del who offers to drive Ry back to his home in Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, Ry’s parents are off on a sailing cruise full of their own misadventures (a monkey steels their cell phone and someone else steels their money and credit cards.) Ry’s grandfather has been left at home to watch the dogs and of course he suffers his own misadventure when he falls into a hole and suffers a blow to the head, which greatly impairs his short-term memory.
I started out liking this book, but after a while it just seemed to drag on. It reminded me of a mild version of “The Perils of Penelope.” How much bad luck can one family have? The story around Ry’s grandfather didn’t seem to make much sense. I felt that the author left out some important information. Another problem that I had with the book, was not the author’s fault, but the printer’s. I checked this book out from the library and my copy was flawed. Pages 177 through 210 are repeated in the copy that I read and pages 211 through 242 are missing. This appears to be the section where Del and Ry meet Everett and Lulu, but I’m not sure. It might have more information about Ry’s grandfather as well.
With that in mind, it’s difficult to give a true review of this book. I may have missed some vital information that would change my opinion of this book. However, based on the rest of the book and they way it began to drag after awhile, I’m not inclined to try to find another copy and read the missing parts. However, if this book should win the Newbery (and I’ve read some post by bloggers and librarians that believe it should) I’ll purchase my own copy and read the missing pages.
Amazon recommends the book for young adult and School Library Journal recommends if for grades 7 and up. Is it Newbery quality? Well, it’s not one I would pick, but the Newbery Committee seldom agrees with me. So who knows?