Monday, March 25, 2019

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise - Dan Gemeinhart

Summary: 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.”
  (Summary and pic from

My Review: I feel like I’m preaching to the choir here, but there is some seriously legit fiction for younger readers these days. I have read a lot of Newbury winners, and there was one point when I even started at the very beginning and read some of the older ones. I’ll tell you, people, junior fiction has come a long way. I don’t know if the market wasn’t as dense, or the focus not as strong on young people (although those are my suspicions), but I’m telling you right now that most of that fiction couldn’t hold a candle to the JFic that is coming out today. It is heavy but light, poignant, fun, and has a way of touching audiences of all ages. It’s simple enough that young readers get it and get the point of it, but it is complex enough and the topics serious enough that adult readers can benefit from them as well.

I really enjoyed this book, and feel like it was on par with a lot of the really great (and probably my favorite) fiction I’ve read in the JFic genre. It had everything I like—weird, likeable characters, which aren’t too perfect and are completely relatable, even if I’m nothing like them and my circumstances are nothing like theirs. I think this ability to create characters with this kind of depth helps readers understand (and hopefully train up young readers, and those adult readers who are still struggling with it as well) to be able to understand other people even if they aren’t just like them. It creates empathy and understanding, and more love and acceptance overall.  There was a great cast of characters in this book, including animals, which is always fun. And who doesn’t love some really great animals in a book? I think most JFic readers really appreciate a situation where animals play as much of an important part as the humans. In fact, I think many adults do, as well. Our own lovely reviewer Court certainly does!

Another thing I really enjoyed is that had a really compelling story. The story itself was fun, but also had that hint of realistic feeling trauma and sadness that was able to give it a weight that it would not have had were it just a girl and her crazy dad traveling the countryside in a bus for fun. It’s one thing to have a crazy, zany story, but if that story is just crazy and zany, it goes from weak comic book fodder to something that actually means something. (Yes, I know there are deep comics. I’m talking about the lame ones that basically mean nothing).

The end of this book is hard, but I do think that it is a great resolution. It teaches the lessons it needs to teach, and I think that it will really reach the readers that will read it. There are, as you might imagine, some situations that maybe wouldn’t have gone that way in normal life, but that’s okay. It doesn’t reach the level of magical realism by any stretch (and I do enjoy some good magical realism) but it does count for some situations going a very specific way in order for it to all work it.

I highly recommend this book. The writing is excellent, the story is great and unique and fun and the characters are totally lovable and relatable. If you are a reader of JFic, I highly recommend it. Even if you’re not, it’s a great read.

My Rating: 5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: This book is clean, but there is a traumatic event that resulted in a loss of family members that might be triggering for some.

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