Review Detail4.6 6
Okay, guys, believe it or not, but I haven't actually read too many road trip novels. It's a super popular sub-genre of contemporary fiction, but I only really started reading contemporary novels this past year. How My Summer Went Up in Flames has convinced me that I need to read more of them, because this book totally simulated a vacation. It's like I got to visit a whole bunch of touristy places I wouldn't actually want to go, so I can cross them off. Success!
Driving across country with her best friend Matty and brothers Spencer and Logan, Rosie visits so many sights. They pack a lot into their trip. It's seriously impressive how much they get done. Also, I love how much focus Doktorski gives to the music playing as they drive. Music is essential to a road trip, so I loved knowing what they were listening to. Also, Spencer rules for playing Al Simon as they drove to Graceland. *sings "We're going to Graceland, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee"*
Doktorski also does a great job with the characters. All four of them felt like real people, though Rosie I didn't like, and I'll tackle that soon. However, I thought Matty and Spencer were utterly adorable and delightful. I only wish Rosie wouldn't roll her eyes and turn her music up over their dorky discussions of Star Trek, because I dig that. Logan, too, though not my favorite, has depths to him. Doktorski captures a lot of the awkwardness of time spent trapped together: the tiffs, the silences, the uncomfortable moments where personal space is invaded.
What Left Me Wanting More:
With novels in a first person perspective, one's enjoyment can be seriously impacted by the personality of the main character. In this case, the MC was the big negative to the book. Rosie, short for Rosalita, should be awesome. She's half-Ecuadorian and half-Italian, and she's very passionate. Plus, she has a distinct personality, so I do give Doktorski serious props for that. However, Rosie's also seriously obnoxious. She is seriously judgmental, selfish, and hypocritical. She slut-shames, even though she almost had sex with her boyfriend (she didn't because she wasn't ready which is great, but also means she's not opposed to sex before marriage), she judges girls who show too much skin, and she judges girls who drink, though she does a couple of times too. There's also a double standard to her mean thoughts; Rosie's predisposed to dislike females she comes in contact with, but sizes up every guy as a dating prospect, not judging them for drinking, bare skin, or sexual activity.
I'd been hoping that Rosie set his car on fire in a bit of overenthusiastic vengeance. Instead, it was an accident that happened while she was stalking him after the breakup. Rosie's crazy, completely obsessed with Joey. His birthday is even the password to her voice mail. All of this made her really difficult to relate to in any way. Also, I couldn't support the romance, because she's obviously not mentally stable enough to be in a relationship. I wish the ending had stayed more open-ended.
The Final Verdict:
For those who can stomach Rosie, How My Summer Went Up in Flames will be a fun, summery read. Doktorski's well-drawn characters and humor show talent, and I still hold out hope for her sophomore novel, Famous Last Words, to be released later this year.