Overall Rating: 4
Quick summary: All year long August saves his money from teaching to spend the entire summer traveling to the National Parks in his RV with his small dog Woody. This year he’s run into a bit of trouble outside of his Southern California home and the cost to repair his old RV may cut his summer short. He’s surprised when Wes, the mechanic taking care of his RV, offers him an unusual deal. Take Wes’ two sons with him on his summer trip and he’ll fix August’s RV at no charge. August isn’t sure what to make of Wes’ offer, especially since August’s reasons for the trip are personal, but after August decides to accept the deal, he finds that he and the young boys may need each other more than he expected.
This is a heart-tugging book. The relationship that develops between August and Seth and Henry is unique. Catherine Hyde has done a great job in balancing the intimacy of strangers thrown together for a summer and the reality of what happens after the summer is over. It is that bit of pragmatism that makes this book so memorable. The rock and the hard spot you find yourself when you develop relationships with people who you never expected to know. I know that is kind of vague and general, but I don’t want to get into specifics because I don’t want to ruin the story for you.
Perhaps my favorite part of this book is how much of a character Woody is in the storyline. Although he’s just a dog, Woody is an integral piece of the relationship built between August and the two young boys. Dogs are often that lynch piece in real life and it’s sweet to see how much the unconditional love and acceptance mean to child and adult.
Hyde’s writing is smooth, the dialogue is great, and the novel moves at an appropriate pace. The backdrop of the national parks the males travel to will make you feel as if the characters have taken you with them. The scenery is vividly evoked and beautifully depicted. I love the title of this book because Hyde really allows the reader to be brought along a journey that isn’t just a coming of age story for Henry and Seth, but also a transformative time for August as well, pointing to a larger lesson that we never really stop growing up.
Is it worth buying? (Kindle $4.99)
Yes, absolutely. I read this through Kindle Unlimited so it was free for me, but I think almost anyone who finds the storyline interesting will think the $5 more than well spent. This book is currently on a number of Pinterest list of books to read and it’s a must read for anyone who loves traveling to National Parks.
Something else you might enjoy:
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer is another coming-of-age novel about a young boy on a personal quest who finds adult mentors along the way. This was made into a movie that I did not see, but I loved the book and would definitely recommend it.