Sixteen-year-old Dee and her seven-year-old brother, Eddie, have been on their own for six weeks. Their father has seemingly vanished into the baking Arizona desert. Their money is drying up and the rent is coming due, but it's a visit from a social worker and the prospect of being separated from Eddie that scares Dee enough to flee. She dupes her brother into packing up and embarking on the long road trip to Canada, their birthplace and former home. Lacking a driver's license and facing a looming interrogation at the border, Dee rations their money and food as they burn down the interstate in their ancient, decrepit car.
Dee, 16, and her younger brother, Eddie, have about $500 to their name (and no driver's license) when they hit the road. After their mother died, their father moved them to a remote Arizona town: "The waves of her mom's death had washed them up here in Santacino, in the middle of the desert, at the end of the world." For six weeks, Dee and Eddie have been cocooned in their small world; their father left on his latest antiques-finding excursion and hasn't returned. With rent due and a social worker on their case, Dee makes the desperate decision to drive to their aunt and uncle's home in Alberta. What ensues is a heart-wrenching road trip through the wild western landscape. Hughes (Lost in the Backyard) creates a visceral sense of the territory the siblings pass through, and readers will be pulling hard for both Dee, who is shouldering adult responsibilities, and Eddie, whose stress manifests in quirky behavior. Hughes deals gently with the siblings' emotions in a story about embracing the present when the past and future are too heavy to bear. Ages 12 up.