It's time for another discussion post! Today I'm considering the almost universal appeal of road trip books. In my opinion, the popularity of this type of book stems from several different reasons; firstly, the adventure of them, as well as the emotional journeys often experienced by the characters and of course, the inclusion of music, snacks and car journey games!!
Let's start with the adventure aspect. I think most of us have fantasised at one point or another about getting into a car and just...driving. Being spontaneous, seizing the moment, saying yes. Doing cool things, seeing cool things, hanging out with cool people. We all want to escape our lives at some point and go off on a crazy trip to see the world. So we do this vicariously through our characters; we live their trip, their experiences, their interactions. We thrive off the descriptions of the places they go and the people they see. We imagine that one day, it might be us on such a trip.
The emotional journey is another important aspect. This mirrors the physical journey the character takes, and often ends when that does with a big revelation, resolution or breakthrough. At the start of the trip one or more of the characters is often broken, damaged in some way having suffered a loss or trauma or issue of some kind. We see them struggling to cope with whatever has happened to them, watch them mend slowly but surely regaining pieces of themselves along the way, or growing into who they want to be. This often helps us relate to and sympathise with the characters because it makes them feel more real, more human, more vulnerable. It can help us deal with our own issues, identity crisis's or feelings of being lost or misplaced.
On a lighter note, the strong musical themes, addition of road trip snacks, games and conversations helps make these books so addictive. Something about these elements help tie the story together, adding a more believable feel and aiding the enjoyability factor of the story. They help create a complete picture of what's going on within the story, help build the world the characters inhabit.
My current favourite road trip book is Saving June by Hannah Harrington. It's one of my favourite contemporary YA reads. In fact, it may be one of my favourite books. It has everything for me. The reckless abandon and excitement of a road trip, depth and development from all the characters, an emotional and physical journey that affects everyone involved. It contains a tonne of music, lots of snacks, interesting games and conversations. The characters embrace spontanaeity, but also have to face the consequences of their actions and decisions. It is life, essentially, messy and beautiful and totally unique and it is wonderful.
Where does the appeal of road trip books come from for you? Which is your favourite one?
Today Liz has a review of 13 Little Blue Envelopes up!