Michelle's Reviews > Don't Stop Now

Don't Stop Now by Julie Halpern
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's review
Jun 29, 2011

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Read from June 01 to 03, 2011

Are you a fan of road trips? If so, then Don’t Stop Now is the read for you. But wait, it’s more than just kitchy tourist destinations like the House on the Rock or Wisconsin’s Cheese Castle. It’s a fun romp through some more serious issues too. This quick to read story touches on a couple of more deeply meaning central themes — relationships and abuse. Though dressed up as a bit of a romantic comedy the core of this story revolves around navigating the murky waters of family.

First is the most solid and healthy relationship in the book — Lil’s bond with her mother. As stable as it gets they communicate as openly and honestly as a parent and teen can. Sure there are half truths and lies of omissions but I found it refreshing that Lil felt guilt at using them. She genuinely respects her mother and doesn’t want to do anything that will upset their relationship. In the end their interactions are build on trust and mutual admiration.

Second, is a middle of the road kind of relationship. Penny and her parents communicate to an extent, well at least to the point where they recognize she’s alive. The problem is that this recognition is in the form of making Penny a surrogate parent for their younger children so they do not have to take on the responsibility of the inconvenient. She’s never seen for who she is as an individual, she’s never valued and appreciated. She is simply a means to an end.

Then finally there is Josh, whose absent father gives him all the material comforts in life but doesn’t provide any companionship or guidance. There is no bond between them. Further there are unrealistic expectations of what Josh’s future holds. Expectations that encourage Josh to rebel (most commonly in the form of spending his father’s money excessively).

A realistic portrayal of parenting a teen, Don’t Stop Now goes to show how not every relationship is the same. It allows for the reader to distinguish the differences between what could be considered healthy and what is borderline abusive. Speaking of abuse, one of the precipitators for Penny’s departure (besides her parents treating her like the hired help) is the relationship she has with her boyfriend. Though not specifically stated it is implied that she is in a physically abusive relationship. The reader sees how careful she is not to upset him and how easily she manipulates her own behavior to fit into the unrealistic expectations he’s set.

I do wish there would have been more and deeper exploration of these relationships. I get that this book was intended, in part, to be a slice of fun but adding these elements in only made me want more than the peripheral view I was given. The most focus was placed on the relationship between Lil and Josh. It wasn’t as dysfunctional as the others but it too had it’s problems. Lil is in love with Josh who looks at her only as a friend. This is a common issue teens deal with on a regular basis so Halpern did well to include it and make the book even more relatable. In fact that was the relationship that was focussed on most, how they both struggled with it’s status and the burgeoning change as graduation and college loomed.

In the end, Don’t Stop Now was a really fun and cute read. It had some deeper moments but ultimately it was about a cool road trip and two kids who weren’t quite sure of where they stood with each other. For some laugh out loud moments, the occasional snarky attitude and just road trippery fun definitely give this one a ride.

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Reading Progress

06/01/2011 page 48
21.0% "I can't decide if Penny is a stalker or what. She's like unhealthily infatuated with Lil and Josh."
06/02/2011 page 129
58.0% "I can't decide if I like Josh or not. He seems generally clueless but still does some hurtful things."
06/03/2011 page 224
100.0% "Good road trip book to add to your collection. I'm still pondering my opinion of how the romantic angle worked. Realistic for sure but still I'm kinda meh about it. Still a fun read with good humor to it."

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