Title: The Other Way Around
Author: Sashi Kaufman
Release Date: March 1st 2014
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Age Group: Young Adult
Andrew has seen a flash of his future. (Dad: unfinished PhD. Mom: unfulfilling career. Their marriage: unsuccessful.) Based on what he's seen, he's uninspired to put a foot on the well-worn path to the adulthood everyone expects of him. There must be another way around.
After a particularly disastrous Thanksgiving (his cousin wets Andrew's bed; his parents were too chicken to tell him his grandmother died), Andrew accidentally (on purpose) runs away and joins the circus. Kind of.
A guy can meet the most interesting people at the Greyhound station at dinnertime on Thanksgiving day. The Freegans are exactly the kinds of friends (living out of an ancient VW camper van, dumpster diving, dressing like clowns and busking for change) who would have Andrew's mom reaching for a third glass of Chardonnay. To Andrew, five teenagers who seem like they've found another way to grow up are a dream come true. But as the VW winds its way across the USA, the future is anything but certain.
The path of least resistance is a long, strange trip.
The Other Way Around started out really well. Andrew's voice grabbed me from page one, even before he ran away from home and made things interesting. I connected to his feeling of being lost and I loved his smarty mouth, but somewhere in the middle of this book when romance got involved, my interest waned.
I guess if I learned anything from the whole incident, besides that girls were completely baffling, it was not to imagine a future for myself that was dependent on anyone's feelings, even my own.
Andrew used to be a good kid, but one day he just found himself so disinterested in his future. He thinks there's no use fulfilling his parents' wishes for him to be a star student and finish college, and so he doesn't even bother trying. He just wants to go through the motions of life without really living it, but it all changes when he runs out of that life and meets the Freegans. His new life is, aside from having to worry about food, carefree, his new friends realistic but indulgent.
Wasn't it your responsiblity to sort all that "who am I" crap out before you had kids? I don't know how they can expect me to have the kind of answers that they don't even have when they've got like twenty-five years on me.
What's obvious was that Andrew's parents' divorce hit him hard. When his parents separated, they forgot that they had a son who needed their attention and love, and despite Andrew's bad grades, they really could've had it worse. I really pitied him because, in Andrew's own words, his parents were really shitty, and it was a relief to see him get away from all that (and give his parents a slight coronary).
"And this is supposed to make me feel better? You're getting a ride home with complete strangers, and I'm supposed to be glad that they're vegetarians?! Where in God's name did you meet this people?"
Everyone knows it's not smart to just drive off with total strangers, but Andrew wasn't going for smart - he was escaping, and the Freegans were the perfect people to do that with. Five teens who each had their own demons, they were straight-edge vegetarians who earned their keep by performing everywhere they could like a traveling circus. Andrew never imagined all the adventures he'd be in for by joining them, and that made for one fun, unpredictable read. I mean, killing chickens and dumpster-diving? Yep. But more than finding himself, Andrew found new friends, even a girlfriend. I didn't like his thing with Emily because it was easy to see that she only wanted him around for the drama and his attention, but he let his crotch do all the thinking, and that's when this book lost me.
Well-written and somewhat nostalgic, The Other Way Around hit home lots of times. I found it quite similar to Firecraker and Looking for Alaska, and fans of roadtrip books will surely love this. And even though the ending wasn't everything I'd hoped for, it was nothing if not realistic.
MY FAVORITE PART is Tim's flatulence =))