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Feiwel & Friends
This book, despite the whole kidnapping storyline, is very obviously about the relationship between Lillian and Josh. Friends. Best friends, but nothing more, it seems, no matter how much Lillian is in love with him. It's been a while, I think, since I've read a road trip book and this features a couple of the best parts of road trip books: kitschy tourist destinations and solid bonds of friendship. Unfortunately as far as the road trip goes, there were some logistical things I couldn't quite overlook. The parents here are out of the picture despite the fact that Josh's dad's credit card is paying for the entire trip. And despite the fact that it's mentioned quite a few times that Lillian and her mom are very close, her mom doesn't have a problem (like, at all) with the sudden road trip to who-knows-where. Let's be clear: there are some YA books, quite a few actually, that work without much mention of parents. But sometimes, like in this book, the lack of adults goes from "understandable" to "unbelievable." There was a suspension of disbelief required to accept what was happening.
Character-wise, Lillian is ambitious and creative while Josh has no direction in life. The two of them are almost textbook opposites and as the story continues this starts to work really well, especially as it becomes more pronounced and Lillian starts to realize that maybe Josh isn't the perfect boy she wants him to be. The flip side of this, however, is that Josh isn't really that great of a guy. Some readers might like him, but mostly he just got on my nerves. I had the urge to shake both of the characters -- to tell Josh to quit leading Lillian on and tell Lillian that ohmygod this boy is not worth it. That said, in a book about relationships there was also their friend, Penny, who they seem to have kept as a sort of pity-friend. Throughout the book she's portayed as a loner, kind of pathetic, and entirely too hung up on her own overbearing boyfriend. But the few glimpses there are of Penny's side of the story made me more interested in what was going on in her life than the other characters'. Her family is crazy, her boyfriend is scary, and she's just trying to get by: that was the girl I wanted to know more about, and it's unfortunate that the very serious things going on with her seemed so disconnected from the rest of the story.