MY ROAD TRIP TO THE PRETTY GIRL CAPITAL OF THE WORLD

Brian Yansky, Author
Brian Yansky, Author . Cricket $16.95 (178p) ISBN 978-0-8126-2691-9
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Yansky's debut novel, a YA fable, takes its inspiration from the road tales of the '60s and '70s, but unfortunately ends up meandering across the pages, much as its protagonist wanders across the country. Set in 1979—although the narrative uses few period details—the book chronicles 17-year-old Simon, an adopted boy raised in Iowa, whose girlfriend leaves him on page one. This is evidently the last straw, and Simon steals his father's car, pockets money he owes to a drug dealer and sets off for Texas to find his birth parents. Along the way he picks up a man who claims to be Elvis Presley, on the run from the FBI (purportedly having executed some secret mission for J. Edgar Hoover); a battered wife named Charley fleeing her husband, Harley; and two vagrants ("We're bums," says one when identified as "homeless." "I am a bum. No one wants to make distinctions anymore. I choose to lead the life I lead"). None of them feels believable or particularly compelling; even Simon feels like a bit of a caricature. And while the prose contains some arresting observations, the narrative doesn't gain enough momentum to kick the story into gear. 12-up. (Oct.)

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