“Superb road trip novel. By turns introspective and humorous.” —Booklist (starred review)
In this captivating story about loss, love, and changing your ways, National Book Award–winning author Pete Hautman imbues the classic road trip novel with clever wit and heartfelt musings about life and death.
Steven Gerald Gabel—a.k.a. Stiggy—needs to get out of Minnesota. His father recently took his own life, his mother is a shell of the person she used to be, and his sort-of-girlfriend ghosted him and skipped town. What does he have left to stick around for? Armed with his mom’s credit card and a tourist map of Great River Road, Stiggy sets off in his dad’s car.
The only problem is, life on his own isn’t exactly what he expected and, soon enough, he finds himself at a crossroads: keep running from his demons, or let them hitch a ride back home with him.
Stiggy, 17, has a lot of questions about why his girlfriend, Gaia, dumped him, and why his father committed suicide, and he's not finding any answers in his Minnesota suburb. Wanting to think about "other things or better yet, not think at all," he impulsively embarks on a road trip in his father's Mustang (which he isn't supposed to drive), carrying little more than $407 in cash and a Visa card stolen from his mother. He has no idea where he's going or how long he'll be gone, but he's ready to explore new territory as he heads through the Midwest. This story, enlivened by witty dialogue and offbeat characters, contains flashbacks set against Stiggy's often hilarious, sometimes profound encounters with strangers. Hautman paints a true-to-life portrait of a bitter, cynical teen who undergoes a gradual transformation as he makes discoveries about Gaia, his father, and himself. Stiggy's many mishaps (being left carless after falling for a lie, getting cornered into buying meth supplies) provide comic relief, while his epiphanies offer food for thought. Ages 12 up.