Ellen Wittlinger, Author . S&S $16.95 (264p) ISBN 978-0-689-84996-1

Wittlinger (The Long Night of Leo and Bree; Razzle) introduces a colorful array of characters and settings while tracing 17-year-old Robin's eye-opening road trip throughout the western United States. Although taking a "zigzag" route to L.A. with three less-than-desirable companions—her recently widowed aunt and her two bratty younger cousins, Iris and Marshall—isn't Robin's idea of a dream vacation, it beats staying at home in Iowa and working at the Tastee-Freez, especially since her college-bound boyfriend, Chris, will be spending the summer in Rome. The first leg of Robin's journey proves bumpier than she had imagined. While she broods over Chris's departure, her cousins' psychological problems (Iris's eating disorder and Marshall's obsession with death) bubble to the surface. Forced to play the role of referee, relief driver and psychologist, Robin is not only distracted from her own woes but develops some inner strength. Evocative images of mountainous terrain, southwestern villages and a traditional dude ranch provide effective backdrops for the protagonist's widening perspective. In the beginning, Robin appears as an insecure teen content to hide in the shadow of her popular boyfriend. By the end of the novel, she has evolved into an independent young woman eager to explore new territory by herself. The heroine's conflicts and romantic notions will strike a familiar chord, and readers might glean some inspiration from her epiphanies. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 07/28/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 264 pages - 978-0-689-84998-5
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4391-1631-9
Prebound-Other - 264 pages - 978-0-606-33391-7
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