A journey to the center of their hearts.
Ever since their father's sudden death eight years ago, Chuck and Lori's mom has spent most of her time on the road as a motivational speaker, leaving them and their younger siblings in the care of their grandparents. But this trip is different; this time, their mother has invited Chuck and Lori along in an attempt to reconnect with her eldest--and now most distant--children.
Lori is so angry with her mother for her constant absence she can barely look at her, and Chuck, as usual, tries to make himself invisible. From the start the trip seems doomed. But slowly, walls built up over the years begin to show cracks. Laser-sharp glares are finally and painfully turned inward. And in the end secrets are finally revealed--secrets that will change all of their lives forever..
Despite an intriguing premise and format, Haddix's (Among the Imposters, reviewed June 11) novel may well stretch readers' credibility when years of problems are resolved in one brief summer trip. Siblings 15-year-old Chuck and 14-year-old Lori Lawson go on their first plane ride to join their motivational-speaker mother on a two-week five-city tour, and the teens end up learning about a lot more than fancy hotels and airports. Through Lori and Chuck's alternating perspectives (their mom breaks in occasionally to offer her point of view), readers discover just how angry the seemingly perfect Lori is towards her almost always absent mother and about overweight and clumsy Chuck's self-loathing they even learn why their mother won't talk about their father's death eight years ago. Haddix credibly maps out the Lawsons' dynamics and fills in some interesting details about growing up in agricultural Pickford County (in their chapters, Lori and Chuck discuss 4-H club and taking pigs to slaughter) but the three characters' chapters rotate so quickly that readers rarely get to settle into any one story line. The characters experience dramatic breakthroughs at the conclusion, each unearthing buried secrets from within themselves. But the revelations come too quickly and undermine the authenticity of the previous chapters. Ages 12-up.