From the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed coauthor of All American Boys and author of The Gospel of Winter comes a cool, contemplative spin on hot summer nights and the classic teen love story as two teens embark on a cross-country journey of the heart and soul.
The point of living is learning how to love.
That’s what Gpa says. To Hendrix and Corrina, both seventeen but otherwise alike only in their loneliness, that sounds like another line from a pop song that tries to promise kids that life doesn’t actually suck. Okay, so: love. Sure.
The thing about Corrina—her adoptive parents are suffocating, trying to mold her into someone acceptable, predictable, like them. She’s a musician, itching for any chance to escape, become the person she really wants to be. Whoever that is.
And Hendrix, he’s cool. Kind of a poet. But also kind of lost. His dad is dead and his mom is married to her job. Gpa is his only real family, but he’s fading fast from Alzheimer’s. Looking for any way to help the man who raised him, Hendrix has made Gpa an impossible promise—that he’ll get him back east to the hill where he first kissed his wife, before his illness wipes away all memory of her.
One hot July night, Hendrix and Corrina decide to risk everything. They steal a car, spring Gpa from his assisted living facility, stuff Old Humper the dog into the back seat, and take off on a cross-country odyssey from LA to NY. With their parents, Gpa’s doctors, and the police all hot on their heels, Hendrix and Corrina set off to discover for themselves if what Gpa says is true—that the only stories that last are love stories.
Teddy Hendrix's grandfather, "Gpa," raised him but now has early-stage Alzheimer's; his greatest fear is forgetting his late wife. Teddy writes down Gpa's stories, but what his grandfather really wants is to see the church he was married in one more time. It means a cross-country trip, and although Teddy doesn't drive, there's a girl from school who's looking to leave town. Singer-songwriter Corrina bonds with Gpa over music, and she and Teddy (an aspiring poet) move slowly toward romance as they cope with Gpa's mood swings and the inevitable delays, detours, and revelations of a road trip. Their destination is Ithaca, N.Y., with its echoes of the Odyssey, and if Kiely (All American Boys) leans a bit hard on Teddy's poetic sensibilities and the sheer American weirdness they pass through, he wisely splits the bard and quester roles across his characters (Corrina dreams of a career in music; Teddy wants to know more about his long-dead father). As Gpa tells Teddy, you have to "respect the road trip," and Kiely does in a quirky, romantic, and satisfying story. Ages 14 up.