Kendra has always felt overshadowed by her older brother, Grayson, whose OCD forces him to live a life of carefully coordinated routines. The only way Kendra can stand out next to Grayson is to be perfect, and she has perfection down to an art — until a cheating scandal threatens her flawless reputation.
Behind the wheel of her car, with Grayson asleep beside her, Kendra decides to drive away from it all — with enough distance, maybe she’ll be able to figure everything out. But eventually, Kendra must stop running and come to terms with herself, her brother, and her past.
With undeniable grace and humor, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown explores OCD, the pressure for perfection, and the emotional highs and lows of a complex sibling relationship.
First sentence: “I was six the first time we found Grayson at the quarry.”
A book dealing with a disorder. OCD! Finally! I really enjoyed the book. This books is so much more than a road trip or about OCD. It’s about Kendra confronting her feelings/issues with her brother and coming to terms with them. And a road trip is the perfect setting for everything to be laid out on the table and to be addressed. They have to deal with their problems in a small space (the car) in a big world. The only major problem I had with the book was the awkward usage of language and unnecessary suspense, but other than that, I thought Jennifer Brown did a splendid job with the book.
- OCD at its worst!
Jennifer Brown did her research! I really enjoyed the way she was able to portray OCD. She showed how it affects/controls the life of the person who suffers from it and their family. Everybody’s lives are forever changed because of it. I loved that we got to see both sides of it and see how the characters deal with it (like the scene where Kendra finally tells Grayson what she did and about how she had to be absolutely perfect for their parents to get their parents to notice her, and Grayson responds that he wishes he could do the normal stuff that he sees Kendra do with their parents). We see people who accept Grayson for who he is, people who walk on eggshells around him, and people who resents him.
- Sibling relationship!
I find Kendra’s and Grayson’s relationship fascinating. Their interactions were cute. They argued with each other, they were frustrated with each other. They clearly love each other, but Grayson’s OCD gets in the way of everything. Kendra has this resentment against her brother because her life is flipped upside-down and he, in a sense, affected her relationship with their parents, her best friend, and…Grayson himself. On this road trip, they begin to understand a bit more about each other. They both are able to put their feelings on the table.
- The ending!
I like that the ending didn’t solve Kendra’s and Grayson’s problems. It wasn’t tidied up in a neat little box with a bow. I know many people had a problem, but I thought it was fitting because their problems won’t immediately solved. It’s extremely realistic that it’ll take some time to completely deal with OCD and the cheating scandal. The ending was optimistic. With every issue out in the open, they are on a road to recovery.
- The wrong type of suspense – the “mysterious” reason for the road trip.
I was annoyed that we spent the majority of chapter 5 dwelling on this “mysterious incident” at school that made Kendra run away from it (which I had already guessed that it was a cheating scandal). The incident was continually referred to, but what happened wasn’t explicitly said out loud until Chapter 21, nearly 3/4 into the book. I understand the reasons not to reveal the entirety of the scandal because Kendra was still running away from her problems. I just thought it was unnecessary to only reveal a small portion of it when there were chapters spent talking about it.
- Awkward phrasing – the gerunds + “and”
I feel like I’m just being nitpicky, but I noticed that sentences are frequently started with “and.” Sometimes, sentences have no verb or subject, in favor for gerunds (verbs that end in “-ing” to make a noun). That annoys me. Yes, I know that sometimes sentences do not necessarily need a subject or a verb for the general plot of the story. However, when I read the book, I became confused at certain points in the book as to what the narrator was referring to. At those points, I wished that Jennifer Brown had rewritten the sentence so the sentence had a subject/verb to clarify certain things.
And Rena giggling, then whispering back, “That’s Mother Goose, you dork.”
And then drifting and drifting into a world where bricks were falling and opening up to the sun, which bore down on my face and made me smile. (p 282)
We start new paragraphs, but it’s unclear as to the subject. Wouldn’t it be easier to change the sentence to be more…active?
She’s such a sweetheart. At first, I didn’t understand her role into the road trip, but as I read, I realized that she served as a person who accepted Grayson for himself. Her presence is for readers to compare the way that she treats Grayson and how Kendra treats him. It’s interesting to see how Rena (and other people) are able to accept Grayson for who he is, but Kendra, Grayson’s blood-related sister, is unable to fully do that.
- A shit friend!
I am mad that Zoe was a shit friend. I couldn’t believe that she did not even pick up her phone when Kendra texted/called. I cannot imagine having a best friend who refuses to answer your texts on a daily basis.
- Go read it. You may come across a few issues (like I did), but the message of the story outweighs those issues. OCD + siblings + a road trip, what more do you want?