These reviews have been copied from the New York Public Library’s Website – http://www.nypl.org
School Library Journal
SLJ Reviews 2012 August
Gr 9 Up—Inspired by Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums, 17-year-old Anna and her friend Kat set out from Minnesota for points unknown with only the book and their sense of adventure as their guides. Each girl has her own reasons for embarking on this journey. Anna is still recovering from the death of her mother and she sees the trip as a way to escape the sadness that has consumed her for the past year; Kat not only hopes to awaken their dormant friendship but also to find proof of God’s love-art, people, nature, drugs, church, and sex all make the list of possible evidence. Anna, however, has lost her faith and remains skeptical. From the Black Hills of South Dakota to Gillette, Wyoming, and beyond, the teens are memorable characters, and with each encounter they cross an item off their “God’s Love list.” By journey’s end, it’s their love for and faith in each other that helps both travelers find what they’re looking for. In her debut novel, Hoole crafts a journey of self-discovery about two young women whose complexities add depth and meaning to the story. Anna is both fragile and strong, yet despite these conflicting traits, she comes across as real. Similarly, Kat’s zest for life is in perfect balance to Anna’s cautiousness, and Hoole’s depiction of their differences as well as their similarities makes their friendship even more believable. A solid entry into the coming-of-age canon.—Audrey Sumser, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Mayfield, OH
[Page 106]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Reviews 2012 June #1
Since her mother’s death the previous year, Anna and her once-vibrant minister father have been grief stricken. While he has retreated into the bottle, Anna has retreated into herself—though she hopes a road trip after graduation with friend Kat will provide distraction and escape. Heading west from Minnesota, using Kerouac’s Dharma Bums as inspiration, their travels prove unexpectedly illuminating. There’s camping, experiencing nature, car breakdowns, as well as meeting evangelical pastor Shepherd and hippieish Seth. As their journey progresses, Anna’s relationship with Kat intensifies on an emotional and physical level, which brings not only difficult dilemmas but also insights into the meaning and value of love. Though some supporting characters can feel two-dimensional, Anna is a solidly written, multifaceted character whose attempts to understand herself and her sexuality—while also reclaiming her sense of family, faith, and happiness—are eloquently detailed through her often lyrical first-person narrative. Kat, an animated artist, is also finely drawn. Anna’s poems, memories, poignant wish lists, and texts with her father all add further depth. An absorbing debut. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
The Horn Book
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
One year after her mom’s death, seventeen-year-old Anna goes on a Kerouac-inspired road trip with her best friend, Kat. The goal: find proof of God’s love. As they encounter fanatic missionaries, an enraged grizzly bear, hippie boys, and wallet-stealing girls, Anna gradually begins to face her buried emotions and her feelings for Kat. The characters are honest and believable, and Hoole’s writing is insightful and poignant.