Car Trouble by Jeanne DuPrau

Car Trouble by Jeanne DuPrau
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (83 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Duff Pringle has bought his first car. (Used.) He’s got six days to drive 3,000 miles cross-country to California and start a new hi-tech job that will make him wealthy. (Sort of.) Nothing can stop him. (Or can it?)

Uh-oh . . . CAR TROUBLE.

Duff’s Ford Escort barely makes it a hundred miles from home before breaking down. What’s he supposed to do? He’s promised his new boss he’ll be there by Monday. But he’s also promised himself that he’ll make this journey by car, so he can really see the country. Using his laptop and some quick thinking, he pieces together a way to continue his trip. What he doesn’t plan on are the people he meets along the road. There’s Stu, a hitchhiker with a secret; Bonnie, an aspiring singer with a con artist for a mother; two thugs looking for a trunkful of cash; and Moony, the terrier prone to carsickness.

What could possibly go wrong on a simple road trip?

The dialogue was nicely written. Every character had a unique voice that suited him or her well. I had no trouble telling who was speaking because of how much time the author put into showing the audience the differences between how everyone spoke and what kinds of things they generally did and didn’t say. This made getting to know the characters easier than it might have been otherwise. It also gave me a good idea of what kinds of people they were because of what they liked to talk about and how they treated each other with their words.

Duff made a lot of bad decisions in this story. He was described as someone who was intelligent and resourceful in the beginning of it, so I had a tough time understanding why he kept making choices that I would expect any smart person to recognize as dangerous. Had this happened once or twice it would have been understandable. The fact that it happened over and over again, though, strained credibility.

Despite these issues, I did enjoy this book’s sense of humor quite a bit. Duff’s naive approach to life provided plenty of opportunities for laughs. He was so good at misinterpreting signals and small signs that something was off about a situation that I looked forward to seeing what he would misunderstand next and if he’d finally catch on to what was really going on around him.

Car Trouble should be read by anyone who is looking for something humorous.

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