Monday, March 4, 2019

Review: The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

I know it's only March, but I'm going to call it. If you only read one middle grade novel this year, this needs to be it:


Five years.
That's how long Coyote and her dad, Rodeo, have lived on the road in an old school bus, criss-crossing the nation.
It's also how long ago Coyote lost her mom and two sisters in a car crash.
Coyote hasn’t been home in all that time, but when she learns that the park in her old neighborhood is being demolished—the very same park where she, her mom, and her sisters buried a treasured memory box—she devises an elaborate plan to get her dad to drive 3,600 miles back to Washington state in four days...without him realizing it.
Along the way, they'll pick up a strange crew of misfit travelers. Lester has a lady love to meet. Salvador and his mom are looking to start over. Val needs a safe place to be herself. And then there's Gladys...
Over the course of thousands of miles, Coyote will learn that going home can sometimes be the hardest journey of all...but that with friends by her side, she just might be able to turn her “once upon a time” into a “happily ever after.”

By page 10 I had a couple lines I wanted to quote.
By page 26 I was laughing (and so were the techs at the orthodontist, where I was reading it out loud to my kids).
By page 29 I was crying.

By the end of the book I was flat-out ugly crying, and felt like I had been through the wringer.

Whew! To say this book has everything would be an understatement. Okay, if you are looking for sparkly vampires and fallen fairies it doesn't have that. But most other things. The imagery! Every section I thought to pull up as an example gave something away in the story, so you will just have to trust me on that. From a person's hands to the way someone was feeling, Gemeinhart makes every detail feel as clear as the real world.

Characters are all very different and all very real; especially, of course, Coyote. She will make you smile, make you cry, and make you think. The stories she and her father tell each other - their "once upon a time"s - are worth reading and discussing all on their own. The ways parent-child relationships can be both complicated and wonderful. What it means to really love someone. Facing challenges and making hard decisions. And in a world where we seem to be becoming more and more afraid of each other, the openness to new people and becoming part of their stories was just fabulous.

Buy it. Read it. And have tissues handy.

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