From the author of the Newbery Honor Book Everything on a Waffle
When his mother decides on a whim to be a missionary in Africa and drags his unwilling father with her, Henry is left in the care of his Aunts Magnolia and Pigg. Henry's sure they dislike him and he's trying to keep his distance, but that becomes more difficult when Mag decides they should take a destination-less road trip. Mag, convalescing from an illness that makes her look like death, is downright crabby. Pigg, tense from driving, is becoming more assertive and less willing to submit to Mag's whims. And while they poke each other – literally – Henry is finding it hard to keep his resolution.
They go to Virginia Beach (it's too hot); try camping in the Everglades (Henry accidentally spends four days floating in a swamp); visit their daddy, Henry's granddaddy (Henry's never met him!); and lose Pigg to love in Oklahoma (what would the radio psychologist Daly Kramer say?) before they finally receive word that Henry's parents are coming back and will meet them in Tulsa to finish the trip with Mag and Henry. But his parents are bickering and Henry is in despair – until he surrenders to the road and decides to let whatever happens happen, but to be there in it all.
Complete with her signature cast of eccentric characters, absurd situations, and heartfelt moments, Polly Horvath writes an on-the-road epic like no other!
Horvath (The Canning Season) possesses the unique ability to make extraordinary events (such as brushes with death) appear perfectly ordinary while extracting something profound from occurrences as run-of-the-mill as a jaunt to the bookstore. In this novel filled with equally quirky characters and misadventures, the author traces 12-year-old narrator Henry's memorable summer road trip with his Aunt Magnolia and Aunt Pigg. His mother is acting as a Mormon missionary in Africa and has taken his father with her ("I don't wish to be known as Norman the Mormon," Henry's father says in one of many unforgettable lines), and they experience more than their fair share of excitement abroad (Henry's mother gets lost in the Ugandan jungle; his father contracts malaria). But the hero becomes involved in his own mini-drama, touring the southern states in an unairconditioned car with his bickering relatives. Along the way, the boy meets his grandfather for the first time, wanders off in the Everglades with an autistic child and bids adieu to Aunt Pigg, who decides to set down roots with a Texas rancher. The places Henry visits seem as arbitrary and disconnected as his chance encounters with colorful locals, but the sum of his experiences lead to some life-altering conclusions about surviving in an unpredictable world. At once poignant, funny and wise, this book gives new meaning to the phrase, "The best journeys never end." Ages 10-up.