Rosie has been a bit impulsive her whole life and everyone knows this about her, but she has never done anything like this before. She finds out that her boyfriend, Joey, cheated on her and while burning all of the gifts he has given her, she accidentally sets his car on fire. She tries repeatedily to apologize to Joey, but he views all of her attempts to contact him as stalking and now he has a temporary restraining order out of her. This summer was supposed to be all about the beach, romance, and fun, but now she is facing one of the worst summers of her life. Rosie's parents are worried that she won't keep her distance from Joey, so they send her off on a road trip with her ever-reliable next door neighbor, Matty. He and his two friends are driving to Arizona, so that way his friend will have a car out there for his freshman year of college. Rosie thinks that this trip is going to be a major drag, but by the end of it, she learns more about herself and can see things much more clearly. Jennifer Salvato Doktorski's novel, How My Summer Went Up in Flames is a fun and light debut about a memorable cross-country road trip.
Rosie really irritated me at first in How My Summer Went Up in Flames. She is just SO very impulsive and didn't really get how serious the situation with her ex-boyfriend was. I find it odd that her parents would allow her to go on a road trip with three other guys based on her previous behavior, but, hey, it made for an entertaining story. She spent most of the road trip really not having fun, but then started to gain perspective and branch out a bit, which is, essentially, what traveling is all about. Although I had a hard time connecting with Rosie, I still had fun with her witty dialogue and feisty antics.
Matty is a good guy who is practically Rosie's brother in How My Summer Went Up in Flames. He has been planning this road trip with his friend Spencer and Spencer's brother, Logan, for sometime now. They are taking Logan's car out to Arizona and then flying back. I really liked Spencer, Logan and Matty and loved some of their nerdy interests, which Rosie pretty much shunned for the first half of the trip. There is a bit of a love triangle in How My Summer Went Up in Flames and it was rather predictable. I guess that is expected when you are the only girl (except Avery for a few days!) on a road trip with three other boys.
While on the road trip, they visit Avery, a wealthy girl from Dallas, whom Logan befriended during college orientation. Surprisingly Avery and Rosie hit it off, which is one aspect of How My Summer Went Up in Flames that I liked. Rosie also has a best girl friend at home and it was refreshing to see such good friendships amongst girls without all the usual drama.
I liked the road trip aspect in How My Summer Went Up in Flames and some of the fun places they visited are the Country Music Hall of Fame, Dollywood, Graceland, the Grand Canyon, etc. I felt that Morgan Matson does road tripping a bit better in Amy & Roger's Epic Detour; however, How My Summer Went Up in Flames was still an entertaining read.
If your summer isn't complete without a road trip book and you want something light with a spunky main character on the side, check out Salvato-Doktorski's debut, How My Summer Went Up in Flames.