Thursday, April 12, 2012

Guest Review: High School Pick: Thou Shalt Not Road Trip

Thou Shalt Not Road Trip
by Anthony John
Dial Books
April 2012
329 pages

Read an excerpt here

Blogger's Note: This review is courtesy of Leslie Rush, my BFF in writing and publishing and all things ya novels. Leslie is a high school teacher and avid reader of ya novels. Enjoy her review, Pamela

Luke Dorsey’s Bible class assignment has gone viral in the publishing world. What started out as a joyful collection of parables for the younger children in his church has become a best-selling book called Hallelujah, and now 16-year-old Luke is scheduled for a whirlwind book tour.

The parables are witty and relevant :

"For there were two brothers. And yea, one was shorter than the other, and weaker. And though he bestowed upon his big brother gifts of kindness and thoughtfulness and love, yet did the taller boy mock him, lamenting, “Why art thou so short? Art thou a leprechaun?” However, Luke worries that the editing and packaging of his thoughts have turned his spiritual chronicle into a commodity he barely recognizes.

After a dazed TV appearance with his pastor, Luke flies to Los Angeles, where he and his brother Matt will rent a car and follow historic Route 66 east to all of Luke’s book signings, until he reaches his home in St. Louis. The first hint that something has gone amiss is when Matt’s girlfriend Alex, and Alex’s sister Fran show up for the road trip. Luke and Fran have a history. They were once best buddies, sharing church and school activities for several years, and Luke has had a raging crush on Fran the whole time.

But something has happened to Fran in the past year---she used to be a peaches-and-cream blond, wearing floaty dresses and soft sweaters--and now she has gone Goth/punk, with purple hair, multiple ear piercings and weird tattoos all over her arms. It’s not just her looks that have changed. Fran seems cynical and defiant; self-destructive behavior is her new normal. Luke can barely stand to see her like this and worries that the road trip will be a nightmare.

In a bright yellow Hummer, armed with Luke’s publicist’s credit card, the foursome sets out on their odyssey across the desert Southwest. Matt’s plan to add some sight-seeing hikes into the schedule makes Luke late to almost every book signing, and the tension between Luke and Fran does not seem to be getting better. Along with the natural wonders along the way, a parade of fans, well-wishers and paparazzi greet Luke at every signing, including the mysterious, beautiful Theresa who shows up at all of them, looking different every time.

Luke‘s feeling of being disconnected from his own book grows stronger at every stop, yet at the same time he seems to be close to solving the riddle of Fran’s complete personality change. A series of embarrassing missteps and misunderstandings seem to put everything he believes in out of reach, and Luke must figure out how to redeem himself and reclaim his life.

Thou Shalt Not Road Trip is witty and authentic in its teen dialogue. There are mild sexual situations, some underage drinking from Fran, and some brief profanity (damn and hell).

Christian students will appreciate the crisis of faith, and Luke’s search for his own identity will resonate with all readers.

Very enjoyable, recommended for ages 12 and up.

FTC required disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. Neither Leslie nor I received monetary compensation for this review.


  1. This sounds like such a fun book, must add it
    to the TBR list! :D

  2. This book looks like a lot of fun. thanks for bringing it to my attention!