The next morning we meet at the world headquarters of Leisure-Lee Tours.
Which is a sentence I never thought I'd write.
Ariel Flack never thought she'd write a postcard saying "Wish you were here," especially to Dylan, the boy she's had a crush on forever and is finally (sort of) dating. She also didn't know she'd be sending that postcard from the family vacation from hell—a two-week geriatric bus tour with her crazy mom, annoying sister, embarrassing uncle, and frighteningly energetic grandparents.
As South Dakota rolls by at five miles an hour, Ariel begins to learn that sometimes life is just too complicated to fit on a postcard. Sometimes your parents let you down (and sometimes they don't). Sometimes you meet an unexpected fellow traveler. And sometimes you just have to go where the road takes you—even if the tour bus won't.
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Catherine Clark is the author of several young adult novels, including Maine Squeeze, The Alison Rules, and So Inn Love. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and daughter and takes family road trips whenever and wherever she can. (But not on buses.)From School Library Journal:
Grade 7 Up—Spending two weeks touring middle America with her family and a busload of senior citizens is not 16-year-old Ariel's idea of a fun summer vacation. As if this weren't punishment enough, her mother has implemented mandatory quality time, which means no cell phones, email, or iPods. Luckily, Ariel can periodically escape by writing postcards to her boyfriend, Dylan, who is at camp and by talking to Andre, an attractive fellow traveler. Dylan misspells her name and says that "whatever happens on the road stays on the road," two big clues that he's not worth the trouble. Through the course of the trip, it becomes clear that Ariel's boyfriend woes pale in comparison to the breakdown of her family. Her parent's marriage has been torn apart by her father's gambling addiction, which has also bankrupted them. Ariel's mother uses the bus trip to buffer the news that she wants a fresh start with her children in a new town. Typical reactions of disbelief and anger follow. Through her wallowing, Ariel begins to see that avoiding problems is not the answer, despite the allure of running away with Andre. The overriding message is clear: life takes you to unexpected places, and sometimes what's best for you isn't the easiest road to travel. Humorous postcards interspersed throughout cleverly hint at Ariel's emotional growth, yet shallow characters and a slightly forced plot keep this book from being anything more than superfluous chick-lit.—Erin Schirota, Bronxville Public Library, NY
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