A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there is a somewhat ambiguous attitude toward stealing here. It is labeled as wrong, but the thief is charming and is never punished.
Is It Any Good?
While Duff's misadventures on his quixotic cross-country journey are entertaining, it is Jeanne DuPrau's ability to crawl inside his head that lifts this above the standard road-trip story. Descriptions of his Desperate Octopus Mind, his way of translating his life into computer code, his excitement over new ideas, and his self-recriminating interior monologues all ring true and will cause a flash of recognition in many readers. DuPrau manages what few authors do: integrating technology seamlessly into the story without showing off or getting it just slightly wrong.
The story, like many road movies, is humorous, improbable, and quirky. None of the characters are quite what they seem: the bad guys not really bad, the good guys not completely good, and no one seems securely comfortable in his or her life or skin. As a nice finishing touch, Duff learns that ultimate lesson that goes with the transition from teen to adult -- that his parents aren't quite as stupid as he thought they were.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate